“So Smooth”

Well, we’re home and missing Morocco already! (Although, I must admit it’s nice to have something other than tajine for a change!!)

Our trip through Morocco was fantastic — everything was so smooth and went exactly as planned. Thanks to you both for all your assistance in making this happen. We will certainly recommend Experience It to any friends considering a trip to Morocco in the future.

As promised, here’s my feedback on the trip — hopefully it will be helpful to you and your future clients.

Itinerary:
I don’t think we would change a thing. Starting in Tangier and working our way around to Casablanca worked very well for us. We felt we spent the right amount of time in each place – it was good to have two nights in Chefchaouen, Fes, the desert, and Marrakech, and one night at the other stops. We were very glad we broke up the trip from Fes to the desert with a night in Midelt – while Midelt doesn’t have much to offer, it made for a much more manageable drive and allowed for a bit of “down time” around the pool.

Pre-trip communications:
We really appreciated the quick response from both of you to any of our enquiries. The email messages confirming and re-confirming arrangements that you sent at timely intervals were very reassuring — it showed you were on top of things, and that all was in order. Having all the contact info for you and our driver was great too. This gave us much confidence in your company, and we set off for Morocco with no worries. The background articles you sent were very helpful (culture, dress, tipping, etc.).

Driver:
We felt very fortunate to have Rostom as our driver/guide/companion/friend in Morocco. From the moment we met him at Tangier Airport we felt comfortable and we knew we would enjoy our time together with him. Rostom is very personable, very open about his life in Morocco, and our conversations during the long drives helped us gain a much deeper understanding of modern-day Morocco and its people — it was a significant “value-added” piece to the trip, one we would not have experienced had we been on a big bus tour or driving ourselves around Morocco (not that I would even consider either of those options!!) You might consider highlighting more the benefits of a private driver/guide on your website for potential clients.

Rostom was punctual, flexible and responsive to our requests and needs, and drove very safely at all times. We especially appreciated the timely bathroom breaks! We also appreciated the little extras – such as taking us on a hike to the waterfalls near Chefchaouen, and taking us to stores to buy wine (and giving great advice about Moroccan wines!). His experience showed in many ways, such as knowing the best time to leave or arrive at places. His networking with other drivers was very helpful too – he rerouted us on our journey from Erfoud to Tinghir to avoid a damaged bridge on our original route (heavy rains). We met other tourists whose driver was not aware of this who had spent over nine hours on the road. We got to Tinghir early in the afternoon, enjoyed the gorge, and had time to relax around the pool at the hotel while the others were too late to even get to the gorge that day.

Guides:
We had guides in Chefchaouen, Volubilis, Fes, Ait Ben Haddou, and Marrakech. All were knowledgeable – some were better than others.

Accommodations:
Overall, we were very pleased with the accommodations – all were well located, and the variety in the types of accommodations was great – it made for a more interesting and enjoyable trip. It was clear that Aaron had passed on our specific room requests, and most places followed through.

Chefchaouen – Dar Echaouen is a great property. The location was perfect – a view of the city, but away from the hustle and bustle, and an easy walk into the medina. Also well located for vehicle access for easy pick-up and drop-off. The service and quality of the rooms and food was wonderful for a 3 star property — definitely a 3 and a half stars at least! Instead of two rooms, we were offered a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment unit, with a large sitting area. Fantastic.

Fes – Riad El Yacout was outstanding. What a beautiful place — it felt like a retreat from the real world. The staff were incredibly accommodating and helpful, and the food was plentiful (to say the least), tasty, and beautifully presented. We ended up having both dinners at the riad instead of one at a restaurant — it seemed a shame not to take advantage of the place! The spa was a bit pricy for Morocco, but the hammam I had was wonderful, and I don’t regret the cost! We were given beautiful and spacious suites, not rooms. Our friend Joanne claimed her suite was bigger than the condo she lives in, and our suite was huge — it was the suite that Bono stayed in. And since it was good enough for Bono, it was good enough for us!!

