Casablanca’s newest development is the popular Morocco Mall and Rick’s Café looks at its 10th anniversary.
As movie fans and historians know, a long and rather complicated progression of European colonial powers fought over this spot for quite awhile. An important port on the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco’s largest city dates all the way back to the 7th century BC. Affectionately nicknamed Casa for short, the city was known as Anfa right up through the early 16th century.
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Doing Art Déco in Casablanca
The heart of Casablanca is the Old Medina, or Old Town. While not much remains of the old following the earthquake of 1755, the New Medina has risen from the ashes. On the Corniche, the Morocco Mall opened in December 2011 is the largest shopping center on the continent, complete with its own adventureland, aquarium, ice rink, food court.
The ultra-contemporary Sofitel gets high marks from travelers who appreciate the really cool pool plus great views over the Hassan II Mosque, port and old city. Right nearby find the contrasting choice of an old-world palatial hideaway at Le Royal Mansour Méridien. Need a piano bar with sofas in Casablanca? The Bar Diplomate fits that bill until 1:00 a.m. nightly.
Not far away in the Medina, Rick’s Café was born in 2004, a clever re-creation crafted by an American expat. Enter the classic movie scene’s gin joint. Push open the heavy front doors to find terracotta tiles, fireplaces, carved Moroccan woodwork, palm tree silhouettes shaping the bar front edged in dark green leather, tunes from the 40s, a Moorish courtyard dripping with filigree lanterns and a rooftop terrace barbecue. White-jacketed waiters sporting red fezes add to the character profile at night.
Yesterday’s appeal in art déco continues at the Hotel & Spa Le Doge, a member of Relais & Châteaux with its boutique collection of guest rooms inspired by Coco Chanel, Somerset Maugham, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway… Delve into a good book or a history lesson in the library or take in some rays in with your book on a chaise lounge in the lawned garden. A destination hotel for boomers, cruise passengers and R&C evangelists.
The climate blesses Morocco’s menus. Go local when you can for dishes enlivened with saffron and coriander, tajine and couscous, flatbread, mint tea.