Taking the family to Marrakech is child's play

Club Med has re-styled a hotel in the Moroccan city as a family-friendly resort. Kate Simon reports

My nine-year-old son Quincy is clinging to my arm. He stopped holding my hand in public some time ago, but today he's taking no chances. We are walking around the Jemaa el Fna square in the centre of Marrakech, where Mikey, a friend newly made at our hotel's kids' club, had a snake dumped on his head just the day before.

Mikey visited in the morning, but we are in the medina just before dusk, when the world appears to turn out on this ancient marketplace, so we're not such a target. Still, Quincy is unimpressed by the sideshows, recoiling from the Barbary apes spinning at the end of their masters' leashes, the Berber dancing boys, and the women armed and ready to pipe henna in intricate patterns on the skin.

So we retreat to the roof terrace at Club Med's La Medina hotel on the edge of the square, where the atmosphere may be enjoyed at a snake-safe distance. As guests of its sister resort in the Palmeraie district, to the east of the old city, we are able to drop by, even stay for dinner, before returning to our lodgings on the free shuttle bus, which makes the short, 15-minute journey throughout the day and evening.

It's a convenient arrangement, especially for the growing number of people wanting to visit this traditionally adult destination with their children. The grown-ups can explore the Moroccan city's exotic side while being within sanity-preserving reach of the hotel for when the children inevitably weary of sightseeing.

That's good news for Club Med, because it has just restyled the hotel in the Palmeraie as a family resort by launching a mini club to make it even more appealing to this market. Club Med has plenty of experience hosting families, they make up more than half of the guests staying at its 80 "villages" around the world, attracted by the hassle-free, all-inclusive packages offered and the extensive childcare available for kids aged four months to 17 years. The rebranding of Marrakech La Palmeraie takes the number of Club Med's family resorts to 45.

The Moroccan hotel's new club accepts children from the age of four. It is capacious, designed as a miniature riad, with a swimming pool and well-equipped, age-appropriate, indoor and outdoor play areas. There's even a small patch of land where kids can indulge in a little light gardening. And the hotel's vast lawns offer plenty of space for supervised games. Open during the day and in the evening, parents can even leave the grounds while their children are being cared for, creating the possibility of child-free excursions to the souk or beyond the city limits to the High Atlas mountains.

Children are looked after by GOs – "gentile organisers" – who are required to have some knowledge of the English language. Club Med prides itself on its multinational appeal, claiming its staff come from more than 100 nations, speaking upwards of 30 languages. That's one of the reasons why the company is confident it can increase its UK market, which currently accounts for only a small percentage of annual guests. At this Moroccan resort, the aim is to increase the number of British families visiting by 20 per cent, year on year.

Yet, while Club Med's operation is a slick one and the idea of making it easier for families to visit Marrakech is a winner, one problem needs to be addressed: the lack of competent English speakers in the kids' club. British visitors will enjoy Club Med's Gallic bias – particularly the high standard of food on offer. But more staff with good English will inevitably need to be hired to convince us linguistically-challenged Brits that this is a truly family-friendly destination.

COMPACT FACTS

How to get there

Kate Simon travelled to Marrakech with Club Med (08453 676767; clubmed.co.uk). Seven nights costs £749 per adult and £559 per child aged three to 17 years, including return flights with Royal Air Maroc and full-board accommodation.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power