Having returned from a site visit to Morocco last week to visit three of the golf properties we manage and having spent more time in Marrakech, I thought this would form the subject of the latest Braemar blog.
Morocco has been on the golfing radar for some time and actually has a good golf industry, both domestically and from a tourism point of view. But an increasing interest is being reported in Morocco by the big golf tour operators and travel trade in general and in particular, Marrakech could be golf’s next “hot destination” and we don’t just mean the temperatures!
Morocco has a long history of Golf
Golf in Morocco dates back virtually a century with the Royal Golf of Tangier, Royal Golf Mohammedia and Royal Golf de Marrakech being some of the oldest clubs in the country. Golf was a passion of the late King Hassan II and continued to develop under his guidance. The 1990’s saw a number of new courses developed, some aimed at attracting tourism, with the likes of Amelkis and Palmeraie in Marrakech, Les Dunes and Golf du Soleil in Agadir and Royal Golf El Jadida and Royal Golf de Fès.
The current King Mohammed VI continued the development in the 21st century as part of the Plan Azur 2010, an ambitious tourism development strategy that has brought about additional resorts such as the Gary Player Mazagan and Mogador Resorts. Currently there are over 35 golf clubs and resorts open to the public in Morocco and as part of the new Vision 2020, there is a current wave of new courses opening or due to open in the near future, which is one factor that is stimulating the golfing interest in Morocco again.
With three distinct, what could be termed “golf destinations” (Agadir, Casablanca region and Marrakech) plus some developments along the Mediterranean Coast from Tangiers to Saidia Med, it is Marrakech in particular that is set to blaze a trail for Morocco. But why is this;
Well my view is that Marrakech has just about everything and is a city quite like no other! Long regarded and known by the traveller as an exotic and mystical place to visit, it is now becoming a great place to play golf as well as enjoy the attractions that Marrakech and Morocco have to offer.
Golf is not new to Marrakech as detailed previously in this article, with courses such as Royal Golf Marrakech, Palmeraie and Amelkis being joined by Samanah Country Club and Al Maaden in the last few years, with no less accomplished architects as Jack Nicklaus Design and Kyle Phillips designing these courses. If you are in Marrakech you should also check out the 9 hole Atlas Golf – it is a beautifully landscaped shorter course which is really fun to play!
This year is also set to see further additions to take the number of golf projects to 10, with over 200 holes of golf to play – very much a dedicated international golf destination.
2014 will see the opening of;
- The much awaited Assoufid (Marrakech Golf Club) a fantastic site and with a design by Niall Cameron and will be a future venue of a Rocco Forte Hotel.
- Domaine de Royal Palm, which adds to the collection of excellent Cabell Robinson creations in Morocco.
- Marrakech Golf City, the closest course to the city and designed by Gary Johnson of European Golf Design.
- Noria Golf Club, which Braemar Golf is delighted to manage on behalf of our client CGI and features a unique design by Steve Forrest of Hills & Forrest, combining traditional Moroccan landscapes and architectural features including a spectacular 2.5 km Moroccan basin (water feature). The clubhouse is set to become one of the iconic clubhouses in the whole of Morocco!
It’s not all about the Golf
But in some ways it is not just the golf courses which makes this such an intriguing destination – it is Marrakech itself which is the real star attraction! Marrakech is more than just a city, it is a pearl polished by history and its tradition of hospitality which, for centuries, has known how to welcome visitors. Marrakech captures the imagination like no other city! Known as the “Red” City, with the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains as a backdrop and framed by the red desert, Marrakech offers a rare blend of history, culture, architecture, gastronomy, shopping, nightlife and golf. It is traditional and totally authentic and yet dynamic and contemporary.
Marrakech is also a city of diversity and tolerance, from the ancient walled Medina, traditional riads, the souks and the amazing Jemaa El Fna to the new modern areas such as Gueliz with its hip hotel brands, shopping, casino, restaurants and nightlife. Whether it’s a golf holiday, family holiday, business or pleasure - Marrakech really is a cool city to be in!
It has a well developed tourism infrastructure, with luxury hotels such as Four Seasons and the world famous La Mamounia, down to the more budget conscious and everything in between. But the real stars are the traditional Moroccan Riads of which there are over 800 in Marrakech alone – to provide that famous Moroccan hospitality.
Marrakech is served by the Ménara International Airport and receives flights from many major European cities.
Look out for future blogs on what the rest of Morocco has to offer in terms of golf and hospitality. I rounded my trip off in Agadir and visited the under construction Taghazout Bay. I only have one word for the Kyle Phillips course which overlooks the Atlantic surf from the bluffs above – “WOW”! Watch this space.
Thanks to www.visitmorocco.com for some help with the Marrakech info.