This is a good hotel. I had emailed in advance and we were met on arrival at the airport by Rashid who immediately made us feel at ease. The 30 minute drive from the airport on a Friday evening in the hotel's comfortable minivan made a big difference to how we felt when we arrived at the hotel - we were greeted on arrival with cold drinks, signed in quickly, and shown to our ground floor room just off the main block. A table was reserved for dinner and we had an hour to freshen up. The arrival transfer was complimentary, which really did take some of the hassle out of arriving.
The room was a decent size, and very nicely decorated. Bathroom also a good size. Big shower, no bath, toilet, bidet, but all clean, and the biggest, fluffiest towels I've seen in a hotel for a good while.
Our room was just off the main block - a ground floor room with a walled seating area outside. This meant it was private but didn't get much sun, and didn't have a view. We didn't use it, but that was just the way it was. Perhaps a veranda/patio or balcony we would have used, but we didn't feel particularly that we missed out.
The hotel is very tastefully (in my opinion) decorated, with funky light fittings, and a colour scheme/fittings/carpets/pictures that make you feel as if you actually are in North Africa, although obviously in a well-heeled resort. The ceiling in the foyer was particularly impressive, as is the fresh citrus smell throughout the main block. The water feature in the foyer is cute.
Walking though the foyer into the pool area in the dark was a wonderful welcome -the pool was lit up, and there were candles and tasteful lights to bring just the right atmosphere.
To the left of the pool is the daytime cafe, straight ahead the pool bar, and to the right were the two lounges and the restaurant. We were welcomed into the bar with smiles and had aperitifs at the bar while we waited for a table. The staff were all welcoming and friendly. Smiley, in fact.
It was coolish, but not cold in the bar (as the doorway into the bar is open, through a very cool wooden door out of which judas doors have been cut). (Some of the steps into and out of buildings would have UK health and safety freaking out, but luckily here there is almost always a staff member to point out potential hazards out to you... It adds to the charm)
We had a fairly simple dinner (chicken tagine was simple and very tasty) and a bottle of Moroccan wine. Not particularly cheap, but about right for this class of hotel - we certainly didn't feel ripped off. A couple of nice service touches we noted - a foot stool was provided for my wife's handbag; our drinks were filled frequently, but not intrusively; everyone seemed ready with a smile.
A couple of drinks and then off to (the VERY comfortable) bed.
Shutters on the doors to the patio meant that we slept through our alarm (it's dark in Palmeraie anyway, but the shutters make the room pitch black), but we made it for breakfast with 20minutes to spare. Breakfast was good. Plenty of sweet pastries and fruit. Good strong coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a choice of eggs, as well as cheese, ham etc. Not an American style breakfast as such, but a good comprehensive offering, and once again, very attentive, friendly service.
The pool area is really lovely. For a hotel that appears to have been recently built, the trees around the pool are mature enough to provide real shade. The loungers were comfy, and the staff again very helpful. Pools themselves: the larger is unseated, and so fresh, but not freezing. The smaller is a very comfortable temperature.
The hotel didn't seem to be full, but by lunchtime most of the 30-40 loungers had been taken. Plenty of space, though. A few kids were playing, but not enough to be annoying (as per a previous review) and the whole atmosphere was really relaxed and informal. Sometimes it is difficult to find a hotel/resort which is not a Butlins (sorry non-UK readers) holiday camp, or a place where you feel you need to whisper. This was spot on.
Lunch at the pool cafe was also good, and as mentioned somewhere else, during a quiet time at the spa the staff from there did come round the pool area to offer a five minute face massage (complimentary).
Dinner again was excellent, although the restaurant/bar was almost deserted by about 10pm on Saturday night, which was a shame.
Following breakfast the next day we took the complimentary land rover shuttle into the centre of town. As noted, the shuttle drops you, not at the Medina, but near to the post office in the new town. I suspect that if you asked a few more questions at reception than we did they could make some recommendations about what to see/visit there. We walked up to the medina, however, which was a ten/fifteen minute walk, to the mosque, and from there across to Place Jamaa El Fna.
From here you can dive straight into the Souk, where, like everyone else, we got lost. When we were ready to leave, though, the map from our hotel reception meant we could agree a reasonable price in a taxi back to the hotel, and this really is only a ten, fifteen minute drive.
Check out was smooth - a minor disagreement on what had been taken from the mini bar was quickly and amicably resolved.
Two minor points that I feel could have been improved upon:
1. No one pointed out where the gym/sauna were. It would have been helpful had this happened
2. The return transfer is not complimentary. I think it would set expectations better had this been more explicitly communicated. Having said that, the hotel ordered a taxi efficiently and we didn't feel overcharged (which isn't to say that we weren't... )
All in all, this is a magnificent hotel for a short break from the winter cold and rain. With a three and a half hour flight time from London, an easy transfer and a warm welcome,it was a great experience. Although you are not in the centre of marrakech, and arguably do not get a 'full on' taste of Morocco unless you leave the hotel, the hotel is staffed and decorated in a way that makes it feel distinctly North African, as opposed to an international resort hotel.
I would recommend this hotel highly. We certainly enjoyed our stay and we hope to return soon.
Higher rooms will have a better outdoor area.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.