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“Wonderful, romantic place”

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Bivouacs La Belle Etoile
Reviewed 23 October 2013

We stayed in the rooms in the hotel. They are lovely rooms. Reception and eating areas are a bit shabby, food is average. It's really all about the sand dunes and the camel rides at sunset and sunrise. They are worth every minute of the long drive to get there!

Room Tip: Bring a torch as the electricity is off during the day and early hours of the morning (to conserve e...
  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank MDRob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 October 2013

No trip to Morocco is complete without a visit to the dunes of the Sahara. The Bivouac Belle Etoile promised so much - a luxurious and private camp in the desert. Our anticipation mounted as we rode our camels from the dunes at sunset to the private tents, located in a hollow of the dunes but actually only 3-400 m from the hotel. The staff gave a very warm welcome and were charming and attentive. The facilities were certainly beyond any camping I had previously done - Berber style tents with plenty of space and private shower, toilet and wash basin. Even electricity until the 10.30 generator switch off.
Our group of four had one camp to ourselves though there were three other 'rooms'. The central area was carpeted and atmospheric with seats around a fire pit. The musicians before dinner and invitations to dance were fun and set the scene for the vast feast of traditional standard tagines.
Best part was lying on the sand dunes looking at the stars and then waking early to walk out see the sunrise on the dunes and the animal and beetle tracks. There were even at that hour potential guides hovering, offering a tour of the sunrise.
However, the disappointments were the ineffective mosquito nets, our incapacity to work the night lantern and difficulties with the shower. So take insect repellant and a torch and leave whatever baggage you can behind.
Overall a great experience but not a 5 star standard for 'glamping'.

Room Tip: Remember the mosquito repellant and torch!
  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Annie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2013

Stayed in May/13 in the tents, the ones with private bath. There´s a sink, a shower with water temperature control and a separate toilet. Some lamps hanging and electricity until midnight. Floor is uneven and little more space is available. Recommend to carry as little as possible of luggage, leaving the bulk somewhere else. We took our two big suitcases with us and they were properly put in the tent by the staff. But there was little room for them and they got a thick layer of sand upon them. Yes, the night we stayed at La Belle Etoile was windy, very strong just a little below a storm. The tent vibrated and seemed to leave the ground.
More important is that the tent was unable to keep the sand out, a lot of it covered everything inside including ourselves who were on a bed with a mosquito net (happily there weren´t any mosquitoes) and had to sleep fully covered, even the heads, but even so swallowed and breathed much sand. The "door" is sort of a heavy curtain and to keep it in place we had to put things on it, the first ones, like a chair and other items were simply blown away by the curtain. Only the two heavy suitcases could keep it somewhat in place without flying in the wind.
Long night. At 2am checked, still so much to go. Finally, at 5, when the wind reduced and we could get some sleep, came the call for the sunrise camel riding.
The ridings, one for the sunset and another for the sunrise, are a different story. Particularly the sunset, much more dramatic, with the sun falling behind the spectacular dunes of the erg Chebbi. This is worth doing. There were four times more people at the sunset than at the sunrise. In the end of the day the air is warm while in early morning it is bitterly cold, at least in May. As a program, the rides are really great, but I would prefer staying at a hotel and then take the rides, or the sunset ride at least, without staying in the bivouac.
I must say that the staff was friendly and attentive at all times. Although there were four tents clustered in this type of depression in the middle of the dunes, only ours was occupied. A delicious dinner was served with food enough for eight people - too much for two only -, and the same about the breakfast after the sunrise ride. I presume the big variety of dishes could satisfy different tastes and habits. For those who are curious, dromedary meet was also prepared, I liked it, I´m omnivorous like the nature created our species. A group of musicians, from Mali, played for us before and during dinner, something I consider somewhat excessive, but anyway indicating a lot of preparation and attention. But in the end the dominant aspects and stronger memories rest with the sand and the sunset camel/dromedary ride.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Ernando A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2013

