“ Location: Route Fés / Annakhil „
Riu Tikida Palmeraie is a four star all inclusive style hotel in Marrakech, Morocco. We stayed here for a week last month as part of a package holiday to the city. We absolutely loved our stay because the hotel is lovely and the staff are wonderfully welcoming and genuinely want to make you have a fantastic stay. The hotel isn't perfect, but it was absolutely everything we wanted for our holiday.
The hotel is located outside the old city of Marrakech in the Palmeraie district. There isn't much in this area but it is only a fifteen minute (at most) taxi ride to the old city where all the action is. We loved the fact that we weren't actually staying in the thick of it because one of the main reasons for our holiday was to relax knowing that there was something to do nearby if and when we fancied. This hotel certainly fit the bill for this purpose. It is easy to get a taxi from outside the hotel; just ask at reception and they will call one down for you in a matter of minutes. It costs about £7. Alternatively you can use the hotel's shuttle bus which is free of charge and drops you off in and picks you up from the centre of the old city. It runs about five times a day from morning until evening and you have to book in advance. They recommend booking the day before, but we booked a couple of times on the day of travel and we managed to get a city on the fully air conditioned coach quite easily.
The airport is about 25 minutes' drive away and, again, you can get a taxi easily. Aside from that there isn't much else. If you are into walking and enjoying your local surroundings, this is where the hotel isn't perfect because it is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is a supermarket and a petrol station (one of a comically huge number of petrol stations in the city we noticed!) which you can walk to in about 20 minutes or so, but that really is your lot.
We arrived late at night on our first day, well beyond when the restaurants in the hotel close, but we were nevertheless welcomed with a genuine smile, a rather delicious and much appreciated non-alcoholic cocktail and the offer of dinner in the buffet restaurant which they had kept open for us. I think that they kept it open because it was a substantial amount of people arriving at the same time, but I got the impression that even if you were arriving of your own accord, they'd have happily provided you something to eat.
Checking in was exceptionally easy and quick, helped by the number of staff they had at reception even at this late hour. It was nice to see that they'd had the common sense to plan for the number of arrivals, rather than making us wait in a long queue. We were offered assistance with taking our bags to our room, but opted to find them ourselves using the directions the receptionist had given us. I'd recommend taking up the offer of assistance, because the hotel complex is absolutely enormous and not easy to navigate in the dark. If it hadn't been for the kindly security guard that showed us our room, I reckon we'd still be wandering round trying to find it now!
The reception area is lovely and large with nice luxurious touches including a funky water feature and a huge chandelier. It is a nice airy area and is exceptionally presented and maintained. This goes for the rest of the resort too, which is immaculately maintained even though you don't ever seem to see anyone maintaining it - maybe they have little cleaning fairies that come out in the night! The grounds are lovely and very natural looking, with huge ponds and grassed areas lined with sunflowers and palm trees. It is very pleasant to walk around. The buildings are all orange in colour and low rise so that it feels more like a little man made village than a huge hotel complex.
As I said, the buildings that house the rooms are low rise and in actual fact only two stories. We had one on the ground floor although we'd have much preferred an upper floor one for a couple of reasons. Firstly the floors are all tile, so if you get someone who is heavy footed (like the herd of elephants that seemed to be staying in the room above us), you'll hear every step they take. Secondly, on the upper floors you get a balcony but on the ground floors you get a patio leading onto a little garden. It was very pleasant and nice to have, but some of them (unlike ours fortunately) are not surrounded by hedges, so there is very little privacy.
The rooms themselves are lovely and very neutrally decorated in beige and orange colours. They are huge rooms too; in fact everything about this place seems to be pretty spacious. Our room had a double bed (which was actually two generous sized singles pushed together) as well as a sort of lounge area with a sofa bed in. The bed was a little on the firm side, although comfy and we had no problem sleeping at all. There was plenty of storage space, with not one but two wardrobes and a long, tiled counter type thing where you could put things - cue the untidy room from me! There is a dressing table and a small television that we didn't turn on once, so I couldn't tell you what the reception or channel choice was like, I'm afraid. There was an easy to use electronic safe in one of the wardrobes. There was a small mini bar although it was empty. You do get two large bottles of water which are replenished as you use them, but we thought it would have been nice to have a couple of cans of pop or something in the mini bar really.
The bathroom was small although had everything you need and was nicely presented. The toilet is in a separate room from the bath and sink, which is surprisingly useful really. The bath looked a little bit worn, although the shower pressure and temperature of the water was always very good. There is a small selection of toiletries although not nearly enough - you are better bringing your own - and there is a hairdryer in the bathroom that works really well.
===Eating and Drinking===
As is always the case in all-inclusive resorts, there is no shortage of food and drink choices available. You can eat pretty much any time of the day - with the night time being the only exception (and I'd bet they'd get you something if you asked nicely enough!). Breakfast and evening meals are taken in the large buffet hall in the main building.
