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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bradenton, Florida / Courtyard Bradenton Sarasota Riverfront

December 2013, Weekend-Weekday, 3-nights, Jr. suite #322

Status perks and check-in
view from guestroom
I reserved a 3-night stay at this hotel starting on a Saturday with Marriott free night certificates. About a week before our arrival, I called the hotel to ask a couple of questions, and to see if we could have an upgrade to a Jr. suite. The employee I spoke with said that she would make a note to upgrade us, if possible. We received a Jr. suite at check-in, and the Platinum member bonus points.

Guestroom 322 is located on the 3rd floor of this 5-floor hotel, and it overlooks the pool. The guestroom was spacious and moderately clean and comfortable.

The roomy sitting area included a sofa, chair, two footstools, end tables with lamps and a telephone, a coffee table, and a flatscreen TV on an armoire. An ice bucket, two glass glasses, two coffee mugs, and a single-serve coffeemaker were located on a counter above a small fridge. One of the coffee mugs was dirty; the entire inside was coated with what looked like hot chocolate residue. I wish I had taken a picture of the cup before I washed it. There was only one packet of regular coffee, which is what was also provided at the last Marriott hotel we had stayed in; Marriott Gateway at ATL. Only one packet was provided after stayover, too, so I assume that this is the standard in Marriott hotels.

The seating area was comfortable. Even though the wall light in my photo gives off quite a glare, the room was somewhat dim. There was a light over the beverage area, so it was easy to see in that area.

A full length mirror was hung on the wall across from the bathroom and closet. The closet contained hangers, and an iron and ironing board. There was not a luggage rack or a safe in the guestroom. We moved the two small footstools to the area next to the mirror to use for a luggage rack. The two footstools were located against the wall next to the fridge when we arrived, and my husband had already moved them to the bedroom before I had taken the living room photo.

The bathroom located between the sitting and sleeping areas was quite small. There was not hardly any counter space. It contained a tub/shower combination with a shower curtain hanging on a curved rod. A hairdryer, thick towels, and bathroom amenities were provided.

The bathroom could have been better cleaned, in my opinion. There was hair on the floor, and on the wall of the tub when we checked in.

shower/tub wall
bathroom floor

The bedroom area was spacious, and the bedding was clean. In addition to the king size bed, this room contained a desk and chair, soft chair, nightstands, two telephones, a lighted alarm clock, lamps, and a flatscreen TV.

I was surprised that the bed was not comfortable, because the mattress pad looked soft. The mattress was hard, and the pillows were low quality. We did not use the desk or either chair in this room.

The HVAC unit was a bit noisy, as I had read in other guest reviews before our stay. The temperature was comfortable at night, so we did not need to run the unit, and the bedroom area was soundproof enough that we were not bothered by outside noise.

We were disappointed that the guestroom balcony is not really a balcony. The slider opened to an area with barely enough room to stand and look out.

Our guestroom was not cleaned during stayover until late afternoon, and it was not cleaned well. We were back at the hotel and relaxing around the pool when our guestroom was cleaned. We observed housekeeping in the room next to ours for close to two hours. The next time one of us returned to our guestroom, we saw that it had been refreshed in less than 15 minutes! The hair on the tub wall was not cleaned until the day after our second night. It appeared that the weekend staff did not clean as well as the weekday staff, because we also observed cleanliness issues outside of the guestroom that were not taken care of until Monday.

If the guestroom diagram on the back of the door is to scale, it looks like all of the guestrooms overlooking the pool are suites; or, at least the ones on the 3rd floor. The guestrooms across the hall, and the ones on the end of the building overlooking the river, look like smaller/standard-size guestrooms.

Food & Beverage
The Bistro was similar to other Marriott Courtyard hotels I have stayed in. We ordered the kale salad, which I do not recall seeing on the Bistro menu before. The salad was very good, although we did not receive the actual menu item. After I had placed the order, I went out to the pool area to wait. A few minutes later, the order taker/server came out to tell me that they did not have enough kale to make the salad. She said that she could make it with spinach or romaine, if I wanted. Since the salad ingredients contained fruits and berries, I said that spinach would be fine. My salad was prepared with spinach, and a small amount of kale. The cost was expensive -- close to $10; however, the portion size was generous.

