Paradis Plage review | Spa resort Morocco
Surf, spa & sunshine on the Moroccan coast
The Quick Read: Paradis Plage is a spa resort built right on a beautiful sweep of sandy beach, just twenty minutes down the coast from Agadir. It’s spotlessly clean, warm and welcoming – the kind of place that’s perfect for people who, before they had children, would have hung out at a surf shack in Taghazout but now prefer their creature comforts, a total lack of hassle and a good Kids Club in which to deposit the offspring while they hit the water. That said, it’s very much for those without kids too, for while the ambiance is definitely Morocco Lite, Paradis Plage takes its yoga, surf and spa very seriously – expect good waves, tough taut yoga and a womb-like spa to remove the pains from a tough day off shore or in shala.
More on the spa: Spa manager Audrey presides over a small troupe of therapists – all Moroccan and all very lovely (English is basic but it’s not a problem – smiling and arm waving sorts out most questions). The spa has a wonderful cocooning and embracing feel – read a word from the queen on her stay. It’s by appointment only and every trip becomes a ritual. Lights are kept low and you’re guided by smiling therapists all the way, as if you’re being led into a temple by attendant priestesses.
There are two hammams – one standard, one ‘sensory’ with a chromatherapy ceiling (gorgeous colour shifts) and blasts of aromatherapy. The traditional hammam experience with Aziza is highly recommended – a thorough cleansing, scrubbing and body masque, it’s the perfect way to start your stay (preparing the skin for the sun). Most treatments are pretty traditional and use local ingredients and products. The full body massage with argan and orange flower oil is deeply relaxing while the short surf massage is deep and satisfying. The menu does veer further afield with a few international massages – Balinese, shiatsu, abhyanga and Thai – they’re fine but we’d recommend sticking with the basics. A few popular treatments are given a local spin – the beach pebble massage is a neat idea. And there’s even a short (25 min) chocolate massage for children (from six years). If you like, you can have your massage outside, close by the beach but, to be honest, it’s not terribly private. Stick to the nurturing womb-like spa.
The touch tends to be on the firm side (ask if you’d prefer something softer) but assured and very thorough. The facial we tried was a little ‘robust’ – not on a par with the body treatments. They also offer the usual mani-pedis (using OPI), waxing and basic hairdressing services. After your treatment you’re led to the relaxation room and served water and a mug of vervain tisane. The room shifts through a series of colours and the large driftwood light sculptures make patterns on the ceiling. It’s quite mesmerising.
More on the yoga: The yoga shala at Paradis is heaven – right on the edge of the beach, you can feel the sea breeze on your skin and watch the sun set over the sea as you finish your evening practice. There are three 90 minute sessions a day. Sunrise yoga at 8am is a strong, energetic class aimed at intermediate level. The 11am class is aimed at beginners – with an introduction to the Sun Salute and a variety of postures with frequent rest stops for integration. It’s still strong tough yoga that can challenge even experienced yogis. Both morning classes aim to energize and awaken the body, while relaxing the mind. The ‘yoga sunset’ class at 5.30pm is aimed at all levels and is a ‘switching off’ class – with a more ‘yin’ approach and a long yoga nidra. It’s soothing but it’s still no doddle.
Nico Shanti is the resident yoga teacher. He’s trained in a host of yoga traditions but settles on Raja yoga as his main influence. Shifting seamlessly from French to English, his classes are strong, his presence calm and collected with the odd flash of gentle humour and a deep-seated (but not overstated) spirituality. You don’t need to book yoga – you can turn up and pay on a class by class basis or book a package of classes. It’s great that it’s so ad hoc but it does mean that some classes are very crowded.
More on the surfing: The Surf House is open from 9am to 11pm and is one of the major hubs of the resort. The team is headed by Tarik Wahbi, one of Morocco’s top surfers. He’s from Agadir so he knows the coast inside out and, if you’re an experienced surfer, there’s a fleet of SUVs ready to take you and your kit around to find the best spots. If one spot doesn’t suit, no matter, they’ll keep going until they find one that does. And the choice is vast – fabled surf spots like Anchor Point, Hash Point and Killers are pretty much on the doorstep. Beginners stay on the home beach where the waves tend to be forgiving.
