So, after a December crammed with twenty Carol Concerts (the joys of being Mayor of Chelmsford), a pleasant enough Christmas and an unfortunate New Years Eve, on Sunday January 5th 2020 we headed over to the Crowne Plaza at Crawley.
We’d booked an overnight stay and eight night’s parking for just over £120, a pretty good price.
Our drive over was uneventful, as was check-in, as a platinum IHG member we were upgraded to a club room, but the lounge was out of action, we were offered drinks vouchers for the main bar and a free ‘full English’ breakfast in lieu.
Our room was comfortable, nothing to complain about.
The restaurant was crowded with passengers from a flight that had been delayed overnight, but enjoyed a pleasant enough dinner in the bar.
We’d booked a 5am call from the hotel reception, but while that never materialised, we’d set an alarm on one of our phones.
Breakfast started at six and there were only a few of us in the dining room for our complimentary breakfast.
I strolled over to the concierge to settle the room bill and mention the missing alarm call, and spotted the courtesy bus timetable. There was a couretsy bus at six thirty, so we quickly finished our breakfast and jumped on the bus. Four quid each sounded a bargain compared to taxi fares.
Check in / bag drop at Gatwick was surprisingly painless, the queue for the self service baggage scales was long, but moved quickly. All the security scanners were working and we were in a lounge within about thirty minutes of arriving at the airport.
A couple of pre-flight Bloody Marys later and we were on the bus to our aircraft.
Take off was delayed as one passenger failed to make the flight and their baggage needed to be offloaded, the crew were unable to make up the time en-route which meant we were late into Agadir. It was a short walk across the tarmac, but as we were at the front of the aircraft we were quickly through passport control and at one of the two baggage carousels.
I’d booked a taxi transfer so we’re quickly on our way, with Ali chatting to the driver in French.
It took us about half an hour to get to the hotel, but check in was further eased by Ali’s French, although the staff were clearly multi lingual.
Our room, 915, was a fair distance from reception and while it didn’t have a great view, it was close to the pool area and bar. Rooms are set among pleasant open spaces – known as Riyadhs.
The room itself was large and airy with a small balcony, TV with a few English news channels and a spacious bathroom with huge shower.
We wandered over to the bar area for a bite of lunch and a few glasses of chilled rosé; the mid-afternoon weather was perhaps warmer than we had expected, but soon cooled down after sunset.
The next morning, after a very pleasant buffet breakfast, we found a comfortable day bed and chilled as the day warmed up. We had a pleasant lunch in a buffet restaurant near the beach and, in the afternoon, mooched down the promenade, about halfway to the marina and back.
Dinner was in the main restaurant, the same place that serves breakfast, a good range of hot and cold foods. The waiting staff are efficient and attentive, although the maitre d’ tends to be somewhat effusive, particularly to those who appear to be returning guests. One of the bar men told us that he’d seen some (French) guests more than a dozen times.
On Wednesday, after breakfast, we found a pleasant spot and chilled, me reading a new book by Mark Dredge (‘A Brief History of Lager’ – highly recommended, he writes well), while Ali sketched in her sketchbook. We adjourned for an extended, late lunch involving Gin & Tonics and, while Ali had something to eat, I skipped lunch and we both skipped dinner.
Thursday we enjoyed breakfast and returned to our chosen sun beds with our books. It’s very pleasant by lunchtime. We enjoyed a light lunch and then, in the evening, dinner at one of the ‘special dining’ (you have to book) restaurants in the beachside bar. The food was excellent and we adjourned to the main bar in the hotel building for a few, okay more than a few, late night brandies.
We skipped breakfast on Friday, but were back in our now usual spot, I had moved on to the latest Stephen King novel. We enjoyed a light lunch, it’s easy to get ‘All Inclusive Fatigue’, and then dined at a different speciality restaurant in the evening, serving ‘traditional Moroccan’ food, It’s not one of the world’s great cuisines, and frankly we suspected that the waiters loaded the plates from the main buffet.
Saturday and Sunday were pretty much more of the same, we enjoyed breakfast, chilled and read by the pool, adjourned to the lunch restaurant (or the patio outside) and spent the afternoon chilling, drinking chilled Rose or Gin & Tonics.
Dinner in the main dining room and a couple of late night brandies.
On Monday morning we checked out just before eleven, our taxi was waiting and sped us to the airport. We were at the airport before the rest of the guests who were being transported by bus, swiftly through passport control and security, our hand baggage was scanned four times and our passports checked at least six.
We then adjourned to the lounge and waited for our flight, a pleasant enough lounge, but no alcohol, so no pre-flight Bloody Marys.
An uneventful flight home and, as we were at the front of the aircraft, we were off and through passport control before the crowds. There would have been a forty minute wait for the hotel bus, so we took a cab (a Tesla Model X) back to the hotel. The M25 was slow, but we were home about three hours after touching down, and snuck down the road for a sneaky curry.
Then back to Layla, who was quick to forgive. Ali headed home to Bonnie (her cat) next morning when I was back on Mayoral duty.
A pleasant enough trip, Ali’s not accustomed to relaxing breaks, but it was a much needed time to chill.