Airline: Thomson Airlines (Now known as Tui)
Hotel: Kenzi Menara Palace
At the foot of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, you’ll find the exciting, noisy, fast pace of the imperial city of Marrakesh.
Marrakesh nicknamed the “Red City” due to the red stoned buildings, is one of four imperial cities of the Kingdom of Morocco. As well the indigenous Berbers, Marrakech has a mix of African, Middle Eastern and European cultures.
From picturesque gardens and the breath-taking architecture of the palaces and mosques to the hustle of bustle of the souks and markets of the medina in the old city, Marrakesh is a magical place to explore.
The usual trip to Gatwick airport started off this unusual and unexpectedly divine holiday. Being a mid-haul flight this 5 hour journey took us to a place of immense heat and what felt like Arabic royalty. At the beginning of our travels we would often stick to what we knew and First Choice (now Tui) was the only company offering all-inclusive deals at an absolute bargain. I believe we enjoyed this last-minute holiday for £500 and couldn’t believe what we got for our money.
The hotel experience
After going through passport control and the baggage hall we were the only ones scuttled off into our own private car. At this point we were anxious, we hadn’t paid for private transfers and everyone else was being ushered onto the coach. My phone had been activated for unlimited roaming and boy was I glad about this my finger was on the dial.
We drove to our destination for approx. 20mins, eyes peeled ready to send out the SOS call if they were abducting us to make me into an Arab princess (a girl can dream). We arrived at this very grand entrance with blacked out executive cars and Sheiks walking around in a very official and important manner.
I specifically remember mum and I looking at each other with the black girl pursed lips and wondering if they had taken us to the wrong destination. As the driver opened our door and began to unload we were pretty sure that we’d soon be ushered back in and taken to our actual hotel, but the hotel seemed to be expecting us and were ready with the traditional SUPER sweet mint tea.
This 5* hotel was like something from the movies. The guests all seemed to be there on business and this made us feel out of place to begin with, but soon became a perk as it meant that we’d have the pool and sun loungers mainly to ourselves.
Our room was huge and to this day we have never stayed in something of this size again. The Garden view deluxe room decorated in dark hard wood made the room look surprisingly bigger than thought. The ceilings were high and continued to give the feel of something grand. It was no surprise this was the location for business, definitely a place that would impress.
Food & Weather
Tagine, tagine and more tagine. Now I knew that Morocco’s speciality dish was tagine and I love anything saucy and curry like, so I was very excited to try this. However, if I was told that I would be eating this everyday lunch and dinner for 7 days I may have declined the offer. Being an all-inclusive resort, we had all our meals here and whilst they had a variety of tagines, they were still just that, tagine! The first two days I was in heaven, after that I lived on chips and pizza from the pool side bar.
Breakfast was tasty, but I wouldn’t recommend the omelettes, not made to my liking at all. They had a delicious sugary fried dough that reminded me of a cross between a yum yum doughnut and pancakes, I thinks it’s called ‘Msemmen’, anyway whatever the name, I could eat it all day until it made me sick –which it would.
They had two al-carte restaurants within the package – you could visit each once. One a traditional Moroccan restaurant with its own live band and the other an Italian. Now as I had mentioned, we were fully over tagine at this point so was kindly give the opportunity to visit the Italian restaurant twice.
On both occasions we had a delicious 3-course meal accompanied by a bottle of wine. My favourite had to be the pan-seared Salmon on the bed of creamy linguine – to die for. I remember rolling out of the restaurant that night, full to bursting.
What can we say about the weather – feeling hot, Hot, HOT comes to mind. The weather was 38-40 degrees most days, but surprisingly you never felt it. It wasn’t until we got home to wear our normal clothes that we realised how much we had caught the sun. I remember a white colleague of mine saying ‘You really look black now’ and I couldn’t be offended because I was thinking the same thing myself. Just remember to drink a lot of water, heat stroke is no joke.
Places of interest/activities
We went on 2 half-day excursions both arranged through First choice Holiday extras. Again, we were the only ones in a private car when everyone else had the coach, but by this time we were use to being unique. Both excursions were cheap and cheerful (Under £15 each) and offered exactly what we needed to learn about the city.
Marrakesh Highlights – A tour that unravels the history and culture of the city. From visiting tombs, mosques, palaces and museums you’ll get to experience it all. It is a guided walk and you probably walk for at least 2 hours of the tour so be prepared with comfortable footwear and a bottle of water. There were several steps also, so not for those with mobility issues.
Marrakesh Medina and Souks – If you want to see the best of Marrakesh this is the excursion for you. It had absolutely everything and even a water taxi where mum nearly wet herself with fear. I don’t want to tell you too much about this one as you should explore it for yourself but highly highly recommended and the Jemaa el-Fnaa is the main square known for being the location that Sex in the City 2 was recorded (They lie to you, they were not in Abu Dhabi). This is where you buy souvenirs, watch snake tamers and take pictures with monkeys. Be careful what you touch and hold however, you will be charged for everything!!