We had the most relaxing holiday at Villa Gonatouki,with every need taken care of by the friendly staff.
We were met as our car pulled up outside the villa. Owner Bruno introduced himself and then took us on a tour of the house intoducing us to all the other staff.
We had booked the cheapest 'comfort' room, but the cancellation of a large group left my partner and I the only guests for the week. We were offered the choice of the two best rooms in the villa as a complimentary upgrade. This was a lovely gesture and the room we chose was palatial. These rooms are huge and their balconies bigger still. However, throughout our stay the doors to all the vacant rooms were open and we were nosy; I have to say I'd have been happy staying in any of them.
The communal areas of the house are extensive, with a lounge area with corner sofa, a lounge featuring luscious beanbags, a large room equipped with a huge TV, and an inner courtyard. Every room is beautifully furnished and accessorised, giving a sumptuous, luxurious feel.
Outside, there's a huge terrace with tables, chairs and parasols. Steps lead down to the large pool and many comfortable sunloungers. Towels are provided for around the pool - another nice touch. Another long pool for serious swimming sits on a higher level, appearing to be an extension of the impressive hallway.
The villa has free Wi-Fi and the signal is strong wherever you are, even by the pool. There's a masseuse on staff with very reasonable rates for massage and beauty treatments. My partner and I both had two massages each during our week's stay.
The villa sits in green gardens, and several hammocks hang in the shade of some trees. A pleasant wind kept us from being overly hot, and I found using the pool was more for variety than the necessity of keeping cool.
Breakfast, we were told, could be taken any time we liked. Each morning we were presented with a basket of fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice, very good coffee, and freshly made local breads with jams and maple syrup. On the first day we felt obliged to eat all of the bread, but learned that would only lead to more being delivered to the table!
We were offered the option of lunch as we sat by the pool. We declined, simply because breakfast and dinner are so filling. In any case, a plate of fruit was brought to us each afternoon.
Bruno emailed two days before our flight to ask if we'd like dinner on the first evening. We took him up on the offer, and then ate dinner in the hotel for the rest of our stay. Bruno is quite correct in extolling the culinary skills of his cook. Every night we enjoyed a different appetizer, starter, main and dessert. No menu, just fabulous Moroccan food brought to the table. Each evening we left the table with very full bellies. Most of the dishes we would never have tried had we had to select from a restaurant menu, so if I offer only one piece of advice it would be to eat at Villa Gonatouki on the first night just so you know what you'll be missing if you decide to eat anywhere else!
From our second night onwards, our appetizer was delivered to us on our roof terrace, leading me to write home that 'it doesn't matter where you go, they'll find you with food.'
Many other reviews touch on the remoteness of the location, unpaved road and difficulty in finding Villa Gonatouki. In reality, Bruno provided clear instructions and we found it without any problem. If you were to have difficulty, he's at the end of the phone. The final stretch of road is unpaved, but still reasonable. A car would be needed for excursions into Essaouira as, yes the location is remote. But the remoteness pays you back in piece and tranquility. It's quiet. Plus the absence of light pollution makes it quite stunning at night. Every night without fail you could see every star in the sky. Plus the Milky Way is visible, and I've never seen it before, not even once, so to see it every night was magical.
We spent each day sitting by the pool reading good books. You can hear the occasional goat or donkey, and the wind in the trees. If you stand you can see the sea. A group of naughty local donkeys provided entertainment as they were rather partial to the Villa's lawn, trying to eat as much as they could before Bruno spotted them! We also spotted a chameleon in the foliage by the front door.
A few of our days started off cloudy, but without exception the sky was clear by lunchtime. Bruno was around at breakfast with helpful suggestions of things to do. His advice on basic things such as parking in the town was invaluable.
As it was, we used the occasional cloudy morning as a reason not to be lazy and get out and experience life beyond the grounds of the villa. We shopped, rode on camels and visited the two nearest beaches. For us though, the biggest enjoyment was from a totally relaxing afternoon by the pool, followed by a glass of wine and appetizers on the roof terrace, and a then probably the best dinners we'll ever eat.
There's really nothing I could say that would put anyone off visiting. I'm certainly going to recommend it to any friends thinking of holidaying in Morocco.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A wonderful and peaceful place with a sea view, Gonatouki is located at roughly 10km from the beach.With its 10 bedrooms and suites you will be enchanted by the villa, its architecture and its 2 swimming pools (one with a kids' pool).A place you will never forget!!! ... more less
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