Want to visit somewhere completely different but only a few hours from the UK? Somewhere with snow-capped mountains, palm trees, stunning golf courses and the odd camel? Then why not head off to the Red City?
Marrakech is a mere three and a half hour flight from the UK, but seems to be a world apart. Who could not feel excitement as the Atlas Mountains loom up ahead? Some excellent golf resorts await, along with historic and cultural sights, shopping and countless other delights to be found here.
Taxi or car hire. Taking a taxi is by far the best way to travel around. To the outsider, the traffic system and the manner of driving seem like total mayhem. It’s really not worth the white knuckle ride when a taxi is very reasonably priced and can get you to where you want to go while avoiding the bottlenecks that a city of this age inevitably has.
The Medina. There is nothing better than trawling around interesting city centres and the Medina in Marrakech demands attention. The old red walls that surround the city are something to behold. It’s worth being prepared for the organised chaos that will greet you. You will enter a place far different from whence you came and the sights, sounds and smells will hit you all at once. The roads and open spaces will be teeming with locals and tourists alike. Beware, many locals will want to offer you their services, but for a price. It’s worth exploring the squares and back alleys of this vibrant area before possibly heading off into to the new city centre to let you senses recover and bring you back to the 21st century. Find a cafe and watch the world go by, especially late in the afternoon as people make their way home from work. The roads are awash with scooters, motorbikes and taxis. Just sit back and enjoy a coffee while the city revolves around you.
La Palmeraie Golf Resort. Palmeraie translated from French means 'palm grove'. Legend has it that the palms grew from the pips spat onto the ground by the all-conquering army of Yusuf ibn Tashfin, who arrived here in 1071. There are several hotels on the complex, with a total of 1,500 rooms, along with a conference centre, spa and a 27 hole golf course. The original 18 holes were designed by Robert Trent Jones, with the additional nine holes added later.
Marrakech Golf Club Assoufid. A trip to Marrakech would not be complete without visiting one of the newest golf developments. Assoufid is located just 10 minutes' drive from the city centre. The golf club is named after the village of Assoufid, where an ancient waterway (known locally as a shaaba) has etched its way into the landscape over the centuries. This is an exciting, desert-style course which will not disappoint.
Beachcomber Royal Palm Resort. Just to the south of the city is the luxurious Beachcomber Resort, the only resort from this hotel chain to be found outside Mauritius and the Seychelles. With its own excellent course and Assoufid not far away, this is the perfect place to stay for those looking to be pampered. Other facilities to be found within the grounds include swimming pools, spa, gym and tennis courts. The golf course is a joy to play. While the designers have strived to create something that is going to put a smile on your face, this course is by no means a pushover. As for location, the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains is just astounding.
Samanah Country Club. This exclusive club is situated 14 km from the centre of Marrakech and 8 km from the international airport. To play here, you have to be staying at the hotel, own one of the golf properties or be the guest of an owner. Designed by the world-famous Nicklaus Design Company, this championship course is worthy of a visit.
Kenzi Menara Palace. The Kenzi Menara Palace Hotel is located just a few minutes’ drive from the old quarter of the city. This is a great location to base yourself for trips to the multitude of golf courses as well as anything else that you may want to do.
Domaine des Remparts. Domaine des Remparts is a boutique hotel which, as the name suggests, is not far from the famous city ramparts. Consisting of 32 suites arranged around the gardens and swimming pool, this is truly a great place to unwind. The suites form a square of single story residences around the pool and gardens with the restaurant, library, lounges and other communal areas at one end, and the Spa & Wellness building at the other.
Other Attractions. If you do have the time, a visit to the Atlas Mountains is really worth it. Within an hour from Marrakech you can experience authentic Berber villages and a way of life which has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. To visit the ancient fortified city of Aït Benhaddou is to travel back into a world long gone, though it will be recognisable to most as the location for such movies as Gladiator and The Prince of Persia.
With regular, low-cost flights with Easyjet from many UK cities, Marrakech is very accessible. And however you decide to spend your time in the Red City, your stay will leave an indelible imprint on your memory.