Paradis Plage Perfect for Solo Travel on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast


Photo by Paradis Plage

The third stop on my November beach hop along the Moroccan Atlantic Coast was Paradis Plage Surf and Spa Resort.  Owners take pride in being the first  hotel in Morocco to combine yoga and surfing—a dynamic duo since yoga  prepares and repairs the body after surfing.  The property invites guests to ride waves, climb camels, or salute the sun as it rises and sets. Here couples, families, friends, and solo travelers enjoy over 100 suites with terraces or balconies opening to pool or sea.  Recreation varies from four area golf courses and an outdoor cinema.  Located 30 minutes from Agadir and 50 minutes from an international airport connecting to European capitals via 3-hour flights, the resort is where westerners love to play.
Started by Kabbage Abbes, one of first investors in Agadir hotels,  who teamed with Francois Payot, head of Rip Curl Europe, the resort is a work of art  run by  Abbes’ daughter, Naima, and her husband, Vincent. Furnishings were created by locals and  the gorgeous green spaces and gardens are by  Spanish landscaper, Sergio Castaneda Beltran.
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Photo by Paradis Plage

Excited to learn more about surfing and to practice yoga, I was shown to a gorgeous oceanfront suite. At the Surf House beach bar while sipping my Flag (local beer) and waiting for a Mexican burger (rare in this region), I saw horses and camels waiting patiently on the sand while cats lounged in the sun. Later, everyone returned for the golden orange sunset.  See highlights of my stay below.

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Simo, instructor here and in video above, is from Rabat.  He has taught in Hawaii and on the US East Coast.  He guarantees by the end of the first lesson every student will be up on their boards.

In partnership with Rip Curl, legendary Australian brand, Tarik Wahbi, surf pro from Tétouan, is ranked one of Morocco’s Top Ten surfers.  Manager of the  surf program, he leads a team of gregarious guys who hook up guests with equipment, instruction and guides to the best waves.
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Photo by Pardis Plage

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Photo by Paradis Plage

Paradis Plage nurtures total wellness that fits the unique needs of each guest.  Surf and Yoga packages are available for two or five days.    Surf School Packages are available for 5 days—2 sessions per day.
Yoga and Spa packages range from two days (daily yoga course, a sensory hammam, and a massage) to five days (yoga course, two hammams, one body scrub, and two massages).
The resort shares with clients the secrets of Moroccan women’s beauty.  All cosmetics are 100% natural Taroudant Argan oil, essential oils from Marrakech gardens, pebbles from Imi Ouaddar’s beach, facial treatments using Sous Massa prickly pip, Taliouine saffron or roses of Dades Valley.
Traditional Hammams consist of a black soap scrub, Atlas ghassoul wrap, Atlantic Coast seaweed wrap, Imouzzer honey, and spice scrub.  Sensory Hammams fuse fragrances of in orange blossom and eucalyptus to relax and rejuvenate.  Managing massages and other spa services is Marie France Riera.
Important Tip:  Schedule spa services, especially massages, and yoga classes before you arrive or at check in because appointments and classes fill fast.
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Photo by Paradis Plage


Photo by Paradis Plage

Yoga group classes, the highlight of my getaway, are offered three times daily:
8-9:15 Sunrise Yoga (for all levels)—breathing, flexibility, strength, muscle toning, body opening
11-12:15 Easy Yoga (all levels but especially great for beginners) Asanas postures and poses; precision of body alignment, rhythm, balance
5:30-7 Sunset  Yoga (all levels)–  detoxification, relaxing based on Vinyasa flow systems
Also available are classes in Yin Yoga Therapy (gentle practice using blocks, pillows, restorative and relaxing to relieve tension in muscles and joints, relax spine and pelvis), Aerial Yoga (hammock used for suspension), Prenatal, Power Flow (ultimate workout for athletes), and 108 Greetings.  Custom sessions can be arranged by Karim Fadali.
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Photo by Paradis Plage

Classes are typically held in the Yoga Shala which consists of two beach studios connected by a lotus pond and facing the sea.  Groups may rent the space for private retreats as they did during my stay so guests met in an open air space (see below).  Sara, our excellent German instructor, lives in Cairo.  Like the best teachers, she is creative, kind, soulful, and a learner herself.  She was excited about taking her first surf lesson after our yoga class.  My classmates were European as well– some there with partners and others solo. We “sent love to the flies”–pests in the  Taghazout region at times– but packing insect repellent might also be a good idea.  The small community made it possible to meet other guests in classes and connect with them at the poolside buffets or bars later.

