Battle of the Destinations: Marrakech vs Iceland

19 July 2016

Whether you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime event or the sort of incentive trip that immediately becomes the stuff of legend, the right destination can be the difference between just making it happen and making a real impact.

Morocco is a beautiful, accessible destination on Africa’s Mediterranean coast. It’s an increasingly popular choice for incentive travel and events teams from around the globe, and it’s easy to see why.

Until this year's sterling performance at the Euros, a lot of people hadn't given Iceland a second thought - but it’s been gaining a well-deserved reputation as an exceptional corporate destination for the last few years.

But which one is right for you? Let's look at the details, from the brass tacks of getting there to exactly what Marrakech and Iceland have offer for corporate events, hospitality and incentive travel.

Wow Factor

Morocco is a country of contrasts, from rugged, sun-drenched coast to rolling desert dunes, and from immersive high-end hotels to days on camel and nights under canvas in the Atlas foothills. Marrakech is one of the most vital, vibrant cities on the planet, with world-class restaurants and hotels sharing cobbled streets with ancient, tangled souks.

Iceland is like nowhere else on Earth. With awe-inspiring landscapes ranging from sweeping, snowy tundra to towering mountains and simmering hot springs, the whole country is unforgettable and immersive. Depending on the weather and level of activity, visitors might also get to see the Northern Lights - which are one huge slice of wow-factor.

Verdict: Close... but it has to be Iceland.

Travel & Connections

Marrakech is very well connected to the UK, with a number of major airlines flying direct to the city’s Menara Airport from Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and all of London's airports. Carriers include British Airways and Royal Air Maroc, with budget options including easyjet and Ryanair. Menara Airport is only a few miles from Marrakech itself, and can be easily reached by taxi or rental car (available at the airport). A shuttle bus makes the journey every half hour, and many hotels will send a minibus to collect groups.

Iceland may feel remote, but Icelandair offers several direct flights a day to Reykjavik Keflavik from Birmingham, London (Gatwick and Heathrow), Manchester, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Other carriers flying from the UK include easyJet, Flybe and WOW Air. The city itself is easily reached from Keflavik by the Airport Express or the FlyBus - journeys are bookable in advance and take around 45 minutes. There is a taxi rank at the airport, providing transport into the city or to the smaller Reykjavik Airport for connecting domestic flights.

Verdict: Morocco

Hotels & Restaurants

Marrakech appeared in both our Favourite Hotels in the World and our Favourite Restaurants in the World lists - Marrakech's Royal Mansour in the hotels, and its remarkable in-house restaurant, La Grande Table Marocaine, in the restaurants. Other hotel options include the sweeping Palais Namaskar, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, and La Mamounia. Great dining options are everywhere, from dynamic walk-in eateries to the leading-edge cuisine of restaurants like Latitude 31 and Gastro MK via Moroccan palaces and rooftop terraces overlooking the desert.

Iceland is undergoing a foodie revolution, and boasts some outstanding restaurants including Dill (Chef-owner Gunnar Karl Gíslason is a standard bearer for New Nordic cuisine), Nora Magasin (an up-market gastropub from the Borg Restaurant's celebrity chef Völundur Völundarson), and Fish Market, a Reykjavik institution. High-end hotels have been harder to come by here, but that is changing – try the Reykjavik Hilton, the Hotel Borg, or the award-winning Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, designed by LA-based architects Minarc.

Verdict: Morocco

Nightlife & Entertainment

Marrakech offers unconventional ways of winding down after a long conference day, entertaining your people or your partners, or getting away from it all. Away from the Medina there are cocktail bars and the odd club (check out Avenue Mohammed V), but it’s the cafes around the iconic Jemaa el Fna where the real entertainment happens, as each night they become an open-air theatre for street performers - from dancers and musicians to fire breathers and snake charmers. There is the usual slew of theatres and live music venues, but the Medina is hard to top.

Reykjavik has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife for a city of its size (its population is roughly 1.5% of London's). For unwinding after a long day of work or outdoors activities, try any of the friendly, buzzing bars on Laugavegur, Bankastræti and Austurstræti. For entertaining or celebrating, try the stunning Harpa Concert Hall for concerts ranging from classical to cutting edge, or time your visit with an Iceland international football match and take your people to watch everyone's favourite underdog at the Laugardalsvöllur.

Verdict: We’re saying Iceland.

Culture & Sights

Marrakech is a city waiting to be explored. First time visitors head for the historic bustle of the Medina and the Jemaa el Fna, try their hand bartering in a souk (great opportunity for Apprentice-style team buying tasks here), or soak up the city’s palatial mosques and museums in their down time. There's more to discover though - head out onto the dunes with your team on camel back, try a competitive Moroccan cooking class, or book onto a food tour of the city.

Despite some iconic buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland is really all about its natural sights. Take your people out into the Golden Circle to explore the mountains, rivers, hot springs and waterfalls by kayak, mountain bike or jeep, or get the adrenaline pumping with caving, whitewater rafting or even snorkeling at Silfra fissure in Thingvellir National Park. And seeing the Northern Lights is always a possibility...

Verdict: For sights that you can get up close and personal with it has to be Iceland.


We’re probably going to upset a few people here, but for us it has to be Iceland. It’s like nowhere else, a true once-in-a-lifetime destination for a truly memorable event or incentive trip. It’s increasingly accessible, has a vibrant, up-and-coming restaurant scene and much more to offer.

We'd love to talk about your requirements, and how we can use our insight, imagination and expertise to help you create an immersive, bespoke itinerary delivered with effortless style. Drop us a line in the comments below, or get in touch via our Contact page.