More on other fitness activities: The gym is small, very small – just one bike, treadmill, cross-trainer and multi-gym, but it’s all brand new and good quality. There’s also an outdoor training area with weights, ropes, parallel bars, monkey bars etc. Free exercise classes run each morning (10.30 – 11.30am) and afternoon (4-5pm) – Crossfit, Body Combat, Body Pump, Body Sculpt, beach running and body conditioning classes – Waist, Abs and Buttocks or Thighs, Abs and Buttocks.
More on the inside: Paradis Plage is a neat mix of modern international style with a twist of traditional Moroccan. Light and shadow are a key part of the design with all the light fittings designed to throw shadows as beautiful as any art work once the light goes down. We liked the mix of open spaces and secret hideaways – the bar has two nooks that have the feel of a Berber tent – complete with fires for cold evenings. There are two shops – one selling swim and surf gear; the other touting local food and beauty products, a small selection of clothing, slippers, hammam towels, jewellery and sweets.
More on the suites: Even the smallest Junior suite here is seriously spacious. The resort was originally designed as residential living so every unit has a living area, kitchen (redundant at the moment although they are planning to introduce a range of chef-cooked ready meals to buy from the shop) and generally a large balcony or terrace as well as bedroom/s and bathroom. The design is clean and fresh, with colours subtly echoing the environment – pebble grey, driftwood brown and soft surf blue and white. Artwork tends to be sea and beach images put on canvas.
Bathrooms are on the small side and only have showers – not baths. Hot water can be tough to find some mornings. The products are locally produced and feature the resort’s signature scent of orange flower. Robes and slippers are provided. Bottled water is replenished each day but no tea or coffee is provided (a little odd given there’s a kettle and even a coffee maker). The suites on the first and second floors have the best sea views (make sure you ask for a sea view – some look over the swimming pool which is less exhilarating) but we really liked the four Cabanas which have direct beach access. If topless sunbathing is your bag, ask for a suite with a large private balcony with loungers or Fatboys (full body beanbags).
More on the outside: The buildings are typically Moroccan, put together in square blocks like Lego. The exteriors are all painted in soft shades of terracotta that echo the hills behind. Although the pool isn’t huge, it doesn’t tend to get crowded as most people opt for the sea. It’s surrounded by loungers and some comfortable double beds. Be warned, the temperature is ‘brisk’.
The Surf House has a suitably laidback feel – there’s a bar with a big TV screen and a simple, nearly on the beach café/restaurant. During the day, everyone lounges around on slouchy Fatboys; come evening you can sit around the campfire with cocktails or hunker down to watch a movie at the open-air cinema (free showings at 9.15pm – usually in French). There are loads of places to lounge and loll. If you fancy the sand between your toes, the staff will happily set you up with loungers and parasols on the beach or you can just take your towel and walk along the beach for five minutes to find your own private spot.
More on the children’s activities: Paradis Plage is hugely family-friendly. The Kids Club caters for 4-11 year olds and is open from 10.30am – 1pm and again from 2-6pm. Parents we spoke to rated it very highly for its attitude – easygoing and fun yet professional and careful. It’s very much guided by what the children want to do – if they want to hunker down and play a quiet game of Monopoly, that’s fine. Or they can hang out on the beach or go to the children’s playground. There’s a small football pitch which doubles up as a volleyball court and beach games are also organised if there are enough bodies to play.
Camels meander up and down the beach and there’s also a small pony for those with a fear of heights. The resort can also arrange quad biking and, of course, surfing classes. Older children and teens often go to evening yoga sessions too.
More on the excursions: You could quite easily spend all your time at the resort but, if you get itchy feet, there are plenty of options. A trip to Paradise Valley in the mountains is recommended – just a 50 minute drive. Agadir is only twenty minutes away if you want to explore the old port city; or drive further down the coast to Essouira. Horse and camel riding can be arranged and you can also try your hands and feet at jet-skiing, wake-boarding or water-skiing.
