Santa Clara Marriott Review: Family Staycation
By Kathy Chin Leong
You know a hotel is family-friendly when it gets booked out for a soccer tournament, and kids are filling the pool to near overflowing and the words “Marco Polo, Marco Polo” keep ringing in your ear well after departure. This was the case during a recent stay at the Santa Clara Marriott where I came to review its recent remodel with new amenities and interior refresh.
First, the 766-room hotel has the key amenities every mom and dad want when they come for a vacation with the brood. A refrigerator in the room for storing leftovers and snacks. A swimming pool so the children can burn off energy. And if you are a Marriott Bonvoy premium or elite member, the M Lounge features breakfast and 24 hour access with soda, snacks, and coffee. A Starbucks café in the lobby also offers beverages and pastries for a quick grab-and-go snack.
And the location for a weekend with the kids, especially now school has begun, is opportune. The Marriott is centrally located and walking distance from movie theaters, the Great America theme park (I see the roller coast outside my 10th floor window as I write this), and Levi stadium for sporting events and concerts. Word on the street is that weekend rates are excellent at under $200, for this is typically a business hotel that gets filled up during the weekday.
I was very confused after getting information about the Marriott Bonvoy program thinking I had to get the credit card and pay the annual fee in order to get a membership. Turns out that if you have been a preferred member at any of the Marriott’s or SPG hotels, you are automatically a Bonvoy member at the lowest level of membership. Marriott purchased the SPG chain earlier which meant the club memberships were also merged under this title.
When you are at the premium or elite status, you get access to the M Lounge on the first floor. You can opt to buy breakfast and have access here for an extra $---- if you are not a member. While here, we came in to a vast breakfast room with tables, TV monitors, and countertops on the periphery. Sodas, coffee, and jarred snacks of nuts, Chex mix, banana chips, and pretzels are available all day. Also on the counters were bowls of apples and bananas. Each day you can have breakfast. On the day we came, we had access to: scrambled eggs, sausage, cut fruit, pastries, breads, hot oatmeal, juices, coffee. There was more than enough for the average person to eat.
While this is considered a lounge, I felt it resembled more of a cafeteria. There were no cozy nooks or plush couch seating areas to curl up to read a book or truly “lounge,” so I feel that it had more of an industrial big room atmosphere.
The recent remodeling sweep of the hotel (think of what $180 million can buy) includes a new lobby, new Bosc + Bartlett bar and casual restaurant, new club lounge for premium and elite Marriott Bonvoy members, resurfaced swimming pool and hot tub, and remodeled hotel rooms replacing the gold hues of the previous ten years.
In keeping with that is on trend today in both homes and corporate interiors, you will discover plenty of white and gray throughout the premises. The hotel features a north and south tower, and a one-story row of rooms in the Garden In the rooms are sand colored tiles, white linens, gray headboards, white walls hung with techie artwork such as a large silicon chip on one side opposite a 3-D wire sculpture grid on another wall. One circular light fixture was an arm lamp, which I was not too fond of. Situated on both bedside stands, the round flat LED lights are very bright. The arm lamps cannot be adjusted, and the lights cannot be dimmed. That was left off our entire stay.
A flat screen TV fronts of two queen beds or a single king. A coffee maker with a pair of bottled waters awaits you. And then there’s the tech essential: plug outlets for your devices. Your kids will jump for joy. Bedside and deskside outlets are ready and waiting to recharge your e-toys and theirs.
The majority of bathrooms now feature showers with dual heads, and if you want one with a bathtub, do request one. Families with little kids may need tubs to take baths before going to bed at night or to clean off after flailing around in the pool.
And if the pool access is important to your family, do request a room closer to the pool on the first level. Often times, people forget they can make requests for room locations, early check-in or late check-out, and other matters. All you have to do is ask.
I enjoyed the pool area after the soccer team left the next day. Watching the water seems to have a sedative effect on me. I noticed the new furnishings which include two cabana-like circular couch seating areas with umbrellas in turquoise and greens. There are no private cabanas, but plenty of lounge chairs. There is pool menu service and also a hot tub that fits about six adults comfortably, and on the first day we came, it seemed to be jammed with twenty children who came in and out of the hot tub, dipping between hot tub and swimming pool back and forth as if on auto-pilot. Everyone was having fun, and the hotel staff was very patient. There were times I had wishes there was a life guard or someone in charge as children were running pretty fast around the pool.
Every year a family should take time for a staycation. The term has gotten a bad rap over the last few years, and it fell out of favor when the economy improved. However, these mini-getaways are easy, low-cost, and less hassle since home is not far away. Consider the Marriott during the holidays when the rates are lower than normal and when the hotel is quieter. You can be creative by hosting a Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday get together. You don’t have to clean up afterwards, and that may be priceless for that fact alone.
Santa Clara Marriott
2700 Mission College Blvd.
Rates: Below $200 on weekends