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Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

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North Yorkshire...
posts: 2,106
reviews: 204
Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Just returned from a week in Marrakech and I thought I would write a trip report. We stayed at the Riu Tikka Palmerai mainly because it was an offer we couldn't refuse. Including 7 nights food, drink and accommodation, 3 Thomson's trips and hiring a driver for the day and buying a few souvenirs we still didn't spend £1000 for the both of us.

This is my review of the hotel

tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g293734-d1171…

The main disadvantage of choosing this option for Marrakech is that you don't really get to sample the local cuisine as much. Of course you could miss meals at the hotel and then try local restaurants and this would still be economical.

The 3 tours offered by Thomsons meant we got to see the Souks and Jemaa El Fna, a local pharmacy and bakery, the outside of the Katoubia mosque, the Jewish and the Kasbah district, the Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs and the beautiful Majorelle gardens. Our guides were local men who did a good job of explaining the history of Marrakech and the religion and culture and who swept us through the city with ease. The caleche ride didn't really take us anywhere of interest but it was pleasant enough. They also took us to Bert Flints Tiskiwin Museum which was a very interesting Dar that had been converted to a museum of African art.

We had quite a bit of free time in the main square and for the first 10 minutes I felt like I had arrived in the most exciting place in the world but to tell the truth this feeling soon wore off and because you couldn't really look around without being constantly approached we soon wanted to move on. I think your reaction just depends on what sort of person you are. I am glad that we have been and seen it but we won't be rushing to return. I preferred the Jewish and the Kasbah parts of the city.

Our best day was when we hired our own driver even though I felt a bit let down by the circumstances. I had done some research and taken a recommendation from this forum. I picked an English speaking driver who originally said he would be on holiday but would send another driver. I said no thank you if you can't do it I will look elsewhere, to which he promptly gave me a date that he could take us. However, on the day he sent his brother in law and while his brother in law was very nice - he couldn't speak English so we struggled to communicate. He still took us on the route we had discussed but we couldn't really ask him any questions that came up. So I felt my research had been a waste of time.

Anyway we drove to Asni and had a great time looking round the berber market there. What an eye opener. As soon as I stepped out of the car a passing Berber flashed me an enormous smile so I flashed him one right back - and that was that! There was our guide!. He spoke brilliant English and showed us all around the different parts of the market. It was truly fascinating especially the cooked food stalls, the butchers stalls (we are butchers at home sot the contrast couldn't have been greater) and the donkey park. We even met his donkey. Of course we then had a 5 minute wrangle with him over how much we were going to give him for some berber bangles (I am not guide I sell these) and we paid way over the odds ( my husband was useless at bargaining and just kept saying "just give him the money." lol. But it was the best dirhams we spent on the holiday and i have some photographs that I will treasure for ever. After that we went happily on our way to Imlil. It is suggested you can do a bit of a hike there but my husband has bad legs so we just had a lovely pot of mint tea in a cafe overlooking a valley and the mountains. Then back to Marrakech via Lake Lalla Takerkoust stopping at a small village (Tagut?) for a tagine lunch. Our driver was able to negotiate that for us and we tried to chat in Franglish but we couldn't really communicate which was a shame. The trip took from 9 am til 3 pm and was not rushed at all. It cost a 1000 dirhams. I felt this would have been a fair price had I had my English speaking driver.

Overall we enjoyed Marrakech (me more than my husband who likes the hassle a little less) and we are glad we went. I know that we took the less adventurous route but this was a deliberate choice as we are blenders into the background type of people and fancied being looked after for a change.

So if anyone has any questions - particularly if you are staying at the same hotel - please ask away while it is still fresh in my mind.

Preston, United...
posts: 234
reviews: 10
1. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Thanks very much Jean thats a very interesting and helpful post now to go read your review :)

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 4,529
reviews: 33
2. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

It's likely the 'bait and switch' technique used to substitute the non-English speaking minor player was deliberate, so please name and shame the company involved so that others are forewarned.

Glad you had a good time generally. As you are butchers I've sent you a link to a video I shot a few days ago.

London, United...
posts: 1
reviews: 1
3. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Anyone got an address to complain too?

marrakech
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 6,779
reviews: 60
4. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Hi,

Thanks for posting your report and I'm glad you had a good time despite a setback.

