“a country enjoyed by simply being there…”

We had a great time in Morocco. The saddest moment was when we said goodbye to our daughters in Fez since they could not stay the entire time due to their work schedules. Unlike many other countries we have visited, Morocco can not be adequately described by simply listing the famous sites you have visited within the country. Rather, it is a country enjoyed by simply being there, traveling throughout, and absorbing all the activity going on around you.

Our family of six has traveled extensively and we have always planned our trips ourselves and have never had a dedicated driver. We were a little concerned how the driver would impact our well honed family dynamic. In fact, our driver, Khalid, was exceptional and certainly added to the enjoyment of our trip. It is unfair to simply describe Khalid as a driver since he acted more as our guide. He was extremely knowledgable about all the areas we traveled and we had enlightening discussions about culture and religion. Our daughter has been studying Arabic and Khalid took every opportunity to help her and explain the particular nuances of the Moroccan dialect. He gave her a copy of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ in Arabic which certainly challenged her rudimentary Arabic skills. Not sure I would agree to return to Morocco unless I knew Khalid would be our guide.

The trip planning process with Morocco Tours worked very well. I felt I could always call and modify the plan, particularly as we added our daughters to the travel schedule. The handoff to the back office personnel was flawless. My mother, after a long illness, passed away immediately prior to the trip. I alerted Ruth that there might be last minute changes to the itinerary and she passed on her genuine condolences. Although we did not need to make any changes, I felt the staff of Morocco Tours would do everything to assist with changes if they were necessary.

The RIAD LA MAISON ARABE was absolutely fabulous and the staff was excellent. Due to flight delays, we did not arrive at the hotel until after midnight. Even though the restaurant was closed, they provided a room service dinner that was perhaps the best meal in Morocco. As we settled into our room two waiters arrived with a couple of trays. My first thought was this was clearly not enough food for six starving people. All of a sudden, more staff arrived with tray after tray of food and quickly arranged tables and chairs for our family. We could not even come close to finishing the excellent dinner. The Riad Fez was certainly beautiful but the service by the staff did not compare to the Maison Arabe.

I would recommend that no one entertain the thought of going to Morocco for the first time without including a visit to Chefchaouen. Our only regret is we did not allow enough time to hike into the mountains. Khalid arranged an excellent guide in the town. He is a candidate for Mayor in 2013 and not only gave us insight into the history of Chefchaouen during the tour but discussed many issues regarding contemporary Morocco.

On our last night, we stayed at the Hotel Val D’Anfa in Casablanca. Although they have more than one restaurant, the included dinner in the package only applies to one of their restaurants. The restaurant did not appeal to us and when we asked the desk about the other option they were reluctant to help since there would be an additional charge. Eventually, they walked us to the other option and we had one of the best meals on the trip. There was an open kitchen and you could watch the staff prepare the meal. It was obvious the chef was committed to fine dining. We personally complimented the chef after the meal which he greatly appreciated. We were given a credit for the package dinner against our bill and paid the difference. Considering the tour is a 4/5 star rated plan, the better restaurant should have been included. Especially considering some of the other dinners along the way were exceptionally inexpensive.

The Morocco Tour liaison in Morocco was very helpful in modifying the last day for the girls. Although it was not on the plan, they arranged for the driver to take the girls to Casablanca and wait for the girls as they had lunch before taking them to their hotel. This was done without any extra charge. The girls said the driver Yousef was excellent.

Aside from a touch of Moroccan stomach, the trip was exceptional. Not only did we have a great and relaxing time, it exposed our children to the culture and people of a Muslim country. This exposure will greatly help them better understand the world and properly interpret news brought to them by modern media.

Rick, Belinda & Family (USA), July 2012

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