An urban resort that is upmarket, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina exemplifies true luxury with each brick and each friendly smile
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: March 2, 2017
LF Says: ★★★★ / 5
Having a spa, a humungous infinity pool, or even a golf course attached to your hotel is passé. It’s time for marinas.
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, as the name says, owns a marina located in the backyard of its San Diego Bay facing property. With walking proximity to the famous USS midway, the Unconditional Surrender statue, Gaslamp Quarter, and high-end seafood eateries, it is approximately 15 minutes from the San Diego International Airport, in the heart of the city. The hotel is private yet communal. Resort like, yet pulsating. And this dichotomy is what we loved about this hotel.
THE LEADING LOOK
As soon as you enter the hotel, the first thing you will notice is the incredible amount of art and photography displayed in its lobby, corridors and other public areas. Starting with the wide driveway, it is lit up with waves that glow and waver in the dark. The rooms are replete with scenes of San Diego and happy beach views in simple, elegant frames.
The hotel has partnered with San Diego-based dealer Alexander Salazar to present art exhibitions in the hotel, which will rotate every six months with compelling new works from a variety of artists. Marriott Marquis’ new event space features artist Scott Hile’s large format high-resolution photography prints with abstract painting elements and Nick Metcalf’s work comprising of hundreds of pieces of driftwood that he has collected along the California coastline.
However, the most magnificent décor piece in the hotel, I would say, is Tidal, a sculptural chandelier, designed by artist Mark Smith with Swarovski. The ‘artwork’ consists of suspended laser-cut stainless steel panels with 15,182 embedded Swarovski crystals encircling a center form. The work embodies the coastline of San Diego and communicates not only movement and waves, but also the caress of light on the water and mountains. Thanks to floor to ceiling glass walls, this gigantic wonder is visible to the public from Harbor Drive.
And then Swarovski again created magic in the Marriott Grand Ballroom, where more than 44,000 hanging waves of crystals create symphony with different colors, effects and glows. Yes, you can create music just by playing with some switches.
Frankly, almost the entire décor is water-inspired. Whether it’s the carpets with white veins that you often see in pools; the seashell inspired multiple mini-lights; tiles with beach sand effect; or the longish crystal wave wall lighting shining in the corridors.
WHERE YOU CRASH
A quick, smooth check-in later, when we reached our room, the bay view balcony – a rare treat in many hotels – just spoke to our heart! After a tiring, delayed flight, sitting in that balcony, with the cool air wafting from the San Diego bay, was enough to relax us. A quick tip – ask for a room in the North Tower with a balcony and bay view. The South Tower has the view, but not the balcony (except in Executive Suites). They have rooms with city views as well if the sparkle is what you crave for.
The rooms are all sized conveniently with a sitting area and a work desk. The balcony is also furnished with a seating set. As a part of upcoming renovations, all the room TVs are going to be upgraded into smart TVs by end of 2017. The bathroom is fitted with simple, neutral décor. A separate vanity area makes getting ready together easier. Better bath and face products in terms of brand and quality would have been appreciated.
The hotel offers hospitality suites in various configurations, a Presidential suite and more room varieties. So take a pick as per your need.
Coming from Chicago, San Diego was an escape holiday. So imagine our dismay when we woke up the next day to find a cloudy city – much like the one we had left behind! But we quickly got up with hungry stomachs that traveling suddenly develops in you, and headed to the hotel’s Marina Kitchen restaurant.
Their signature restaurant, it is spacious with earthy décor in parts and elegant in others. Long, shared wooden tables are mixed with plush couches. Intimate booths are supplemented with smaller tables. And all around, the restaurant sported large floor to ceiling windows with palm trees and the water coming in right through them!
Although not a part of the room fare, the breakfast buffet at Marina Kitchen is sumptuous with quite a bit of variety. Four kinds of toasts, homemade butter (unsalted and fresh), fruit bar, variety of marmalades (the orange one was my favorite), bagels and pastries, muffins and cinnamon rolls, cornflakes and milk – these are just starters. Move on to the live egg counter where the chef will whip up a fluffy omelet or a helping of scrambled eggs (our special thumbs up to this) within minutes – all cooked fresh and complemented with fresh vegetables. Biscuits with country gravy, egg frittatas (shaped like a mini tart), chicken dumplings, and small potatoes baked with bell pepper and onion (another one of our favorites) flanked one side of the room.
Another side horded an assortment of meats for the carnivores, while yet another small corner was host to golden square mini-waffles and French toasts. Glaze the sinful waffles with warm maple syrup, whipped cream or an assortment of nuts, and you could simply drown in it. It was one dish I couldn’t get enough of!
Apart from the usual coffee, tea and juices, you can also order bellinis and mimosas during breakfast. A little more health conscious if you are – dive for the Oatmeal station enhanced with dry fruits, sugars and flavors kept for your benefit. Another quick tip – check their a la carte menu for the pancakes (plain or with fruits, buttery soft, served with whipped cream and warm maple syrup) and hash browns – which can also be ordered as part of the breakfast buffet.
