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Friday, August 16, 2013

Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Marriott Downtown

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King guestroom 601

Status perks and check-in
We arrived early, around lunchtime, because we had planned to stop for lunch on the way, and those plans were interrupted. I did not expect our room to be ready, since I had not submitted an early arrival request with the concierge beforehand. I did, however, expect to receive better service than we did. Usually, when I arrive early, the front desk agent contacts housekeeping to make our room top priority on the list, and then the agent calls me as soon as the room is ready. When this happened at the Miami airport Residence Inn, our room was ready less than half an hour after our arrival.

We left our car with the valet, and our luggage with the bellman. I made sure that the front desk agent had my cell phone number, and then we left on foot for lunch. After we walked around most of the river area, we ended up having lunch in the Marriott restaurant, Millioke. Details of that visit are in the Food and Beverage section below. 

It had now been more than an hour since we arrived, so I decided to stop back at the front desk. I figured it would not be too much longer before our room was ready, and I wanted to choose the wine and cheese for my Platinum arrival amenity this stay. I thought that if I let the agent know this, it could be in the guestroom when we returned again. This was my first full-service Marriott stay since this perk changed to a $10 hotel credit instead. When the agent told me this, I recalled receiving an email about this change recently.

I then asked the agent if she knew when our guestroom would be available. She said that there were not any guestrooms available on the higher floors yet. She had not acknowledged my status at any time, even when I asked about my arrival amenity, so I asked her if I had received an upgrade to a concierge guestroom. I had mentioned my preference for a top floor guestroom when we first arrived, although I had not asked if that is the concierge floor. She said that this hotel has a "new concept," and that the concierge lounge is on the 2nd floor at this hotel. It was unclear whether this hotel actually has any concierge guestrooms, which are usually a bit nicer with complimentary bottled water, bathrobes, and automatic turndown service. I ended up taking a room on the 6th floor (the hotel has 9 floors) at this time, because the agent made it sound like I was not waiting for any particular guestroom, and she had said that check-in time is not until 3:00 p.m. (in a manner that indicated I should not expect my room until then). She never acknowledged my status or my profile preferences, and she did not thank me for being a loyal customer.

Guestroom 601
This guestroom is located at the end of the hall on the East side of the building. It has a large window on the East wall, and there is no window on the South wall. There is no view from the guestroom because the neighboring buildings are taller. I did not go up to the 9th floor, so I am not sure if three more floors would have made a difference.

This is a basic non-concierge Marriott guestroom with a few nice quality features; however, there were just as many disappointing features.

The guestroom entrance contained a closet and beverage area. There were no bathrobes in the closet. I called later, to see if I could get a bathrobe to use, and I was told no. The person I spoke with said that the hotel does not have bathrobes. Bathrobes are listed as an amenity on the Marriott Milwaukee Downtown fact sheet under Guest Room Information. This guestroom did not have a full length mirror.

The beverage area included: bottled water for a cost, single-serve coffee maker with supplies, an ice bucket, and two glasses. This is the first full-service Marriott I have stayed in that provided powder creamer, rather than liquid creamer. 

There was room under the counter for a minibar and a safe; however, neither were provided. Since there was plenty of room for a fridge in this area--and, we had a cooler because we were on vacation, I decided to call and inquire about a fridge. I have "refrigerator requested" on my Marriott profile, and usually, there is already a fridge in the guestroom when I arrive, or the front desk agent asks if I want one. When I called, I was told that there were none available. The bellman brought our bag and cooler a few minutes later, and as he pointed out the guestroom features, he mentioned the fridge area. I told him that I had already called to ask about that, and that there were not any available. Several minutes after he departed, someone knocked on the guestroom door and brought in a fridge. I do not know if this was because of an inquiry by the bellman or the person I called. I am inclined to think that it was the bellman.

I thought the spacious tile bathroom was great! I liked the large walk-in shower with glassed doors. The towels were good quality, and the bathroom amenities were Bath & Body Works brand. The low quality hairdryer was a minor disappointment.

