In a dreich Scottish winter, an escape to the romance and mystery of Marrakesh is all the harder to resist. The snake-charmers, bustle and sheer colour of the Djemaa el-Fna square is about as far as you can get, climate and atmosphere-wise, from another wet January Monday on Renfield Street.
With that in mind, today’s Big Deal twirls its moustaches, smiles seductively and murmurs, ‘Let me take you to the Casbah’. Or, more precisely, to Marrakesh, in Morocco, for a four night stay in an elegant 4-star all-inclusive hotel. How can you resist?
The Big Deal, exclusive to 5pm customers, flies you to Marrakesh, a famous city of romance, spectacle and history, teeming with life and featuring some of North Africa’s most alluring souks and craft markets.
The Big Deal offers return flights with EasyJet from Glasgow International, with cabin luggage allowance, four nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two sharing a standard room at the Marrakesh Ryads Parc & Spa Hotel, and a return private transfer between the airport and the hotel.
The city breaks are for four nights, flying out on Saturdays only from Glasgow International. Available dates are from 30th January until 27th February.
The 4-star Marrakesh Ryads Parc & Spa Hotel enjoys a glorious setting in elegant gardens just outside the city centre, with a spectacular backdrop of the Atlas mountains.
Standard guest rooms are arranged in houses, or Ryads. Décor is in soft pale tones, cream drapes and warm colour fabrics, with authentic Moroccan furnishings and cool tiled flooring. Private furnished balconies overlook the garden or pool. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, satellite TV, mini fridge and a safe box.
Guests may upgrade to a Junior Suite or Family Room for an additional £50 per person.
Dining and drinks
The all-inclusive tariff includes daily breakfasts between 6:30 and 10am, lunch between 12:30 and 14:30pm and dinner between 19:30 and 22:00pm, with buffet or table service options.
The Darkoum Restaurant offers an international buffet selection at breakfast, lunch and dinner, while the Dar Diafa Restaurant is available for 24-hour advance bookings with a minimum of eight guests, and offers an a la carte Moroccan menu. For something a little more casual, the poolside bar with terrace seating provides a selection of snacks and refreshments.
Local beers, wines and spirits, soft drinks, teas and coffees are included in the all-inclusive package.
Facilities include a swimming pool and sun terrace with loungers and parasols. The Eden Spa offers a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, four massage rooms, two treatment rooms and an extensive fitness suite.
Sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the two tennis courts, a mini football field, beach volleyball court, basketball court, water polo, petanque, table games, pool exercise and dance classes.
If that all sounds a little strenuous, relax in the lounge bar with music provided by a live pianist or DJ, or take in a screening or sports event in the Tearoom. The hotel’s animation team organise arts shows and evening entertainment.
The World Heritage site of Djhemaa el-Fna is the hub of Marrakesh, a non-stop panorama of sights and sounds ranging from snake-charmers to acrobats and dozens of kebab barbecue stands.
The souks or markets are still the best-known aspect of Marrakesh. Explore the old medieval craft workshops or fondouks along Rue Dar el-Bacha, or seek out the more modern version in Souk Cherifa. Here young designers showcase their stylish work without the hustle and haggling associated with the traditional North African souk.
A little outside the centre, the Jardin Majorelle, previously owned by Yves Saint Laurent, is a chic formal garden with a striking blue Art Deco villa and an interesting collection of Berber artefacts.
The Marrakesh Ryads Parc & Spa Hotel has plenty of positive feedback on TripAdvisor. Recent contributions include the following, edited for length:
‘Very helpful, friendly staff, great foods and grounds. The room was very clean and spacious and the maids were great.’
‘Rooms were huge and the pool area was very nice. Restaurants in the resort were decent and the spa at the hotel is where we spent most of our time.’
Romance, tick. Sunshine, tick. Shopping, tick, tick, tick. Marrakesh ticks all the boxes for the ideal winter short break. Today’s Big Deal has direct flights to Marrakesh from Glasgow and comfortable all-inclusive accommodation, making it the perfect way to escape the bleak Scottish winter for a few days and relax by the pool.