Luxury redefined: The rise of experiential travel

We interview Nabil El Bahri, Resident Manager at La Sultana Oualidia

Perched on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, La Sultana Oualidia will not disappoint those in search of the ultimate luxury escape. The resort is a stunning and peaceful sanctuary, offering guests seclusion and privacy. Each room boasts panoramic views over the salt-water lagoon from the privacy of its own terrace and jacuzzi.

But while the allure of calm and serenity is undeniable, the hotel recognises the evolving desires of the modern traveller. No longer content with mere relaxation, today’s travellers seek immersive experiences that allow them to fully engage with the destination’s culture, customs, and activities. We spoke to Nabil El Bahri, Resident Manager at La Sultana Oualidia, about how this luxurious hideway is meeting the rising demand for immersive travel experiences amidst the surge in experiential tourism.

Nabil El Bahri, Resident Manager at La Sultana Oualidia

Nabil, La Sultana Oualidia seamlessly caters to two distinct guest desires. On the one hand, it provides the perfect setting for ultimate relaxation and indulgence amidst the tranquil beauty of its lagoon-side location. Yet, it also caters to those craving immersive experiences boasting a diverse menu of activities that enhance their stay. Have you noticed a growing trend among guests seeking experiential travel during their stay?

Definitely, guests’ preferences are evolving and we are seeing an increasing trend for guests seeking experiential travel during their stay. Today’s guest travels with purpose – whether that is looking to uncover the local culture of the destination, immerse themselves in the beautiful landscapes, or improve their physical or mental wellbeing. We recognize guests now seek something more from their stay. In response to this, we have curated a selection of over 20 activities for our guests, which we have categorized into five key themes –  Culture, Adrenaline, Relaxing, Epicurean and Discovery. 

I think the increase in experiential travel is driven by the guests seeking to let go of their everyday routine and looking for something completely different to truly disconnect. When our guests enjoy a morning surfing session in the lagoon, there isn’t time to check digital devices, so they have the rare opportunity to forget about their day-to-day lives and immerse themselves in a new and memorable experience while sharing special time with their loved ones. It’s a valuable opportunity to disconnect from the 24-7 culture we are used to, leave the emails and social networks behind, and unwind in a different way.

What types of activities are most popular with your guests? 

We are very fortunate in our location as the lagoon of Oualidia extends to over 12km and is an exceptional ecological site for bird conservation. We have found that our Bird Watching Safari has been exceptionally popular. We have designed a safari that makes the most of the exceptional wildlife we have here on our doorstep and guests welcome the opportunity to not only see many varieties of birds, but also increase their knowledge of the local ecosystem. Another activity we offer guests is an introduction to the area’s native fauna & flora, with a sightseeing tour of the lagoon and access to the hotel’s palm tree garden, vegetable garden & greenhouse. This is an opportunity to share with guests our commitment to sustainability, our achievements to date, and our plans for the future, which is important to today’s traveller. 

The Picnic on the Atlantic Ocean is also very popular with guests. Here, they can experience the very best of the local mouthwatering produce and seafood while overlooking the wonders of the ocean.

A trend we are seeing with the increase in experiential travel is guests looking for both authentic experiences and to connect with the community they are staying within. How have you met this demand so guests have the opportunity to interact with locals, experience local culture, and gain insights into the local lifestyle and traditions?

Each week, we offer guests the opportunity to visit the village souk, where locals gather from neighbouring areas to buy and sell all manner of goods including fruits and vegetables, spices, olives, and even pottery goods and furniture. It’s a colourful and vibrant experience, and a wonderful way to experience authentic Moroccan life and immerse yourself in the local culture. 

What sustainable or community-focused initiatives do you offer that align with the principles of experiential travel?

As a company, we constantly look to honour our eco-responsibility to protect, preserve and restore resources for future generations. We are committed to keeping the Natural Reserve of Oualidia clean, organising daily, weekly and monthly clean-ups, with a big annual clean-up involving everyone at the property. With each guest excursion we have the opportunity to check on the health of the lagoon, providing us with the chance to demonstrate the importance of a clean environment for the protection of the various bird species and vegetation. Guests have the option to take part in our weekly clean-ups should they wish.

In what ways do you incorporate elements of adventure and exploration into the guest experience?

Given our lagoon and oceanside location, we have the good fortune to be able to offer a number of more active and adrenaline-based activities for those looking to get their heart racing. Some of the more popular activities include surfing on the lagoon of Oualidia, kayaking, paddle boarding or horse-riding on the beach. We also offer ‘Fatbikes’, allowing you to ride on the sand on the peninsula between the ocean and the lagoon. It’s a marvellous way to explore the region, taking in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. Also, guests can visit our ‘Activity Hub’ to hire bikes, fishing equipment, and canoes – everything needed for your own oceanside adventure!

Explore this luxurious hideaway situated on Morocco’s Atlantic coast

Oualidia, Morocco