Essaouira, Morocco’s Family Destination staying at Family-Run Le Jardin des Douars
17 Mar 2017
- Head to the beach for all manner of activities including water sports and camel rides and dine at Ocean Vagabond
- Explore the small charming medina and enjoy the fascinating Port
- Family-run Le Jardin des Douars offer a family outdoor heated pool, rooms for families of all sizes and children’s menus and babysitting arrangements
- Take a family excursion to the Villa Juba Farm and meet the resident animals including horses, donkeys, camels and goats over lunch
- Learn to cook as a family at l’Atelier Madada located in the medina
Over the past few years Essaouira’s popularity has been growing as a holiday destination. Given its size and the number of visitors each year (there are direct flights from Paris, London and Brussels only), it is the ideal family destination and the perfect short haul year-round sunshine destination. The laid-back beach and port atmosphere and extensive activities for families offered by welcoming hosts are the perfect combination when staying at family-run Le Jardin des Douars.
Set in botanical gardens, Le Jardin des Douars is the perfect base to experience Moroccan hospitality, offering privacy and easy access to the beach, port and medina. Made up of a series of traditional terracotta Moroccan countryside buildings, Le Jardin des Douars offers a unique setting. There are just 28 bedrooms, suites and luxury villas; all with their own outdoor space, making it a truly relaxing retreat. The bedrooms, suites and luxury villas can accommodate families as small as three and as large as ten.
There is a heated family outdoor pool specifically designed for families to have fun in together and splash about in and of course swim. A separate adults only pool is also available ensuring all guests are happy.
The hotel’s three dining areas offer distinct experiences. One main indoor dining room offers wonderful views of the botanical gardens and the menu is an extensive fusion of Moroccan and French cuisine. Children’s menus are standard at mealtimes and highchairs and cots are available. A smaller more secluded couples dining room is also available and should parents want to dine here, babysitting arrangements can be made in advance. On Sundays everyone gathers for the outdoor barbeque.
The 11km-long stretch of sandy beach is ideal for all manner of water sports and families can enjoy surf lessons and kite-surfing or explore the beach on four legs on top of one of the camels sitting on the beach. If relaxation is all that is required, beach fans can hire sunbeds and umbrellas and relax on the beach. A great lunch spot on the beach is Ocean Vagabond who can also assist with surf lessons.
Back at Le Jardin des Douars, a hammam and spa is open until 8pm daily, with treatments using traditional argan oil. Children’s massages are also available.
Located at the port, the famous relaxed fish stands of Essaouira’s port sit side-by-side and offer a truly unique dining experience with chefs attracting you and inviting you to sit as they display their magnificent selection of fresh fish. Visitors simply pick from a selection of freshly caught fish, this is then cooked on the grill and served with salad and bread. After lunch families can explore the medina, located opposite.
The walled medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here visitors will discover the most laid-back medina in Morocco, compared to larger towns and cities, it is perfect to explore as a family. Children may be drawn to the bright colours in the medina especially the many galleries showcasing a vast selection of brightly coloured paintings for sale. Most of the artists are local and self-taught and happy to engage with guests. The Galerie Damgaard, located at the gates of the medina, showcases Arab and Berbere cultures with a creative power of gesture, wide variety of themes and plenty of jubilant colour.
For a family excursion, the Villa Juba Farm is situated a few minutes from Essaouira. The farm offers a countryside setting ideal for lunch. The tranquillity within the 15 acre estate is only occasionally disturbed by the sounds of the animals including horses, donkeys, camels, goats and ducks. Families can enjoy a tour of the farm, lunch and also have a swim in the pool. Must be reserved in advance and open daily.
How about learning to cook together as a family? Located in a former almond warehouse by the entrance to the medina, l’Atelier Madada welcomes groups for cookery classes. Here Moroccan gastronomy is the focus and guests prepare tajines, couscous and pastillas and more. After enjoying the lunch, prepared as a family, guests embark on a walking tour of the souks where new discoveries are made.
Essaouira has around 320 days of sunshine each year and offers a laid-back vibe, not taken over by tourism. It is an ideal destination for families looking to get away and recharge surrounded by some of the warmest hospitality, all just over three hours direct from three European cities.
B&B priced from 1400 MAD (£98) for a room that sleeps two adults and one child or from 1700 MAD (£148) for a family room that sleeps two adults and two children, per night
Travel Information: easyJet fly between London Luton and Essaouira twice per week on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Essaouira airport is located 15 minutes from Le Jardin des Douars and a shuttle service is available. Marrakech is about three hours from Essaouira by coach or less by car.