Agadir’s new kid on the block, the Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea and Spa, is indulgent, elegant, and oh so impressive, striking a mellow and tranquil chord against the smouldering backdrop of this dusty, Atlantic-coast city. Fresh from the exotic, piquant and chaotic haze of Agadir airport, I arrived at the cool, subtle opulence of the hotel’s central reception. Opening its doors in December 2011, building on the reputation and prestige of its sister, Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort (next door), and the international gloss of the Sofitel brand; the Thalassa is driving the bid to develop an exclusive ‘East End’ in Agadir, re-envisaging the current hotel strip which maculates the west beach. I had just 24 hours in Agadir. In my mind Agadir was to be best utilized as a useful pit stop to fuel further (and more exotic) travels in the Western Sahara. I was wrong. Agadir, impressed me on a number of levels, and the Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea and Spa proved to be a destination in itself. The hotel, with its 173 rooms (including 44 suites), should not be intimate, but it is. This is no monolithic beach resort, and is as close to ’boutique’ as the Sofitel brand may allow. As its reputation grows, this may change, but for the time being at least; this is a treasure of a resort. My suite boasted an enormous sun terrace, living room, double bathroom and a behemoth boudoir. Resplendent with plush, sumptuous furnishings and ornate Moroccan artwork, great care has been taken to ensure each room is more than atmospheric. Boasting the requisite 5 star, (excellent), gadgets; this is a well-endowed hotel room. Even the shower holds Thalassa properties, where you can enjoy the various properties of multi-coloured water. I was looking forward to trying out that one. Sipping Moroccan wine on my terrace, overlooking the swimming pool and the waves of the beach in the middle distance, evocative Agadir surprised me. The hotel maintains a private section of Agadir beach for its guests, resplendent with ubiquitous and enveloping day-beds. As with all such hotels, no excuse is needed to leave the hotel grounds (although make sure you do, Agadir is worthy of exploration). Boasting three restaurants and two bars, the hotel brings the medina flavours to hotel grounds. The hotel strives to develop a “contemporary vision of food“, promoting health, flavours, seasonality and simplicity. The glitz of Le Medicine Bar, even promises to ‘toxify’ in style. And of course, the important basics are there in spades: Wi-Fi is free, throughout the hotel grounds, complimentary beverages are available in abundance within the rooms, and the gloriously unnecessary Hermes toiletries dazzle in the bathroom. As is to be expected by an enterprise of this nature, a well-appointed fitness centre is also at the disposal of guests. I was ardently informed that a personal fitness coach was on hand to put me through my holiday paces. Distracted by massage, sun-bathing and even that shower – sheepishly (and inevitably), my muscles did not quite make it to the gym. I did, however, feel obliged to indulge in the sparkling spa facilities, and the endless treats available therein. I was escorted, scrubbed, pummelled, and stroked through the traditional ritual stages of the hammam. Three hours later, I emerged in something of a Thalassa haze. In that blissful moment, my skin had found its nirvana. Acutely aware that I would never feel that soft again, I went in search of supper. Checking into the Le Market restaurant and buoyed by delicious Maroc vin de qualité, I dined on chicken and sweet lemon tagine, complemented by Moroccan spiced pears and endless olives from the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Serenaded by waves crashing on the beach, and watching the lanterns dance in the sea breeze over the indecently large swimming pool, I felt very, very calm. Whilst the luxury complex concept is a global phenomenon, the Thalassa is raising Agadir’s game, pushing beyond the tired Club Med of yesteryear, meeting the demand for modern and dynamic affluence. Agadir provides the essential ingredients for such a venture; a truly gorgeous beach with great Atlantic swell, an international airport, a rich historical hinterland ripe for exploration, and perennial sunshine. Resplendent with a true (modern) Moroccan interior the Thalassa is generating a new brand of prestige along this coastline. For an oasis in the midst of a Saharan sojourn, look no further.
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