The Marriott website for this hotel says: Bar-B-Q and/or picnic area. I could not find any photos or information about grills in the hotel website or in any guest reviews, so I called the hotel the week before our arrival to inquire about this. I asked the person I spoke with if this meant that there are grills onsite for guest use, and she said yes. We shopped for groceries on our way to the hotel, and picked up food to cook on the grill that evening. When we could not find any grills on the property after we got settled, I stopped at the front desk to ask where they are located. After a brief conversation with the manager, she called someone to bring a grill out for us. There are perfectly sized cement ledges in the landscaping for grills (we had not realized that is what the spaces were for when we were searching for the grills); however, it seems that the grills are not usually out for guest use. There was a small bit of confusion to get a working grill and tank set up, and then it remained in the courtyard for two days. We used it two nights, and then we saw that the grill had been removed on Monday. I thought it was great that the manager took care of us, even though the person I spoke with on the telephone had apparently given me incorrect information!

Pool and outside area
The pool area was tastefully landscaped. There were ample loungers and seating areas available. The swimming pool and whirlpool were a good size.

Not many guests used the pool area during our stay, although several nearby residents and/or visitors did. The gate into the pool area from the riverwalk is not a keyed entrance, and we observed people arrive that way with their own towels. A group of noisy whirlpool folks departed through the riverwalk gate shortly after we had checked in. We also observed at least one mischievous young lad. A boy came out of the pool restroom one afternoon/evening, looked guilty when he saw my husband waiting, darted toward the whirlpool, and then left through the riverwalk gate before my husband came out of the bathroom. When my husband came out, he said that the toilet was filled with toilet paper.

Because the pool area is accessible to people who are not staying in the hotel, pool towels were kept behind the front desk, rather than in the pool area.

I thought the cleanliness of the outside area was neglected. The pool water looked clean for the most part, although I observed small piece of debris in the water after the first day.

The restrooms were not clean, and the tables around the pool and in the courtyard were filthy. We sat at two different tables in the pool area, and I had to wash both tables with hand towels from the restroom. I did not observe anyone clean the tables or loungers at any time.

Someone had dropped an undergarment by the whirlpool one day, and it was there the entire day before someone disposed of it; even though I observed the pool attendant walk by it several times before this.

There were cigarette butts on the patio by the stairway when we arrived, and these were not cleaned up until Monday. The Women's restroom looked the same our entire stay; there was quite a bit of dirt on the floor that needed to be swept up.

Women's restroom by pool

Women's restroom

We loved the Bradenton Riverwalk next to the hotel. It connects to downtown, and it is a beautiful 1.5 mile walk filled with seating, nature, parks, play areas, and more. This photo is from the riverwalk with the Marriott Courtyard hotel in the background.

smoking urn
We observed several dogs at this hotel. It seemed like every guest except us was traveling with a pet. We are not allergic to animals; however, since I have never stayed in a pet-friendly Marriott Courtyard before, I wanted to mention this.

I also want to let non-smoking guests know not to expect an entirely smoke-free property at this Marriott. We smelled cigarette smoke from our guestroom several times. In addition to the cigarette butts I already mentioned, there was a smoking urn on the patio in the pool area. This urn was located below our guestroom, and apparently every time that we smelled smoke, it was because someone was standing by the urn smoking.

We walked to the end of the riverwalk, away from downtown, to Tarpon Point Grill to eat one day. The atmosphere was pleasant at the tiki bar, and the food was good, although the service was not good. We observed some odd actions by the bartender during our visit, and when he brought our bill, there were more beverages on the bill than we had ordered/consumed. After my husband politely brought this to his attention, he claimed that he was correct and we were wrong. He did end up correcting our bill; however, this was not a pleasant experience.

Anna Maria Island beach
It is an easy drive out to the beaches from the Marriott Courtyard, and there was no charge for parking at any of the places where we stopped. We stopped at the beach next to Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, and we stopped at Anna Maria Bayfront Park.