Yoga, Surf and Spa
The Paradis Plage in Morocco isn’t a yoga retreat as such, although you can treat it like one if you wish. There are three yoga classes a day and luxury spa facilities so you can indulge yourself as much as you like, or if you’d rather, do a bit of yoga and then head to the souk for some shopping – it’s completely up to you.
The surf, yoga and spa resort is about an hour in the car from Agadir, and a stone’s throw from Taghazout, which was once a destination for hippies, and is now a cool surfing resort. The ambience in the hotel is friendly and I find that I liked being called ‘Madame’. It’s five star standards but without the pomp and pretentiousness – great. It feels quiet and I enquire if it’s because it’s Ramadan, the staff assure me that it always ‘feels’ quiet as the hotel has been designed for ultimate rest and relaxation.
The yoga studio is on their private beach, it’s a very special place to practice, you can hear and see the waves crashing against the shore, yet there’s a stillness that prevails. The classes are taught in English by Karsten Kroll, their resident teacher. Karsten trained as a contemporary dancer and has been practising yoga for over 25 years, he now teaches all classes at Paradis Plage.
The morning class is Vinyasa Flow, Karsten explains: “I’m getting people ready for the Sun Salutation and if I feel people can handle it, then I spice it up a bit. The lunchtime class is responsive to individual needs, help with postures and alignment. If people have something specific that they want to work on, then I can help them with that.” “The evening class is Yin, all of yoga is the Yang, this is the other side, about balance, taking time, patience and respect – perfect for combining with surfing.” Karsten also offers an energy clearing massage, Amma – a traditional Japanese massage, using acupuncture point massage, administered through clothing, and uses rhythmic percussions, stretches and energy scans. Relaxing and stimulating the body, which unlocks energy and provides a renewed vitality. Karsten is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and gentle soul who is there to help you on your yogic journey, whatever you
decide that may be.
I speak to a woman at breakfast, Janet from Ipswich who’s here on her own. She was attracted by the relaxed approach to wellbeing that Paradis Plage offers. She stayed for seven days and went to two classes a day and had two treatments a day – she didn’t want to go home. Breakfast is a casual but delicious affair. Choose from freshly made crepes, omelettes, Moroccan pastries, tagines, yoghurts, fruits, cereals, juices, and a vegan diet is catered for.
When I head to my first surf lesson the following morning, I’m extremely nervous, I’m not a strong swimmer and have certainly never surfed. At the surf school we are provided with wetsuits, given a few instructions, and then it’s straight into the water. It’s the perfect place for beginners as the seabed slopes gradually and you can walk out quite far before it goes over your head, although the waves are strong. We’re a small group of eight and we spend hours paddling out and returning to shore, not upright, but at least in Cobra stance –
I fall off numerous times but it’s the best fun I’ve had in ages. The instructors are very skilled and supportive and a couple in the group do actually manage to stand up and ride the waves on their first lesson. I’m booked in for a hammam and massage, the spa area is a beautifully tiled and peaceful place.
The hotel manager asks me: “Have you had a hamman before – some English women don’t like it?” I reassured him that I had, although as I walked off I couldn’t actually remember when. As soon as I got inside I realized why he’d asked me. You have to get naked, well almost, I was given some paper G-strings to wear and then taken into the steam baths. Here I was washed, exfoliated, oiled, and creamed with the utmost care and precision, it was a beautiful experience. This was followed by a massage of exceptional skill, starting with a gentle foot massage, full body massage, and head massage – heaven!
I felt truly relaxed, renewed and cared for afterwards. Marie France Riera, the Director of Wellbeing at Paradis Plage explains why: “It’s special because you have the tradition of the Moroccan hammam combined with the best organic products of the spa.” Marie France moved to Morocco from France for work years ago. She explains why she stayed: “The people, the tradition. It’s simple to live here, it’s very quiet and there is a lot of generosity. It’s very Inclusive – everybody together.”
I experienced this on a trip to Souk El Had, which is the third biggest market in the world, and is about half an hour from the hotel. There’s a great sense of community here and I was made to feel very welcome, I didn’t wear a veil, but a lot of the women in Agadir don’t either. It’s enormous and the range of stalls is jaw-dropping, you will certainly get lost but it’s worth it, I got the most unusual pair of leather, hand-embroidered slippers for a mere £15.
Paradis Plage manages to achieve that perfect balance of hassle-free wellness, luxury, and relaxation, for the beginner, the intermediate, or the advanced yogi. Prices at Paradis Plage start from €105 per night.
ThomsonFly, Air Arabia and Easyjet all fly from Manchester to Agadir. For more information on Morocco please visit muchmorocco.com “It’s special because you have the tradition of the Moroccan hammam combined with the best organic products of the spa.” WRITTEN BY HANNAH ANSTEE HANNAH IS A FREELANCE TRAVEL AND WELLBEING WRITER BASED IN HEBDEN BRIDGE. [email protected] TWITTER @HANNAHANSTEE