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Nicest Hotel in Marrakech

Nicest Hotel in Marrakech

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Old Mar 31, 17, 12:10 pm
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I am staying right now at a relatively new Riad called Hikaya in the kasbah, and couldn't be any happier. The attention to detail is really stunning and everything is truly classy and luxurious. This gem will become very popular soon given the rave reviews it's getting. Will go to La Momounia for dinner tonight and will report on that.
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Old Apr 3, 17, 5:20 am
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Just returned from Marrakech.... stayed at FS and visited most of the other resorts. Might write up a few words on the current state of affairs there if someone is interested!
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Old Apr 3, 17, 5:25 am
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Originally Posted by scented View Post
Just returned from Marrakech.... stayed at FS and visited most of the other resorts. Might write up a few words on the current state of affairs there if someone is interested!
Very

In particular, how does FS stack against MO and Royal Mansour nowadays?
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Old Apr 4, 17, 5:59 am
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Yes pls - off to the FS over Easter
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Old Apr 4, 17, 5:05 pm
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Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

I am so happy FS is finally progressing. I always felt it was a splendid resort, but sadly it has suffered from cost cutting and many problems in the past, which are now being addressed by their visionary new GM, Blaise Montandon — an unusual choice, but exactly the right person for this task! FS’ extreme growth may have lead to a drought of own GMs — so they now have to venture out of their comfort zone, but in this case they found exactly the right person. This property needs a different perspective and he is able to deliver!

Without sharing too much, I think I can say that there are wonderful things to come in the next weeks and months. The very charming Andrea O. has sadly left the resort for FS Doha, and Blaise Montandon will be solely responsible for the resort, as the position of hotel manager will no longer exist. He will instead be supported by a rooms division manager, for what I suspect are budget reasons.

Most importantly, all F&B operations and venues will be completely revamped and rethought. Their lackluster and mediocre restaurant, Solano, was closed for a complete renovation and is now in the final stages. It will soon open with a new name and concept, and from what I gather it will be really stunning. They are still making changes to the menu to get it right, but it is exactly what they need. The interior design is quite contemporary and it suits the resort well (aside from the hardwood floors, which are a bit rustic for my taste). They also have a new chef, Thierry Papillier, and he brings a wealth of knowledge to the table — another good choice. May or June will see the introduction of the new in-room dining menu, with a myriad of new additions and hopefully better quality. I also expect some changes to the menu of their all-day-dining/lounge Inara. I am so pleased they followed my suggestion of live music in the evening, which is now hugely popular as they found someone amazing. There were so many things wrong with F&B at FS and I am relieved they are making these changes now. Thankfully, inedible rice and wok dishes, plus many of the uninspired main courses and desserts at Solano will be a thing of the past. They could add so many local touches to the menu, starting with the basics such as quality butter, rice and tea. I am tired of tea in sachets, cheap butter in plastic and inedible rice. Thankfully, Blaise knows about it and he has great support with their new Director of F&B, who is ex-FS Doha. I ordered off menu several times and the team got it right each and every time.

Change seems to be the new name of the game, as they worked on the property almost everywhere. It was great to stroll through the gardens and see new things everywhere, in addition to necessary maintenance. Everything was being repainted, cleaned and repaired. It’s really been a while since the resort opened and these things were necessary.

The arrival protocols should be (and will be!) rethought entirely as well. Right now, they are a bit cold. They could not have been more accommodating with me and did an in-room check-in, but mind you I was in a 2BR Villa and in touch with senior management beforehand. I witnessed many guests standing around reception for too long, after hours of traveling. Back in the day, these formalities were completed on a sofa in the lobby while sipping Moroccan tea, and I think the current procedures will be re-thought for the better. In terms of Concierge services, they are moving towards guest assistants, so all of the friendly faces at reception are now able to customize your stay accordingly. Although I felt this department was understaffed, with sometimes extended waiting times, I know it will be improved soon.

Already in place is the new look of the porte-cochère, where the entire landscaping has been changed. Gone are the excessive palm-trees and plants, the area has been opened up completely, it is now airy and feels so generous. The fountain takes center stage and you can see way down the driveway from the reception area. Really stunning.

Most surprising however was the attention to detail in preparing our stay. When we arrived, we were taken straight to the villa, where all formalities were completed. Under this new leadership, the amenities are definitely on a different level entirely. Every detail of my stay list and pre-arrival requests was there, and much, much more. A/C set to my preferred temperature in both living room and master bedroom, full-sized chemical-free amenities by Nectarome, pillows exactly as requested, more facial towels than anyone would ever need and a second duvet. I also found delightful delicacies from the pastry chef, moroccan mint tea on ice, two huge flower bouquets (plus roses everywhere in between), a tea set-up and a selection of fruit, along with a letter from the GM. There were some complaints in the past about the size of the plunge pools at FS, but the very smart new management team has found the perfect solution, at least from my perspective… the pools are now heated! And not only are they heated, I found my plunge pool (16 sqm2) to be warmer than the resort’s jacuzzis. (paging MacMyDay). Sadly I didn’t ask about the temperature, but it would put every bathtub to shame. Especially mornings and evenings, when it was a bit chilly, this was a perfectly acceptable option and in fact, it was hard to leave the water. Especially compared to the huge private pools at MO, which I did not want to use all too often, I felt the one at FS much more inviting.

