Whether you call it The Royal Decameron Issil Beach Hotel (which is what it says at the gate - there is no beach!), or the Decameron Issil, or the Club Issil (which is what all the taxi drivers call it, and what I'm going to call it in this review), or the Club Lookea (which refers to the sporting activities there), it's all the same place.
La Palmeraie is an area about 10-15 minutes taxi drive north east of the city centre, largely away from most of the hustle and bustle, and containing not much, apart from a lot of palm trees (some a bit ragged) and a few of the more up-market tourist resorts (the Club Issil is just down the road from the Tikida Garden, and more or less opposite the Club Med - not to be confused with the other Club Med hotel downtown).
At the airport use the little sand-coloured 'petite' hatchback taxis if you can get one, as they are supposed to be cheaper than the bigger 'grande' Mercedes taxis - although we found that often there's not a lot of difference in the prices. You should pay 200 Dirhams for the trip to Club Issil during daytime - certainly not more than 250 - and it will take 15-25 minutes depending on the traffic.
There is technically no free hotel shuttle bus into town from Club Issil, and a taxi (there are usually some waiting outside the gate) will cost about 50 Dirhams one way. Don't worry about finding a taxi to bring you back, they are everywhere. Having said that, we discovered that Look Voyages, a French tour company who have a very useful and friendly office at the Club Issil, operate their own coach 4 or 5 times a day into town for their own clients for free. We asked if we could jump on it, and were told that we could, provided there was space (which there always seemed to be). However this coach sometimes terminates well outside the Medina, so you may find that you still have a 15 minute walk or a short taxi ride to complete your journey, depending on where you want to go.
Club Issil is essentially French, and that's the language they will talk to you unless you prove otherwise. All-inclusive clients get a green wristband if French is their primary language, and a gold one if you're English. Most Moroccans struggle to speak more than a few essential phrases in English, so a knowledge of 'schoolboy French' is handy. A few words of Arabic (Yes, No, Please, Thank you, Hello, Goodbye) comes as a real surprise to them, and is always appreciated with a smile. Worth learning.
Club Lookea is the 'animation' (activity) aspect of the place. The energetic Club Lookea team of bouncy young folk try to inspire everyone to bounce along with them. Sports, aerobics, salsa exercises, 'aquagym', football, etc. etc. is offered to you constantly. If (like me) you look very lazy and grumpy, they eventually leave you to fester ("Won't you even play Le Ping Pong, or Petanque?"), but it can be quite exhausting watching them exercising by the pool. You can always escape to the bar, but they may come and try to drag you out of there too! Seriously, it's not a problem. It's part of the character of the place.
The rooms (nice, spacious little semi-detatched pink mud huts) are quite adequate without being special. I'd describe them as 3-star European, but maybe that's 4-star African. They are cleaned daily, and my only comment would be that they seemed to have been built in a bit of a hurry. Each one has a balcony or a veranda/patio seating area. If you have one with the seating area on the east side, then you'll have to sit outside your own front door facing the road to catch the evening sun, which is a bit odd.
The bed was excellent and comfortable. We slept really well, especially once we got used to the sound of the call to prayer across the city at 5am. We didn't drink tap water, but you get a big bottle of water with every meal (which everyone takes away), so there's no shortage. The buffet food is very good, with lots of choice, and plenty of menu changes from day to day. No complaints there at all, apart from bacon, which they can't cope with, but I guess they can be forgiven for that. Sometime you don't recognise something (or understand the label in French), but you can always try it, and don't eat it again if you don't like it.
Moroccan red wine is very drinkable too, as is the beer (note that most of the hotels downtown don't serve alcohol, and the guests there will envy you!). If you want English tea, you can get it (Liptons Yellow Label tea bags seem to the only option in Morocco) but you may have to ask (in French) for a dash of milk. The barmen know how to do it, although they speak hardly two words of English among the lot of them.
I suppose we were a bit off-season (November) so it wasn't crowded (First Choice had just started going there the week we arrived, so that may grow. Their English rep is a really nice lady), and there were plenty of loungers by the pool, seats near the bar, tables in the restaurant etc. It might be different in peak times. If you don't like being near smokers you will be disappointed, because the whole world smokes in Morocco and you can't get away from it (except in the restaurant).
The gardens are very well kept, and a pleasure to walk around. The only TV channel in English is CNN, plus a French film channel that plays Hollywood films (English soundtrack with French subtitles) which is probably more entertaining than CNN. The staff are all great, the only difficulty sometimes being the language barrier - you just have to muddle through. There's a wi-fi area, and mobile phone reception is good.
Altogether we enjoyed our stay there, which was intended to be a chill-out week, sitting by the pool and catching up with reading, eating and drinking (it ticked all those boxes), although we did of course take a couple of visits into town and the obligatory (and excellent) 4x4 ride up into the Atlas Mountains. Only 3 days of sightseeing in a week? Yup. You can do Marrakech in 3 days (including one evening, which is a must), with a bit of planning.
Well done, Club Decameron Issil ! It did exactly what we wanted at the time. I'd recommend it, but I wouldn't go back, because Marrakech isn't a place I feel needs a return visit.0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.