Food & Drink: There are four main eateries at Paradis. L’Ocean is the buffet restaurant, serving hearty help yourself breakfast from 7-10am. The choice is huge and clearly aimed at the international clientele with something to suit everyone – freshly cooked breads (sadly not Arabic flatbread though), croissants and pain au chocolat; cereals; cakes and pastries; fruits and salads; cheese and meats. Hot choices include sausages, grilled tomatoes, boiled eggs – plus a chef is on hand cooking omelettes and pancakes to order. L’Ocean is also open in the evening with a three-course buffet. Mainly salads to start (but sometimes oysters appeared) usually followed by a choice of three tagines (Moroccan stew), vegetables, potatoes, pasta or risotto. A chef grills or stirfries to order (usually sausages, grilled chicken or a seafood stirfry).
Everywhere else is a la carte. Le Lounge is an outdoor terrace, overlooking the pool and sea with a very laidback vibe. Seating is all low-level couches and sofas around low tables. Open from lunch through to dinner, it serves burgers, club sandwiches and Panini alongside more elegant choices (seafood risotto with pan-fried fish; steak with dauphinoise potatoes, bream with smashed potatoes and capers). This isn’t a place to detox – everything is French-inspired and on the rich side. Vegetarians don’t fare terribly well here either.
Le 27 is open in the evening only. It’s an indoor restaurant and slightly more formal (though, to be honest, nowhere is that formal at PP). Le Spot is the Surf House’s eaterie, right on the beach, with a small menu – mainly burgers, fish, smoothies. If you have a fussy eater, there’s a children’s menu with the ubiquitous nuggets, pasta and so on (for under 12s). Children under five eat free. Buffet dinner at L’Ocean costs 210 DH (£15) for adults, 110 DH (£8.30) for children. Burgers, club sandwiches and Panini cost around 60 – 120DH (£4.50 – £9). A la carter starters cost around 75-150DH (£5.60 – £11), mains 140-220 DH (£10.50 – £16.60).
Fellow guests: It very much depends on the time of year. We visited at half-term when it was predominantly families with young children but during term-time it tends to attract couples. The clientele is mainly Moroccan, followed by French, German and British guests. People are friendly enough but most don’t tend to chat so, if you go solo, it might not be terribly sociable. You might also encounter the occasional dog – small dogs (under eight kilos) are allowed.
What’s queenly: The position – right on a long sweep of beautiful sandy beach. The yoga shala – saluting not just sun but sea as well. The soft nurturing of the spa makes you feel like a beach goddess.
What’s lowly: Vegetarians get a pretty raw deal here (the choices are very basic) and we had hoped for more traditional Moroccan fare. The ‘heated’ swimming pool was rather chilly on our visit. Don’t be surprised by the odd power cut.
Costs: Accommodation at Paradis Plage is on a bed and breakfast basis, starting at 1680 DH (£125) per night. Then you can add on a variety of packages. For example, a five day spa package (with a treatment each day) costs 1,880 DH (£142).
A one day package incorporating a surf lesson, yoga class and a 25 minute relaxing surf massage costs 850 DH (£64). The Sensory hammam costs 150 DH (£11) for 30 mins while the traditional hammam is 300 DH (£22) for 50 mins. Massage (Balinese, Thai, Ayurvedic) costs 600 DH (£45) for an hour. A package of ten yoga classes costs 1,200 DH (£90).
Two 90 minute beginners surf classes cost 595 DH (£45) or five days worth of classes cost 1,400 DH (£105). All surf classes include surf boards and wetsuits. Private fitness sessions are available at 400 DH (£30) a session. A trip to Paradise Valley costs 300DH (£22) per person (minimum of two). 15 minutes jet-skiing costs 250 DH (£19). Quad biking costs 300DH (£22) for an hour.
Getting there: Paradis Plage is an hour from Agadir airport. The resort can arrange a taxi. Taxi transfer to and from Agadir airport costs 400DH (£30.22) each way.
Reviewed by Jane Alexander
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