The guestroom contained a desk with a telephone and chair, flatscreen TV on an armoire, soft chair and footstool, end table, lamp, king size bed, and nightstands with alarm clock and telephone. There were plenty of lights and outlets at the head of the bed.

The bed and pillows were super comfy with high quality linens. Other than some minor traffic noise, we did not hear any noise while in the guestroom. I was pleased and impressed by this, because this guestroom has a connecting room door. There was a guest in the room next door the night of our stay, because I observed several folios in front of guestroom doors in the hall the next morning.

This guestroom is not very big. The hall area and bathroom are a good size; however, the sitting and working area is not very roomy. There was just enough room for the luggage rack to set up at the end of the desk by the hall. I was surprised that the room was not larger, since it is a corner room. The hotel website lists corner rooms for $10 more, so I expected it to be roomier. The corner guestrooms on the room diagram look like they are slightly larger, so the other rooms must be really small! Or, maybe the spacious bathroom is the only difference.

Food & Beverage
The lunch service at Millioke was excellent, and so was the food. It was after noon when we arrived, so the restaurant was not very busy by the time we finished. It was bustling when we arrived.

The beer and wine prices were pretty average for the area, and not inflated, like is sometimes the case at a hotel restaurant. Our order consisted of a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread to share. Here is a photo of the flatbread after we each had a piece--it was delicious!

Concierge lounge
Bottled water, coffee, tea, cookies, and apples were available in the lounge in the afternoon. Two small hot food items were served in the evening, as well as a deluxe array of cheeses, cold meats, and fruit. Self-serve alcoholic beverages were available for purchase. The beverage cost was more than what we had paid for our wine and beer in the restaurant.

In the morning, the lounge did not open until 6:30 a.m., and it was not accessible before then. I had hoped to get some coffee with liquid creamer; however, our key did not work before 6:30. I do not know how late it worked in the evening, because we did not try it again after we left the evening social. Available breakfast items were pretty basic with scrambled eggs and sausage. The same cheese, meat, and fruit type items that had been out in the evening, were served in the morning as well. 

Misc. and overall
This hotel charges $30 for valet parking. I called to ask about self-parking options before our stay, and I was told that this is not available. The valet attendants parked in the public parking garage across Milwaukee Street, and we could see them from our guestroom. I inquired with that public parking garage after our stay, and they said that they do not rent space overnight. We did not end up with a valet parking charge on our folio in the morning. The front desk agent knew that we had parked a car because the valet and bellman assisted and escorted us to the front desk when we arrived. I do not know if this is included for Platinum members, or if it was an oversight. Since she never told me anything, and it was so difficult to get assistance or information from the front desk staff, I did not inquire about this before we left.

I had also called the front desk to find out what the check cashing policy is. Marriott used to let elite members cash a personal check for around, or up to, $200 (I do not remember the exact amount). The person I spoke with said that he did not know, and that he did not think I could cash a check. He would have ended the conversation at that (just like everyone else at the front desk), except that I pressed him further. I had to specifically say, "Well, can you find out?" He then said yes, and called me back several minutes later to relay what he had found out. At that time, he offered information about a nearby quick cash type location, if I wanted it.

I did not think this hotel was worth the money. I thought it was expensive when we booked it; however, we were on vacation, I had Platinum status, and it is a new hotel. We decided to splurge because we thought this would be a great stay. I was seriously disappointed with the aloofness of the front desk staff, and the telephone operators. Usually, the service at Marriott hotels is superior, and that was not the case at this hotel. The service we received at the Holiday Inn Express in Sheboygan the night before, was much better. 

I would not choose this hotel again, unless I found a great deal. The bed was definitely comfortable, and the bathroom was nice. The cost, and the indifferent attitude of some of the staff members, is a consideration, too though. There are many hotels in this area to choose from, and this is not the only Marriott property in the area.