Brief: A couple are keen to visit Marrakech for a five-day city break in April, staying in a riad rather than a hotel. They’d like to visit the Atlas Mountains and are looking for some tips on which other excursions they should try.
Verdict: The winner was friendly and determined to find the right holiday for me.
15 Bedford Street
I rang this agency before going in and was really impressed, as the person I spoke to was very friendly and enthusiastic. However, I was a bit disappointed when I went in person.
The agent quickly established what I wanted, but then immediately got on the phone without telling me who she was speaking to, and didn’t really interact with me. I was offered the Palais Sebbans with Classic Collection for £1,174, including flights. No effort was made to try and find a trip to the Atlas Mountains or any of the other things. A bit more enthusiasm would have gone a long way.
3A Brigg Street
The agent I spoke to was very bubbly and came across as genuinely keen to help me find what I wanted. The assistant quickly identified a riad that would suit my partner and me – the Riad Catalina with Thomson – and presented me with a very competitive quote for £810 for four nights’ bed and breakfast. The other things I was looking for, such as a trip to the Atlas Mountains or ideas for other excursions, weren’t really covered.
Also, despite having said I had previously been to Agadir and been disappointed with it, one of the options I was given was to stay there, which was not at all what I was looking for. I can’t fault the agent’s customer service and I would still consider booking here, but I think there was room for improvement.
24 Castle Meadow
This shop initially seemed more like a call centre than an agency, as all the operators were on the phone when I went in, but this improved when an agent invited me over to discuss my holiday. The assistant was very thorough in finding out what I wanted and spent a long time looking at options. Although it would have been nice to keep the conversation going as I felt we lost rapport during the long periods of silence.
I wasn’t given any written details in the office but came home to an email offering the Riad Lotus Perle with Trailfinders, flying out with easyJet, for £927. No attempt was made to find the day trip I had asked for. I was impressed with the agent’s diligence and hard work in finding a package within the right budget.
2 Brigg Street
The sparkling personality of this agent came across straight away, and she was eager to help as soon as I went into the shop. She tried her best to present options that matched my requirements and when she failed to find a day trip to the Atlas Mountains on suitable dates, she came up with an alternative trip to the Ourika Valley.
She seemed quite knowledgeable about the destination, and gave me a quote of £606 for five nights’ B&B at the Riad Hcekarram. It would have been nice to be given a quote or brochure to take away with me, as it took a while for the quote to be emailed through, but all in all, I felt this agent was the most enthusiastic when it came to finding the right holiday for me.
Winning agent: Ellen Llewellyn, apprentice travel consultant
“This is a real surprise as I’ve only been here a year and a half. I got into travel because I thought it would be really interesting and different, and I like it when customers come in asking for something a bit unusual.”
Tips: Top 5 tips for selling Morocco
Riads offer an authentic Moroccan experience, and stay cool even during summer. They vary widely in size and standard so can fit any budget.
For a taste of Moroccan culture, take a cookery course using a traditional tagine, or explore the exotic cuisine on offer in the souks or Marrakech’s popular Djemaa el Fna square.
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit inland destinations such as Fez or Marrakech, but the coastal breeze makes Essaouira, Tangier and Casablanca bearable in the summer.
Get out of busy Marrakech with a four-wheel drive adventure through Berber villages to the spectacular scenery of the Atlas Mountains, a camel trek through the desert or a day trip to the popular seaside resort of Agadir.
Find out more about Morocco at www.gazetteers.com.
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