Wednesday, July 17, 2013

SAN DIEGO: Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

While attending a conference recently, I spent three nights at the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter and thought it blew most of the other Marriott properties at which I’ve stayed out of the water.

Exterior of Marriott Gaslamp Quarter
The Marriott Gaslamp District is more trendy than many Marriott properties with an ever-changing colored-light backdrop behind the reception desk, lots of chrome and glass used in the design, and a rooftop bar called Altitude Sky Lounge, where patrons can sip and nosh while enjoying a spectacular view of Coronado Bay or perhaps watching a Padres game at PETCO Park next door, all to the beat of an urban soundtrack.

While I’m a Boomer and tend to prefer other types of music – oldies of course, but even house or trance – the rap music at Altitudes seemed somehow fitting given the concrete bar, stainless steel counters, and other modern elements. For those who prefer somewhat more serene surroundings, the Latitude Lounge on the ground floor also offers a full bar and abundant nibbles. And the adjacent restaurant Soliel @K, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But one doesn’t choose a hotel based on its dining venues; it’s the other attributes that make or break a property, including the physical plant and the service.

I would recommend the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, even if you never intended to set foot in an on-site restaurant.

Guest rooms have recently been refreshed – the website calls it “fully reinvented” – with all the expected amenities and then some.

Guestroom Interior
My room, 1824, offered a comfortable king-sized bed, flat-screen TV, a huge in-room safe, complimentary bottled water, and iron and ironing board. The bath offered a hairdryer, fluffy towels, high-end amenities, and a scrubbing puff (which I don’t use but my wife and daughters do). Housekeeping delivered a bathrobe within minutes of my request.

Unlike many hotels, which offer “work stations” with inadequate seating, lighting, or power outlets, the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter offers a place that makes it truly comfortable to work while on the road. The desks are outfitted with decent task chairs, four power outlets for the multitude of electronics with which we travel, and wired internet access that is truly “high speed.”

According to www.speakeasy.com/speedtest, both upload and download speeds were well north of 40 Mbps, a quantum leap above many hotels at which I’ve stayed recently, where connectivity averages an anemic 1 Mbps. C’mon, hoteliers, it’s 2013; connectivity is king, especially for business travelers. Of course, wireless access is also available.

Guestroom Bath
The hotel also offers a complimentary business center, where guests can print up to 20 sheets of documents or presentations without charge. There are also kiosks in the lobby where guests can check in for their flights home.

Most important, the service was excellent. As I’ve said repeatedly, great service can make up for a lot of shortcomings, while even a stay at a beautiful hotel can be marred by so-so service. Fortunately, the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter has both.

Every staff member I encountered - whether in the lobby, hall, elevator, restaurant, or meeting venue - acknowledged me, said, “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon,” and generally made me feel like a valued guest. At breakfast my first morning, my server asked for my name, then spelled it correctly on my bill – something that rarely happens the first time. High marks for his attention to detail.

While long-time San Diegans say the location, just east of 6th Street, is technically just outside the official Gaslamp Quarter, it’s close enough to walk to a wide range of restaurants, the San Diego Conference Center, and the city’s Red Trolley, which can take riders as north as Santee, or as far south as San Ysidro on the Mexican border.

The hotel also has a rooftop fitness center, but neither pool nor Jacuzzi on site.

Unless a pool is a “make it or break it” feature, I highly recommend the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. I know I’m looking forward to a return visit!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images.

4 comments:

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  2. Glad you liked it! It's a lovely place to stay in San Diego.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I'm planning to
    start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I'm completely confused ..
    Any recommendations? Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hello, Anon!

      Thanks for your kind words.

      First, take time to figure out your focus -- your "voice" if you will. I started out with a focus on upscale travel, but have since added business travel, since I do so much of that. Do you travel with kids? Do you like to bike or hike? Maybe you love to work out while on the road. Find some niche that you can focus on, and others with similar interests will find you and your blog.

      Then, begin with the end in mind. What's the take-home message you want to send? Then come up with a "trigger lead-in" -- something that's going to grab the readers' attention up front. I also try to end with a "power out" -- something that will either recap the main point(s) of what I've said, put some emphasis on my recommendation, or end with a "zinger." In other words, end with something memorable.

      For example, I ended a review of a hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a somewhat snarky remark that focused on two shortcomings at the otherwise nice facility. Because our party had a problem with the valet parking and because I hate thin towels, I recommended that people consider the hotel but, "Be sure to park your own car. And ask for extra towels." Not Dostoyevsky, but cute.

      Finally, don't give up. Like anything, the more you write, the easier it becomes, and the more you will develop your own "voice."

      As far as the platform, I use Blogger from Google. It's easy to use, fairly flexible, etc. However, think about a "go-to-market" URL, then spend the money to buy it (got mine through GoDaddy) and link it to your blog. It will immediately give your blog a more professional impression than the standard address of "something.blogspot.com."

      Then, don't be shy about promoting your blog. Set up a Twitter account and send a tweet when you publish a new post. Many bloggers also maintain a Facebook page as well. Purchase some business cards to share with your blog's URL, your name, an e-mail address to reach you and a phone number if you're comfortable with that. VistaPrint has some nice stock photos and formats for business cards, and they're not expensive.

      Specific to your question about platforms, I decided NOT to use Wordpress because there's a standard line, "Just another little Wordpress blog," or some such on their pages. I feel that is like apologizing in advance and implies the blog really isn't all that important. I believe it IS important enough to write about, and I hope others find it important enough to read, so I decided not to use Wordpress.

      Best of luck! Feel free to contact me via e-mail if you'd like to discuss this further.

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