Marrakech Sofitel Taxi, Art Festival?

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Jun 19th, 2005, 03:40 AM
  #1
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Marrakech Sofitel Taxi, Art Festival?

Would like to know if anyone here is familiar with this property, and about how much we should pay for the taxi from the airport to this hotel??

Also, has anyone been to Marrakech during the annual arts festival... if so any comments or suggestions?

Thanks very much!
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Jun 20th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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Thanks!! I did book the Sofitel. (I found a pretty good rate there)

As far as the festival... I am only in Marrakech for 2 short days ...do I need to plan on what to see? Or is it simply going on all day and evening for the 10 days?

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Jun 20th, 2005, 02:47 PM
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Most of the action is at night. The festival has a website, but unfortunately it still lists the 2004 program:

www.ucam.ac.ma/fnap-aga/index.html

Maybe your hotel can tell you more, or the local tourism office has a brochure. The office is called "Syndicat d'Initiative" and ONMT, you'll find one very close to Djemma El Fnaa square. Can't miss it.

Try to get a ticket for an event at the Badii palace, which is a stunning setting for a spectacle of music, dance and light. The events at the Badii are not free, the ones in Djemma El Fnaa are.

Have a wonderful time there!
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Jun 25th, 2005, 07:59 AM
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I have read your correspondence. I am also there from 3-9 July with my family. Can you tell me more about Marrakesh, we are really looking forward to going, but don't really know where to start.
What would you recommend ?
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Jun 25th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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I'm not sure what you mean, Anke.

At any rate, when you arrive, start by getting to know the staff at your hotel. They're a goldmine for information and tips. They may not be fluent in English, but they'll be more than happy to help.

This is rather general, I know. If you could give me more specific questions, I can provide better answers. ;-)
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Jun 26th, 2005, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for getting back to me. At the moment we are thinking about having a guide for one day to visit some village in the mountains, which is apparantly very worth while. My question more about Marrakesch itself, I am trying to satisfy my entire family, with 4 teenage kids. Is there a palace worth seeing that is better than other? Is the souk the best place to go for shopping or can you recommmend soemwhere else? Where is best place to eat authentic food? Do you know a museum that will hold everyones attention? Sorry about all these questions, I am trying to get as much information as possible beforehand so we don't spend the first day debating where to go and what to do......Looking forward to your reply
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Jun 26th, 2005, 04:08 AM
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Thanks for clarifying your questions!

There are two main palaces in Marrakech open for visitors. They both charge around 15 dirham (US$1.50) entrance.

The Badii is basically a huge ruin. Most of it is open air, except a display room for a "minbar" (pulpit). For around 10 dirham one of the guards will show you around the remnants of the dungeons and tell a story or two. You can easily enter the dungeon by yourself, by the way. The tour is unofficial and optional. A climb up the stairs onto the wall of the palace gives some good views of central Marrakech.

During the National Festival of Popular Arts, the Badii is host to some spectacular shows in the evenings.

The second palace, the Bahia, is very well preserved, but much more museum-like than the Badii.

You should not miss the Medersa Ben Youssef, a former coranic school. The building boasts a beautiful interior with some of the finest woodwork in the country. It's one of the very few chances to see what the inside of a mosque looks like. The prayer hall was never a full-blown mosque, but gives a good idea.

Marrakech's main museum is Dar Si Said, close to the Bahia palace. It's the national museum of Moroccan arts and host to a fine collection of jewelry, carpets, woodwork and pottery, among others.

The souk is an experience you will probably never find again anywhere in the world. It can be a bit of an intimidating place, and you will be constantly approached by merchants. It's all part of good natured attempt to get business. No one will be offended when you walk on. Just smile, put your right hand on your heart and shake your head.

When you're interested in buying something, keep in mind that initial overpricing is not limited to tourists. Bargaining is always the game, for Moroccans as well as foreigners. The ground rule is: When a vendor lets you walk away after you name your final price, you were genuinely offering too little.

You must experience a dinner at Djemma El Fnaa square. It's cheap, but some of the stalls have a habit of overcharging tourists. Take that with a pinch of salt. You may be cheated, but we're talking about maybe US$3 or 4 extra here. Take it as an entertainment surcharge and don't let it ruin your evening.

The best "simple" restaurant in Marrakech is El Bahja, in Rue Bani Marine, one of the side streets of the Djemma El Fnaa. It's a pedestrian zone, so taxis can't drop you off in front of the restaurant. El Bahja is a local favorite.

For a completely different experience, try Dar Mimoun, on a sidestreet of Riad Zitoun Lakdim. Taxis can drop you off at the beginning of the alley, but it's only a few minutes' walk from Djemma El Fnaa. It's a "palace restaurant", more expensive but a real experience.

What village are you considering going to? You do not really need a guide, but it may be a good idea when you want to avoid bargaining over transport and such. It would be perfect if he comes from this village and you could get the chance to visit his family. Now that would be an experience that would stick with even the most hardened teenager of the MTV generation.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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Really appreciate you getting back to me with so much information. I have made a note of all the place you mentioned and can't wait to go. (Will let you know when we are back how it went!) The village we had in mind was in the Qurika Valley approx. 60km from Marrakesh? Do you know this area?
I think this whole experience will be great for the kids, who are so spoiled with modern living!!
Thank you so much again.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Honestly, I was going to recommend a day trip to the Ourika valley. Very good choice indeed!

