Mesmerized In Morocco
Join us in the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site city of Essaouira, a relaxed fishing town on the coast of Morocco. (For television enthusiasts, the recent series Game of Thrones was filmed here.) Of late there have been many amazing press pieces on this lovely part of Morocco. Please see the latest NY Times article and NatGeo Travel just named Essaouria the fastest growing destination in Morocco. But don’t take their word for it, takes ours! We have been going to Morocco for the past 5 years and to Essaouria for the last four. It is the perfect location for a yoga retreat in Morocco as it offers a more relaxed medina and some of the best shopping in the country!
This retreat will feature daily morning vinyasa flow yoga and evening restoratives or workshops to raise your spirits and your hearts.
Our adventures will take us to the streets shopping the souks of the Medina, a pampering spa day with Moroccan beauty treatments, a welcome henna celebration complete with classic mint tea, traditional tagine cooking class, camel rides on the beach, belly dancing, and a day trip to explore Marrakech, the Red City.
Think Moroccan beauty secrets…indulgent spas and Hammams, argan oil and black kohl, rose water baths and black soap made from black olives. Think Henna, perfumes, open-air souks filled with silks and kilim rugs, Moroccan spices and incredible cuisine…tagines, olives, couscous, mint teas, saffron, figs, dates and apricots.
RETREAT PACKAGE INCLUDES :
– 7 nights in a massive seaside Castle turned Riad
– Traditional breakfast daily on the rooftop with seaviews
– Three, 3 course delicious dinners at our Riad including local wines from Mogador*
– Morning Vinyasa Flow Class, Afternoon Restoratives & Workshops
– Grounding circle with mint tea & cookies
– Henna designs on hands and feet
– Painting workshop with a local artist at a local cheese farm (incredible lunch included)
– Countryside Spa day : Indulge in a traditional hamman with body scrub of local ingredients & massage w/ argan oil poolside as peacocks pass by. Gorgeous Moroccan style BBQ lunch included.
– Guided Group adventure into the bustling city of Marrakech to explore the pulse of the country; includes trip to the famous Marjorelle Gardens of Yves Saint Laurent, a visit to the famous Ben Yousself Koran School, and carriage rides around the city
– Cooking class of traditional dishes with a guided adventure to the spice market for shopping (lunch included)
– A free day to explore as you wish
– Camel ride along the secluded coastline with Mogador island as our backdrop; lunch of freshly grilled sand-pit sardines, black olives, and traditional Moroccan breads included under the eucalyptus trees
– All local taxes
– Gratuities for services NOT INCLUDED. We will suggest an amount for the amazing staff that you can offer on retreat.
*Please note that not all meals are included in our package. We have arranged to have breakfast daily on our rooftop or you can order it in your room if you like. Where dinners are included we will offer a glass of wine with dinner. Any other alcohol beyond that is on your own and can be billed to your room at the hotel or paid in cash while we are out.
Please note : Neither airfare nor airport transfers are included in this package. Options to arrive into Essaouira-Mogador airport (ESU), Marrakech Menara (RAK) airport or Casablanca’s Mohammed V International (CMN) are the all available to you. We can arrange transfers and potentially pair those arriving at similar times. Please forward along your flights once you have them to see about the possibilities.
SHARED TRIPLE ROOMS
Shared Triple rooms have 3 twin beds.
$1,995usd per person
SHARED DOUBLE SUITES
Shared Double rooms have 2 twin beds.
$2,220usd per person
1 Queen bed, sitting area, ensuite bath
$2,675usd private; $2,100usd per person
1 Queen bed, ensuite bath
$2,400usd private; $1,955usd per person*
* You must provide your bedmate for these options.
We will pair single travelers together looking to share a room. Roommates should book their accommodations together. There will be plenty of space for alone time around the riad during the retreat. It is a larger property with several different sitting areas both indoors and out.
ESSAOUIRA RETREAT ITINERARY*
Arrival & Settle-in**
3:00pm Riad check-in
5pm Grounding circle & opening stretch
6:30pm Henna designs on hands and feet with Moroccan cookies and mint tea
8pm Dinner together as a group
7:30am Coffee, tea & fruit available
8:30-10am Vinyasa Hips & Hamstrings
11:30am Group outing to explore the Ramparts, the souks, and the Medina
1pm Lunch together at a local Fromagerie (lunch included);
Painting & pigment mixing session with a local artist
6:30pm Gentle Yoga at the riad
Dinner on your own
7:30am Coffee, tea & fruit available
8:30-10am Vinyasa Get Twisted
11am Countryside Spa Day : Enjoy a traditional Hammam black soap body scrub with eucalyptus followed by a body mask made from local plants and herbs. A one hour relaxing massage with argan oil to follow. A lovely BBQ lunch will be enjoyed poolside at the Country Club, all included*.
