Halal family holiday in Sofitel Mogador Essaouira, Morocco.
As a Muslimah, you may want more of a private, secluded holiday destination, or just a quiet resort where your family can just relax. If you are looking for this type of holiday then Sofitel Mogador Hotel, villa holiday, in Essaouira, Morroco is definitely worth considering.
Sofitel Mogador is a fantastic 5-star hotel in Essaouira, Morocco. What is really amazing about this hotel, is it includes many secluded villas for families, within its complex. The villas are suitable for Muslim families who want privacy of their own swimming pools and outdoor space but don’t want to self-cater.
Private Pool Villas
For a halal family holiday the private pool villas are spot on! We really enjoyed splashing about in our secluded private pool with our children, the pool was always visible from the villa to keep an eye on the children.
It’s best if your children can swim as the private villa pool starts out shallow then goes quite deep. Our youngest always had to go in with arm bands as he couldn’t swim without them. The pool temperature was always nice and warm. Even during the nights when the kids were asleep we could go down in the all-night lit pool. It was quite breezy at night but the pool was a perfect warm temperature to keep us comfy. During the night the staff at Sofitel, Essaouira would come and clean the pool of any debris or leaves to ensure it is nice and clean for when we wake.
Each villa comes with its own butler/butleress on demand included in the booking price. The butler can run the bath for you in advance, bring you food, or even take you to the reception or other areas on their buggy’s if you don’t fancy walking. They can also arrange the best deals for excursions and trips and you can pick their brain for the best places to go and eat and visit and they can arrange taxis to come at certain time.
Sofitel, lives up to its reputation and the service is exceptional here. They really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. A few corners of the rooms looked a bit tired but overall the hotel is a picture perfect place.
What is included in the Sofitel Villas?
Most of the villas in the hotel overlook greenery or the Gary Player designed 18-hole golf course so when you sit by your private pool, you are not overlooked.
There are bushes separating each villa garden area. The golf course here is the largest in Africa and many famous golfers come here to play.
Each villa houses its own private, non-overlooked garden and pool, two bedrooms, two en-suite and a separate WC. The bathrooms are semi-open plan and are not private within the bedrooms, so if you have children running in and out of your bedroom, its best you lock your bedroom door when you use the bathroom or toilet.
The bathrooms both house a lovely deep bath and a shower area and well as a toilet, and large sink with plenty of space for all your bit and pieces. Each villa as enough robes and slippers for you to use and toiletries are replenished daily. Each villa comes fully equipped with iron, small kitchen with a well-stocked fridge of drinks, tea and coffee making facilities and microwave. It has a dining table and living area and full floor to ceiling windows that overlook the outdoor private pool.
The Sofitel villas exude complete luxury, you don’t even have to get out of bed in the morning to draw the curtains as you can simply open them while in bed by pressing an electronic switch, luxury at its best.
Private Beach at Essaouira
Sofitel Mogador boasts its own private beach which is about a 20-minute walk from the hotel. However, do not walk down the golf course to the beach, as it goes on forever. We made the mistake of taking that route and ended up having to hitch a ride with some golfers on their buggy passing by. There was no way, we could have walked that way with our children. There is a much quicker walking route direct from the hotel, which we discovered on the way back. So make sure you ask at the hotel for the walking route.
The private beach is usually quite empty as far as the eye can see and the entrance is security guarded, only those who stay in the hotel are allowed. Be warned, you have to walk up some steep sand dunes before you get to the sea but it is absolutely worth it! Many of the hotel guests don’t bother with the walk to the beach and use the pools within the hotel complex.
Things to do: Quad biking, camel riding
You can hire the quad bikes directly the beach and camel riding although they are not proper tours but just give you an allocated time on the camels or the quad bikes. Remember to always haggle! It is much cheaper if you want to experience these to book directly on beach than book through the hotel. There is usually a Bedouin looking man holding some camels and has the quad bikes on that stretch of the beach for tourists of the hotel to book with him.
Although we did book camel riding through the hotel at the Ranch Di Jiabet. A one-hour camel ride was very reasonable and they pick you up from the hotel and take you through a lovely journey across the beach and over some sand dunes and stop for a picture. They also do other tours like quad biking and take you in small groups. We booked a camel ride tour for our family, which was amazing although our bottoms and legs were quite aching by the end. They also do horse riding tours for people who want to horse instead of camel ride.
