Has Anyone stayed at the Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key in Clearwater, FL. ?
My Wife & I are heading there on December 26th this year.
Yes - here are my thoughts:
1. Service at this property was excellent - among the best ever, and I've stayed at a lot of places. Four of us in my party and the front desk gave us 4 vouchers for free breakfast plus vouchers for 2 drinks at the bar for adults and 2 ice creams for the kids. Mikel at the front desk was wonderful.
2. Rooms are all suites (as the name would indicate) with a separate living area with a pull out sofa and a separate bedroom. There is a mini wet-bar type of set up as well with a fridge. Hasn't been recently remodeled and probably due for refurbishment, but not old or shabby by any means. Living area faces the intercoastal waterway. Bedroom area faces the Gulf, but there is a road and a Sheraton and some condos between the Marriott and the Gulf which means that....
3. This property does not sit directly on the beach. You need to cross the road and walk a block or two to Sand Key State Park for beach access, take the Marriott shuttle, or if you are like me and not afraid of a little security fence or two, find a way to cut through the Sheraton pool area across the street. The shuttle driver had towels, sand toys and coupons for free ice cream for my kids (like I said, great service).
4. Sand Key park is natural and uncommercialized which means walking paths, trees, and wildlife but also seaweed here and there. It is a nice departure from the Clearwater strip which is just north and across the bridge from Sand Key. If you want to go up there, a trolley picks up at the Marriott and runs up and down the strip all day. I think it was $4 a person all day, and it worked great for us to go to Pier 60, the aquarium, etc.
5. Parking was $12 when we were there, and no separate resort fee which was nice because this is kind of a resort-like property. Nice grotto/Hawaiian style pool and pool area and spa and steakhouse on site. Also a kids club on site and they gave our kids complementary welcome packets with a stuffed fish, book, and some coloring materials. Kids also loved the parrot in the lobby named Lisa
6. We ate at Watercolours with our breakfast vouchers and also for dinner. It was great. Views of the intercoastal waterway and excellent service. Kid-friendly with kid menus on a sand bucket and scoop that the kids could keep. But also elegant and suitable for adults who want a nice meal and to relax. We also ate at the Columbia next door and highly recommend that place as well. There is a movie theater and convenience store within walking distance. The rest of the Clearwater stuff is across the bridge on the strip so you'd need to take the trolley or drive up there.
We liked it and would recommend if you don't mind not being right on the beach. If you want to be right on the beach in the middle of the action, book the big pink Hyatt up the road (it costs twice as much though!).
Even though we stayed there a few years ago, our experiences were very similar to yours, including 'Lisa' in the lobby. Although the hotel could use some updating, the rooms were well laid out and included a small fridge and microwave. Service was outstanding. Our breakfast vouchers only included the continental breakfast and it was $5 to upgrade to full buffet, but that is a great bargain at a 'resort'.
We enjoyed the pool area, which also provided bar and food service. In addition to Columbia restaurant, there was another good restaurant at the end of the small shopping center next door that had good seafood and reasonable prices. There was also a great seafood restaurant about 15 minutes drive, but I will have to look up my old Amex records to find the name.
This area of Clearwater Beach is away from the crowds and I consider it to be a hidden gem. Marriott doesn't have many options in this area of Florida, which is a shame because it is one of the nicest areas on the gulf besides Marco Island.
Tip: If you are arriving during a busy time, take the Southern route to the hotel rather than the Causeway. It is a lot faster. Enjoy your trip.
I didn't realize that it has actually been 6 years since I stayed there. It seems like last week. I found the names of the two restaurants. I think Backwater Grill is the one in the small shopping center next door. In addition to Columbia, there was another restaurant that was very popular for their breakfast and Cuban sandwiches. Guppy's is the seafood place that was about 15 minute drive. We also enjoyed spending a day at Tarpon Springs, a small Greek sponge fishing town. There is a great Greek bakery and several excellent restaurants if you enjoy authentic Greek food.