6-7pm Gentle flow
8pm Dinner together as a group at the riad
**Please note half the group will enjoy the cooking class on this day and come to the spa on Day Five as to optimize space and our time.
7:30am Coffee, tea & fruit available
8:30-10am Vinyasa Arm Balances
11am – 5pm Traditional Moroccan Cuisine Cooking Class & Market tour w/ lunch of our labors
6:30 -7:30pm Specialty afternoon workshop
Dinner on your own
**Please note half the group will enjoy the Countryside Spa on this day and come to the cooking class on Day Three as to optimize space and our time.
8:30am Group outing to the pulse of the country, Marrakech. Personalized tour w/ local guide to take us to the famous Marjorelle Gardens owned by the late Yves Saint Laurent, we will enjoy lunch in the gardens (on your own) then head to the Ben Youssef Madrasa Islamic College to see an incredible sample of Moroccan architecture. We will walk through the back-alley souks where the artisans of Marrakech are busy at work dying yard, welding metal, cutting leather, and hammering out lanterns. A real insider’s visit to the best shopping the souks has to offer. We will break to do some shopping on our own and meet in the famous Jemaa el Fnaa square at 6:45pm to head to an amazing dinner on a rooftop overlooking the city. Dinner on your own here but we will eat together.
9:30pm Return to Essaouira
7:30am Coffee, tea & fruit available
8:30-10:30am Vinyasa Conscious Flow
11am-7pm Free time to explore as you wish; lunch on your own. Take a kite lesson, visit a local argan oil producer, enjoy quiet beach or pool time, or check out the amazing shopping in the Medina. Make sure to catch some live music as that is one of the amazing things that Essaouria is known for by night!
Dinner on your own
7:30am Coffee, tea & fruit available
8:30-10am Vinyasa & Inversions
11am-4pm Camel rides on the beach; lunch included
5:30-6:30pm Gentle flow evening practice
7:30pm Farewell Dinner together as a group
7:30am Coffee, tea & Breakfast available
Please review our Moroccan Travel Tips Guide below for more on the cultural norms of this beautiful country!
*THIS ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENTS, CHANGES IN TIMES, LOCATIONS, OR ACTIVITIES AS THE RETREAT LEADERS AND HOSTS SEE FIT. ANY CHANGE WILL BE AN UPGRADE IN SERVICES OR LOCATION MAKING FOR AN EVEN MORE AMAZING EXPERIENCE FOR THE GROUP AND OUR GUESTS!
**Please plan to sleep well on the plane or arrive a day or two early in order to acclimate yourself to the change in time. If you will stay in Marrakech for a few days upon arrival we recommend staying at Chambre d’amis in the Medina. We love it!
***We will pair those arriving and departing at similar times in shared cars for an additional cost if you like. Please send along your flight details if you are interested in this service.
OCEANVIEWS & CLASSIC CASTLE ARCHITECTURE
Accommodations at one of the best locations in all of Essaouira, for exploring the souks, ramparts, nightlife, and fishing port. Located in the heart of the Medina in the former residence of Mogador notables, our hotel has kept its architectural heritage and friendly premise intact. Not to mention Villa Maroc has been featured in Vogue, Maison, Elle, and many other publications for its style and charm.
Essaouira as a city is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. This Atlantic castle is our home for the week offering many nooks and crannies for escape to the roof to read, enjoy a glass of wine by the fire, or take a spa service in the hammam downstairs.
Room styles vary including fireplaces, terraces, and seaviews depending on your choice. We are offering Shared Double and Triple rooms as well as Private Suites and Economy Rooms. All accommodations are unique and charming with special details and gorgeous furnishings.
All rooms have private bathrooms en-suite, some with showers and some with bathtub/shower combo.
Come explore this lovely property with us in the charming seaside town of Essaouira!
~Deposits* of $500usd are due to secure your space in the retreat.
~The balance of your retreat (minus your $500usd initial deposit*) is due 60 days prior to arrival.
