Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca, Morocco

One of Africa’s foremost cities and the home to a cosmopolitan and unique culture, Casablanca has often been overlooked by travelers; Royal Holiday members would do well not to make the same mistake. A city that has long been one of the major points of communication between Europe and Africa, Casablanca brings together the traditional and the cutting-edge; its worldly culture, developed over more than a thousand years of empires and colonizers, is a one-of-a-kind delight. While many Royal Holiday members are likely familiar with the city because of the famous film, travelers who go to see Casablanca for themselves will enjoy an exciting journey all their own.

The Royal Holiday affiliate in the city, the Sheraton Casablanca, makes for a comfortable home base for anyone looking to explore the city. Centrally located just south of the city’s ports and minutes from the famed Hassan II Mosque, the Sheraton Casablanca offers studio-style rooms outfitted in grand style, perfect for a couple looking to enjoy a romantic getaway or a businessperson traveling to one of the centers of African commerce. The hotel’s wide-ranging dining options, car rental assistance, concierge service, and swimming pool make for a more than comfortable stay, while its central location puts all of Casablanca within easy reach.

Often shortened to just “Casa” by the locals, Morocco’s biggest city started as a Berber settlement and a Phoenician and Roman port before gaining its name from the Portuguese, “Casa Branca,” or “white house.” Casablanca has been controlled by many powers through the centuries; abandoned by European colonists following a catastrophic earthquake in 1755, the city was rebuilt by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah prior to its 19th century conquest by the French. Following World War II, a period memorably (if inaccurately) recounted in the film Casablanca, Morocco earned full independence as its own kingdom. With this history, Casablanca has evolved its own style, a posh cosmopolitanism that makes it one of the most exciting cities in the world and a must-visit destination for adventurous Royal Holiday members.

Most locals will recommend starting at the Hassan II Mosque, with its record-breaking minaret and skyline-dominating scale; a guided tour will go a long way toward helping visitors navigate this massive mosque. Royal Holiday members looking to take it easy, however, may wish to begin with a walk down the Boulevard D’anfa, a grand street lined with boutiques and high-class Art Deco villas dating to the French colonial period. Those looking to see Morocco at its most modern may wish to visit the business district’s impressive skyscrapers, including the Maarif area’s Twin Towers, one of which features an excellent bar where patrons sip cool drinks while enjoying the incredible views. Old Medina offers the best glimpse of Casablanca’s past, while the Corniche, the costal promenade, provides the perfect setting for an oceanside stroll. Royal Holiday members interested in shopping will find Casablanca much to their liking, as this increasingly fashionable city has drawn many excellent designers to its shops. The Maarif area has ample shopping opportunities, as well as the Morocco Mall, but those looking for authentic gifts may wish to peek into the boutiques of Old Town, where one will also find Rick’s Cafe, a reconstruction of the famous film’s setting.