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Royal Atlas Hotel,(Agadir, Morocco)

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5 Star Hotel in Agadir, Morocco.

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      11.08.2011 11:46
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      A lovely hotel with great pools, perfect for relaxing - but not huge amounts to do in the area

      Last month my partner and I spent a week in Morocco. We wanted a week of poolside relaxation after a busy period at work so even though we knew we would be breaking the week up with a trip to Marrakech, we decided to go all inclusive. We booked the Royal Atlas in Agadir as we knew it was right on the beach and had some of the best ratings on TripAdvisor! On arrival... When we arrived at the hotel it was just before midnight and I was instantly impressed after seeing some of the other hotels along the half hour journey from the airport! The marble floors, huge sofas and polite receptionists gave a great first impression of the hotel as we walked in and were promptly given our keys and towel cards. The bars were shut and everything was very quiet but as our bags were being taken to our room we had a quick look around the bar, reception and restaurants to get a feel for the place. Everything was smart and clean although we were slightly concerned about the lack of guests! We didn't see a single soul that evening walking around the hotel so we decided that most guests must be arriving the next day! The bedroom... My immediate impression of our room that evening was excellent. Huge bed, dressing table, a couple of wardrobes and lots of space for moving round which is something I find really important. It was all tastefully decorated in brown and cream with some beautiful Moroccan art on the walls and a huge mirror which is always a bonus! I was delighted to see that we had a balcony, but it wasn't until the morning that I realised that it was overlooking the street, which was luckily very quiet! Still, it would have been a lot nicer to have a sea or pool view! For me the most important thing about a bathroom is that it is clean and modern and this one certainly ticked the boxes. The large marble sink was rectangular with lots of space around it to keep all of my toiletries. The bath was a good size with a powerful shower over it and plenty of towels and bath mats were provided. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gels and creams were complementary and provided in small bottles which were replaced every day even if I had only used a tiny bit. I stopped using them quickly along with their soap to be environmentally friendly even if they weren't! The toilet was separate to the bathroom which is always useful! The facilities at Royal Atlas... The best thing about the resort for me was the swimming pools. It was photographs of them that sold the hotel to me in the first place and I wasn't disappointed as I made my way down on our first day. The complex is made up of three large pools which are all entwined and 'curvy' for want of a better word. They are odd circular shapes which all interlink with a lovely pool bar in the middle. In hot weather I find it really difficult to sit or walk around in the sun so I used the pool bar with its tables and chairs both in the sun and shade regularly. The largest pool was good for swimming in as there was plenty of room, although it was the busiest of the pools. The second was another deep pool but a small oval shape which I assumed would be used for the aqua aerobic classes but never saw these classes taking place! I didn't actually go in this pool the whole time I was there. My favourite was the shallow children's pool but with very few kids in the resort I got the whole thing to myself most days! Round the edge of all of the pools was the foot of shallower water where I spent hours reading my books keeping cool in the water but keeping my book and rest of my body dry! Even in the kid's pool this was great because there was a ledge around the edge with an inch of water where I spent most of my day! Every day a sign was up outside the pool bar to display a list of activities taking place during the day. This always included 10.00 a.m. pilates an 11.30 a.m. aqua aerobics, neither of which I ever saw taking place. I would have loved both! Guests could also play table tennis or volleyball in the grounds or use the gym which we didn't find until the final day! The hotel also had a spa which was very expensive. The massages started at 300dh (£24) with most spa experiences priced at double that amount. Apparently the wellness centre had a whirlpool bath, Turkish bath, and spa treatments. We didn't use it while we were there, mainly because we were always too hot in the sun and it was closed in the evening. I did pop down to have a look round and it looked wonderful. What did we eat? There were three restaurants at the Royal Atlas Hotel, the main one of which was L'Ocean which served the three main meals of the day, all buffet style. Breakfast was served from 7.00 - 10.00 a.m. and included all the usual including croissants, pastries, cereal and hot items such as bacon, beans and sausages. Omelettes were made fresh by the cooks