This is the third time I have visited the Palmeraie for summer holidays. Unfortunately it is likely the last time I will return.
As with other reviewers I noticed a marked decrease in variety of the food on offer - in the past I was spoiled for choice, this year I struggled to make a selection. Everything was clean and spotless, but a lack of cohesion of menus and dishes left the idea they were penny pinching and hoping no one would notice.
The local staff who work in the kitchens, restaurants and housekeeping were very amenable and friendly as always. The same could not be said for most of the mainstream GO's who wore painted smiles, spoke only when required and reflected the least amount of effort and enjoyment in the routines, crazy signs etc. The worst year ever for GO morale - an unusual brand of exuberance that usually drives me crazy, but was missed when absent.
Whilst the village itself has definitely benefitted from some improvements in hygiene and quality around the general public areas, there were aspects of the wider environment that appeared less well organised. Most notably - Availability of sunbeds was a MAJOR issue this year, something which had never caused concern previously. Not only were the beds reserved with towels by 8am but there was also an ethos where people would occupy your bed and dump your belongings if you went to lunch!!
The new Chef de Village appears to have had a major impact on the place - all of it negative. His attitude is being filtered through to the GO's who were less enthusiastic and much less willing to interact with people unless required, most particularly with visitors who spoke any language other than French.
Under the previous Chef, who was I believe Italian, there was a multi-lingual approach even though the major part of everything written and spoken was French. For those two years I muddled through very happily using bad French, bad Arabic and mimed English. It got the job done.
This year however the ethos was very much changed, with a permanent focus on French with English offered as an appeasement when someone DARED to require it. And then it felt like you were being punished for being so needy and un-French.
Chef Stefan one evening began an introduction then called out "Does anyone need this in English?" in the brief pause offered no-one was brave enough to shout out YES, so he proceeded En Francais... fair enough... but what he then said in French amounted to "Oh Thank Goodness, we can get on with this "... Much to the amusement of the French visitors who joined in his laughter.... Not the all-inclusive approach we are looking for really.
I met a Dutch family who were experiencing language issues for themselves and their children. On requesting golf lessons the father was told to save his money because there was no GO for golf who had enough English to teach the course effectively. Just one of the many many examples where non-French guests were made to feel awquard and unwelcome.
But the fall in security and safety on site causes me most concern, closely followed by the attitude of Chef and his staff about such incidents. In all my visits to Palmeraie I have never had a moment of worry about the safety of my family or my belongings.
This illusion is now totally shattered.
On day 3 of an 18 day holiday my £200 camera was lifted from my hand bag at the bar. Attending my childs show the parents were asked to come up on 'stage' with their kids.. when I return I find that the furniture is being moved around, my bag has been moved, and later when I find it has been handed in at reception the bag is empty.
What follows is a lengthy 3 days of visits to reception, repeated filling in of forms, repeated assurances that a police report will follow... I find myself wasting more and more of my holidays on this matter and losing patience with the staff in general.
Eventually I discover that the police have NOT been informed AT ALL and my personal insurance is not valid because 24 hours has passed since the crime. BUT I am then assured that ClubMed will make good on recompense when I return home and notify them of my claim. (now I am back and have discovered that their insurance company believes they bear no responsibility and nothing further will be done.)
Whilst I was there I spoke to the Chef about the theft of my camera and the apparent lack of security at the Palmeraie. He had an unusual take on it. He informed me that they would usually have 3-4 unfortunate events of theft or such in any given week at the village, which he though I should agree was not a lot (?) and that the village was at full capacity for that week so there was a lot of people, maybe 900+, so 3-4 thefts out of 900 people was statistically not such a big thing (!) and add to that, they currently had a very high percentage of teenagers, and they were always making trouble, so that would further increase the chance of loss and/or problems at the village........
OH?? well statistically that's OK Then! I will just put the loss of my £200 camera down to a bit of bad luck and teenagers !?!?, and all my lost holiday snaps, AND all the pictures I cant take for the rest of my trip, and all the days I have wasted trying to sort it out!! ....
.......Or Maybe I just got the wrong end of the stick because I cant speak good French!?
Don't get me wrong. We made the most of the trip. I would still tell people we had a great time. We went there for the sun - which is almost guaranteed in Marrakech. We ate, we slept, we swam, which is all we wanted to do... But I will say that at the end of the last two visits we were eager to book for the return trip. This time I will be looking elsewhere, probably in Marrakech, but nowhere near Chef Stefan. And based on the treatment and handling of the unfortunate stealing I will be looking to avoid ClubMed who, it seems, is not the premier company it once was.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.