Please name the driver you made the reservation with. As you hired him on TA users recommendations it is important others get your take on what service was provided instead of having the same disappointment you encountered.

North Yorkshire...
posts: 2,106
reviews: 204
5. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

I suppose. I just didn't particularly want to trash someone's reputation. I was just not going to recommend him to others. It was Jalil who has many many posts about him oh here - mainly good. I picked him because I knew he had been to Florida for 10 years and spoke very good English and had given good service to a top poster here. I suppose I should write and tell him of my disappointment so he is may be more wary of doing it in the future. He did ring his brother in law so he could speak to me whilst I was in the car and I didn't want to complain in front of the brother in law because even though he couldn't speak English I am sure he would have got the tone of voice and it wasn't his fault. Jalil said he had been delayed at the airport but I didn't believe him.

Watford,UK
posts: 201
reviews: 91
6. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Hello Jean .

We are going to Marrakech next month and I am keen to know more about your experiences in the Jemaa and souks . I went with my small daughter in 2006 and felt totally safe and unhassled, no problems at all.

Someone I know has however also been for a second time recently and swears never again, that the whole experience was ruined by the nonstop hassle in the square and souks. This person is a seasoned traveller and very able to say no thanks and fend for herself. She was with her husband, too .

I dislike the idea of having a guide for a city I have been to before and managed in. I hate the idea of going to pre-picked stalls or having to give an extra tip for a guide if I do not shop with them and let them get their kick-back . I would hate all of that.

But I loved Morocco last time and want to show it to my husband. He will be wandering around with his big camera, too. So worried about what that will attract . Just want to be left alone to enjoy the experience our own way .

Is that still possible , or has it all changed as my friend said ?

North Yorkshire...
posts: 2,106
reviews: 204
7. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Hi Una, I don't think I am the best person to ask - we only did the souks and the square with a local guide so we weren't hassled at all when we were with them. When we had our free time we did get approached by the henna women (often) but they were pleasant and usually just said, another day then, when I said no. The stall holders weren't keen on having their stalls photographed - I expect they think you should buy from them if you want a photo but as a tourist you want pictures of everything and that would be impossible. Your husband would need some coins if he is going to take pictures of the water sellers, snake charmers etc. I would not say it was unsafe at all. The sellers wandering around are particularly persistent and will follow you for quite a while but you are in no danger. We personally didn't like being approached so much but to others it is like water off a ducks back. It is not a safety issue so much as a comfort issue. I think you are right to want to show your husband as Marrakech is unique. Just make sure you temper the hectic side with the beautiful tranquil side like the Majorelle gardens and the Saadian tombs.

Sheffield, United...
posts: 1,260
reviews: 18
8. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

I also read your post and review with great interest. Having recently returned and also stayed in the Riu. I have to agree with much of what you say ... this hotel does not provide the intimacy and real experience of the traditional Riad. What it does provide is a good base and comfortable setting to escape the city. My husband is less keen than me to go round the souks and Medina so this is our compromise to each other!!

We have now been three times to Marrakech and no guided trips round the souks. I am quite ok with all the hustle and bustle, it doesn't phase me at all and am fascinated by the groups of story tellers and stand round watching the goings on usually unnoticed and not hassled. I can spot a chancer from a ten yard start and don't have any trouble sending them on their way. Hubby not so keen and it does phase him a bit if approached with "help" but he's getting better at handling it now as it's more familiar to us.

The traffic in the square and in the medina though we really found worse than ever this year. To be honest what with the fumes and sheer fear of being run down by the infamous mopeds and all the rest just made us give up on our wanders and go sit in the Mosque's gardens to reboot the will to go back in!!

Edited: 9:59 am, January 31, 2013
North Yorkshire...
posts: 2,106
reviews: 204
9. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Hi Drummermum, yes you have always got the gardens to retreat to plus there are lots of cafes many with roof terraces where you can take in the sights from a comfortable view point. Unfortunately when we went it was near dusk and it was turning pretty chilly so it was a bit cold on the terrace. As the weather warms up though this would be a good thing to do.

Scotland
posts: 19
10. Re: Trip report - particular interest to Riu Tikka Palmerai stay

Hi great post and review, I have been looking at this hotel and was wondering what is the entertainment like at night in the hotel and outwith, can you go wandering around the city center at night? Another question I have is there anything nearby that you can walk to during the day or night? Thanks