We stayed in Feb for 5 days as a short break, seeking winter sun in a reasonable amount of flight time. The flight with BA was 3h 30 mins and with 2 refreshments proved to be comfortably short. We had no problems at the airport as some reviewers indicated – promptly out through controls and promptly checked in/security on the way home. BA was delayed 1h on departure home due to snow at Gatwick but made it up during flight resulting in only 15 mins delay. Don’t be fooled the toilets at the airport are free – occasionally cleaning ladies stand at the entrance trying to get some cash.
Although we read in the reviews and were subsequently advised by the hotel the taxi rate is c. 150D, on arrival the guy refused to take anything less than 200dh despite bartering! We are talking £3-4 difference so we treated it as a tip, which he did not get at the end of the journey.
On arrival we were welcomed with a drink (sweet cocktail) and were quite promptly allocated a room. Having read previous reviews we took the luggage in ourselves to avoid delays – as others mentioned, we also could not find our room but were helped by a security guard (my husband tipped him but he looked surprised). Our room was on the ground floor, within 25 mins we were moved to upper floor upon request (with mountain view). The rooms are very clean with both heating and air-con which was useful in Feb (plus extra blankets if needed). I agree with others that while the room is large it is basic but has sufficiently pleasant furnishings. It had flat screen TV, fridge with large bottles of water (useful for nights and when travelling with kids) and free of charge safe. Basic but functional bathroom with basic toiletries. It would be useful to have tea making facilities but you can get your tea/coffee all day long until midnight throughout the complex. Beds appear like two large singles pulled together, however we did sleep very well. We do travel frequently (always 4 or 5*) so would I class the room as 4*? - Yes but just (although yes for the complex facilities). Having said all that we had a good stay and one has come to expect a lot less from star ratings away from Europe, USA, UAE, etc. Only, once you have seen the standard living conditions outside the complex, you will come to appreciate the hotel. One night the cleaner left a lovely towel creation – as we have come to expect from similar establishments it still was appreciated.
Restaurants and Bar:
Breakfast and dinner take place in the main restaurant. The usual – pancakes, eggs, omelettes, fruit, yogurts, cold meats, etc. Perfectly fine. I note some people mentioned, runny/undercooked eggs. True, but if the eggs are too runny, the chef is happy to give them a turnover or leave them a little longer as you wish. Selection of fresh herbal teas is available with equally nice selection of bread and pastries. Dinner was my least favourite time – but I do not eat much meat…Also, the complex is spacious so you do not realise how many guests are present until dinner time. Lunch is held in a brasserie by the pool (indoor and outdoor) and I very much enjoyed the food and dining al fresco. I was very surprised that the alcoholic drinks were quite strong (certainly) not watered down – after 1 glass of wine and 1 cocktail I could feel the alcohol…
Our wedding anniversary was the day after our arrival and of course the Moroccan restaurant was fully booked. However, a space was found on this occasion and bottle of bubbly presented to us – the staff was very attentive (yes my husband did tip but it would not be right otherwise for such service). It was a nice small (buffet) restaurant and I would recommend a visit.
I am surprised about the comments on tipping as we never felt obliged/forced to tip and always received smiles and good service from all staff. Although, when you consider the exchange rate, this is one place where everyone can afford to tip should they so wish. The staff work very hard and maintain the place very clean and gardens presentable. One thing that I noted is that we are no longer used to smoking in bars and public areas (in the UK). Having said that one can always move to the foyer or the couches next to the fireplaces, so no problem for people with children (there were not many children in February). Sadly, as a result a small number of the otherwise nice chairs and couches had cigarette burns.
We only saw a couple of evening entertainments (bits), which I did not find too dissimilar from similar establishments – not amazing, but watchable for a bit. The live music was quite good on 2 nights. However, we do not generally seek such entertainment and are quite happy to chat/read/surf the net or get to know other people, so again no problem for us. Wi-Fi is available throughout the whole large bar/foyer area and they also have two desktop PCs in a ‘computer room’ (not the rooms or pool though).
We played tennis, table tennis and (my husband) football – very well maintained courts/football pitch and reasonably good tennis equipment so that you can actually enjoy the game. Lovely outdoor pool and double loungers with pillows (nice), but very cold – solar panel heating would be a great investment and would make the pool perfect. The entertainment team can be annoying a little when you wish to relax but they do leave you alone if you say no (naturally). I think if they pulled some of the older kids 11+/teenagers to the darts, etc. that would be a better use of their time.
Well-equipped small gym, good exercise class studio (although the classes did not seem to take place according to the published schedule so I did not get the chance to use the studio). The indoor pool was lovely and warm – gently warm for a morning swim and substantially warm in the evenings for a dip. I did liked the music to cover any ‘dim noise’. The glass panels let in the sunshine, which was lovely. Indoor pool mainly suitable for use by adults/swimmers as no gradual step in - we liked it. We did not use the spa as we found it overpriced given the local currency and prices – we did not feel like bartering the hotel displayed price list (after all the bartering outside the hotel). The prices were comparable to the UK – I think the hotel would be better off offering a good value for money to UK/European tourists, benefiting from increased custom in return.
The hotel has a number of free scheduled runs to and from Marrakesh Main Square by a modern coach, starting at 10am – the driver will happily drop you off on the way at the Gardens. You will see what I mean by modern – some of the vehicles and taxis are 20 years old…Book the shuttle bus a day in advance to avoid fully booked run (usually the 10/11am are the busiest).
I was slightly worried about the snake charmers and self-appointed ‘tour guides’. But if you say no firmly but politely they will leave you alone. We ventured in and just strolled through the town, however, when we got to a fairly deserted part of the town, we started to feel uncomfortable and went back. Unfortunately, we witnessed people doing their necessities on the streets of Marrakesh not far from the market stalls which put us off eating in the town (not that we needed to with the hotel being AI – pristine hygiene).
The market is an experience and we bartered heavily and got some wood crafted gifts. It is worth checking the hotel shop prices before heading for the town and aim for circa half of it at least. But Moroccan people are excellent barters – be prepared.
We decided to take the horse carriage ride which was definitely worth it – we saw the whole town in approx. 50 mins. I know that some guests managed to get the ride after a hard barter for 100-110dh, but you can comfortably get a ride for 125-140dh. We paid 150dh with a completely volunteered tip ‘for the horse’ (remember c. 12dh is £1) – we considered the £12.50 one hour ride for two people extremely good value for money. Of course the extra £2 got us a very happy person who rode us through the entire town, stopped for photos and volunteered a bit of history too.
The poverty was sobering and we did not mind ‘overpaying’ the extra pound here and there. The weather can be cool early in the morning (pre 10:30) and in the evening Dec-Mar so jumpers/jackets are useful. Some fellow guests took a tour to the mountains and came back utterly frozen despite heavy jackets – worth considering if planning tours/day trips.
Overall, we only stayed less than one week, which was just right for us, but you definitely have enough to do for a week. If you expect comfortable, clean retreat from the busy town this place will do it.
Higher floors have more sunshine/daylight. Our room was towards the end of the block (1021 if I reme...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.