I travelled All Inclusive with Thomson March/April and really enjoyed the overall holiday. We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather all week. It was around 28*c most days with a light breeze so perfect for exploring the city. It was only overcast on one day of the week. I believe March/April is Morocco's high tourist season as it can often get too hot in the summer months - we were told it reached 50*c last year!
The hotel is situated outside of the city centre which means you'll need to use either the free courtesy bus or a taxi to take you there. There is a taxi rank at the entrance of the hotel - barter with them and you can get a good price. The price will depend on the time of day as they will charge around 20-40dh more in the evening but as a rule anything above 100dh is extortionate and 55dh is ideal. I found the distance from the city centre a blessing in disguise - 1. I don't think I would be able to find my hotel very easily if it wasn't and 2. After a long day it's much nicer coming back to somewhere quiet to relax rather than the hustle and bustle which happens early evening through to night (you also might get woken up by the call to prayers!)
The room is pretty basic and I would have like to have seen more traditional moroccan architecture but it was clean, the beds were comfy and the shower was hot and fairly powerful. I had a room on the ground floor opposite the pool which was great for walking straight out and grabbing a sun lounger (yes it happens - 8am!). Absolutely no complaints.
The staff were exceptional. The manager made a point of introducing himself on the first night and continuously asked if there were any problems he could sort out throughout the holiday. The maids, reception, waiting and animation staff also delivered this same quality.
The gardens and decor were stunning - all constantly kept in immaculate condition. There were numerous places to sit down (inside and out) throughout the hotel.
The pool is one of the best I've been in abroad. Clean and deep and long enough to do some 'proper' swimming. There is also a shallow end which is suitable for young children to use. It's unheated so can be cold when you first dive in but like most holiday pools it's fine after a couple of lengths and lovely when the weather gets a bit too much. There is also an indoor heated pool but this is only free to use until the end of March. Personally I didn't like this so much as it was a lot smaller (about 10/15m...I can't quite remember) and had underwater ledges which made it difficult if you wanted to swim up and down. There was also a gym that was free to use 3pm-7pm which was quiet and had some decent equipment in.
The animation team were brilliant and worked very hard. There were loads of different activities on throughout the day - French Boules, Arabic Lessons, Ping Pong Tournaments etc. There was a different show every night and the team put on brilliant comedy performances (one thing you may notice is that the Moroccan's have a brilliant sense of humour). The African and Moroccan nights were brilliant also and well worth a watch.
The food was the only thing that let the hotel down. Being a vegetarian I found it very difficult to find enough options for the week. Although I think you'll find this throughout the whole of Morocco - vegetarian means vegetables. There was a lot of choice but it was pretty much the same choice every night and not always hot (although you can ask the chef/waiter to heat some things up for you and they'll bring your plate back scorching). Not awful but not to the same standard of other RIU resorts I've been to and heard the same from other people. We went in the a la carte restaurant one night which you have to book in advance and it was lovely. Definitely the best veg and cous cous out of all the veg and cous cous' I'd had all week! You can also arrange to have champagne if it's for a special occasion.
THE BARS AND DRINK
The drinks are what you'd expect at an all inclusive resort - nothing to write home about but nothing wrong with them either. I'm not a wine drinker but I was told the house red was lovely and there was enough choice with cocktails, spirits and soft drinks. The biggest problem I had was that the Zanzibar and lobby area were both smoking which meant I was unable to spend any time there, however the lower bar, where they held the animation events was a non-smoking area so I was fine there.
WHAT TO WEAR?
Being a young female I was a little worried about what clothes I should be wearing around a traditional arab city but after the first day I didn't bother. Morocco is much more accepting of other religions and cultures than some of it's neighbours and I didn't get one disapproving look the whole time I was there. I mainly walked around in strappy dresses and comfy sandals which were great when you were on your feet all day. On one day I went hiking around the mountains and wore shorts which were also fine. I would advise bringing a few light jumpers/jackets for the evening as the temperature drops.
THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE
All of the locals I came across were friendly, helpful and funny. (They love shouting out 'ASDA PRICE', "FISH AND CHIPS' and 'LADY GAGA'... :S). They speak Arabic and fluent French so if you can make an effort with these languages it goes a long way however most people also speak basic English so you are able to communicate if you are struggling. I did get a few 'camel' offers but it was all very light-hearted so best just to laugh it off or if it does really bother you just tell them you're married.
I'd definitely recommend saving some room in the case to bring back goods as there is so much to buy in terms of homeware, fashion and beauty. Morocco is known for it's leather, rugs and argan oil. I was recommended to purchase argan oil from a reputable dealer so I got mine from a pharmacy rather than the souks. You have to barter on nearly everything in Marrakech - it can be daunting at first but it's fine once you get used to it. The easiest way I found was the ask how much and then simply walk away. However, if items are marked, don't barter - this is a fixed price.
THINGS TO DO
I went on two organised trips whilst I was there - Discover Marrakech and Ourika Valley and decided to explore on my own the rest of the time. I couldn't recommend these two trips enough! Normally I hate excursions but these were both great value for money and the tour guides were faultless. You can arrange a deal with a taxi driver for them to take you to all the sites in a day which may work out cheaper but the excursions were worth it simply for the knowledge of the guides. I would definitely recommend researching all the trips before you come though as I received very little information from our holiday rep and there was no information book.
Overall I absolutely loved my visit to Marrakech - it is such a vibrant and interesting city with loads of things to do. The only thing that let the hotel down was the food although that is far out-shadowed by what made it great. It definitely stars as one of my top 5 cities I've been to and I would definitely consider returning, however probably not with Thomson. I felt like there was poor service all round from them - from the non-existent rep to the slow delivery of food on the plane...not to mention that bloody ridiculous evacuation video they need to get rid of!
If you'd like to see a little bit more of Marrakech I did make a video on my time there that you can view here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx5IShiuA7M
HAPPY TRAVELS :)
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Tikida Garden Hotel Marrakech
- Le Tikida Garden Marrakech
- Hotel Le Tikida Garden
- Tikida Garden Marrakech