I just returned from the Marriott Porte de Monaco, where I had a lovely experience. I had planned to travel to Istanbul but once again events intervened. Anyway, I had read several of your experiences beforehand, including those of LesliePamel and Jerry Morgan, which were very helpful. I also read TripAdvisor comments, which were mixed. In retrospect, both the positives and a few of the negatives were quite accurate.
The hotel is on a beautiful site, literally across the street from Monaco. In fact you can stand in the media strip grass and be in both countries. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t get back on foot from Monaco – especially once you get the lay of the land.
I arrived at 9am, and was into my room by 10:30. It was technically a smoking room on the 11th Riviera Floor, an absolute no-no for me, but they explained they refreshed the room daily and I could change if I wanted. I think because of the large balconies that can be opened with sliding doors this actually works – never once did I smell smoke in the room or in the hallway. Also, someone on either this site or tripadvisor (also a female traveler) felt uncomfortable about the adjacent balconies. The sliding doors DO lock and the curtains can be pulled far enough shut to avoid possible peeping toms on either side, but on a lower floor I could understand some trepidation.
I have to give special thanks to Mme. Auriane Maury, who wrote me in advance and was exceptionally nice and helpful throughout my stay.
As Klaus said in one of his emails, don’t bring a car, at least for the area around Monaco -- it’s often hair-raising even taking buses or cabs in the three corniches. Most of Monaco except for Monte Carlo is within walking distance (I know because I walked around the whole periphery, stopping short just shy of the casinos) and back. There is a hotel shuttle that will drop you several places in Monaco, but finding the bus for pickup is more difficult. They will also sometimes drop you off elsewhere.
The restaurant is absolutely superb. My three meals there were wonderful – very fresh fish, a highly professional staff, and great (free) breakfasts, at least for platinum members. For platinum members, the minibar is free – but this is not as big a deal as it sounds since it is stocked mostly with water, a few beers, a bottle of juice and a few snacks. There is no Concierge Lounge, which is a disappointment. I had my own computer and bought the service for the room, but it appeared that guests had to pay for access to the lobby computers. Internet is unusually expensive, even for Europe. It was €19,95 a day or €99,50 for the week (I was there slightly over five days, so I had to take the week version).
I loved my stay, but I will put in a few caveats, which you can take or leave. Some of them were echoed by tripadvisor posts. First, there is a major push to make you pay with points or euros for the seaview rooms. As some said on tripadvisor, I do think this is a ripoff for platinum members (I was staying on points and it was 10,000 extra a night). Since the mountainview side is not pleasant thanks to the stadium, and the rooms are much smaller, you don’t want to take the chance of ending up there. But this should be a normal upgrade for platinum members since the majority of the rooms ARE seaview.
I would only advise female solo travelers to stay at Cap d’Ail if they are high-end shoppers or casino devotees (and in both those cases they’d probably be better off staying in the heart of Monaco). I am neither, and I frankly was bored much of the time and spent more than usual of it in the hotel pool. That said, I have seldom felt safer anywhere in the world.
Taking organized tours (Exclusive Riviera Tours) can be a challenge, because they are based in Nice and will only pick up in Cap d’Ail or Monaco if at least two people book. So the first day -- when I hoped to go on a tour -- I was unable to do so. The hotel, however, kept a record of it and the manager/driver of ERT called me the second day and said he had two people for the trips to Cannes/Antibes/St Paul de Vence one day and Eze-le-Village and Monaco the following (both were spectacular). Michel, the driver/owner, is an incredibly nice and humorous man who speaks perfect English. The vans are small, holding about 10-12 people. It is also possible, if Michel likes you (and he seems to like everyone), to get another tour without the requisite two people once he’s gotten to know you. The last day before leaving, he said the tour to St Tropez and Provençal wine tasting was available, but by that time I had to think about packing.
While the restaurant and the long-term professional staff are superb, they do (as tripadvisor suggests) rely on summer students from elsewhere in Europe and Asia. This can be a problem. There were more broken dishes and glasses (fortunately not on me) than I can remember anywhere else. I also made a lunch reservation one day and the student had not written it down. I was seated, but I want to emphasize that you MUST make reservations at the hotel restaurant. Two times I could not get a table at all, despite calling hours in advance. I’m still not sure why because on one occasion, at the time I had asked for the restaurant appeared half empty.
I learned by the second day how to find the Fontvielle shopping center (essential), which contains a Carrefour supermarket. Great deal, especially if you don’t want to eat out all the time -- bring some food back to your room and sit out on the balcony looking at the yachts and Mediterranean instead. Plus you can buy a superb bottle of wine very inexpensively (I bought a few).
There is a bus for €16,60 that I took from the airport that leaves you right at the hotel. However, since I had an early flight the next morning, I didn’t want to take any chances. You simply cannot get a taxi for less than €90, because the hotel seems to set that rate. I had not prescheduled one and was initially very alarmed when the checkout supervisor looked like it might not be possible. It was, but it was €90, so for the more adventurous among you, you might as well take the helicopter, which is only a little more.
All this said, it is a wonderful hotel, with great service, wonderful people, and a spectacular view and rooms. The pool is great, and I did not experience the problems many of tripadvisor warned about with too many children spoiling the pool experience. At the same time, I was correct in my initial doubts about going to the Riviera, because I am much more interested in older historical sites. Still, it was a relaxing vacation that cost me nothing except internet, food, tours and airport transportation.
Pictures to come…
It's now free to platinum elites in N America, but apparently not worldwide. I've always had free access at the Grand Flora, but there have been several other Marriotts in Europe where I've had to pay extreme prices -- but this was the most expensive of all.
I'll try to post the photos tomorrow. Some places, especially St Paul de Vence, were magnificent.
This has long been one of my favorites!
I am sorry they did not upgrade you to the seaside balcony as that was always done for me in the past!
The area is so clean and a lot of fun for a couple of nights. I have always had a car so it has been easy for me getting to other cities and the airport.
On of my favorite places to dine on a budget is pictured below and easy walking distance from the hotel. (By the Heli pad)
Thanks for your report!
I looked at your posts before you went and they were very helpful. As for points and upgrades, I actually didn't have much of a choice -- when I booked with points on the website it gave me the choice of 120,000 for 5 nights plus either 50 euros or 10,000pts/night for the seaview room. (No other option unless I used more points total.) Having read some notes from Marriott elites on tripadvisors who really did have problems getting upgraded, I didn't want to take a chance in peak season of a stadium view small room. Actually, when I got to the hotel they had a voucher charging me 60 euros extra a night (probably from an earlier cancelled booking). When I showed them my reservation and that the points had been deducted, they crossed it out. But it does make me wonder... Still, I can't complain -- I had a gorgeous 11th floor seaview room.
I wouldn't dare rent a car there -- even watching the tour guide drive and the taxis in Les Corniches, I thought wow. I think you said you spent a couple of nights there -- good idea. I think 5 was too many, at least for someone like me.
I'd heard others speak of La Salière as well, and should have tried it. However, in some places I will only go the full restaurant route for dinner unless if it is in a hotel. At dinner, I don't have any problems in most places in Italy or France, but in some there is always the question left hanging -- why is there only one of me ? Usually it's not overtly said, but there can still be glances of disapproval if a woman orders more than a single glass of wine!
Anyway, on the whole it was lovely, but I think I would have rather spent most of my time in the hill towns I visited.
Yes, 5 nights is too many for me, but 2 is great.
This is a great place in the Winter, you really see some sights!
I drive down from Lake Como and its a fun drive, except going thru Milan!
Likewise, a drive to St. Tropez is really a neat drive.
Keep us informed of your trips and keep the pictures coming.