You can easily do this without a guide, but I like I said, it may be less hassle and more informative to have someone accompany you.

The valley is stunning. The drive itself (around 90 minutes) is an experience. Once in the valley, you can climb up to a waterfall, which around this time of year should be no more than a trickle.

It's a pretty steep climb over rocks and pebbles, so no high heels. At the top you'll find a small cafe that sells soft drinks. You can descend via an alternative route, which takes longer but is well worth it.

You will be approached by men and children trying to sell you collections of semi-precious stones, necklaces and other jewelry. Can't hurt to buy one, just get the price down. 200 dirham for a necklace is a good price. Whatever you do, keep smiling and making jokes, even if you don't want to buy.

One thing you MUST do is have lunch along the road. Halfway down the road from Marrakech, there's a series of restaurants with terraces along the river. Have a tajine here, they've been cooking for hours and are delicious. If there's 7 of you (including the guide) it won't be more than 200 or 250 dirham for a full meal.

And I've finally found the website for the folklore festival in Marrakech: www.marrakechfestival.com. Shouldn't have been too hard to guess that one.

Have fun preparing your trip and enjoy Morocco.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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Thank you so much for all the info. I just can't wait now.
How often have you been there? Your
knowledge of the city and area is amazing.
If had tried to buy books to gain all this info, I would not have gotten half as much.
Maybe I can help you in the future
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Jun 26th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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As I mentioned in another thread, I'm thinking of an Xmas visit to get away from the normal Xmas same-old-same-old here in the UK.

I sort of think I'd like a riad style hotel in the medina area of Marrakech but then worry about the noise issues - are we going to be woken up every morning by all the noise of the markets or do the riads offer fairly good insulation from that?

On the other hand, there are some wonderful looking properties outside of the medina - what are the pros and cons of staying in these and are there any locations that are better or worse than others?

We'd like to focus on the accommodation more than we often do for this trip as we'd like to build in time to relax in the room and in the gardens or terrace of the hotel as well as to sightsee. Therefore we're looking for somewhere with really beautiful, sumptious rooms and particularly, beautiful bathrooms too.

Any recommendations?
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Jun 26th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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Kavey, I missed your question about locations.

The medina (old town) is obviously very convenient if you want easy access to the city.

The palmeraie area is probably more tranquil and a great choice if you'll only be going into the city on a few occasions. It's also very close to Marrakech's famous golf courses.

If you're looking for peace and quiet, stay away from the "Club" hotels outside the city, like the Palmariva and the Sangho. They're huge luxury package holiday facilities and not what you're looking for.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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I checked out your site but it came back with 79 hotels so I'll have to narrow it down further but... I assume you haven't stayed in all of these places?

Was hoping for some personal recommendations if you could make any.

On further discussion with other half, there's a chance we may shift this trip to January or February rather than Xmas but it would definitely be a winter trip. Do you think it would be wise to look for a room with heating?

Here's what I'm looking for:

As I do love the bustle of markets, I think, on balance, we'd probably like to stay in or near the medina.

Given that we'll be spending time in the room and public areas, those are important to me. In the room I'd like as large a double bed as possible (husband is 2 metres tall) and some comfortable seating too. In the bathroom I want both a shower and a decent sized tub - some of the riads seem to have only half tubs, from what I can make out in the photos.

I'd rather have a large and luxurious room (the best room) in a less expensive riad than a tiny room in the poshest one in town.

I'd love a riad with a swimming pool, I don't know how many are heated and whether that's an issue during winter.

Budget is around 150 to 200 Euros per night bed and breakfast though if we can find somewhere special for less, that would be wonderful.

I've got a few bookmarked (from various resources) including:
Clementine
Kais
La Maison Arabe (though this would be one of smaller rooms and hard to tell how small they are)
Bougainvilliers
La Maison Orange
Enija (can't find prices)
Malika
Del Cadi

I love light and airy rooms with lots of space, decorated in a style that's both modern and Moroccan, nice finishes throughout, and a double bed without foot board at the bottom!!!
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Jun 26th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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PS how rude of me to omit my pleases and thank yous! Many thanks for your time and efforts!
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Jun 26th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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You're welcome! You should definitely look into Les Yeux Bleux, www.riadlesyeuxbleus.com.

I haven't stayed at all 1,300 hotels in the database, no...

From your list, the Maison Arabe is brilliant. But with 17 rooms, it's more like a hotel than a riad.

Riad Kaiss is very popular. I haven't stayed there.

In January and February, Marrakech nights can get really chilly. So yes, heating would be good.
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Jun 26th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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No, the Q on whether you'd stayed was tongue firmly in cheek but... would be interested in how you put the list together.

I did a search and went through all 79 results and bookmarked many of them so now my "shortlist" is way, way, way longer!

Yeah, one of my worries re Maison Arabe is size and also the fact that it's so well known that it might be full of Conde Naste snobs...

I'll look into flights, narrow down timeframe more accurately and then narrow down the riad choice further, would appreciate having an email contact for you if you're willing - would it be rude to ask you to drop me an email at address by my name as yours is not listed?
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