Passion Points: Family
Indagare member, A. A. recently travelled with his family to Morocco. Here are his impressions.
Morocco was amazing! I am a big fan. We flew to Marrakech via Amsterdam and were picked up by our wonderful guide and driven to La Mamounia. We had a delicious meal at their Moroccan restaurant on our first night as we were too tired to go out. The food and experience were fabulous. La Mamounia is one of the best hotels I’ve ever been: architecturally beautiful, historically fascinating, excellent service, ideal location. I was so enamored I even bought the Assouline book about the hotel in its gift shop.
Our guide was wonderful. He knew everyone; planned our trip around prayer and hot/aftenoon times to make everything convenient and efficient (mindful of the boys interest and patience). Having a private driver was priceless (waiting on us to be picked up anywhere).We didn’t follow the itinerary as written instead went with what was convenient but covered everything There’s so much to love: my favorites: Medersa ben Youssef, Majorelle Gardens, praying at Koutaoubia Mosque, etc. This place is a photographer’s dream. I’m not much of a shopper but I even went crazy. We went to the Souks and Jema el Fna everyday. Wow!! I’m much poorer financially but richer culturally. Again, Aziz knew just where to take us: we bought carpets; antiques….
In terms of food, we loved Le Comptoir. The boys were somewhat embarrassed of the belly dancing show but I’m glad they saw it. One evening we left the boys in our hotel room to hang out while we went to dinner at Villa des Orangers, where the food was wonderful. Grande Cafe de la Poste was very good and we drank Moroccan tea any chance we got.
We loved the authenticity of the pottery workshop and found it to be a really fun and great experience, however the horseback riding was the one thing that wasn’t great. We roamed around garbage and landfills with horses that looked like donkeys.
Desert d’Agafay—wow what a place! The camel ride followed by an amazing lunch at a fabulous location was one of my favorite things on this trip. We drove to the Amanjena afterwards and relaxed for the rest of the day. I’ve always wanted to stay an Aman resort and finally got my chance. The property was beautiful and our villa was totally over-the-top, but we found the décor and furnishings to be somewhat dated. The heated swimming pool was great and on one cold and rainy day we stayed in our room and read by the fireplace. It was some much-needed relaxation time. We tried both of the resort’s restaurants, one serving Moroccan cuisine and the other Thai. Both were very good.
Overall, two days were plenty at Amanjena and I’m glad it wasn’t three (as we originally planned). It’s super quiet (too much so) it seemed like no one was there (but evidently booked to capacity). This could be the Aman aesthetic, which is very different from that at the lively and family-friendly La Mamounia. I’m glad I experienced it but wouldn’t return.
We stopped at a women’s cooperative just before heading up to the Atlas Mountains and got to see them make Argan oil products. I was blown away by Kasbah Tamadot and Berber hospitality. Our accommodations were choice and the swimming pool was perfect. Activities included a fun cooking/baking class for the boys; challenging and scenic 2hr hike in the mountains; and visiting the local Saturday market in town at Asni. The real authentic farmer and trading market was muddy, loud, dusty, exciting and a blast. It reminded me of visiting India as a kid, and created a memory that will stick with the boys. The hotel food was just OK but that was really irrelevant at this property.
We organized to have the fantastic VIP service at Nice and JFK airports. From now on it will be mandatory for international travel because we were able to bypass all lines. Overall, it was an amazing trip and I cannot wait to return.
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