You may pay with a credit card via PayPal or you may choose a bank wire transfer or deposit to settle your balance. All details for this will be emailed to the group two months before the retreat.
MAKE YOUR DEPOSIT HERE :
Please check availability with us for accommodations before making your $500usd deposit*
Roommates should book together. If you would like to share a room and do not have a roommate we will provide one for you if possible. In the case that there is no one to share a room we ask that you take a private economy room instead.
To make your deposit, please click the link below. You will be directed to Paypal.com
Final balance of your retreat will be due 60 days prior to arrival via credit card through PayPal, direct deposit or bank wire transfer. If you choose to pay via PayPal a 6% service fee applies or via bank wire transfer a $20usd service fee is added. Please indicate your preference and we will send you the appropriate information. Thank you.
*All initial deposits are non-refundable. If something unforeseen arises and you are unable to attend we will try our best to refund your deposit if we are able to fill your space.
Cancellations made within 60 days or less of arrival are 100% non refundable. In case of an emergency we will do our best to apply your payment towards future retreats with YAWW if we are able to fill your space.
The acceptance of a verbal or written confirmation from YOGA ADVENTURES WORLDWIDE (YAWW) constitutes your acceptance of the terms and conditions listed herein. Participants are responsible to be adequately insured, therefore Traveler’s Insurance is strongly recommended*. YAWW, Villa Maroc and its staff assume no responsibility nor liability for any delay, loss, damage, injury or accident with regards to persons or property which may be caused by fault or negligence of any third party vendor. This includes hotels, transportation providers, and local operators participating in part for our services. YAWW and Villa Maroc shall be held harmless for any expense caused by injury or accident, to any participants as well as any loss or damage of personal items while on our retreat. We reserve the right to make any changes to services and itineraries, with or without notice, which may become necessary. YAWW and Villa Maroc are not to be held responsible for changes in itinerary beyond our control, this includes bad weather or hurricanes; any inconvenience or complication caused by a hurricane’s direct hit, near miss, or significant threat of a hurricane strike. There are no refunds due to flight cancellations or changes, strikes, labor disputes, lockouts, threats or acts of terrorism, acts of war or declared war.
We highly recommend that you purchase trip insurance to protect your investment. AIG offers Travel Guard at affordable rates. You will be asked if you have chosen to purchase insurance or declined at final balance due.
By submitting payments toward your retreat you accept these Terms and Conditions.
If you have any questions regarding the details of this retreat please feel free to contact us to set up a Skype conversation or to receive further info via email.
Travel Tips Guide
GETTING TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT :
There are several options for arriving in Morocco to meet the group :
1. Fly directly into Essaouira-Mogador Airport (ESU). A driver can be arranged to pick you up and bring you to the edge of the Medina just steps from our Riad. There are men with carts available to help you with luggage to the hotel once you get to the walking district.
2. Fly into Marrakech’s Menara International Airport (RAK). There are many flight daily from major cities worldwide. We recommend that you take a taxi from the airport to the “Supratours” bus station, which offers cheap bus travel to Essaouira (about 60 Dirham each + 5 Dirham per bag = US$8, 3 hours, four buses daily). The Supratours station is very close to the train station in Marrakech, so if you get lost, you can ask for the “gare de trenes”, and it is right around the corner. Supratours will take you to the center of Essaouira, right in between the Bab Sbaa and Bab Marrakech entrance to the Medina. Alternatively a driver can be arranged to bring you directly to the Riad from the airport. Travel time is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
3. Flights into Casablanca International Airport (CMN-Mohammed V) are considerably less expensive than flights directly into Marrakech. You have two choices for taking public transport :
The simplest would be to take the train (located in the CMN airport) to Marrakech (130 dirham = about £11 or US$17, about 4 hours travel). Then, leave the main entrance to the train station, take a right on Avenue Mohammed VI, and another right when you get to the roundabout (this road is N8) You will pass Hotel Ibis, and find the “”Supratours” bus station (about 60 Dirham each + 5 Dirham per bag = US$8, 3 hours traveling, four daily). Supratours will take you to the center of Essaouira, right in between the Bab Sbaa and Bab Marrakech entrance to the Medina.
Also from the Mohammed V Airport, you can take the hourly train to the Casa Port station (about 40 dirham each, with a train change at the Ain Sebaa train station). From the Casa Port station, walk 1 km towards the “Place Zellaqa”, where you should see the “Compagnie de Transports au Maroc” (CTM) bus station. CTM is the state bus station of Morocco, and has 2 buses daily from Casablanca (130 Dirhams = about US$12, 6-7 hours traveling) to Essaouira. Alternatively a driver can be arranged to bring you directly to the Riad from the airport. Travel time is approximately 4 to 4.5 hours.