At breakfast, the choice is very good and includes everything you could imagine and some you can't. There are hot cooking stations were you can order eggs and omelettes as well as pancakes and waffles. There are all kinds of hot and cold foods including cereals, salads, fruit, sausages and Moroccan foods. The toast maker is as useless as they always are but the selection of fresh rolls and pastries means you can skip toast easily. At dinner the choice is equally good and includes Moroccan tagines, Italian food and everything in between. They have theme nights twice a week and whilst they make the effort in transforming the seating area, it is hard to discern the difference in the food. The food is very good and the choice is extensive, so even fussy eaters will find plenty to eat. I was amazed at how hot they managed to keep everything because cold or lukewarm food is often a problem with buffets, but not so here. Lunch is taken in the poolside restaurant and is equally full of choice, plus you get the added bonus of a barbecue where they do burgers and hot dogs which are very good actually.
We found that the layout of the main restaurant was very good too because you weren't shoe horned in like you sometimes are because the place was so big. We also liked that the tables were away from the food area, so you didn't get people shuffling past all the time and knocking your chair whilst you were eating.
There are two other restaurants that you have to pre book for; one Italian and one Moroccan. We were a bit disappointed to find that they were both buffet restaurants as well although they do make the effort by putting little menus on your table! The atmosphere in these two is a lot quieter and it does make a nice change. We found that the food in the Italian wasn't as hot because the turnover wasn't as quick which was a shame. The Moroccan is not for fussy eaters, because there or no 'safe' options, although the food is delicious and the atmosphere in the restaurant a lot more authentic and pleasant. The only problem we found with the Moroccan was that it was a lot smaller and the tables were wedged in pretty closely, meaning that we felt as though we were sharing a table with the couple next to us.
There are plenty of bars scattered around the resort so you don't need to go far to get a drink and they all have menus at them so you can see what cocktails and things are on offer. We particularly enjoyed sitting in the bar near reception in the evening although they do allow smoking inside here, so it gets quite smoky. The drinks are good although not brilliant. The rose wine was fine, the beer a bit fizzy and the cocktails ranged from mediocre to very tasty.
There is plenty to do in the resort whether under your own steam or under the guidance of the animation team. The star feature of the hotel is the absolutely enormous pool which is more than capable of hosting water activities at the same time as giving you room to have a good swim. It's not heated though, so don't go diving in too quickly if you don't want a shock! In other outdoor activities, there are tennis courts, a football pitch and volleyball kit and you can borrow all the equipment you need.
Entertainment was, there is a full programme of activities that ranges from bingo to learning Arabic and you can take part in as much or as little as you want. It isn't really our thing so we didn't do any of it but we really enjoyed the fact that we weren't pressured into taking part. We also found that everyone who did take part seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. The animation team are very enthusiastic and really quite friendly so they do a good job. There are evening shows every day too, which we skipped but included things like cabaret, Michael Jackson tribute and Far East night - make what you will of that selection!
The hotel has a focus on being child friendly and there are plenty of things for them to do. There is obviously the pool to start with which doesn't have a children's area specifically but slopes at a very slow gradient to the deeper bit so there is a large portion of shallow area that they can and do use happily. There is a kid's club that operates for a couple of hours each morning and afternoon and seemed to include activities like face painting (there were lots of Spidermen walking around the resort) and games. There is also a kids area that can be used at any time of the day (although only under parental supervision outside of the kid's club hours) that has climbing frames and swings. Each evening there is a kids disco before the nightly show, which includes dancing to things like The Wheels on the Bus. Food wise there is plenty of food at any meal time for kids to choose from including all the usuals like burgers, pizzas, chips. There are also build your own ice cream stations with a selection of sauce toppings that they can put on themselves.
The hotel has wi fi that is free to use in the reception area. The signal is pretty lame especially if there are a lot of people trying to use it at the same time. We found that the signal strength was better during the day and was only really terrible once.
There is a spa that offers a full range of treatments for an additional cost. There are leaflets with details in the rooms. There is also a pretty good gym area that has everything you'd need although it does say that you must wear appropriate clothing and footwear. There is also an indoor swimming pool here although we only used it once because it isn't massive, nor is it heated. The main problem though was that it was really full of chlorine and so wasn't that comfortable to use.
There is a gift shop where you can also get any essentials that you have forgotten, I'd recommend not forgetting though because it is typically overpriced. You can also get a pretty good selection of western chocolates and crisps in here.
The staff are all wonderful and are one of the main things that make this resort great. Everyone from the night security to the waiting staff are genuinely friendly and helpful and it isn't just because they are wanting a tip. We didn't actually tip very much at all whilst we were there but still received excellent service. I think it would have been handy to have had some kind of tip box at reception where the money could be shared by everyone, because we found that we were served by so many people that it was hard to know who to tip and who'd pick up the money if we did. There are so many staff too that you find you are never waiting for anything - for example at the bars and at reception, we were always served straight away, which was nice.
Absolutely yes. We paid about £500 each for a week for our package, which included the flights, hotel and tranfsers. There was a sign on the back of the door that said the rack price of the hotel is about £100 per night on an all-inclusive basis, per room. Even at the latter price it was exceptionally good value for money, considering the facilities, food and standard of service but at the package rate you can't go wrong really.
We found that the hotel offered us a relaxing place to stay whilst being close enough to the action of the centre of Marrakech that we could explore freely and easily. The hotel and its facilities are plenty big enough to accommodate the number of people that stay here and I would absolutely recommend it for a cheap place to stay. It isn't perfect, but it only needs little tweaks and you can overlook them at the price you pay.