Travel: Our man Connoisseur Clive heads to MarrakechApril, 2013
Our man grapples with the hubbub of the Moroccan souks before kicking back with some golfing treats
‘Jeans, t-shirt, Rolex, carpet?’ As sales pitches go it was straightforward and to the point but, in truth, it was also misjudged.
One look at me would have told him that my jeans and t-shirt days are long gone and, with it, the prospect of being able to afford such a watch. What might not have been quite so obvious was that I’ve just had the downstairs done thanks to the good folk of Carpetright in Bristol.
But I’m being flippant, of course. This month we are in Marrakech, Morocco’s third largest city, or, to be more precise, in the Medina of the old fortified city. This is where it all goes on, both at night and during the day, and if you like your food, leather, sandals, jewellery, pottery, spices, dried fruit, carpets (and haggling) in a huge bundle of Aladdin-type caves then this is for you.
A friend of mine ‘wasn’t fussed’ on Marrakech (it was too ‘in your face’) though he isn’t too fussed with many things. It is a bit ‘in your face’ but it’s also invigorating and stimulating, there are different smells and sights around every corner.
Without being too wistful it makes you feel young. I love it. We are on the 1st tee at Royal Golf and I have been paired up with two of our French friends and a hotel owner from Casablanca. The latter has to take a provisional at the 1st; it is too early for the ‘play it again’ gag and I keep quiet.
Bernard and Alain are sporting white neckerchiefs and, for the next four hours, I can’t look at Bernard without thinking of Charles Hawtrey as he flounces elegantly from one hole to the next.
Bernard’s appearance is all quite in keeping with our surrounds. There is a colonial feel to Royal Golf and I’m not the first important guest the club have welcomed, following in the footsteps of Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Ike Eisenhower.
It is also tropical with every hole lined by 100-year-old vegetation – the only background noise that of squawking birds – and over 15,000 eucalyptus, palm, olive and orange trees.
You will, for a small sum, be accompanied by a caddy.
This is a good thing. Within two holes Hassan has cottoned on to the fact that I under-club any approach of over 100 yards (anything under I tend to thin) and, on the cue of his affected scowl, I begin to follow his advice and start hitting more greens.
Two holes stand out for different reasons; the 7th is a majestic par 5 where the trees appeared to be at their grandest while the 15th is the club’s signature hole. It is nicknamed Brigitte, after Brigitte Bardot, because of two large mounds that protect the front of the green.
If you like your food, leather, sandals, jewellery, pottery, spices, dried fruit, carpets (and haggling) in a huge bundle of Aladdin-type caves then this is for you. Barbara Windsor’s name pops up, as do some French actresses. None of us have any idea what the other is talking about but, nevertheless, it lasts the length of the hole.
Within 20 minutes we have circumnavigated the city and are back at the Murano Resort in the Palmaraie part of the city.
Everything here is spacious, the rooms are enormous and every bathroom is decadently decked out with black marble or mosaic tiles. Outside there are three hectares of landscaped garden to wander around. If you tire of one pool there are four others to try. This is all about relaxing amid the palm groves, and is the perfect escape from an evening’s bartering for a natty silk scarf.
Food (and massages for that matter) can be served in your room and transfers and taxis can be booked with ease. And it is back in the taxi for a dawn raid on the Amelkis Golf Club before the three-hour flight home. This is just down the road from the Royal but there are none of the vast areas of woodland, rather huge sand waste grounds, water features and rolling fairways.
At the risk of sounding trite it is a bit linksy though the sea is 100 miles away. This has hosted the European Tour and recently added a third nine, the Green. But I am here for the Blue and the Red.
This is what holiday golf should be, straightforward enough off the tee with little or no rough. And sitting in the far distance from every hole, and even some of the positions I found myself in, are the snow-topped Atlas Mountains.
The front nine harvests 21 points at which point Mrs Clive joins me in the buggy and, despite trying to relay that we are on for something incredible, my concentration is broken. Two holes later, having just played through a friendly threeball, we wave back to our new friends now 250 yards away as Mrs C has dropped her book on the tee. It’s the only thing she brought.
But there are more important things in life than crashing through the 40-point mark (38 if you’re wondering) and the rest of the round is just lovely – warm temperatures, no cars, quick greens, the odd donkey and taking lines off a peak of the Atlas Mountains.
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Murano Resort Marrakech
7 nights B&B in a double/twin (sharing)
5 rounds of golf per person (Amelkis, Samanah, Al Maaden, Royal Golf de Marrakech and Palmeraie)
Return airport and golf course transfers
From £599 per person
Palmeraie Golf Palace
7 nights B&B in a Deluxe double/twin (sharing)
5 rounds at Palmeraie Golf Club
Return airport transfers
From £649 per person
Naoura Barriere Hotel & Ryads
7 nights B&B in a Superior double/twin (sharing)
6 rounds of golf per person (Amelkis, Samanah, Al Maaden, Royal Golf de Marrakech and Palmeraie)
Return airport and golf course transfers
Welcome gift of 3 golf balls per person
A 30 minute massage in the USpa
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