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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Villa Saada, Essaouira, Morocco

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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poolVilla Saada is a restful refuge on Morocco’s Atlantic coastline, close to Essaouira. When you’re ready for some peace after the hustle (& hustlers) of Marrakech – this is the place to escape to. When you arrive you’ll be greeted by the friendly smiles of all who work there, as everyone comes out to greet the guests, a very welcoming touch. As you enter the first courtyard you’ll notice the lovely décor inside these cool walls, and the quiet, as you are about 15 km from Essaouira and down a long driveway. We were offered tea upon arrival and took it in the nice salon in front of the fireplace. Even though it was not cold outside, Momo, the excellent waiter/driver/cook started a nice fire in minutes.

 

We stayed in the Hammam Room, a very nice room with its own wood fired hammam. Hammams are one of the quintessential Moroccan experiences – a steam room for exfoliation and relaxation and it was nice to have our own because we could enjoy much more of the relaxation side of things. The previous day in Marrakech we went to a hammam and had ‘gommage’ which is essentially being roughly scrubbed down with a plastic brillo-pad type glove and then buckets of hot and cold water poured over our heads. We did feel clean in the end, but personally, I wouldn’t want to go through all that brusque treatment again! But having our own hammam was perfect! Our hammam was heated upon our arrival, so after unpacking a bit, we went right in and relaxed – helped by the fragrant oil that was burning, the soft lighting, and the warm red walls. Eventually we threw some water on the hot floor creating more steam and did a cursory scrub down.

courtyardThe room and villa had modern style furnishings with Moroccan pillows, tables, and accents. But many things seemed like they may have come from France-like the large, plush bathroom towels and the rainwater style showerhead, which provided the best shower on our trip. Nice toiletries in exotic bottles added a nice touch to the stylish bathroom. The room also had a comfortable double bed instead of two singles pushed together like a number of other places which definitely makes a big difference. Also, the plump duvet made for a restful night’s sleep.

villaVilla Saada is run by a couple from France – Lili and Didou who are very friendly and helpful. Our biggest problem with the place was getting there, and they actually sent Momo to pick us up since we’d had such a hard time. We got into a taxi saying ‘Villa Saada’ and the driver seemed to know just where to go, but instead he took us to ‘Villa Sarah.’ When we pointed out the mistake, it turned out he didn’t know where it was, so he drove around looking to no avail and then suggested we go to the internet café to find the address, so we did that and it turned out it was further away than he could take us. We needed a bigger taxi, so he called a friend with a big taxi that also didn’t know where it was, but was willing to try to bring us there (for a very large price). After wasting time and money already we said no and called Lili to find out how to get there, and that’s when she sent Momo.


patioLili and Didou also offered to give us a ride into town whenever they were going, which we took them up on the next day. It was especially nice because they had a friend visiting from France as well and we went the scenic way and made a couple photo stops. Essaouira is the most relaxed city that we visited in Morocco and we had a nice afternoon there exploring the docks, the old fort, and the medina. We got a ride back as well and then went up to the roof to lay in the lounge chairs and watch the sunset.

Villa Saada has some wonderful cooks as well, we ate there two nights and the food was well prepared, nicely presented, and again excellent service. The first night we had grilled sardines followed by swordfish and then heavenly caramelized oranges, the second night’s menu was: rice and corn salad, lamb tajine, and a fruit tart with strawberries and cream. It was served in the beautiful salon and after you can relax on the deep couches loaded with pillows.

Breakfast was served in the courtyard in front of the pool and was fresh orange juice, coffee, bread with butter, jam, and fragrant honey and a Moroccan flatbread pancake. Although it is a very nice setting, there is a problem with bees getting into everything and swarming around. So if you are allergic, you probably want to sit inside.

villaVilla Saada is an excellent and affordable choice with outstanding service and décor. It is especially great if you have your own car (or get the number of a good taxi from Lili). My only regret is that we didn’t stay longer.

Villa Saada, www.villasaada.com,

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©Christina Kay Bolton

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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