Magical Marrakech

16 March 2018

As a destination, Marrakech used to be high on the list as a popular incentive travel and conference destination. With its central access for worldwide travellers, short flight and zero-time difference from the UK, plus French-speaking locals, it made it an accessible location for EU holidaymakers and delegates alike. However, due to a few years of unrest and protests, the location witnessed a lull in tourism.

Now, thanks to the new airport and improvements to train links, infrastructure, and heightened security, Magical Marrakech is very much BACK and brimming with exciting culture and rich history to explore.

A short 3-hour BA flight transported me into a different world and sensory overload of red mud-baked medina’s, snow-capped Atlas Mountains, and exotic scents of orange blossom and Moroccan spices filling the air. Not to mention the 27-degree heat which was a far cry from a 7-degree, rainy London. Greeted by our friendly DMC, Exclusively Morocco, we took a 10-minute minibus transfer to the stunning Four Seasons Marrakech Resort. The beautiful terracotta-coloured buildings form a U-shape surrounded by Moorish gardens, tranquil water-features and silvery swimming pools decorated with lanterns which come alive at dusk. The friendly and attentive hotel staff provided a hospitable welcome so we instantly felt special and relaxed in our new home for the weekend.

Situated just 15 minutes from the ancient Medina and equidistant to the cosmopolitan neighbourhood of the Ville Nouvelle, the Four Seasons resort offers the perfect base to explore the best of both worlds. The 40-acre resort boasts a mix of Pavilions, Suite, and Penthouses making up 139 luxurious bedrooms. There are two huge heated swimming pools, two tennis courts, a restaurant and courtyard bar lounge, boutique shop, spa with 15 treatment rooms and fitness centre. In terms of event space, I was bowled over by the purpose-built, dedicated conference facilities, including a 600m2 ballroom which can accommodate 600 people for a reception or 430 in banquet style. To support these numbers, they have a large pre-function area, three smaller meeting rooms and a business centre along with Le Grand Jardin which is lined with palm trees to create a special welcome for your conference.

I mean it when I say the possibilities are endless with this hotel and I would strongly recommend it for any meeting, conference, event or simply for leisure purposes.

Once we’d had a chance to check into our room, freshen up and familiarise ourselves with the surroundings, we took a short transfer to the Suleiman Palace – a beautiful Riad on the edge of the Medina which can be used to host events. Our dinner setting was a smaller Riad, the Dar Moha, former residence of the French designer, Pierre Balmain. We dined by the poolside and left very impressed with our first taste of official Moroccan cuisine.

After a comfortable sleep in the silky sheets of my queen-sized bed, we met by the pool for breakfast ‘al fresco’, soaking up the glorious morning sun which set us up right for the activity-filled day ahead. A convoy of Jeeps took us from the comforts of the city to up to the Agafay Rock Desert at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The roads were dusty, rocky and pretty treacherous resulting in two burst tyres on our journey, thankfully quickly fixed by our guides. After 40 minutes we stopped in what felt like the most remote location on earth and were met by a fleet of camels. They offered an authentic mode of transport to a Berber village where we would pit stop for a spot of traditional mint tea. Once refreshed we tackled our third mode of transport for the day, quad bikes. Our guides led us further into the desert for an exhilarating hour which I would urge anyone to have a go at as it was so fun.

In reward for completing all of our exciting activities, we were hosted for a BBQ style lunch at the chic Kasbah by Beldi, a rural retreat close to the Atlas Mountains which would be another ideal location to host an incentive group.

We had some free time back at the hotel to relax and enjoy the amazing facilities before heading to the renowned Djemaa El Fna Square. This main square in the heart of the city allows you to discover street shows, snake charmers, musical performers and storytelling of times gone by as well as local cuisine, acting as a central hub for locals to meet.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the square our dinner venue Bo Zin, provided a stark contrast with a relaxed, chic vibe and glamorous people sipping cocktails. This elegant, modern venue can be used for an array of drinks receptions and dinners and can be taken exclusively for groups of up to 400 people. After dinner, we had a chance to sample the local nightlife at the Palais Jad Mahal.

Blurry eyed from our fun night out, we were up early for our final day of the trip. And what better way to cure a hangover than to explore the tranquil Majorelle Gardens and the fabulous museum of Yves Saint Laurent. This is certainly a must see when you are visiting the city!

We were then transported from one type of fashion to another, deep into the windy labyrinths of the traditional souks, where market sellers retail anything from leather shoes to golden lanterns. We spent a few hours meandering around and I was surprised to not be pestered in any way which made the experience even more pleasant.

Our final stop before heading to the airport was the Beldi Country Club, a luxury retreat which can host a variety of events from drinks receptions, gala dinners and conferences exclusively. This would provide an idyllic backdrop for large groups of 200 – 400 people with theming, lanterns, candles and traditional entertainment.

I would highly recommend Marrakech for anyone, whether for corporate meetings and events, or incentive groups. There is so much diversity, it really does have something for everyone, supported by fabulous hotels and event spaces.

I would like to say a huge thank you to our hosts from Four Seasons Hotels; Ugo Delory and Nic Stott and Essaid Faiq and his team at Exclusively Morocco DMC who put this fantastic programme together and ensured the smooth running of our whirlwind weekend.