April 11th, 2017

GDP Client, Drusilla Blakey, Shares Her Experience in Marrakesh, Morocco!

Marrakesh, is known as the Pearl of the South.  And, like any pearl, you can only find it if you take the time to harvest it and see what is inside. I was fortunate to recently have the opportunity to visit this amazing city, and to harvest a lifetime of memories that will not be forgotten.

Upon arrival in Marrakesh, I was surprised to see such a new, big, clean and modern airport.  This new structure was built just a few years ago and features easy to read signage in Arabic, French and English. 

It’s truly a welcoming sight for travelers and immediately sets you at ease upon arrival into an unknown country. The immigration process was simple and easy, and the staff was very kind and personable. 

During my visit, I stayed at the historic La Mamounia hotel. The hotel is built on the ‘old town’ city wall and it was a such a great combination of ‘old world’ and luxury.  As soon as you step into the hotel, you are transformed into an Arabian night style dream world. 

The wonderful architecture and colors are an amazing site to behold and the modern touches of luxury made the stay very comfortable. 

Djemâa El Fan Square and a visit to the Souks is a must see for any visitor coming to Marrakech.  The square offers visitors an amazing array of entertainment and charm.  Snake charmers, musicians, and food vendors provide hours of fun.  The locals are eager to entertain visitors and are very friendly and welcoming.

Additionally, the souks are perfect for any shopaholic!  You can spend hours making your way through the twists and turns of this market and find a vast array of handmade articles, souvenirs, and even high-end name brand items. 

One of the great things about this market area is how safe you feel as you wander around and shop.  Police presence has been increased in recent years and something I found very noticeable is the fact that the vendors are not as pushy as they are in other large markets around the world. In fact, the city actively participates in helping to keep the souks safe, clean and free of high pressure sales. 

One of the most memorable and moving experiences for me personally was our visit to the Atlas Mountains!  On a beautiful and chilly day we made our way up the winding roads that led us up to the mountains.  The view of the mountains is something so amazing that words cannot accurately describe the feeling of being so high and close to the sky!

At the top of the mountain, we stopped to visit the home of a local family to see how the locals live.  We were invited into their home and it was such a moving experience that I was brought to tears.  Families in this area live such a simple and traditional life all together in one large family home.  They share common areas and come together every evening for family meals.  It is such a different way of life but one that I think we can agree demonstrates the closeness we wish we could maintain with our own families.

Another wonderful experience we shared with this family was a lesson in making traditional mint tea.  The head of the family, Ben, instructed us on how to make this tea and it was by far the best tasting tea we had during our entire time in Morocco.  Surely because the tea was made with love and a deep respect for tradition, as we were told that Ben’s father used to be the person to meet guests and make tea for them.  We also met Ben’s son who will take on this tradition as he becomes older. Other things to do at the Atlas Mountains include zip lining, hiking, team building games and of course eating wonderful local food!

Another highlight of our visit was visiting La Maison Arabe where we attended a Moroccan cooking class.  We were all impressed with the high-class and state of the art facilities in this kitchen/classroom.  TV screens in front of you allow you to see the chef and mimic what they ask you to do. 

All the ingredients are provided and assistants come to check on you and help as needed.  Once your meal is prepared, you get to eat! This is a perfect experience for a spousal tour or team building event!

The visit ended with the most amazing night under the stars!  In the heart of the Marrakesh Palmgrove. we were treated to a traditional Berber night of food, music and dance.  Amazing tents were setup for us to enjoy dinner and drinks.  Entertainment including local musicians, singers and dancers were showcased and we even had the opportunity to enjoy a camel ride in the desert.

The wonderful night flew by and no one wanted to leave as we had been magically transported back in time.  As the evening came to a close and we made our way back to our bus someone yelled out “This is a night I will never forget for as long as I live!”  Yes, it was definitely a fantastical night of magic!

Marrakesh proved to be an amazing city!  The people are warm and welcoming and eager to bring new tourism business in.  They are easy to work with and have a variety of options that can make any event a truly memorable experience. I would strongly suggestion that this be on your list of ‘must visit cities’ for your event!

- Author: Drusilla Blakey, Currency Research USA Corp.