AGADIR BEACH CLUB
Our mission in Agadir – trying out Atlantic Tennis Academy and figuring out whether this city will become our base for the next three months. We arrive on a gray rainy morning after a sleepless 12-hour ride from Fez and head straight for Agadir Beach Club – 4 star hotel according to TripAdvisor and Hotels.com. A very tiny and very old petit taxi drops us off in front of a staircase leading to a very large white building. There is no portiere at the door, but the receptionist greets us cordially. She hands out the keys to our room and points in the direction of the elevator.
We enter a dim circular corridor with no signs and continue for a few minutes, passing several disheveled uninhabited suites with swung-open doors, a few boarded-up entrances, a group of hotel personnel with cleaning carts – suggesting the floor is not entirely abandoned – and an old photo of Moroccan women at a festival or national event. The hotel’s size, layout and 80s look remind me of Algiers’ state-run El Aurassi but with Chinese-style architectural elements and ornaments that for whatever reason have been picked for Beach Club’s decor.
The room is neither too big, nor too small, not pretty, nor ugly,
but lacking in imagination and,after Fez’ riad, simply blah. We leave our luggage and make thesame trip back to the cafeteria.
The breakfast is decent but not outstanding, with fresh yogurt and flavorful jams, delicious merguez and freshly-baked Moroccan bread making up for an uninspired egg-only omelet, oily fried vegetables, and instant coffee. The hotel leaves us with an impression of mediocre management – sufficient to keep the place running but lacking in any creativity or originality. We finish our meal and head to the reception desk to negotiate early check out.
As I discover later, many mid-range hotels in Agadir are simply not great value. To find a place to my liking in the city center, I need to pay close to $200. Just outside the city, however, particularly in the direction of Tamraght, a Berber fishing village some 15km north of Agadir, the rates (and vibe) are different. Ostentatious hotels give way to comfortable but unassuming bed and breakfasts, paved seafront promenade to long stretches of beach (alas, encroached upon by a huge construction site for the new Taghazout Bay megaresort), and resort lovers to hippies and surfers. And even though there are few attractions here besides the sun and the beach, you are only about 15 minutes away from the city center by bus or grand taxi.
Surf Hotel where we check in next is the opposite of Beach Club. It is small, inexpensive and brimming with character. This 9-room cozy enclave slash surf school provides all the necessary services and amenities for a great surfing vacation. For 400 dirham (equivalent of $40) guests are offered a full-day group instruction, which includes all equipment, transportation and lunch. Delicious dinner is shared in a communal atmosphere on a spacious sunny terrace with views of the Atlantic and brightly painted houses; sounds of prayer from a nearby mosque and chilled coffee house music in the background. Care put into this place by the young surfer-owner and his dynamic team make for a great stay not just for the thrill-seeking surfers but for anyone who does not mind venturing to the outskirts of Agadir in search of great vibes and good value.