Marrakech has experienced a huge tourist boom over the past several years and the hotel possibilities are endless, particularly for couples in search of a romantic retreat. For families, however, the list of optimal options is quite small.
Staying in a riad, a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior courtyard, seems appealing at first blush as many are in heart of the atmospheric old city (medina). The challenge of this accommodation category for families — particularly those with young children — is that there is zero room for kids to run around.
The interior gardens of many urban riads are ornamental. Moreover, the streets outside the medina-based riads are exciting but stressful with people, animals, bikes, carts — you name it — vying for the right of passage. It’s not a place where wee tourists can wander without close supervision. It’s fun to explore the medina with kids for a few hours, but it’s nice to escape the chaos for any sort of real relaxation.
The Four Seasons Marrakech, located 10 minutes outside of the medina, is set within 40 acres of glorious gardens. The value of this set-up for families? Priceless. This would be enough for a family-friendly gold star, but add in a laundry list of best-in-class Four Seasons amenities and services, and you have an unbeatable luxury resort option for families with kids of all ages.
Opened this past June, the Four Seasons Marrakech is brand new. The property was developed and designed from scratch. What’s clear is that Four Seasons management decided early on that they wanted to successfully host families and constructed the property with them in mind.
With only 141 rooms and suites, this hotel feels intimate despite the expansive grounds. Exceptional, highly personalized service is a Four Seasons trademark and is in full force in Marrakech. It’s no fun for hotel staff to learn to pronounce “O’Shaughnessy,” but they did, and we were greeted by name throughout the resort.
Our 8-year-old, Devon, received the same royal treatment and the staff made sure to include him in all communication.
Kids for All Seasons
Kids for All Seasons is the Four Seasons’ signature kids’ club program and is available at most of their resort properties. Zid Zid Kids, a local designer, is responsible for the wonderful space in Marrakech.
It’s optimal for toddlers with pint-sized seating and toys, but there’s appeal for older kids too with an enclosed outdoor space and walls filled with age-appropriate games and crafts.
The program is designed to entertain kids who are staying at the resort for days at a time with themes and activities that continually change. Hooray! This is a guilt-free amenity for parents with a perfect combination of cultural activities — from Moroccan hat and shoe making to learning to write family names in Arabic — and straightforward “be a kid on vacation” activities like swimming.
While we were there they had a treasure hunt that sent dressed up kids on an excursion around the property. From a front desk stick up to dancing in the teen center, the event produced giggles far and wide.
We didn’t use it, but the teen center is an older kids dream with state-of-art electronics, games, and a pool table.
The family pool at many luxury hotels is the “inferior stepchild” and parents are left feeling like they are missing out on an incredible pool experience because they are traveling with kids. Not so here.
The family pool is a little slice of heaven with an irregularly shaped edge that creates nooks and crannies inside and outside of the water so everyone can find their own space. Plenty of shallow areas create a plethora of places to play with young kids and there’s a separate fenced baby pool.
A full restaurant is adjacent to the adult pool, but families can order food right from family pool lounge chairs and cabanas. We liked this pool so much that we opted to relax there sans offspring.
Parents-Only “Me” Time
Given the fantastic kids’ program at this resort, parents-only “me” time is a breeze. From elegant lounge areas for tea to a decadent spa offering all sorts of exotic treatments, the only question is “what” not “how.”
We managed to fit in daily workouts in their well-appointed gym, a visit to the traditional hammam in the spa where moist heat and vigorous scrubbing result in ridiculously soft skin, and logged hours of reading time by the pool.
We felt so comfortable with the childcare program and staff that we also opted for two off-property solo excursions: dinner at the local hot spot, Bo Zin, and a morning walk in Yves St. Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens.
I should mention that the onsite Bleu d’Orange restaurant featuring Provençal cuisine was just in the process of opening along with the rooftop bar, Zest, while we were there. If I was a guessing woman I’d say that this property will quickly become the IT place in Marrakech for dining and nightlife with it’s stunning interior design and marvelous views.
Exceptional guest services is a big part of the Four Seasons experience. Myriam Thomet runs this program at the Four Seasons Marrakech and will do everything and anything to ensure families are happy and make the most out of the their time in Marrakech. Our planning with Myriam began long before arrival. Access to a reliable short-list of resources is very helpful in a city that is overflowing with people offering mediocre tours and services.
If you travel all the way to Morocco for a family vacation, particularly from Canada or the United States, chances are you will have a busy but thrilling itinerary planned to visit the incredible sites. We had such a trip thanks to Kensington Tours. The Four Seasons is an ideal place to begin touring as it eases parents and kids alike into the wholly exotic environment.
Photo credit: Amie O’Shaughnessy
Ciao Bambino received a media rate at the Four Seasons Marrakech. We weren’t asked to express any particular point of view.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.