Now back in the dreary UK, it’s hard to believe that we have just spent just over two days in 30 degrees plus!!
It amazed us all that not only is the flight just three hours from the UK but the transfer time to most of the hotels in Marrakech is about 10 minutes.
Our first evening took us to enjoy drinks at one of the oldest hotels in Marrakech. A location frequented by connoisseurs and celebrities able to relax in an atmosphere that combines history with enchantment and luxury. Even Winston Churchill considered the hotel and Marrakech to be the most unforgettable place on earth. The hotel was a temporary home to Churchill five times, including a 1943 visit he made with President Roosevelt after a conference in Casablanca. Alfred Hitchcock shot scenes from “The Man Who Knew Too Much” in the hotel’s lobby. Dinner followed at a contrasting restaurant that offered an uber cool space where indoor meets outdoor and serves as a unique space for any event. The contemporary menu and fine wine went down a treat.
Day two was action day, an entourage of 4x4’s snaked their way into the Atlas Mountains, home to the Berber population. The Atlas range separates the Mediterranean and Atlantic Coastlines from the Sahara Desert and provides an idyllic location for one of Marrakech’s top boutique hotels which is nestled into its foothills. Not only did we sip traditional mint tea over the looking the mountains during our visit, but enjoyed the sheer luxury the Kasbah had to offer. The icing on the cake is that the Kasbah actively approached the leaders of the local communities to offer villagers the opportunity to work at the Kasbah. Most had never worked in a hotel before, let alone spoke English, however they now proudly employ and train the local villagers in all aspects of hotel operations and English and employ 120 staff together with an extended family of 4 mules, 3 donkeys and 2 camels!
The 4x4 experience continued through the Atlas Mountains and at some points looking at the drop down over the cliff side was quite something and left us wandering how the Berbers manage to live in this remote environment. A traditional Berber lunch was enjoyed. The scene was set as we were seated under a Bedouin style tent by the Lalla Takerkoust Lake.
The second half of the action packed day was split into two – Was it to be an afternoon of bartering at the Souks and an eye opening tour of the Jemaa El Fna Square with its snake charmers and mobile dentists…or a chilled spa treatment at a Country Club? As it turned out, it was more of an eye opening experience at the Country Club… the local spa treatment of a Hammam turned out not to be for the prudish or faint hearted…I feel that the spa posse now know each other rather well! For the Souk posse, it appeared that immense reserve was exercised not to be cajoled into buying hundreds of pairs of leather Moroccan slippers and thousands of spices for all the Tagines that were to be cooked upon return. Yes, hands up….a tagine or two was purchased!
The evening led us to the contrast of modern versus traditional which Marrakech is so good at. Pre-dinner cocktails were taken on a hotel roof terrace where a 360 degree view of Marrakech could be enjoyed. It combined sophistication with timeless design and effortless chic. Transfer to the dinner venue, a beautiful ornate Palace was of a traditional style, the good old horse and cart, locally know as a Caleche. An interesting experience not hampered at all by crazy drivers and motorbikes transporting families ranging from three to eight persons per bike!! By comparison the serene yet ambient dinner location, a traditional Palace was the perfect tonic. An impressive four course dinner was accompanied by the traditional musicians.
Our third and final day took us on a whirlwind tour of four hotels that ranged from traditional to modern, to Zen to golf. The hotel and venues in Marrakech offer top of the range facilities for a conference or incentive and you can go as modern and eclectic as you want to as traditional and regal as you want. There is something for everyone.
My recommendation: Marrakech has got so much to offer throughout the year. It is also great value for money, short flight and transfer times from UK and becoming more accessible worldwide. I would say if you’re looking for contrast and diversity, Marrakech is your destination.