I always enjoy the posts, especially if I learn about a great hotel or resort and the surrounding area. I also appreciate it when I also hear about Marriott's to avoid. I have two, unfortunately, that I would recommend NOT staying at.
The first is the Houston Airport Marriott (Texas). This was a former double tree. It smells moldy everywhere, has water leaks, and the rooms on the concierge level had an overwhelming chemical smell to overcome the moldy smell. I am sure you can imagine how unpleasant it was. The staff was OK, the food mediocre. The only advantage was the location to the airport.
Worse yet was the JW Marriott in Buckhead/Atlanta (Georgia). I had reservation problems. The gym was disfunctional with equipment that needs servicing. The room was falling apart, low water pressure, cold water, and the shower handle kept falling off. The points were not added to my account and when I called to report I learned that there was a $98.00 minibar charge added to my folio without my knowledge. Everything was corrected as I knew it would be, but the experience was very disappointing.
I stay at Marriott about 80 times a year and these 2 experiences were definately the worse. The other 78 were fine.
I stay at a lot of different Marriott's, and I would say your comments could apply to a lot of the properties I stay in.
1) Poor air quality (mold, heavy use of air 'freshener' products that probably cause cancer, lack of access to outside ventilation, Volatile Organic Compounds from carpet and cleaning products, etc)
2) Poor quality gyms (usually just a bunch of treadmills and bikes, often if there are any machine weights you will find them in a poor state of repair)
Airport Marriott's tend to be worse in general. I avoid them where possible.
Wish I had read your post before my recent stay at the JW Marriott Buckhead Atlanta. And yes on November 20th 2009 it is still a mess. Rooms are about ten years overdue for a renovation. Old fixtures, 25 in tube TV, HVAC (went to bed cold work up at 2am burning up). And the service was no better. Platninum gift was offered but didnt show up. $65 room service bill when I ordered nothing, no turn down service, no newspaper, no apologies.
One of the great things about Marriott is the dependibility of the brand. A Fairfield Inn perhaps, but I would have never expected this out of thier flagship brand (JW)? Glad this was not my first experience with Marriott, I would have never gone back.
Holiday Inn recently did a "refresh" program where older properties had to renovate or were out of the system. Everything had to be brought up to standard.
I would certainly like to see this happen at Marriott.
They have a lot of very nice and wonderful properties, but certainly they also have some properties that are long past due for a big upgrade.
The on-airport property Marriott at IAH is one of my favorites. I checked in recently and discovered I didn't actually have a reservation. Being a PP made the difference, big time. They got me a room with no problem, and made sure I felt like one of their regulars. Also, that one has the Pilot's Shop in the lower level, great place to load up on all your Continental swag before it disappears. All that and the kitschy little people mover in the basement to all the terminals is like a Disneyland ride. Sure, it's old, but generally a convenient and enjoyable stay.
In Atlanta, I've always liked the "old" ATL Marriott, where they know me at the lobby sushi bar (which is one of the best in the chain, far better than the one in the lobby of the Marquis Times Square). The "new" ATL Marriott along the rental car tram line is OK, I guess. Great fitness center and convenient to the airport, but that's all the excitement I can muster for it.
That's interesting the different perceptions people get at properties.
I stayed at the Houston Airport Marriott about a year and a half ago. The television was one of those old CRT's and you couldn't even turn it so you could see it from the desk. Of course, that didn't matter much because the internet was so slow, it was pretty much unusable. I couldn't even call up/print my boarding pass. I couldn't use my cellular dongle either because the cell coverage was so bad where I was.
The door was paper thin, so noise came in quite easily. The bathroom, as I recall, wasn't so nice.
They did have a good Marriott Burger, and they said they got a lot of compliments, saying they had the best Marriott burgers..and I would agree.
The clerk upon checkout was pretty surly. Admittedly the little tram is pretty cool.
It is a convenient airport hotel, and I probably would have liked it years and years (and years) ago - but it is no longer modern.