COCO OCEAN RESORT AND SPA…THE GAMBIA
Being pampered in a luxury elegant spa in tropical lush surroundings…no not Thailand or The Maldives this is West Africa and the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa!
This reality has come to fruition thanks to the vision and creative ability of two very dedicated people Farid Bensouda and Walter Netlou. They have created a stunning 60-room spa hotel, a dream they had some ten years ago. With five years of construction the charming tranquil oasis of the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa is now the latest hotel in The Gambia.
Every detail, every design is their every soul…the energy that kept them going over so long just has to be admired. The standards have been kept so high through total application to the job in hand. They dealt with problems like this year’s massive summer rains that halted much of the work during the last phase, months of non-stop extremely heavy rain but they kept going.
That is now faded into the past as they look forward to being able to host guests in top class style and comfort, in top class rooms and top class spa facilities with their caring staff to match.
RELAX AT THE COCO OCEAN
The Moorish domes are Coco Ocean. From the beach, from all over the complex it’s the domes the colours of them change from crisp white in the day, to pinkish hues at sunset, all planned, all placed as points of interest and many are part of the rooms and above the beds form a great internal room feature.
This may be a hotel but the gardens are a real miracle, a horticultural wonder in their own right. Careful planning in the design meant that not only could the existing plants on the site be kept many have been incorporated in the gardens and indeed the buildings! Massive palms have become part of many of the buildings creating natural pillars along side concrete ones.
The gardens are lush and wrap around the buildings giving relief to the bright white painted room exteriors, a calming green blanket of bananas, paw paw and coconut palms. Fruit is there just hanging on the plants as you walk in the grounds, as if it were a living supermarket fruit aisle.
The gardens have been made deliberately expansive to allow guests to have space to breath. It would have easily been possibly to have twice the number of rooms on that site. However that was never in their minds, creating a tasteful and relaxing setting was so more important. Having a relaxing spa treatment and then re-entering the hubbub of a busy hotel would be spoiling what they wanted to create for the guests. Space, time and comfort was the priority and there are a myriad of places to lay, be it in a lush garden setting, by a pool, beach or lawn its all there the choice is yours.
For over 12 years Farid and Walter had run their first hotel in the country more modest in its number of rooms, but it was the first choice of Presidents, Ambassadors and diplomats when they visited The Gambia; the tourists also realised it was an excellent place to stay too. As the hotel literature says … ‘The place to be’.
Now that place has to be – Coco Ocean from the moment of arrival you will get the treatment! That is Coconut treatment! Attentive yet restrained, with staff wanting to please from the outset and for your holiday to come. Customer care and comfort is what Coconut is all about, the buildings and grounds are one part and the other is staff. Here they have gone to fantastic lengths to get the very best staff; be that pulling in chefs from Thailand and Lebanon, the very best spa people from Morocco and again some from Thailand. They have also run extensive staff training for their Gambian contingent of which they do make up the highest number.
Pulling in materials as well as staff to furnish the hotel, containers of top quality marble were brought in from Italy, custom made furniture was imported from Indonesia and even state of the art catering machinery was brought in from the USA. This is not a chain hotel, this is the sort of trouble perhaps a large chain could easily go to, but here two very dedicated people took their ideas to the world and went looking for the very best, they found it and made it all happen here in West Africa.
Located on the beach near to Bijilo just off the main road from the airport, just 20 minutes away, the complex comes into view, the domes again and a most delightful garden approach. Plantations of palms and papayas followed by a driveway of huge clumps massive bamboo lines the road to the reception gate. Once inside there is that Italian marble as the reception, a cavernous room with more than a hint of the styling to come. Morocco meets the Gambia. Detailing around the high ceilings are pure Moroccan as are the lights of Arab design. You will be quick to see the lush planting as you are taken to your room.
The geometric tile designs around the grounds are everywhere, as are sumptuous sofas and chairs placed all over the site at places just to sit and take in what your senses are experiencing and will doing during your stay.
The key to this development is undoubtedly the spa complex, it is this glamorous extension that will have the ability to help seduce guests from perhaps other locations they may prefer much further a field be it the Indian Ocean, Middle East or Far East. This spa is a just under 6 hours flying time from the UK and in the same time zone. Most flights both coming and going are at pretty convenient times too.
The chance to enjoy a year round tropical sun with all the luxury, glamour and pleasure of being pampered to perfection so close to home is surely a winner for The Gambia and this resort hotel.
With flights twice a week during the busy winter period November to April it is could be possible to take a long week-end arriving Friday afternoon and leaving on Tuesday afternoon and back to work Wednesday morning not bad!
Achievable at a budget that will not break the bank, a value for money experience of tropical West Africa too in these cash strapped times.
The selection of chefs to compliment the health side of the hotel was another element well thought through. A fusion of Middle and Far Eastern, African and European there is plenty of chance to indulge in many of the healthy options that those styles have to offer or your choice could be as simple as a steak but it will be a local steak. That meat would of come from an animal that was grazing as nature intended just miles from the hotel. No high food miles there, and the same for the vegetables those will be from the neatly laid out hotel garden at the rear of the complex. Food miles traveled about 200 yards!
Fronting the hotel on the beach there is a refreshing layout for this part of Africa a series of permanent tented double-bedded areas built in a style here they call a Bantaba! A raised area of shade usually built in the rural areas under a shady tree these little beds are again of Moroccan influence and provide sand less experience but with the benefit of a beach location. The Bantaba is referred to locally as a thinking place! But it would be very easy to contemplate in such a delightful haven with the warm Atlantic sea breaking nearby and once the palm trees on the beach do get fully established then this beach will be another …place to be!
With a credit crunch and all that goes with it, here is a hotel destination with all the features one would expect from further a field at an extremely affordable price this factor could help to ensure that The Coco Ocean Resort and Spa can fill a financial void in the market. Luxury, refinement tranquillity all at great value yet not sacrificing style, elegance or service. It has a wonderful sunny tropical climate for most of the year, located in the same time zone as UK. A chance to experience Africa and this is African Africa! The Gambia is far enough away from Northern African with the more Arab feel. This is easy Africa, English speaking with a happy relaxed atmosphere.
A place that once tried, as other travellers who discover The Gambia do, well they just keep on coming back. At the first ‘Coconut’ the repeat guest rate was extremely high. There is no reason to suspect that it will not also be the case here at the ‘Coconut’.
With its own beach frontage, a stunning spa, food of great quality this superb property, offers an oasis of luxury and tranquillity for a truly memorable holiday experience … the package is complete!
Check out the official website of the resort below which has information on all of the suites, restaurants, bars and special events.