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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Miami, Florida / MIA airport -- Marriott

Status perks
I did not receive any recognition or perks at check-in. I had filled out the Virtual Concierge form prior to arrival, requesting a fridge and room on the concierge floor. Near the end of the check-in process, I asked if my room was on the concierge floor, and the agent said yes.

We stayed in the south tower on floor seven, which is where the concierge lounge is located. Floors eight and nine are also concierge floors. The lounge was not open on the weekend, although our key allowed us access to the lounge and business area inside when we first arrived. The guestroom was a basic Marriott room, and the fridge I had requested was in the corner. The room was not very big. The ice bucket was on a small table next to the dresser, and the coffee maker was in the dresser under the TV. It was not plugged in or useable where it was located. We took the coffee maker out, and found just enough room for it on the the dresser next to the TV, where a plug was located. There was one 10 oz bottle of water in the room when we arrived, and housekeeping left another one on stayover.

The north tower looked like an older building, and the bottom floor smelled musty when we walked through that tower, which is next to the pool area. The rooms in the north tower had two window panes of glass, and the rooms in the south tower had three.  The rooms looked like they were the same size; there was just more window area in the south tower rooms. The bed in our guestroom was comfortable, and the room was sound proof. We did not experience much airplane or hallway noise during the 2-night stay. The room was clean at check-in; however, we encountered a few minor housekeeping oversights. We only had one coffee cup, one creamer, and a used bar of soap from a previous guest had not been removed from the shower. All of these things were taken care of when housekeeping attended to our room after the first night. None of the rooms at this hotel have a balcony, and the windows do not open. The heating system was easily adjustable and quiet. I do wish I could have turned it off overnight though, instead of trying to find a comfortable temperature.

Food & Beverage
We had a sandwich and drinks at Cane Fire Grill the night we arrived. The turkey sandwich on sourdough bread was fresh, good quality, and large enough to share. The service we received was not as good as expected. We did not have any real complaints, although usually when we sit at the bar, the bartenders are more social and attentive about offering refills.

We dined at Champions Sports Bar in the adjoining Marriott Courtyard the second evening. The service in Champions was great--and, we were served at a table by the bartender! I would not recommend any of the food that we tried. This was definitely a sports bar atmosphere and food offerings. Since the bartender highly recommended the Mahi Mahi sandwich, and the bar was located in a Marriott, we expected better quality. We did not think either food item was worth $12.95. The Mahi Mahi sandwich consisted of one small overcooked fillet, which did not come close to covering the bun. The Mahi Mahi in the fish tacos was overcooked as well, and the flour shells were stale. The atmosphere and seating were both comfortable, and we would visit Champions again for drinks.

There is a Starbucks located in the Marriott, and a hotel employee had told us it was a "regular" Starbucks, so we expected to get breakfast sandwiches there one morning. When we arrived, we learned that this location only serves muffins and pastries. We had breakfast at the Latino restaurant next door, which was an excellent choice! Most of the menu items included coffee, toast, hash browns [called "The Works"] for $10; however, you could also get just an omelet or scrambled eggs with ham for under $5!

hot tub beyond pool; north tower on left
Pool & outside areas
wicker chairs; Residence Inn beyond
The pool located at the Marriott is also used by guests at the adjoining Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn across the parking lot. Even though there was not a lot of seating around the pool, the area was never overcrowded. There was a large area with additional lounge chairs and tables outside the pool gate.  The pool area was shaded most of the day since it is on the north side of the building. The expanded seating area outside the pool gate, near the Courtyard hotel, provided shaded and sunny seating and lounge chairs. The furniture was nice looking dark brown wicker furniture that usually is accompanied with chair cushions. Since there were not any cushions on any of the pool chairs, the seating was very uncomfortable. There were several sitting chairs with cushions under a roof overhang outside the Marriott Courtyard, which were comfortable.
pool on left; more lounge chairs straight ahead

Fitness Center
Marriott left, Courtyard right; fitness center under red roof
The fitness center is located in the Courtyard hotel, near the pool. I did not use the center, although I could see it was a large glassed room with more than 10 cardio machines. The location didn't seem like it would be too much of an inconvenience from the Marriott as long as it wasn't raining.

Overall & Misc.
We were very happy with the comfort of our stay, since I had discovered a great rate of $114 (this was a promotion code rate, which also earned points and status). I think we would have been disappointed, if the rate had been more than $125. I was glad this was not my first Marriott experience as a Gold member because I would have been seriously disappointed. I would have wondered what the appeal is. I had experienced more impressive reception, recognition, and perks as a Gold member prior to this stay.

We waited over 20 minutes for the "every 15 minutes" shuttle bus when we arrived at the airport. I ended up sitting on my husband's lap, and there were more guests who had to wait for the next shuttle. The shuttle was picking up guests for the Marriott, Courtyard, and Residence Inn. Lucky for us, it dropped off at the Marriott first!

There is a Winn Dixie, Walgreens, K-Mart, Payless Shoes, McDonald's, Taco Bell, and a few more businesses in a shopping center less than a mile from the hotel. Other than the fast food restaurants, and the Latino restaurant where we ate breakfast, there is not much dining nearby.