Looking back up at one of the two wings of the C-shaped Four Seasons Casablanca gives no indication that the destination is the force of Morocco’s business weight. To take this image, above, Girlahead went down from the public part of the hotel, on the top, fifth floor. On the ground floor, floor one, go past a guard of honour, either side six anthropomorphic sculpted shapes in beige through to sea blue. Automatic doors lead to a 100-metre walkway with palms and other greenery. Behind the summer-only outdoor restaurant is a barely-visible flight of 13 stone steps. Take them to get to Lalla Meryam Beach, or stand at the top for a photographic stance of the hotel, designed, like the whole Anfa development, by Norman Foster.
Some hotel guests spend hours in the lobby lounge. Others head out to pool and beach. Go off-campus in the other direction and you are immediately at Anfaplace Mall, another part of development. the inquisitive, like Girlahead, want to see more of town, and Four Seasons has excellent inhouse locals who know, and understandably squabble a bit, about what to see in a short time. There’s the original casa blanca, and the gigantic Hassan II Mosque designed in 1993 by French architect Michel Pinseau.
There are new areas, Marina, by the sea. A little inland is California, an endless commune of blocks, surrounded by two-metre security walls and containing lavish and individualistic two-floor villas. And then, about ten kilometres inland is Bouskoura, a massive new in-construction suburb which already houses the University of Casablanca.
Yes, there’s lots of investment coming into town – apparently there are subsidies of up to 30% for foreign investment and the significant airlift, to the USA and Brazil as well as Europe and the Middle East, makes it all very attractive (and don’t forget we are the gaateway to Africa, said one local with both business and political ties).
From a visitor’s viewpoint, incidentally, we must not forget that Casablanca is home of one of the best-loved movies of all time. In fact it turns out that the 1941 icon, Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was shot entirely in California! There’s a Rick’s Café in town, however, which is obviously a jolly good reason to come back again to Casablanca. Any time.