The worst Aman experience yet?

I am a fan of Aman properties. They are set in beautiful and unique locations, the properties are beautiful and unique too, and the service is usually amazing. Recently, on a trip to Marrakech, I stayed at the Amanjena resort. I will review the experience, especially compared to the other Amans I have been to. The hotel booked us, and we paid for, “Fast Track” arrival services. Basically, they will meet you off the plane and escort you through immigration. I think its worth paying for as we never had to wait in line on arrival. I can’t say the same for the departure “Fast Track”. More on that later. For now, we got through the airport fast and met our driver who took us to the resort.

The resort is located about 20 minutes drive on the outskirts of the city. This is the first time I have stayed at an Aman located near a city. The others were Amanpulo (Philippines – located on a private island in Palawan), Amangiri (Utah – located in the desert), and Amanera (Dominican Republic located on the North part of the island). The difference is that with the previous three, the resort was the destination and I was happy doing occasional excursions from the resort. With Amanjena, there was the whole city of Marrakech to explore. I asked our driver details about how to get back and forth between the resort and city, and he did not have very good info on costs, timing, or how to book. With other Aman properties, briefing and orientation were always standard and well taken care of. Same with transport. Amanulo had golf carts for guests, Amangiri gave us a BMW to use on the first day and free BMW shuttle service to all activities, and Amanera always had shuttles to take you places – all free. In contrast, Amanjena charges U$80 for ONE WAY transport into Marrakech and then same for pick up. They also charge per person instead of by van. They will also offer to arrange a taxi. For the prices Aman charges, I think this service should be included with the room as with other Aman properties.

Anyway, upon arrival we were greeted by a Moroccan tea ceremony and we got our first glimpse of the property. Like other Amans, the property itself is stunning. This was also my first taste of the traditional Moroccan Mint tea I was looking forward to try (TIP: if you want no sugar, you have to ask for it when you order).

The first thing I saw was the beautiful Moroccan architecture and a lake.

We were given a brief property tour and one of the first things that struck me was how cold it was. If you are going to Morocco in January, you should prepare for freezing winter temperatures.

The swimming pool

After the property tour we were shown to our rooms. They were more like individual villas or “Riads” as they are called in Morocco.

The room itself was gorgeous. There is a sitting area outside and the units have really high dome ceilings. I love everything about Moroccan design from the lights with the “holes” which given an amazing effect at night, to the archways and carvings. It seems like in Morocco, every surface that can be decorated will be, and nothing is left plain. Here is a look of the room from the bed and in a more night setting.

There were a couple of hiccups after checking in that should not happen at a resort at this level:

  1. The amenities at Amanjena are very basic compared to other Aman properties. In fact, there was not even lotion and when requested, they came in bottles that require you to apply the lotion to your hand with an applicator (think of a stick you dip into the lotion then slather on your hand with the stick) instead of a pump or squeeze. This is very unsanitary.
  2. They provided slippers and traditional Moroccan robes but the sizes were all small and we had to request a larger set. This does not show good attention to detail as there is a his and her side. The his side should have larger size items. Also, when you arrive at a resort like this, you want to arrive and relax, not have to deal with issues.
  3. After we were shown to our room, there was no real orientation provided like at other Aman properties. For example, there was no itinerary of activities booked. Also, they took our passports with no indication as to when we would get them back. Other Aman resorts also provided snacks constantly, where as this one had them only on arrival as a welcome gift.

On this evening, we headed into the city for dinner (at the best restaurant we ate at the whole time in Morocco which will be the subject of my next post). Before that, we wandered around the famous Jamaa el Fna Square.

After dinner, we headed back to the resort and got to see the beauty at night.

In the morning, I booked a private boxing class. The instructor was fantastic. However, the gym was small with only basic equipment. I would say its not sufficient for a resort at this level. The property itself was gorgeous in the morning with mist coming off the pool.

…and the breakfast, included with the room, was fantastic. Good selection of Moroccan and Western food. Make sure you have the shakshouka, Moroccan bread (in general, I found the bread in Morocco to be VERY good, maybe its the French influence), and Moroccan pancakes. I would avoid the salmon though, not fresh.

During this trip, I also made use of the spa and got a Moroccan hammam. I would recommend not doing this as the Turkish version is better. The Moroccan version is just someone giving you a bath with nothing interesting. In Turkey, they will create a lot of suds and the experience incorporates massage as well.

During our time in Marrakech we stayed at 3 different hotels. From Aman, we went to the Royal Mansour which I would recommend HIGHLY over Aman. When we departed Morocco, Aman was supposed to arrange Fast Track also, but despite multiple communications with their front desk, and charging us for the service, they never provided it. This was frustrating and shows disorganization at the hotel. Prior to departure, they asked me at least 3 times for our departure info, and my assistant also provided the info multiple times. Despite this, no one met us at the airport (TIP: if you are flying business class, the airline will stamp “fast track” on your pass anyway so you can use the expedited lane, don’t pay the hotel for it!).

Overall, the breakfast and property are what make this a great experience. However, the soft product falls short compared to other Aman properties. Also, the location is a big negative, and the over priced transfers on top of this. I would stay at the Royal Mansour instead and will be posting a review in the future.

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