The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Is a Family Paradise Worthy of a Trip Itself

Without a doubt, the ancient trading city of Marrakech, Morocco is having its moment in the sun. This onetime Berber capital continues to see an uptick in tourism generally and has expanded its airport in recent years to accommodate additional flights, including new daily service on Turkish Airlines — which, as an optional add-on perk, offers a free stopover in Istanbul when you’re transferring through.

One of the city’s top hotels for families is the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, featuring 1- and 2-bedroom villas tucked away among nearly 50 acres of lush gardens of fragrant rose bushes, jasmine shrubs, olive trees, palm trees and more. The resort also offers a robust range of activities onsite and off that will wow kids of all ages (and will impress the adults, too).

Spacious Villas

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

The 1- and 2-bedroom villas at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech are absolutely massive and feature a garden-fringed interior courtyard with plenty of room for the whole family to relax and play, including a private heated pool and hot tub and indoor and outdoor lounge areas. Additionally, all villas have substantial kitchenettes with mini-fridges, electric cooktops and ranges, as well as outdoor fireplaces.

Seriously Cool Specialty Dining Experiences

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

One of the added benefits of the Mandarin Oriental’s villa layouts is that there’s ample room for resort staff to prepare a full-fledged Moroccan feast — complete with grilled meats and seafood, seasonal vegetable tagine, couscous and other sides — all within the privacy of your home away from home. Alternatively, resort staff can arrange a Moroccan picnic extravaganza in a lovely garden setting or kid-friendly cooking classes that finish with a poolside meal featuring the dishes they helped to prep.

Cooking Classes for All Ages

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

A newer offering at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, all classes are held in an intimate workshop space adjacent to one of the primary kitchens onsite and can be fully tailored to interests, skill level and ages of the chefs-in-training, of course. Every hands-on workshop begins with a visit to the property’s garden with the chef instructor to pick fresh ingredients for the day’s meal. What better introduction could there be to a new culture’s cuisine than to see how simple, fresh ingredients from the garden are transformed into a delicious dish?

A Kids' Club That Goes Above and Beyond

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

For children ages four and up, the Kids’ Kasbah provides immersive, hand’s on experiences in a digital-free environment adjacent to the resort’s farm and chef’s garden. “Taking an iPad from a 6- or 7-year-old is like fighting a war. How can I compete with that?” says General Manager Jean Philippe Moser, who’s a father himself and understands the need for kids to disconnect from today’s technology.

The answer here is diverse and culturally-rich programming focused on tactile experiences, including gardening, pottery workshops, mosaic and painting classes, Berber carpet weaving — and, of course, opportunities to get to know the resident farm animals, which include a donkey, goats, ducks and chickens.

“I tell the parents we’re going to keep them busy and get them dirty… [and] parents love it,” Moser says.

Unforgettable Excursions

Beyond the walls of the Mandarin Oriental, which is located within an expansive gated community just south of the walled old town, Marrakech has plenty of wow-factor sights to see. From sunrise hot air balloon rides with Ciel d’Afrique to private city tours with Marrakech Insiders — a company that specializes in customized itineraries in a fleet of vintage-inspired motorbikes with sidecars, each helmed by a professional driver — Mandarin Oriental staff can readily arrange excursions with trusted local partners that work for families of all sizes and ages.

Cultural highlights include the Jardin Majorelle, which was once owned by Yves Saint Laurent; there’s a museum dedicated to the iconic fashion designer adjacent. And Marrakech Insiders can arrange for private tours of Dar El Sadaka, a 25-acre parcel of land owned by artist Jean-François Fourtou that is home to several of the artist’s surreal and playful interactive art installations. A wander through the grounds here will surely be a highlight of a vacation packed with memorable moments.

A Family-Focused Travel Package

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Available for bookings of two nights or more, the Mandarin Oriental’s Family Escape package includes fast-track arrival through customs at Marrakech Menara Airport; round-trip private airport transfers; breakfast daily for all; Kids’ Kasbah experiences (including the kid-friendly cooking class mentioned above); and a family treasure hunt in the medina market district of Marrakech’s old city. Additional benefits are available as members of Fans of M.O., the group’s loyalty program.

No Shortage of Options for Adults, Too

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

So what to do with your free time while the kids are off learning new trades at the Kids’ Kasbah? For starters, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is flanked by a couple of the city’s top golf courses and tee times and complimentary transfers can readily be arranged. The property is also home to stunning spa facilities, complete with Moroccan hammams and private relaxation gardens in all treatment rooms. There’s also an indoor pool and sunlit fitness center and yoga studio.

Off-property excursions include guided shopping trips into the medina’s souk — a sprawling maze of stalls and shops selling Moroccan leather goods, footwear and apparel, home goods and textiles, spices, oils, and so much more — or to the Sidi Ghanem design district, home to the city’s contemporary designer shops and showrooms. And whatever else you plan, make sure to allocate for some blissful R&R time in the villas here; sometimes, there’s nothing more rejuvenating than curling up with a good book, or taking an afternoon siesta, without worrying about the time.

By Erin Lindholm