We arrived at La Belle Etoile in a blinding sand storm. We couldn't see a thing. Luckily our driver was a local and knew the way. The storm was too bad for us to stay in the tents in the dunes (about 30 of us in the same boat) so we were given rooms in the hotel. The hotel is a bit shabby and run-down, although in all fairness it is situated just a short distance from "the end of the earth." Parts of the hotel lobby and our rooms had a considerable amount of sand from the storm.
Having said that, the staff was exceptionally nice and the food was great. In fact, way too much food was served. Our traveling companions are vegan, and chicken was served in spite of calling ahead. However, there was plenty for them to eat, including lots of vegetables and couscous.
We took the camel ride into the dunes the next morning. I really wasn't interested, but it turned out to be a highlight of our 9-day trip through Morocco.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Thomas_H298348
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 April 2013

We paid a fortune for the premium luxury camp, having booked through Kensington Tours who marked everything up outrageously. Our tent was private enough, down in a cluster of dunes, even though it was tucked one dune over from the semi-private tents and a five minute walk from the main building.

Still, it was romantic to have a private dinner and breakfast served by a staff of two, plus two cooks, in a good-sized tent compound with running water, hot shower, flush toilet, electricity until 10:30 pm, and hardly any sand at all in the bed.

Was it worth it? Well, the desert sunset was in haze, the sunrise was just a sunrise as we watched the varied colors of the dunes change from dark reddish brown to light reddish brown, and I felt camel sick enough on the included sunset ride that I walked back.

But it was a unique experience, we got some great photos, and it was one of those memories that will only improve with time.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank toolworker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2013

A Great Experience
I stayed at the deluxe tents in La Belle Etoile in March 2013, I was doing a nine day tour of Morocco through a company called experience it tours. I wanted to send a night in the desert especially in a tent. It was on my bucket list for years! As a female solo traveler I was a bit nervous and didn't know what to expect. When I arrived I was greeted with tea and nuts and very friendly staff to my surprise most of them spoke Spanish which is my native language, that was a plus! I was told there would be two other guests staying in our camp so it wasn't just me. I did however have a tent all to myself.
I had a beautiful camel ride with Mambrouk as my guide. He took great pictures of me and we had a very pleasant conversation on Morocco. When I arrived at my tent it was gorgeous. The decoration, the uniforms of the staff, everything was set up so beautifully. My host Hamid was really welcoming! He told me all sorts of jokes about camels and I was also invited to hang out at the kitchen with the cook and the staff.
At dinner I was given 3 delicious and huge meals. The food was a big portion and I couldn't finish it all on my own so I invited the staff to eat with me. LOL they said i was the only tourist that has ever done that. After a few minutes into my meals a band walked in and i got up to dance. That was a lot of fun. I of coarse can't dance it was fun anyway.
Hamid my welcoming host did advise that the camp lights would be shut off either at 10:30am or 11pm. keep in mind this is a desert. hamid told me sometimes tourist would be afraid and decide to go back to the hotel instead of sleeping in tents. I was convinced I was brave enough to stay there. But I was scared LOL... the wind at night is pretty strong and I had an uninvited guest that scared the living wits out of me (a cat) his eyes shined in the dark and for a moment i thought snake, ghost, camel arghhhh! But i had a flash light and when i pointed the light at him he was probably more scared than I was and left my tent.
In the morning I woke up to watch the sunset and that was one of the highlights of my vacation! Wake up early and do it! I went back to my five star tent and took a hot shower in the Sahara desert! I charged my phone and camera and got ready f or a delicious breakfast. The hard part was saying goodbye! I enjoyed my time here with the staff and will always remember them. The Berbers are such kind people. I loved my stay at la belle etoile and one day I will return here with my family!

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled solo
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8  Thank orozcoyuri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2013

Nice peaceful place.
Just go for the rooms. They are GREAT !!!
Tents (2 types) are very basic, too basic...
Even the more luxury one.
Food (dinner, breakfast) was basic. Same about the service.
It seems all about money...
Anyway the views and are are AMAZING !!!

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Ralph039
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bivouacs La Belle Etoile

Address: Middle of the Erg Chebi Desert Dunes, Merzouga 52202, Morocco
Region: Morocco > Meknes-Tafilalet Region > Merzouga
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 97 Speciality Lodging in Merzouga
Price Range: £78 - £80 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 1000
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