and individuals could choose from many toppings. Next to the omelette station were the crepes which were made quickly and there was never a queue. This was my favourite breakfast item and while crepes with chocolate sauce isn't the healthiest start to the day, it was definitely the tastiest! Lunch was served from 12.30 - 2.30 p.m. and included a range of meats in sauce with a type of potato, rice and pasta each day. The chefs also prepared mini pizzas which weren't great and were very dry. The bread base was already cooked and they just melted cheese and a couple of toppings on it. Dinner was served in L'Ocean from 7.00 - 9.30 p.m. and was a wonderful range of traditional Moroccan food and other dishes from around the world. There was a large selection of soups and different breads for starter and a huge salad table with every variety possible. Lamb, chicken or fish tagine served with cous cous was a regular favourite for main course but there were plenty of other options including many other meat dishes and types of potato. Although the meals served in L'Ocean were buffets, there was waiter service to provide drinks at all three. The dining room was absolutely huge and it was never entirely full as there was always room for an overspill, however we chose to sit outside on the terrace most evenings where it was much quieter. On the second night of the holiday we went to the hotel's Italian restaurant, Ambiano, which not only served wonderful food but also had great service. We were delighted when instead of a glass of red and white wine each they brought a bottle each. Awesome! As part of the all-inclusive package we could select one starter, main and dessert from Ambiano's excellent set menu. The starters included goose liver and apple salad, tomato soup and a selection of cold meats. Alex loved his soup but the goose liver I chose was a little too adventurous for me! I opted for the prosciutto pizza which was a decent size and delicious. Alex's fillet steak was served beautifully but I was happy I went for the pizza as the steak was a much smaller portion and was served with FOUR homemade chips! Hilarious! We both opted for the mixed ice cream option for dessert but the other options including fruit salad and panna cotta looked great. We decided to visit the Moroccan restaurant El Zahab on our penultimate night at the hotel. The décor was fantastic with a dark setting by candlelight and with bright coloured silk curtains and huge comfy chairs to sit on. The menu was a set menu with a starter, main and dessert which consisted of a range of Moroccan specialities. I opted for the Harira soup which I did like but I needed a few pieces of bread to be able to eat the majority of it. Alex's aubergine salad looked much tastier. For main course I went for the sea bass which was served with couscous and tomatoes and Alex chose the lamb tagine, again served with couscous. Both meals were really tasty and were improved further by our evening entertainment, the dancers. Three young ladies in wonderful Aladdin-type costume danced to traditional Moroccan music and were welcome entertainment for 20 minutes during the meal. Desserts were all cream based which didn't suit either of us, although Alex's fruit salad (covered in cream) was apparently very tasty. My orange sorbet was a great end to the meal, although it was covered in almonds which I had to pick off because I can't stand them! ALL-inclusive? We booked an all inclusive mainly out of laziness. At our hotel in Kenya in January we were envious of the guests who could walk up to the bar and grab a bottle of water at any point of the day without having to pay, or could drink endless cocktails in the evening. Anyway, when we realised that it would only cost us £50 extra each to go all inclusive rather than the regular bed and breakfast rate we decided it would be a great way to save money, even though we would be leaving for a couple of days in Marrakech in the middle of the holiday. As I've already mentioned, the food was very good without being spectacular, but it was great to know that there was a constant supply of food as and when I needed it. I have a huge appetite and the idea of 'free' food was very appealing, and well used! The all inclusive meals were served in L'Ocean restaurant but we were also able to dine at both Amiano, the Italian restaurant and El Yacult the Moroccan restaurant once during the week. There was a late breakfast served at the pool bar which was nice after a morning swim. This was a very basic continental breakfast with various croissants and other pastries served with jam. The mid-afternoon snacks again were very simple, with guests offered the choice of four different sandwiches, served with chips and salad. There were other meals and snacks on the menu available but only the sandwiches were included in the all-inclusive package. The main advantage of going all-inclusive was the unlimited drinks. In 40 degrees we needed constant refreshment by the pool and could just go up and grab a couple of bottles of water at a time. Small bottles of beer were served from 10.00 a.m. which to me seemed quite early but a lot of people were drinking them! Glass bottles of Fanta, Sprite and other soft drinks were also