Midelt – Villa Pomme d’Or was one of our own accommodation choices not from your list. We were quite satisfied with this place, and would recommend you consider it as an option for future clients. Definitely not in the same league as the Riad El Yacout, but I don’t think anything like that exists in Midelt. The rooms were not quite as expansive and plush as the website photos would indicate, but they were clean and comfortable (especially the beds). The rooms seem a bit “faded” and need a bit of TLC (peeling paint, etc.), but the pool area is lovely, and the main dining room is beautifully decorated and the food was very good, with excellent service. All in all, a nice option in Midelt.

Sahara – Caravanserai Desert Camp was another place we suggested. We enjoyed the camp and would recommend it, but with some suggestions for improvement.

The camp is well-located, about an hour’s camel trek from Merzouga, set among the dunes far enough away from town. There are a couple of other camps close by, but they are not visible from the camp. The tents are great – well appointed, with comfortable beds, full bathroom and shower, and electricity. The staff were very accommodating and personable and did their best to communicate in various languages. The food was fine, but nothing spectacular. The entertainment after dinner was great – as was the desert storm we experienced on the second night (heavy winds, rain, thunder, lightning – quite a show!)

We were very glad we chose to spend two nights in the desert, giving us the time to explore the area in a 4X4 with a great driver/guide (Mohammed), seeing singers/dancers, the mines, Berber nomads, fossil beds, etc. Had we spent only one night, we would have arrived at sunset, had dinner, slept, and left right after breakfast. We would highly recommend a two night stay in the desert.

Tinghir – Hotel Amazir Todra Gorge was another place we chose. We thoroughly enjoyed it and think it’s a great option in this area. It’s not high-end place, but its location and setting is fabulous. Just a short drive from the gorge, the hotel is right on the banks of the river, with a beautiful terrace and pool set among a lush garden beside the river. The rooms were fine — clean, comfortable, and basic but nicely decorated – and we had a little balcony overlooking the pool and river, which was lovely. We noticed that some of the other rooms looked very basic though – more or less a bare room with a couple of beds. The hotel seems to cater to a number of G Adventure tour groups, and they seemed to get the basic rooms. So requesting the right room type may be important. The kitchen was very clean (I was in there to retrieve our wine from the cooler!), and the food was good — definitely not high end, but well-prepared, plentiful, and tasty. Nice to be able to choose from a menu for dinner, and a welcome change to have something other than tajine! (Okay, I admit I jumped at the chance to have fries with my kefta!)

Ait Ben Haddou – Kasbah Tebi was definitely a highlight of our trip. What a great experience to spend the night right in the old kasbah, with no electricity and no wifi. It was very cool to have dinner by candlelight on the terrace overlooking Ait Ben Haddou, and the candlelit rooms gave an authentic feel to the stay (not to mention the candle-lit shower in the morning!). The breakfast was great, but the dinner wasn’t quite up to standard. The soup was delicious, but the beef tajine was as tough as can be. Our jaws got a real workout trying to chew it!

Marrakech – Riad Chergui was outstanding. We considered this to be the perfect end to our Moroccan trip in every way (the airport hotel doesn’t really count!). The lady who owns the place is a charming host, very helpful with suggestions of things to see in Marrakech, providing maps for us, etc. The riad is stunningly beautiful, but comfortable and unpretentious. The rooms and the common areas are well set up, and the pool is very clean with comfy loungers to relax on. We took advantage of the chance to have massages at the riad, and we not disappointed — the masseuse is very skilled. Dinners and breakfasts were outstanding – tasty, well-prepared, and beautifully presented – and nice to have wine available, even if it was a bit pricy. Again, we chose to do dinner at the riad both nights – it was that good.

Casablanca – Hotel Atlas Sky was a great option for an early morning flight. It definitely doesn’t have a Moroccan “feel” – it could be a hotel anywhere in the world – but is perfect for that last night before departure. The rooms are quite basic and stark, but the beds are comfortable. The pool area is lovely, and the restaurant is very good. The food was excellent (the steak could almost be cut with a fork) and reasonably priced, especially for an airport hotel. The airport shuttle was very convenient.

Again, thanks for all your help in making our tour through Morocco such a great experience.

Alan (or, as most Moroccans called me, “Ali Baba”)

(October of 2017)

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