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Monday, April 6, 2015

Grand Rapids, Michigan / Courtyard Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown

March 2015, Sunday night, 1-night, King Jr. Suite #542

The guestroom information for this post will be shorter than usual because this is the same guestroom we stayed in the last time we stayed at this hotel in July 2014. I redeemed a free night certificate for both stays. My status had been Gold in July, and it was Silver during this stay, although it had been Gold when I made the reservation.

Status perks and check-in

I have stayed in the Courtyard Marriott Grand Rapids Downtown a few times, with both Silver and Gold status; I did not stay in this hotel when my status was Platinum. Several years ago, when I stayed in this hotel with Silver status, I received an automatic upgrade to an executive suite overlooking the river. I have never received an upgrade since then without asking for it, and I have never received that kind of guestroom again, although I have received upgrades after asking.

We arrived before check-in time, shortly after 1:00 p.m. We knew we were early, so our plan was to park the car, and then spend an hour or two downtown Grand Rapids before checking in. There was a sign on the entrance to the parking garage, which said it is for valet parking only, so I went inside to ask the front desk agent where we should park. She explained how to get to the parking lot around the corner. She did not request my name or check to see if there was a guestroom ready. We had not expected to be able to check-in that early; however, my usual experience at any Marriott property is always stellar in this regard. Usually, the employee checks to see if a room is ready, requests my cell phone number to call me when the room becomes ready, if one is not ready yet, calls housekeeping to request a certain room be made ready, and/or provides a room charge account number so we can visit the restaurant or lounge and charge it to the room.

The agent assisting me did none of these things, and staff members were not busy. I observed two front desk agents, and an employee at the inside valet desk, and I was the only guest present. I asked her if she could look up my reservation to see what kind of room we had. She said we had a king guestroom. I had requested an upgrade when I made the reservation; however, she did not mention this or my status (just like my previous experiences), so I asked if it was possible to have a room upgrade. She looked at the computer a few seconds, and then said she could upgrade me to a Jr. Suite. I expressed my appreciation for this. She did not provide information about when the room would be ready or offer anything further, so I said I would return later to check-in.

I have the Marriott app on my telephone, so I thought maybe I would receive a notification that way when my room was ready. Since I have not used the app to check-in, I am not certain how it works. I probably should have checked in via the app after the agent had upgraded my room type.

We returned to the front desk shortly after 3:00 p.m. to see if there was a room ready yet (check-in time on the website for this hotel says 4:00 p.m.). The other front desk agent assisted me this time. She said that there was a room ready, and she prepared the keys. She also did not recognize my status (I know, it was only Silver!), and she did not say anything about the room type, so I asked. She confirmed that it was a Jr. Suite. She validated my parking ticket, handed me the keys, and asked if I had any questions. My husband inquired about the Happy Hour sign on the desk, and she said the lounge has Happy Hour daily.

Guestroom 542

After the agent handed me my key packet, I saw that the guestroom we were going to was the same one we had stayed in last time. It was basically the same as when we had stayed in the room 8 months ago. The furniture did not look quite as new, although it was still in good shape. I really like this room location at the end of the hall, because it is away from hallway noise.

The next morning, we received a newspaper at the door. I did not observe a paper in front of either of the two suite guestrooms across from us (suites are noticeable in the guestroom diagram photo in my July 2014 post), and we had not seen any guests at the end of the hall by our guestroom, so it appeared that the other suites on this floor were empty.

I have included a few photos in this post because some of them are from a slightly different angle than the ones I provided after our stay in July 2014.

Misc. and overall

The Skywalk is accessible from the second floor of the hotel, and it is connected to DeVos Performance Hall, which is where we were going the evening of our stay. When arriving at Devos Hall via the Skywalk, you can get downstairs to the entrance from an elevator in the Skywalk, or take the escalator down at the end of the Skywalk, and then walk back a short distance to enter the hall.

I had to go to the front desk the next morning to checkout (if I wanted a copy of my folio) because I did not receive one under the door, just like my last stay. I receive them at other Marriott hotels, so I do not know why I do not get them at this hotel.

The elevator at this hotel was extremely slow. There appeared to be only one elevator working the day we checked out (the one on the west side), and workers were also using the elevator. On one of my trips back to the guestroom, an employee who was getting off on my floor, cut in front of me as I started to get off the elevator. I think that is the first time I ever witnessed an employee trying to get off an elevator before a guest. She offered a hasty apology after we almost collided, although it was not like there was an uncertainty about the fact that we were both going to the same floor.

My experience at this hotel has been the same every time I have stayed here, and I observed no difference in behavior between when my status was Silver or when it was Gold. At most Marriott hotels, the service and perks I receive have been equal when my status is Gold or Platinum, and not quite as deluxe when my status is Silver. When I was checking in, it sounded like the guest next to me was receiving the kind of service I expect from Marriott. His room was ready, and the agent seemed happy to see him. I overheard some discussion about wine, so I presume he was a Platinum guest, and they were discussing his Platinum arrival gift. Without having Platinum status, the employee service at this hotel does not live up the Marriott standards provided at other Marriott hotels. 

This hotel is in an excellent location, and with a free night certificate, it is a great place to stay. The hotel just changed from a category 5 hotel to a category 6 after I had made my reservation, so I expect there will no longer be any free certificate nights in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I do not think this hotel is worth $180 a night (AAA rate), although I think all of the downtown Grand Rapids hotel rates have gotten out of hand.

Since I just completed an offer from Hilton to maintain my Gold status for another year, I would be excited if they opened one of their hotels downtown. A few years ago, I read they were going to open an Embassy Suites by 6th Street bridge, and the news release is still listed on Suburban Inns' website. A bit more research reveled that the hotel construction has been delayed due to parking problems. I also heard there was going to be a new Hilton downtown and a Hampton Inn on Michigan Street. The Hampton Inn construction is underway, and I could not find anything about a Hilton hotel downtown. The Embassy Suites and the Hampton Inn are about a 1 to 1½ mile walk from downtown. That distance would still be walkable, for me, although not as convenient as the JW Marriott, Amway Grand Plaza, or Marriott Courtyard with a Skywalk connection.