There is a fantastic kids club within the Sofitel resort, which was amazing for the kids, although the staff there spoke little English but were completely fluent in Arabic and French.
The kids club includes a small outdoor splash pool, a few table tennis tables, fuss ball and some art and crafts. We did go with the children to explore it and they enjoyed it and they did wander down themselves a couple of times. They also did cycling trips with the kids into the town and bought ice-cream and McDonalds with them, although we didn’t leave our kids for the trip, but if we go again we wouldn’t hesitate to. The workers were very friendly with the children and I would have no hesitation leaving my kids with them.
Security is amazing at the hotel, the resort is so large and whenever we used to walk from our villa to the restaurant we used to see hotel security at certain points.
We booked the hotel through the booking.com website with breakfast included, and it went beyond our expectations. Although we realised in hindsight if we had booked directly with the hotel, we probably would have got a half board package for a similar price.
Food at the Hotel
In terms of food, we were spoilt for choice and there was something that everyone in the family enjoyed. We only had breakfast there but we ate so much it would last us most of the day. Our absolute favourites were the fresh 1000 hole crepes, which Morocco is famous for, cooked straight in front of your eyes and you can choose your topping from honey, Nutella, chocolate spread, jam and more.
We could also choose what we wanted in our omelettes and have them made fresh in front of our eyes. There was also a wide selection of the usual buffet style breakfast. All in all, breakfast was first class. There was always enough seating and the staff were always attentive to our needs. Although it was a buffet they would bring our drinks and pour them. They had two restaurants for breakfast, we did eat at the second one once, and there was less variety, more cold food and buffet style, but nonetheless, still impressive.
So-Spa Facilities in the Hotel
I did book the So Spa facilities and although the spa itself was mixed, so I had my hijab on in the waiting area, it wasn’t an issue as the waiting area was empty. The décor was beautiful and calming. There is a lovely indoor waterfall inside the spa waiting area and everything about it is an oasis of calm. I had a deep tissue massage in a private room with a lovely therapist (could obviously take my hijab off there).
Everything about the hotel is calming, there are enough places to lounge around outside and some of the beds have privacy/sun screens. It boasts a fresh water pool, which was completely empty. The other pool was nice and large and was not busy at all.
The grounds are immaculately well kept and clean you don’t really need to go out of the resort for anything. There is a small shop on-site for souvenirs and beach equipment too. We bought a beach ball for our pool and arm bands.
The water in the private pool is warm all the time and is lit at night. Even at night when there is a breeze it felt so relaxing to swimmi in the pool, which is always lit at night. It is nice for a Muslim family to be able to have their own private pool without having to go with a burkini.
The hotel offers a free shuttle service into the town throughout the day and as a woman its safe to travel to and from the hotel alone or use the shuttle service.
Places to visit in Essaouira
The bustling medina town of Essaouira is much calmer and safer than Marrakech. There is always a lovely breeze and people are a lot more relaxed and friendlier than Marrakech.
There is the lovely fishing port by the waterfront alongside a bustling fish market. One word of caution, the whole area smells of fish, we got used to the smell but it made one of my children feel rather sick.
There is a small castle near the port which is a free site you can go and visit. The marketplaces, known as ‘souks’ are much quieter than Marrakesh, and more relaxed. You can find everything in Essaouira as you can in Marrakesh for similar prices.
If you like massages and scrubs, then you must try a female hammam. There are plenty available which are completely private within Essaouira. It is also completely safe to travel back to the hotel using the free shuttle service back or via private taxi. The hammams are much cheaper than the spa in the hotel and the treatments are equally as good although may not be as luxurious as So-Spa.
The only qualm about Sofitel Essaouira is that the staff do not speak much English, although they are fine in Arabic or French.
The hotel includes 4 restaurants: the poolside Atlantique, which serves Italian-dishes with a Moroccan touch, Le Café Kasbah, which is amazing for its international breakfasts. There is also a separate two-floor So Lounge bar/club, which we didn’t go into.
The main local beach is http://demo.o3magazine.com/o3magazine/ is where the local families and youngsters go to play beach games such as volleyball or football. The beach is very family orientated and the beach promenade is busy with henna tattooists, kids bikes for hire and various stalls.
This is definitely a place worth considering for a nice halal holiday.