I had my very own Eureka moment when I booked a beauty and wellness package at the spa in the Club Med resort in Agadir, Morocco.
A gorgeous sight awaited me on the first day of my programme in the Club Med Spa by Decleor, as an aromatic bath filled with scented oils and floating frangipani was bubbling in the centre of the room. A French therapist was standing by its side to make sure I didn't break my neck, as I clambered in via four steps.
Shedding the slippers and robe I had been given, I was left wearing only the teeny paper thong, and conscious that my ample bottom was inches away from the therapist's face, I kind of panicked and plunged in. But unlike Archimedes' delight when he discovered that the volume of water displaced was equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, I was left scarlet-cheeked – all four cheeks, I suspect.
A veritable tsunami of lavishly scented Decleor bathwater cascaded over the side, and swamped both the floor and the therapist's shoes and trouser ends. Having mopped up the worst of the tidal wave, she left the room to change her clothes, and I was left looking like a cross between the Michelin Man and a shar-pei puppy, sitting in the remaining four inches of water. Quelle horreur! To her credit, the therapist returned and gave me a superb treatment.
For those who haven't tried it, Club Med is an organisation that offers premium all-inclusive holidays to over 80 exclusive resorts all around the world. Once you pay for the holiday, you can enjoy gourmet food, endless bar drinks and snacks, fantastic children's clubs and a multitude of sports and activities.
When you arrive at the carved wooden door at the heart of Agadir, the fragrance of oleander and eucalyptus assails your senses. Accommodation is in the form of two-storey apartments spread all over the complex, with either a garden or sea view.
Decorated in typical Moroccan style, mine was a first-floor apartment on the garden side, complete with a terrace. The palm-lined beach is fabulous, stretching for 5.5 miles, and Club Med has a private stretch cordoned off, with a security guard present and complimentary refreshing drinks on offer.
While Club Med is open to anyone, on my trip there I noticed that it predominantly catered for families. It would be very attractive to parents who are looking to improve their children's French, as this is the language that is predominantly spoken. Don't worry, though, they speak English as well. The children's clubs are famous for their excellence, and all through my week there, I could see gangs of happy children roaming around under the supervision of the Club Med staff, known as "GOs", or Gentils Organisateurs (Kind Organisers.) The Baby Club starts at four months, and then there is the Petit Club, Mini Club and Junior Club, which go up to the age of 18.
The Guests at Club Med are known as "GMs," or Gentils Membres, and the GOs and GMs dine, drink, and dance together every day and night, and participate in sports and evening shows together. As it is all-inclusive, meals are served in Le Founty, the buffet restaurant in the heart of the resort, which allows for indoor and outdoor dining. There is a different theme for dinner every evening, which sees guests dressing up in black and white, sporty, glamorous, jeans etc. There is a huge choice of food available, and you won't get bored as there is a wide range of different specials produced every night. A trip to the L'Arganier restaurant is a must – it is only open on certain evenings and provides Moroccan specialities.
The thing about Club Med is that you will never starve. Drinks and snacks are continually available, as my waistline can testify. I'm not one bit sporty, and spent my week by the pool and the beach, but those of you who are could enjoy the 18-hole course at the Golf des Dunes, tennis on one of the resort's 18 courts, followed by archery or a riding lesson. Some water sports cost extra.The complex is guarded, so you will always feel safe, and once outside the resort, you can enjoy the typical Moroccan charms. The people are very friendly and helpful, and although women get a lot of attention, it is all very good-natured. I went with Sunway, which offers one and two-day trips to Marrakech, trips to typical Berber evenings, visits to the old walled city of Taroudant and other excursions.
If you decide to visit the local souk, check out the Suq al-Had market, which is filled with the spices of North Africa, among other things. It's noisy, bustling and not for the faint-hearted – be prepared to haggle. And beware, they are very good at it there, as I learned to my dismay.
By the end of my week there, I came away with glistening, baby-soft skin, having been massaged, pummelled, buffed and polished to an inch of my life at the spa. My knowledge of the French language had been re-awakened, I had learned to deal with the hagglers, and I had got a good flavour of Moroccan life. And hopefully, the floor at the spa eventually dried out.
Andrea Smith travelled to Club Med Agadir courtesy of Sunway Holidays, which is the general sales agent for Club Med in Ireland. Sunway is currently offering a one-week, all-inclusive deal to Club Med Agadir from €999 per adult, and €699 per child. Prices include flights, transfers, all inclusive (accommodation, food, drinks & activity programme) for seven nights, 20kg baggage allowance and all taxes. For this and other great Sunway deals to over 70 destinations worldwide check out www.sunway.ie or tel: 01-2886828