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Monday, January 13, 2014

Ft. Myers, Florida / Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa

December 2013, Weekend, 2-nights, Sanibel Tower, King guestroom 671

Status perks and check-in
Before our arrival, I filled out the virtual concierge form from the Sanibel Harbour Marriott  requesting 2 p.m. check-in. Other than the automatic reply saying that my request had been received, I did not receive any contact from the hotel. When we arrived after 2:30 p.m., our guestroom was not ready, and a guestroom had not been picked out for us with my profile preferences: refrigerator, high floor, extra pillows.

As the agent at the Platinum check-in counter tried to find a room for us, I asked what kind of room she was assigning us, and if she would be able to give us an upgrade. She said that the hotel was full, so she could not give us a gulf view room. We had reserved a room in Captiva Tower because it was the least expensive rate. I did not realize at the time, that Captiva Tower is located about 1/2 mile away from the main (Sanibel Tower) resort area. The agent said that she might be able to get us a room in Sanibel Tower. When I asked about the difference between the two tower guestrooms, the agent said that the guestrooms in Captiva Tower are larger, newly remodeled, and more private. There is a pool at Captiva Tower; however, there is no whirlpool tub, so we eagerly accepted a guestroom in Sanibel Tower. The agent took my cell phone number, and said that she would call me when our guestroom was ready. I received a call about 30 minutes later, at 3:12 p.m., and we returned to complete the check-in process. Check-in time at this hotel is 4:00 p.m., so we were able to check-in somewhat early. When we checked out of the hotel two days later shortly after noon, we overheard a guest checking in at the Platinum desk, who was able to get into his guestroom at that time.
view from balcony
click to view detail

Guestroom 671 is located on the 6th floor of the 11-floor Sanibel Tower. There is a decent view of the gardens as well as part of the gulf from the balcony. It faces east, so we had a beautiful sunrise from the guestroom. Since the hotel was full at the time of our stay, we were happy to have a guestroom on this side of Sanibel Tower. The guestrooms overlooking the gulf on the other side, also overlook the main pool with all of the noise and activity. If we had been staying in the quieter Captiva Tower, I think a gulf view guestroom in that tower would be a better choice.

Sanibel Tower is an older building, and I was a bit worried about whether the guestroom was going to have new furnishings before we entered. Guestroom 671 is also located next to the elevators, which I usually try to stay away from because of the noise.

sunrise view from bed
We were very happy with the guestroom. It had been recently remodeled, and it was well soundproofed. We did not hear any noise from the elevators, nor did we hear noise from guests in the hallway or overhead.

The guestroom was spacious, clean, and comfortable. The large bathroom near the entrance contained a long vanity in front of a large mirror, and a tub/shower combination. The floor and tub area were tile. Bath amenities, plush towels, and a hairdryer were provided. A full length mirror was hanging on the entryway wall outside of the bathroom.

The bedroom area contained a king-size bed, nightstands, flatscreen TV on an armoire, large desk with chair, and a soft chair. The lamps on the nightstands had extra outlets. A single-serve coffeemaker with supplies was located on the desk, along with a telephone and lamp.

I was able to get a small fridge delivered to the guestroom for no charge. I believe the charge for this is $10 per night for non-platinum status guests.

A built in safe was located in a large closet along the wall against the bathroom. The guestroom amenities listed on the Marriott website includes two bathrobes; however, there was only one bathrobe in this guestroom.

I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the guestroom closet area to show the amount of space available. The closet had two louvered sliding doors, and there was plenty of room between the nightstand next to the bed and the closet to open our large suitcase. The safe was not very big. I did not try to put my laptop inside, and I do not think it would have fit. The safe was barely large enough to hold the iPad and my small purse (which I had to squish to get in).

The bed comfort was excellent; good quality bedding, pillows, and mattress.

Two chairs and a small table were located on the balcony. The balcony chairs were comfortable. We could see a large Osprey nest and bird on the tower at the end of the parking garage from our balcony.

Food & Beverages
We thought the food and beverage prices were excellent. Especially, since there are not really any dining options nearby. We had beverages in the lounge, we had lunch at the pool, and we had dinner on the Sanibel Harbour Princess Yacht.
pool menu

The beverage choices in the lounge were good quality, and the flatbreads smelled and looked excellent.

We were disappointed with our lunch by the pool. On Saturday, we had seen several fabulous food and beverage options on the pool menu, so we decided to have lunch outside by the pool on Sunday before we left. Unfortunately, the menu we had looked at by the pool was not being served on Sunday, and the food choices were limited. Here are photos of both sides of the pool menu that was available on Saturday.

When we sat down, our server told us that food was being served from The Cove. We did not understand what difference this would make since the pool menu the day before had said The Cove on it. Since it was overcast and cool out, we should have left right then to eat at the restaurant, because the menu he brought us only had a couple of food choices. The Cove menu that I found online after our stay, is similar to the pool menu we had seen the day before. We split a Rueben sandwich, which I could not find on any of the online restaurant menus after our stay. Our service also left something to be desired. Our server was not rude, although he was indifferent and inattentive. We thought staff members at this hotel were fantastic, and this was the poorest service we received during our stay. The sandwich quality and flavor was excellent.
Sunset view of Harbour Princess
the night before our dinner cruise

The dinner cruise on the Sanibel Harbour Princess Yacht was enjoyable. There were a few minor things that were poorly executed, but for the most part, this was a great experience. The $55 per person dinner cruise charge included tax and gratuity. Alcoholic beverages were available for purchase.