included but in the heat they didn't stay cold long and I never managed to finish a whole bottle! Drinks in the evening were served with dinner in the restaurants or in the main bar until 11.00 p.m. I'm not a big alcohol drinker myself but it would have been nice to have the option of a soft drink before bed. Many alcoholic drinks were available including different wines and beers and local spirits. The few times that I had vodka with Diet Coke I had to ask for a separate Diet Coke with it because the drink was so strong! One thing I did notice was that the staff didn't really care who was all-inclusive and who wasn't. We were rarely asked for our room number and there was no 'wristband' to identify who was on which package. The staff... The staff at the Royal Atlas were hit and miss, especially in the case of waiters and pool bar staff. The waiters in the two speciality restaurants were helpful and polite, but in a quieter more relaxed setting this could be expected. However, in L'Ocean, the much busier main restaurant with people constantly walking up and down the aisles to get food, the waiters looked harassed and were occasionally rude. One night we ate on the terrace and sat down on a table which they had just cleared as someone else left. We hadn't realised that they would want to completely remake up the table with a new table cloth etc so were left feeling very awkward as they did this around us scowling. For the rest of that evening they pretty much ignored us as we tried to order drinks and when we did they didn't come until we were on our dessert! We sat inside the restaurant the next evening so we wouldn't be recognised! One member of staff in particular was especially helpful during our stay and that was the Concierge. We had booked a night's accommodation in Marrakech but had no idea how to go about getting there! We went to speak to the Concierge who asked when we would like to go and times etc and said he would handle it! When we got back to our room after sunbathing that day two coach tickets were waiting for us in our room along with a map of where the coach station was! Superb! and a word about the guests... I'm not sure what I was expecting from the other guests at the hotel but I was pleased to find that it was mainly couples and families (without young children). Outside of the summer holidays there were few children around the pool which was lovely and relaxing. Most guests were French but there were also more Brits than I had imagined and even the usual few men in Union Jack swimshorts; exactly why I don't holiday on the Costa Del Sol! Entertainment... Hmmm. Entertainment-wise, Royal Atlas was average. They had an excellent singer in the main bar every evening for a few hours and he was happy for guests to come up and sing which was nice when we were just sitting relaxing with a drink. However after the second night we noticed that we were hearing the same songs and it became a little more boring. As I mentioned there were dancers in the Moroccan restaurant which was a nice touch, and one of the evenings there were a group of male dancers\gymnasts in the bar performing which was rather impressive. They were good break-dancers and also did lots of exciting things like standing on each other's heads and shoulders! I was also very disappointed with the pool activities. On my first day by the pool I saw a sign up which said there was aqua-aerobics that morning, pilates after lunch and volleyball in the afternoon. I'm not suggesting that I would have gone to any of these and certainly not more than once, but I never saw any of these activities taking place! It's my fault that I didn't ask the whole time I was there, but it's a little strange that we never heard anything about them or saw the classes taking place. Overall... I had a fantastic time at the Royal Atlas and it was exactly what I was looking for in a week off work. If you're looking for relaxation in a hot country and are happy to chill out by a pool for a week then this could be the place for you. However, if you need something with a bit more action and more entertainment and things to see you would probably be better off in another hotel in another city like Marrakech. The all-inclusive package was worth it for the price although as can be expected it did get boring towards the end. We paid £550 each for one week as a package deal including flights which I thought was great value considering the amount we would have paid for food and drink on top. It was great to have the two other restaurants to mix it up although I would have liked more than one visit. By far the best thing was the pool area. It was wonderful to be able to relax without children screaming and splashing all day and having the pool bar right next to us to be able to get a drink and sit in the shade for a while. The lack of activities wasn't a problem for me but it was disappointing to see things advertised which didn't seem to exist! I feel I'm being quite mean with my rating here. If the hotel were in another city such as Marrakech where there is more to do it would have received a solid 4 stars, however looking at the whole package and location I will rate it 3 stars.

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