Photo by Paradis Plage

I left feeling refreshed and restored by the beauty of nature and yoga.  I loved seeing smiles on surfers’ faces when they did what we all must do to navigate and enjoy life– conquer fear, be flexible and strong, and stand tall as we ride the waves.
Thanks to Paradis Plage for a restful retreat.  As always, the opinions are my own.

Sofitel Agadir Offers Solo Travelers Beauty and Bliss

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Recently  I stayed at 5-star Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa,  just named continental winner of  “Luxury Wedding Destination in Africa” by the 2015 Luxury Hotel Awards.  My time there was perfection.  Though I endorse travel for all, I especially encourage single women waiting for a prince to live happily-after-after to find your bliss now at places that will make your dreams come true.  At the premier hotel on beautiful Agadir Bay you don’t have to be on a honeymoon to be pampered like a new bride.  In fact, any lady here will be given princess treatment.
When I moved to Marrakech to write, teach English, and travel,  I began asking students where their families stay when vacationing.  The answer was always the same.
In Paris? Sofitel. London? Sofitel. Rome? Sofitel. Morocco? Sofitel.
Such big brand loyalty (120 hotels on five continents in 40 countries) in the age of hip default to indie companies got my attention.  But then again, I’ve always appreciated timeless, classic quality.
The French company committed to total well-being first opened its doors in Strasbourg in 1964.  Dedicated to superior service infused with the celebration of art de vivre, each hotel provides  cultural experiences from not only France but also each host country in which it is located.   Showcasing  the best artwork, literature, music, fashion, architecture, gardens, fitness, wines and foods, the hotel beckons guests to experience the sweet life layer by delicious layer. Like bees burrowing gently into the rose— velvet petal by velvet petal—drinking nectar that will become honey in the hive, guests enter space after space of palpable beauty in interactions that feed the soul. Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa stimulates every sense—from plush decor to soothing sounds of fountains and sea to a signature scent, Jatamansi, found only in the Himalayas.  Jatamansi, also known as “nard” smells of citrus, ylang ylang and mountains and has so many medicinal powers it is considered sacred in some countries. I left filled, relaxed, energized, healed.
But beyond all these offerings, what makes the Sofitel the Sofitel is the people who work here.   From the moment I walked through the doors everyone–from doorman to gardener to manager — greeted me by name.  I arrived feeling ill–a situation that could have been a nightmare when traveling alone–but I quickly learned I couldn’t have been in better hands.  The staff  offered to get me medicine and kindly brought me treats to feel better–Chamomile tea, sweets and fruit, two dozen roses.  I am forever grateful for their professional, superior service.  Rightfully called, the So Staff is the best in the  business.


The new Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa  greets guests with a 100 meter long Andalusian pond and 2,000 rose bushes.

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Maison Arabe (Lobby) - Sofitel Agadir Thalassa sea & spa (5)
Photo by Sofitel
I was welcomed at the door of  La Maison Arabe, the reception area in a traditional riad with contemporary black and white design,  and served mint tea and Moroccan cookies while the staff checked me in.

Photo by Sofitel


Designer Didier Rey said of the collaboration of building this modern classic, “We had some great interaction with Moroccan artisans.  Here I find the pleasure of working in simplicity as it was 20 years ago in France.”

In the gallery on display were thirty works by Younes Fizazi in a collection called “Moroccans Landscapes, Richness and Diversity.” Shots of the Atlas Mountains and  Merzouga  desert allowed me to relive great trips taken last  fall and spring, but having just arrived from the surf town of Taghazout , I especially loved this photograph.
I was excited to see the pool and beach areas next.  So Gorgeous.
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The spacious suite was sumptuous, and I was especially thrilled with my three favorite elements — the terrace, bed, and bathtub (something I miss most in my Marrakech apartment).  This one offered the best of both worlds–a soak with a view–so first on my agenda was a bubble bath followed by a massage.
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Prestige Suite Photo by Sofitel


View of pool and ocean from outdoor lounge

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Photo by Sofitel

My only complaint was the Sofitel MyBed which abducted me –a custom made mattress, featherbed, down duvet, and sleek, soft sheets.   After my massage, I took a nap and slept for hours. 🙂

Hind has magic hands. I swear.