Please check out this link for more on train travel in Morocco.
If you would like us to organize a private car service for you (or try to share with others arriving at a similar time) please forward your flight itinerary and we will coordinate your ride to the Riad in Essarouira directly from the airport. We expect that most retreat participants will be arriving a few days before the retreat and spending time in Marrakech, another location of their choice, or coming directly to Essaouria. We recommend Chambres d’amis in Marrakech for a stay in the Red City and booking a room with Villa Maroc if you’d like to come right to Essaouira early. Please let us know about this and we will try to get your same room for you during your extended stay.
A private ride from RAK to Villa Maroc is around $100usd one way and from CMN to Villa Maroc $200usd one way (at the time of writing). If we have others with similar arrivals we can try to pair you together to share the ride and the cost. Please check with us when booking flights.
AIRLINE TICKET TIPS AND TRICKS :
1. Each time you plan to search for flights you should ‘Clear Browsing Data’ from your device. Google how to here. This deletes any previous searches from your computer so you get a fresh start with pricing out flights.
2. There is a sweet spot for buying airline tickets 6 weeks before your trip on a Tuesday.
3. Huffington Post also has these suggestions that might be helpful.
4. I use Google Flights to find the best dates and rates for travel. Check it out, you will love it!
WHAT TO WEAR & WHAT TO BRING :
Morocco is a progressive Muslim country with much respect and rights for women. You can see everything from full head-to-toe coverage to sheer wraps over bikinis in Morocco but the majority of foreign women wear skirts or capris, comfortable walking shoes, and a modest top. Try to stick with outfits that extend to the knee and cover the shoulders and collar bone. This type of dress will eliminate much of the unwanted attention you may receive based on appearance.
Weather at this time of year is in the mid to high 70s F during the day with mild sunshine. Evenings cool quite quickly so please be prepared with a warmer jacket or shawl. Essaouira is know as being a very windy place (kiteboarders abound!!) so a wrap is always a good idea to have handy. You can expect a bit of rain during this time of year versus the hot and dry summer months so bring a portable umbrella that packs easily just in case.
Our Riad does NOT provide any yoga props so please bring your own mat (I find that folding mind in quarters and laying it at the bottom of my suitcase flat works quite well). Blocks, straps, and blankets will be improvised or you can bring your own if they are a pertinent part of your practice.
Feel free to bring a journal for capturing your thoughts or any art supplies to stretch your creative muscle in this very artistically inclined city.
Sunglasses, sun hat, good walking shoes, comfortable and appropriate clothing, yoga clothes, a bathing suit, as well as your camera are all good items to have with you.
A Universal Adaptor for plugs is necessary so please plan to bring one along for charging devices. Morocco has European style 2 prong outlets.
Shopping is at every turn in Morocco so it may be a good idea to pack a collapsable yet sturdy duffle bag at the bottom of your large suitcase (leave space as well for extra goodies you’ll surely pick up!). I usually pack a smaller carry on with all my items for a trip then place it inside my empty larger suitcase to check PLUS the empty duffle bag inside it all (but i LOVE to shop)! If that is too much for you and you find yourself in need of a bag one can be purchased in Morocco to bring back home filled with your new treasures.
CULTURE & MOROCCAN NATIONALS
Overall Morocco is an amazing and most hospitable country therefore women traveling alone should not be afraid, just sensible, respectful, aware, and cautious.
For the most part Moroccans are incredibly open-minded, especially in cities where tourism is common (Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fes, Essaouira, Rabat, Meknes, and Ouarzazate) and you will find it quite easy to have conversations with locals (in souks and hotels) about world politics, the cultural and historical traditions of Morocco and the economy. Moroccans who work in the tourism industry and in the souks tend to be multi-lingual and up to date on world politics. If you are a person who enjoys conversation during your travels you will find the opportunity to discuss many things within the souks and markets while you are shopping and being offered the traditional hospitality of mint tea.
