Review of the Charleston, West Virginia Marriott Town Center Hotel
Charleston is West Virginia's capital city, with a population of about 300,000. It's big enough to have a university, a Class 'A' baseball team, and a relatively big-city feel, but it is laid-back and friendly. Among the attractions are the capitol building with its beautiful gilded dome, a large downtown mall (just like one in the suburbs--JC Penney, Macy's and all, just right in the heart of the city), and the Little Kanawha River, which features lots of interesting houseboats and is open for boating, should you bring your watercraft. Every Labor Day weekend, we travel to WV to attend my family reunion. It's in Glenville, but we like to stay in Charleston to catch the cool vibe of the city. I have made my third stay at the Charleston Marriott Town Center, and so I will share with you my findings.
The Marriott Town Center is located at 200 Lee St in the heart, as you would imagine from the name, of downtown Charleston, right across from the aforementioned mall (the Macy's end of it, anyway). It is also catercornered to the civic center and a few blocks away from the riverfront, which has a nice park/plaza. As you would probably arrive in Charleston by car (Interstates 77, 79 and 64 converge in the city), you will be happy to know that the hotel has a spacious parking garage, accessed by your hotel room key for an extra charge ($7.55+tax/day when we last stayed there) added to your bill. There is a parking garage for the mall, as well, but I didn't check the price.
The hotel's marble-floored lobby is attractive, if a little jumbled, with large floral arrangements, banquette seating and several large staircases leading to the mezzanine level. Set off to the side is the front desk, where I'm always greeted in a friendly and professional way. They have always had my reservation information correct, and I have always received the correct type of room requested. Incidentally, you non-smokers may be delighted to know that all Marriott properties in the U.S. are non-smoking, now, so you don't have to specify that as a request. This means the restaurants (the Whitewater Grille, which serves buffets daily for breakfast and M-F for lunch, and the Whitewater Grille Lounge) are smoke-free as well, but so are all of Charleston's eating establishments (this leads to a lot of sidewalk puffing, so think twice before requesting café seating).
Breakfast in the Whitewater Grille can be ordered off the menu, but we had the buffet, which included made-to-order waffles and omelets, all of the breakfast staples: scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, cereal, assorted breads and pastries, and some of the loveliest fresh fruit I have ever seen on a buffet-I loaded up on fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and pineapple, and my husband reports that the honeydew and cantaloupe were also fresh and sweet. I'm not sure if any of the produce was local, but berries are common in this region, and Marriott has made a good effort toward "greening" its hotels. For example, all the light fixtures in the guest rooms use compact fluorescent bulbs, and temperature is regulated by an efficient digital thermostat. My inner tree-hugger heartily approves.
Marriott hotels are geared strongly toward the business traveler, and the Charleston Marriott reflects this, offering high-speed internet access and a personal coffee brewer in every room, a business center on the lobby level with a printer and fax, and copy services available at the front desk, but the hotel is family-friendly as well, with an indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center and banquet facilities for various celebrations.
Speaking of banquet facilities, I attended a wedding in what I call their "SuperTent" (imagine a tent with a chandelier, glass doors, and pretty much everything you'd find in a hotel ballroom, except for solid walls), which sits on the roof at mezzanine level, just off the rooftop "beach" outside the enclosed pool. Presumably used for sunning in the daytime, the beach is set with café tables and proves a nice place to socialize when you want to get out of the tent (like when the DJ plays "The Electric Slide". Blech!)
My banquet experience at the Charleston Marriott was slightly uneven, however, despite the impressive tent, as the servers seemed completely untrained. They were very polite, but they didn't seem to have any feel for banquet service, and my bet is that they were not actual Marriott employees but were instead hired from a temp service for the occasion. The impermanence of this "ballroom" leads me to believe that the SuperTent is probably a seasonal occupant of the Marriott's roof (it does get cold as H-E-double sippy- straws in West Virginia in the winter, after all). The overall experience was very good, though: the managers were present throughout the event, and I didn't have any real complaints.
I ordered one meal from room service, breakfast, and it was complete heaven. Despite my not having ordered it in advance (you can do so on a provided door-hanger), it showed up in fairly short order, the quality of the food was absolutely unsurpassable, the quantity bounteous, and the server who brought it to me was professional and friendly. I like to tip room servers a little extra; even though the service charge is included, they usually have to tip out the person who answers the phone and sometimes the bartender, and just like restaurant waiters, they usually only make a couple bucks an hour. The waiter who brought my breakfast very readily retrieved ice from the machine to refill my travel cooler, and he was delighted when I treated him to an extra $5 on his return with the ice bucket.
We had one odd incident with the Housekeeping department on our last stay at the Charleston Marriott: We'd been up late, and we slept in until maybe about 9 am, when the first pass of room cleaners came by. We couldn't allow the housekeeper access to our room just then, but we did get up and proceeded through our morning ablutions. When we got ready to go down to breakfast, the lady was in the hall, apparently waiting to get in, but we told her if she could wait until we returned from breakfast, that we were checking out and we would just get our stuff completely out of her way. She acquiesced, and I figured she would go on to other rooms or floors or what-have-you while we ate, but when we returned almost an hour later, we found this poor soul slumped against the wall, waiting-presumably the whole time-for our return! I said, "Don't tell me you waited this whole time for us!" and she said something about having to finish here before being able to move on, which I found exceedingly odd. We scurried into the room and departed quickly. I must add that such a thing has not happened on my other stays, so I don't know what to make of it. Inflexible management, or just the idiosyncrasy of one person?
One more word, because it is so very important: bedding. Or in this case, AHHHHHHH...BEDDING. The Marriott provides the fluffiest, plumpest, most luxurious bedding I have ever bedded in. I am almost famous for not being able to sleep in an unfamiliar place, at least the first night, but Marriott bedding reduces me to mouth-breathing insensibility. I practically purr at the thought of it. If I had such delightful accommodations in my own bedroom, I would never leave the house--well, the bedroom--well, the bed . Good grief, it's like down-filled heroin.
So, the upshot? Plan your banquet events for summer, let your housekeeper in at a reasonable hour, order some room service but don't miss the buffet, and enjoy the excellent service, convenient location and the heavenly, heavenly bedding at the Charleston, West Virginia, Marriott Town Center!
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/bedroom-bed-room-hotel-interior-460762/ by englishjournalists