Le Spa at the FS is also undergoing many changes, under the leadership of a new spa director. I love this spa so much that I am quite critical of this new person. Not sure if he is the right person, Verena is a tough act to follow and it seems that everyone after her tried and failed. Currently, two of the brands will be changed in the next weeks and months. Also, a new spa menu is in the making. Luckily, they keep ILA (so there is a chemical-free option) and many of the excellent and very kind therapists.

It is still early days and most changes are happening in the next weeks and months, but I have the highest hopes for FS, just give them a little bit more time! Will be excellent.

Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech

I did not stay, but went for a couple meals and this gave me a pretty good impression. It appears to me that the glorious days of this resort after the opening are over. Talk of the town is that the resort’s charming chef and gracious host, Meryem Cherkaoui, has left Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech. I would advise to have dinner at Mes’Lalla ASAP, as I do not see much of a future for this venue without her eye. It is still good, but staff morale is down and it shows, sadly. Last year there was such a buzz around the resort, something I did not find this time around. While FS was near capacity, it appears MO is very quiet and often times we were the only ones dining.

Ling Ling just opened and I was blown away by the food. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the service. FS gave them the heads up but yet they failed to provide a rewarding dining experience. I was shocked to see that they would allow smoking in their lounge, which is very strange, even for Morocco! When I arrived I asked for a non-smoking table and was lead to a table in the middle of the smoking lounge. Still to this day, I don’t understand why. There were a couple misunderstandings with our order and just when the starters came, people started smoking around us and we asked to be moved to the non-smoking area. It would have been perfectly natural for the manager to offer fresh glasses when they transferred our drinks and forgot to remember which glass belongs to which guest, but alas… not to be! What ensued were more service inconsistencies and problems, with our table unattended for extended periods of time. I asked to switch one of the dishes on the tasting menu due to an allergy of one guest, this was not possible, as, I assume, they were worried about the minor difference in price. Even when I offered to pay the difference in price, the manager still declined. They tried to make up for the service failures by offering „all desserts on the menu as a one time courtesy“… interestingly, in the end, 5 desserts were brought out, for… 5 guests! I wonder, without service recovery, would they offer 3 desserts for 5 guests? I appreciated their effort, but it is difficult when 5 different desserts are brought out and not everyone is able to try them all. The way this was handled was not good and throughout the evening, it became very apparent that accountants must rule at MO or Hakkasan these days… on a more positive note, the drinks were absolutely divine and they will not fail to mention that their bartender has won several awards and accolades recently. Thankfully, we were not the only ones with problems and FS’ executive chef waited 45 minutes for his drink at the bar as well. Oh well!

It is a shame that this very beautiful MO appears to be having some problems now after such a successful opening. We shall see if they can turn it around. I hope!

Amanjena

I did not stay, but organized a birthday dinner in their Caidal Tent. Stunning… camels, belly dancers, musicians and endless candles. Beautiful way to end a trip to Marrakech. I am happy to report that under Nicolas, the property appears to be doing very well. The Jazz music in the evening is a great idea, and in terms of F&B I was very pleased. Service was solid and caring. Many new faces as to be expected but I noticed that they are making efforts to become better again. It is noted. Really, really surprised!

Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old Apr 4, 17, 5:32 pm
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Thank very much. I had a trip scheduled to morocco but cancelled it, but hope to go. Our son is 7 and so my question to you is how is the four seasons with children? Lackluster: a kids room and p&j on the menu or something better?
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Old Apr 4, 17, 7:27 pm
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Thanks for the report Scented. We agonized between the MO and Aman for a long long time... the MO looked like a stunning hard product, but I just got the feeling it didn't really have as much behind it to back it up... my interactions with them and their management just feel a bit short. We had a great time, and indeed Nicolas is doing a great great job there.. he's a very prototypical Aman GM and runs a tight ship. Astrid was wonderful as well and she should do well at Amansara....

FDW
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Old Apr 5, 17, 1:33 am
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Originally Posted by 0bsidian View Post
Very

In particular, how does FS stack against MO and Royal Mansour nowadays?
Forgive me, as I did not manage to visit Royal Mansour this time around. We went for a drink, but not really an indication. Considering their ownership though, they don't really have to be successful... FS now has to be.

Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Yes pls - off to the FS over Easter
Let us know about the progress!