If you are a female traveler in Morocco there is little to worry about as long as you maintain respectful dress and carry yourself appropriately. The popularity of tourism caused the Moroccan economy to undergo a process of liberalization and modernization, consequently altering some societal values. Today, Moroccan women are taking more active roles in the government, law, medicine, warfare, and trade. There is also an increase in university enrollment among the younger generation, ultimately, leading to a more open-minded youth and a greater tolerance for modern ideas and western influences. Consequently, Moroccans are getting more used to seeing females (particularly tourists) visiting cafes and other places that were in the past were primarily frequented by men.
TIPS FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS
Don’t react to catcalls, whistles, or anything else directed at you.
Dress conservatively, no mini skirts, shorts, tank tops or tight shirts.
Enjoy the culture by becoming a participant and dress in a Caftan or Jellabah (the traditional robe worn by local women).
Don’t go out on your own at night if you are not in a major city or area that is well lit.
If asked, let people know you are married and carry a photo of your ‘husband’ with you or buy yourself a modest ring to wear on your wedding finger.
If you feel you are being harassed or followed, walk into a shop or hotel and ask for help.
If you are lost ask directions from a woman or family.
If you feel threatened by someone make a scene by shouting loudly to shame the person.
If you speak French, Spanish, or Arabic it will make it easier to stand up for yourself if you encounter undesirable behavior.
If it is possible, travel in a group of women or with a male. While tourists are welcome all over Morocco, Moroccans are still uncomfortable with the idea of a solo female traveler; with the exception of major cities.
Public displays of affection such as kissing are considered taboo in Morocco and should be reserved for the privacy of your Riad or hotel room.
“It was an amazing week of cultural exploration and self exploration! Thank you for bringing us together for an experience that has nourished my soul and re-fueled the fire in my heart.”
— Sophie K., Zurich, Switzerland
“Every aspect of the trip was planned out so as to take any stress/responsibilities off the guest. Christina was so approachable and easy to communicate with leading up the retreat and throughout. Nina provided the perfect combo of stretching and meditation. Well thought out practice and accommodating to special needs. The most amazing teacher!”
— Carolina C. Martha’s Vineyard, MA
“Thank you so much for an epic retreat in Morocco! You really have a sixth sense for beauty, for places, and for knowing what we need. I really appreciate what you all do! An all around amazing experience it was more than i could have hoped for. Thank you all involved in the organization, preparation, and service throughout. I would recommend this trip and Yoga Adventures Worldwide to anyone.”
— Vanessa L. Miami, FL
“Christina just makes it easy. She understands how busy everyone is and she keeps it simple with e-mails and payments. Plus, on-site they are your friends, companions on the mat and grand organizers. She knows everyone in Morocco, and it’s like visiting friends- like coming home.”
— Gillian K. New York, NY
“Christina handpicks everything. Villa Maroc is a beautiful oasis in the medina, with gorgeous views, amazing food and beautiful decor. The retreat was just perfect, a great balance of R&R, zen and introspective while also taking every aspect of the breathtaking background. I loved the camels and the cooking class. Just Perfect!”
–Susanne A., Zurich, Switzerland
“Amazing trip with like-minded individuals who know how to balance serious yoga practice with fun cultural immersion. I can’t think of a better way or excuse to travel to wonderful places! Nina is an approachable, authentic, loving instructor. Well prepared pre-departure and during trip; flexibility in schedule, welcoming and accepting of all participants, warm personalities. Yoga Adventures Worldwide picks delicious restaurants, unique experiences, and all at an affordable price. I felt full, satisfied and eager for the next meal every time.”
— Jackie C. Portland, ME
“Yoga Adventures Worldwide is a hidden gem. It offers a one of a kind awakening experience, that brings together unique people from around the world. Excellent leadership by all! I feel so taken care of and safe! You all are amazing.”
— Amanda T. Philly, PA
“Everything was wonderful! it gave such a good taste of Morocco! Literally did everything i wanted to do. Great ideas and locations for all! I loved the food at the hotel and the recommended restaurants. The cooking class was a great addition. Christina made sure all food preferences and allergies were taken care of. Nina is amazing! I feel incredible mentally, spiritually and physically. My body can totally feel the low lunge. I also loved the meditation. Thank you! 10 stars! Amazing! so stunning- great location! The staff is beyond nice and helpful. Overall great trip and wonderful experience, will be recommending to anyone and everyone!”
— Nora B. Philly, PA USA
“Loved the teacher Nina and her classes. I feel like I got a greater sense of self at practices plus, it is good for all levels. She is an approachable, authentic, and loving instructor.”
–Brittany K., Philadelphia PA USA