We booked our cruise through the hotel concierge, and had the charges added to our hotel folio. The concierge did not provide much information, and I felt like I had to really prod her to find out what was included and how to pay. When we boarded the next day, the captain had difficulty finding our names, because she had spelled our name wrong, even though we had spelled it and also given her our guestroom number.

Sanibel Tower from Harbour Princess
All guests were told to wait in the lounge, and that the captain would come and get us; however, this did not happen. We waited in the lounge along with a few other couples. We observed some anxious guests go down to the boarding area instead. After they were sent back to shore until it was time to board, the captain came up to the lounge to get the paperwork. He did not stop to greet any of us that were waiting. Instead, he proceeded down to the dock, and then starting boarding the anxious/impatient guests. A few minutes later, all of us who had been waiting in the lounge, walked down to board as well.

We had assigned tables, so we sat on the back of the boat behind the inside bar area to enjoy the ride until it was time for dinner. There was an open bar, and cold appetizers were set up in the bar area: vegetables with dip, and cheese and crackers. We had been told that someone would tell us when dinner was ready; however, this did not happen either. There were about 10 or more of us on the outside deck who eventually went inside to seat ourselves after we realized that everyone else was already eating.

Because we were the last ones to eat, we missed out on some things. There was no key lime pie left by the time we got to dessert. No one served coffee to our table, and no one offered us dessert, even though I heard servers asking other guests what they wanted and serving them while we waited in the buffet line to get our salads and entrees. We were very happy with all of the food quality and flavor; however, we would have enjoyed the event more, if we had received the same service as the first diners. I would have loved a cup of coffee (and, key lime pie); however, I could not easily get up from my inside seat to serve myself. I felt somewhat rushed through the meal since servers were more intent upon picking up instead of serving us.

The ride was smooth, and the temperature was comfortable. The sunset that we had seen from the resort the night before was more beautiful; however, that is merely because Mother Nature was more cooperative that evening. Despite the dining disappointments, we enjoyed our cruise, and I would recommend this to others. Service was great at the start when we were seated outside, and since we were not inside when some of the guests started to eat, I do not know what happened. It is possible that the servers became overwhelmed by the anxious guests, and did not handle the situation any better than the captain did when we boarded.

Pool and outside areas
The service around the pool area was excellent. We observed servers pick up and reset guests' belongings that had fallen off chairs from the wind. A staff member was discretely spraying for ants around the landscaping. The area was well maintained and clean.

quiet pool @ Sanibel Tower
There are two pools at the main resort area. It was easy to get a chair at the quiet pool area overlooking the beach sand and water when we arrived in the morning. Later, the area on the sand became full. The restrooms by this pool smelled horrible during our stay. I do not know if this is typical, or if there was a sewage problem that needed attention. This was a problem every day that we were there. The smell was not noticeable until after entering the restroom.

There is one large whirlpool at the resort, which is located by the main pool at Sanibel Tower. There may be more pool and whirlpool facilities at the spa; however, we did not go to the spa.

view from quiet pool @ Sanibel Tower
The large pool and pool area at Captiva Tower looked comfortable with a good view, since it also overlooks the gulf. We only walked through this area, and did not use the pool.

There are plenty of outside walking trails onsite. We would not have minded the walk between the two towers, if there had been a whirlpool at Captiva Tower to use in the evening. The outside sitting area at Captiva Tower looked like an excellent place to watch the sunset. In addition to the seating around the pool, there was an outside patio with seats overlooking the pool area.

raccoon in the tree
There is a walkway from Sanibel Tower to the spa and steakhouse, and then there is a walking trail around the perimeter of the steakhouse and spa location. This trail is also accessible from Captiva Tower.

There is a yacht club between the Sanibel and Captiva towers, which is one reason it was not simple to walk between them. A driver provides shuttle service between all of the buildings with a golf cart, and there is a sidewalk along the road for pedestrians.

You can walk to the Punta Rassa Boat Ramp Park, if you want to walk outside of the property. We walked there, and had thought we might walk part way across the Sanibel Causeway Bridge for a great view; however, there are no sidewalks on the causeway for foot traffic.

Misc. and overall
The entrance to the resort from the main road is before the causeway toll booth. Bicycles are allowed on the causeway, and the Marriott resort has complimentary bicycles for guest use; however, they can only be used on the property.

smoking patio next to lounge
The resort and parking fees listed in the Marriott website are pre-tax. We booked the AAA rate of $251 per night. After the resort fee, self-parking, and taxes were added, our stay cost was $307.98 per night. I expect an extra cost for taxes, although I thought our overnight cost at this resort was quite high. To the best of my knowledge, the resort fee included wifi (which platinum guests receive anyway), local phone calls, and use of the bicycles.

This resort is not 100% non-smoking, like most Marriott properties. There were ashtray urns by the front entrance at both towers, and there was one on Charley's Cabana Bar Patio. None of these were 25' from the entrance. I observed people smoking on the patio outside of the lounge near the ashtray in this area, and when we were seated at an outside table around the corner one of the evenings, we could smell smoke from our table.

We thought this was a nice resort, and we would stay here again for a lower rate or with points. AAA frequently offers Hot Deal rates, which include breakfast, and I wish we had been able to find a rate like that for our stay.

Most of the employees were impressive! Everyone we passed throughout the resort smiled and offered a friendly greeting. There were many times that a manager stopped to inquire about our satisfaction: in the lounge, and in the pool area (not while we were dining by the pool, unfortunately).