Originally Posted by DSI View Post
Thank very much. I had a trip scheduled to morocco but cancelled it, but hope to go. Our son is 7 and so my question to you is how is the four seasons with children? Lackluster: a kids room and p&j on the menu or something better?
FS traditionally is amongst the best with children, and the Moroccan culture is naturally very warm with the little guests. FS last year re-did their entire kids club, with an own shaded little pool (in addition to the family pool), plus a myriad of activities, from cooking classes to tours around the resort. It will not get boring. What they are really good at is integrating the kids into your routine as well, so rather than 'parking' them at the kids club, they assure a good time for them. Of all Moroccan resorts, I would rate FS the best with kids -- MO is more a place for couples.

Originally Posted by FlyingDoctorwu View Post
Thanks for the report Scented. We agonized between the MO and Aman for a long long time... the MO looked like a stunning hard product, but I just got the feeling it didn't really have as much behind it to back it up... my interactions with them and their management just feel a bit short. We had a great time, and indeed Nicolas is doing a great great job there.. he's a very prototypical Aman GM and runs a tight ship. Astrid was wonderful as well and she should do well at Amansara....

FDW
She is doing well at Amansara and I think Nicolas is a great GM, he brought many good things to Amanjena. I was surprised! Never seen Jena so busy either...

Glad you enjoyed!
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Old Apr 5, 17, 2:22 am
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Thanks for the update - particularly pleased to see that F&B and evening entertainment are being addressed at the FS, as that was definitely the weak point last spring.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 2:40 am
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Thanks for the update - particularly pleased to see that F&B and evening entertainment are being addressed at the FS, as that was definitely the weak point last spring.
Late afternoon/early evening they have traditional Moroccan music at Inara, later in the evening an amazing artist who is performing with his guitar. Everything from well known classics to Catalan rumba/pop (think Gipsy kings). But very original. I much prefer Inara over MO's terrace -- even sans jacket it is warm, as they have countless heaters and beautiful pashmina to keep us warm! It is planned to extend the entertainment to more days (currently it is on the weekend I believe). You can expect many more great things to come at Inara, their manager is a friend of mine and she is so passionate about what she does.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:47 am
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Any recent experiences at La Villas de Orangers? Trying to decide between it, the Aman, and MO. Thank you!
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Old Apr 14, 17, 5:30 am
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Originally Posted by troyb View Post
Any recent experiences at La Villas de Orangers? Trying to decide between it, the Aman, and MO. Thank you!
Met a couple who split between Jena and Villa des Orangers -- which is apparently still very good, although something completely different. This is more of a decision between resort and riad.

In other news: It seems word is out that the new restaurant at FS Marrakech, Quattro -- Restaurant and Bar, is opening next month.
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Old Apr 19, 17, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by scented View Post
In other news: It seems word is out that the new restaurant at FS Marrakech, Quattro -- Restaurant and Bar, is opening next month.
As of yesterday, the new restaurant was still at least two weeks away from opening, based on the state of the interior. Staff were doing little or nothing to the space in the 5 days I was there, and there is no visible outside branding.

Other thoughts:
- the resort has definitely shown an improvement under the new GM. Staff morale and service levels are much improved over last year. The Italian restaurant in the central piazza is a massive improvement over the old space.
- as said above, the arrival and departure process is still a weak point - reception staff were pretty unimpressive
- service at the pool was also pretty average, with drinks taking 30 minutes to arrive
- they could make so much more of the terrace bar / restaurant - the attempy at live music was pretty half-ar$ed (think low level x-factor covers or sad guy with guitar). I just look at what they used to do at FS Sharm in the evenings as a great example - proper local live music, interactive bread cooking for the kids etc...

We still love this resort, particularly for families, and will definitely be back. The location cannot be beaten. Hopefully these are just the beginning of the improvements.
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Old Apr 20, 17, 7:30 am
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
As of yesterday, the new restaurant was still at least two weeks away from opening, based on the state of the interior. Staff were doing little or nothing to the space in the 5 days I was there, and there is no visible outside branding.

Other thoughts:
- the resort has definitely shown an improvement under the new GM. Staff morale and service levels are much improved over last year. The Italian restaurant in the central piazza is a massive improvement over the old space.
- as said above, the arrival and departure process is still a weak point - reception staff were pretty unimpressive
- service at the pool was also pretty average, with drinks taking 30 minutes to arrive
- they could make so much more of the terrace bar / restaurant - the attempy at live music was pretty half-ar$ed (think low level x-factor covers or sad guy with guitar). I just look at what they used to do at FS Sharm in the evenings as a great example - proper local live music, interactive bread cooking for the kids etc...

We still love this resort, particularly for families, and will definitely be back. The location cannot be beaten. Hopefully these are just the beginning of the improvements.

Thank you for this! Glad you had a good time and happy to hear you saw improvements as well. Trust me, those are just the beginnings, we need to give them a bit more time.

FS Sharm is a different machine, I understand what you mean but it should fit the location as well. They are still experimenting with the set-up and time, should be great when you are back.

I too love the central building of the resort and hope they will do something great with it, even after opening Quattro.

Will remind Blaise M again about the arrival protocols... I witnessed this as well and they can do much, much better!
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Old Apr 21, 17, 8:56 am
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Loved the FS in December. Almost a perfect stay...
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