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“Evasion et beaute Berbere” (Berber Escape and Beauty) treats the skin to Argan, prickly pear cactus, orange blossom water, rose water and honey.  After treatments one can lounge overlooking Agadir Bay and sip herb or fruit drinks. Photo by Sofitel

Palais du Jardin (Moroccan Restaurant) SOFITEL AGADIR THALASSA SEA&SPA (5)

Les Palais du Jardin, the gourmet restaurant where Chef Fatima cooks  Moroccan cuisine fusing traditional and modern flavors. Photo by Sofitel


At L’Amane Bar fresh fruit smoothies, classic cocktails, and a jazz duo can be enjoyed every night from 7:30 PM.


Day 2 I rose early feeling great and ready for breakfast on the terrace of L’Atlantique.

IMG_9392After breakfast I went to play in the next door neighbor’s backyard–Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay, recipient of “Luxury Beach Resort in Morocco” by the 2015 Luxury Hotel Awards.  Of its many distinctions, Sofitel Morocco was selected to  host the first Kids’ Villa offering educational programs, pastry classes, belly dance, gardening workshops, swimming, aerobics, and a library for children.  The honor was bestowed because The Little Prince was born in the imagination of  Antoine de Saint Exupery in Morocco.
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Opened in 2004, the Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort was the first hotel brand in Agadir.  A contemporary Kasbah, its colors are warm copper, wood, and orange, the emblem of the Souss Valley symbolic of fire representing Berber hospitality.


Six duplex villas with infinity pools overlook the ocean.


The So Lounge is the center of nightlife in Agadir and a great place for the Birthday Girl.

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A winter holiday destination that offers sun- by- day and fire- by- night, Sofitel invites reflecting on the past year and dreaming of the one to come.  Photo by Sofitel
Agadir, “Pearl of the South,”  is a three-hour flight from major European cities.  It’s where Europe migrates in winter to enjoy 300 days of sunshine each year and the Sofitel experience– timeless as Coco Chanel, delicious as Crème brûlée, and exotic as only Morocco.
Special thanks to Sofitel and Soukaina Ghallab for an unforgettable experience.  As always, the opinions are my own.

Girona Gem for Solo Travel, Romantic Getaway, or Group Retreat

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View from Balcony of Hotel Santa Marta, Lloret de Mar

When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. —Rainer Maria Rilke
When drowned by stress, I go to one of my Happy Places which is often the ocean. 
In my 2015 travels one of my happiest solo travel stays was at Hotel Santa Marta  –a beauty break amidst botanical gardens winding down, down, down to the shore. Sheer. Bliss.
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The near 15-acre (6-hectare) estate is located on its own private bay, Santa Cristina, and was chosen for the opening night party of this year’s European Travel Bloggers Exchange. I had already booked a stay there for a restful retreat after the networking/workshops of the conference ended, but by the time the ship reached sand I was in love with a wonderland lit by sunset.
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Costa Brava
The Spanish Mediterranean coast is as beautiful as beaches in Southern Italy and France.  I was there in spring when, like late fall/winter low season, a single sea view room can be as low as 115 Euro per night. I love boutique hotels for their privacy, but plan ahead because this paradise stays booked, particularly by Europeans who vacation along Costa Brava in high season.
The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.— Kate Chopin
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The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea. –Anne Morrow Lindbergh
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I loved swimming in the pool and sea, writing on the balcony,  and sleeping to the sound of waves in the ultimate room with a view.  It’s the perfect solo, group, or romantic retreat in Lloret de Mar.
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I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.-Anna Quindlen

For more on the beauty of Girona and the Costa Brava Coast, see my 5-Part Series (links below) and go here for more information.
Discovering Costa Brava: Spain’s Medieval Coast, Part I
Discovering Costa Brava’s Medes Islands, Part II
Discovering Costa Brava’s Bounty, Part III
Cycling Through Costa Brava’s Medieval Villages, Part IV
Discovering Costa Brava, Part V