Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Clubhotel RIU Tikida Palmeraie: Marrakech by Night

On Friday I returned from an amazing week in Marrakech, Morocco. We stayed at the RUI Tikida Palmeraie which is a gorgeous hotel that has won a TripAdvisor Hall of Fame Award every single year since 2011. We stayed there for 10 days back in 2014 and completely fell in love with the city, so when I noticed that Thomson were advertising a week all inclusive for an excellent price we thought we would take a risk with the weather. The risk definitely paid off- we had a week of beautiful sunshine (zero rain!) and temperatures floated within the 25 degree range which was perfect for me as I'm pretty much allergic to strong sun and high temperatures.

The Edge of the Atlas Mountains on the Flight In

We flew with Thomson Airways and the flight out from Gatwick took a measly 2 hours 50 minutes due to some lucky tailwind. A typical flight between London and Morocco takes around 3.5 hours. The whole travel experience was super easy- the flight out was at 7am which wasn't particularly thrilling but it did mean that we had checked into the hotel by 12 mid day and were able to drop our bags off and grab some lunch and sunbeds.

The rooms at the RUI Tikida seem to be entirely comprised of twin rooms. I noticed a few Suites on the room upgrade list that possibly had double beds, but the standard issue room at this hotel comes with twin beds that are pushed together. It's not a huge inconvenience but it would be nice to choose whether you want a double or twin room and there were plenty of couples staying that I'm sure would have generated enough demand. Aside from this, the rooms are both spacious and clean. We had a room on the ground floor in a building that was behind the huge pool. We also had a little terrace area with a table and chairs that were lovely in the evening when the sun was at the right angle. Our room had a small but adequate television and a large clean bathroom which was lovely. One thing that I didn't enjoy much was the bedding that the hotel use. We had white bedsheets which were pressed and perfect, but on top of these sheets the hotel wrapped a sort of brown fleece type blanket around the bed. A blanket was definitely welcome because the temperature dropped significantly at night, but the fleeces are quite old and dirty looking. On close inspection I decided that they were definitely clean and smelled freshly laundered, but they weren't too inviting to climb under. I think a refresh may be in order!

Poolside View

The RUI Tikida Palmeraie is an All Inclusive resort. Breakfast is served in the main building near reception and is buffet style but with live cooking stations so you can ask for an omelette or some poached eggs. The range of food on offer is hugely vast with traditional Moroccan breakfast, fruit platters, continental and hot cooked breakfasts. Dinner is also served in the same restaurant and there are themed nights (Italian, Moroccan, curries, Chinese) each night along with live cooking stations for steaks with sauces and fresh fish etc. Lunch is served in the poolside restaurant which is huge, and serves salads with pastas and the occasional soup or paella. The food itself is very good compared with other All Inclusive experiences I've had. The live cooking stations make it easy to find something you like every night without any panic.

View of the Spa and Lakes

There is truly mammoth pool at the Rui Tikida Palmeraie. It's the biggest pool I've seen in the entire world. This means that there are tonnes of sunbeds and lots of space to lie out next to the pool without being sandwiched next to the family with the little boy who can't stop shouting at his mother and tipping his Dads beer over every 30 minutes with an almost timetabled frequency. The pool is clean and treated by staff every night to ensure that it stays that way. However, as we visited in March we did find that the pool was too cold to be comfortable. The only people that took a dip were hardcore swimmers doing lengths early in the morning and a few Dads with kids who had clearly nagged them half to death. I didn't particularly mind this as I'm not a strong swimmer and I'm happy reading my book on a sunbed, but I did hear a few families with moans about the temperature. When we visited in 2014 we arrived at the end of May and the pool was comfortably warm, so I think April is probably a safer bet if you want the price low but the pool warm.

There are plenty of activities to get stuck into in and around Marrakech. We rode on camels which was really good fun and quite cheap. We also visited the Atlas Mountains in a private 4x4 which was a once in a lifetime experience- the views were incredible. The Atlas Mountains are home to the Berber people who are an ethic group inigenous to North Africa. They live off the land and have sprawling mountain homes, and they will gladly show you around and offer you mint tea for a small tip. If outdoor activities aren't your thing then the hotel have an entertainment team who seemed to keep the kids (and the majority of the adults who'd arrived on the Manchester flight) busy for hours. It's worth noting that the entertainment team are pretty "in your face" when it comes to getting people to take part in their darts games or bingo. One guy chose to sneak up behind me and use a blade of grass whilst buzzing to make me think I had a wasp on me. HILARIOUS. After showering him with obscenities he seemed happy enough to actively avoid me for the rest of the week. Sorry Samsung (is that your real name?!)...

If you plan to lay out in the sun playing games on your iPad and scrolling through Facebook it is worth noting that the WiFi only works at the lobby in the main building and not next to the pool. I did manage to find one WiFi hotspot near the pool which intermittently allowed me to check Snapchat, but it's not reliable outside of the hotel lobby.

The RUI Tikida Palmeraie is a truly special hotel. The staff go above and beyond to help you and to look out for you (even if you choose to skip the Thomson Welcome Meeting which we definitely didn't attend). The hotel provides a free shuttle back and forth to the Marrakech Souk which is a bustling market full of adorable trinkets, delicious food and the occasional snake charmer. The hotel is safe and clean and even the Thomson transfers between airport and hotel were hassle-free on both trips. You can choose to tip the waitstaff that you think deserve it, but realistically you can do 2 weeks in this hotel without spending a penny. The onsite facilities include everything you need including a lovely spa with an inside pool if you want to swim. The final bonus is that the hotel is home to 2 of the cutest ducks I've ever seen; a brown one that I named Leonard and a white one which I named Charles...

Bonus Duck. 

We'll be back next year, until next time Leonard!

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