The buffet spread was perfect with no fault in the cooking, however, our only wish was that it displayed some change periodically. For anyone staying for a long time at the hotel – like we stayed for four nights – the same buffet could become a tad little monotonous – especially for leisure and family travellers.
But that’s not it about Marina Kitchen! This sprawling all-day restaurant offers lunch and dinner as well displaying culinary prowess in Italian-American cuisine with seafood, pastas, salads and much more. It offers multiple private dining areas, an entertaining bar, an outdoor patio for private events, porch seating and a very tempting wine cellar.
The extensive wine list is particularly tantalizing for a wine lover. Consider divine creations such as the Taittinger Brut Rose champagne; Kongsgaard Chardonnay from Napa Valley; Domaine Guiberteau from France; Keller, a Reisling from Germany; Alzinger, another Reisling from Austria; The Sadie Family white blend from South Africa; Sine Qua Non, a Syrah, from California; Shafer “Hillside Select” Cabarnet Sauvignon from Napa Valley; Massolino “Riserva Vigna Rionda” from northern Italy; and Vega Sicilia from Spain. This is just a tiny sampling. The wine list is more than 10 pages long. And if you seek more tastes, try Louis XIII cognac or local craft beers from San Diego such as the Modern Times Coffee Stout or Ballast Point Longfin Lager.
Other dining options at the hotel include the poolside located Tequila Bar & Grille, which offers Mexican cocktails and fare; the Asian fusion seafood, steak and sushi restaurant Roy’s; Exchange Bar for quick American bites – which also supplies in-room dining at superfast speed; and Starbucks for that coffee fix.
Adding an element of delightfulness, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina also cultivates its own beehives. Looking like cardboard file boxes, those beehives supply the honey in the hotel’s cocktails. Fresh, natural, local.
DEFINITION OF THE HOTEL
A destination resort, Marriott Marquis SD has everything you could ever need to keep you busy, and a bit more as well. And the pools are the center of it all I would say. A small pool for children, a big pool, a heated whirlpool tub area with private cabanas, and all this ensconced by tall palm trees, water features and lush greenery – who wouldn’t want to spend the entire day here? With hydraulic chair lifts and a dedicated personnel enquiring after your well-being and supplying your cocktails at the pool at regular intervals – what more could you need?
The orange umbrellas, giving another tropical feature to the area, will shade you ample if you need. But we Chicagoans baked and cooked ourselves in the sun that spills on to the pool area all day. This secluded area in the middle of the city is, I should say, the best feature of the property if you are here for a holiday.
Walking from the pool on one side, next to the marina, are bi and tricycle and colorful rickshaw rentals. Take a spin around town if you like. The hotel is also about to start boat rentals from its marina soon. And if you already own a boat or yacht, dock it at their marina, and you can avail the hotel’s facilities as a part of the rental. The hotel also has a car rental center, which is very convenient.
In another direction from the pool is their fitness center. State of the art machinery is passé again – which they have. They have gone one future step beyond to create a fitness classroom where you can enjoy graphic sceneries while working out. Want to run through the jungles of Amazon? The drop-down screens will give you that verdant green effect. Cycling in the city? The graphics can be changed to suit your mood. Make that strenuous workout endearing.
And on yet another side, with a quick special elevator ride, you’ll reach The Hideaway Spa, which is intimate, and gorgeous with its stone walls, green climbers and wooden accents. Take advantage of their signature and prenatal massages, anti-aging body and facial treatments, Shiatsu massage, or anything your sore muscles ask for.
AT YOUR SERVICE
But then if everything went efficiently, it wouldn’t be an ‘experience’. Would it?
On the second day of our stay, we discovered some old food in the mini-fridge, which when opened, spread an extremely bad smell in the room. Although the housekeeping came in quickly and scrubbed the fridge, the odor refused to leave the room.
After complaining about it, we were offered the option of moving to another room vs air fresheners. We chose the latter, simply because it would have been a task to move. But after an entire day of waiting, no air fresheners arrived. And then, the fridge was still unusable, because every time we opened it, it emitted a fresh round of bad stench in the room.
Another round of complaining later, the hotel promptly installed a new mini-fridge in our room. But no air fresheners arrived still. So we opened the balcony doors, let the sunlight and fresh air do their magic.
Although the Marriott staff was humble, apologetic and attentive, we wish the problem had been solved a little more proactively and sooner. Even though the staff lent an ear and partially solved the problem, the air fresheners would have released a whiff of satisfied guests for sure.
A stunning hotel, both in terms of design and services, it’s a complete destination in San Diego. With realistically everything you and your family could need – space, style, luxury – it’s a hotel where money is well spent. And we are eagerly awaiting the boat rentals!
LF Says: ★★★★ / 5
Coordinates: 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, California, USA