Our Christmas trip took us on a leisurely trip along the Gulf Coast. We knew a lot of businesses had suffered due to the oil spill and we wanted to give them some business. We started in Mobile, then went to Orange Beach, Pensacola, Gulfport, and New Orleans.
We spent the week-end before Christmas at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza. It is a beautiful hotel located in downtown Mobile, Alabama and is adjacent to the Convention Center. The cruise port is only a short distance away. It is a Category 3; however, I think it should be a 4 if not a 5. (I’m not quite sure how the category is determined). The hotel website describes it as having bold colors with nautical touches. The colors are bold and beautiful. The nautical touches included an upside down Christmas tree decorated with ornaments including stingrays, fish, turtles, octopuses, crabs, and shrimp.
We were upgraded to a corner room (shaped like a triangle) on the 28th floor. We could see for miles and miles across Mobile Bay. Furnishings included a comfortable king size bed, a chaise lounge, a desk and chair, and an entertainment center including a large, flat screen television, and a refrigerator. We also had 2 luggage racks which I think is a great idea since we usually travel with 2 suitcases. The bathroom was larger than most Marriott bathrooms.
The staff is fantastic. The front desk supervisor sent us a cheese and cracker, fruit, and nut tray along with a couple of soft drinks. We were also given vouchers for breakfast in the restaurant on Sunday morning. Our waiter was prompt and our breakfast was delicious. Our housekeeper left us a thank-you note for the tip we left her. Our room was spotless. The attendants in the concierge lounge were very attentive. The valets even offered suggestions on sightseeing destinations. When we checked out, I mentioned that all the staff had gone out of their way to be nice to us. I quickly retracted that statement to say that BEING NICE IS THEIR WAY, not a single person had gone out of their way.
We spent Sunday evening at Bellingrath Gardens. The lights are awesome. We arrived about 5PM (dusk) and had to wait in line about 10 minutes to buy tickets. We spent about 3 hours walking through the gardens. When we left, there were at least 500 or so people waiting to buy tickets. If you plan to go in future years, be sure and buy your tickets online or go early.
Monday morning we decided to go to Dauphin Island and take the Mobile Bay Ferry to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach. When we landed, we stopped at Ft. Morgan. Ft. Gaines was on the Dauphin Island side, but we decided to just see one fort.
I'll write about our other hotels soon.
I had a simiar experiece at this Downtown Mobile property when I stayed there last March; in fact I think I wrote a post about it. To what you've written, I'd add that the hotel dining room is very nice, reasonably priced, and has a beautiful view of the harbor. I also agree that the front desk staff could not have been more helpful or more accommodating. I would like to return to this property as soon as my travel takes me to the area: it is an example what a modern, downtown Marriott should be like and be run like.
We stayed at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza this past weekend. The room was nice. We were automatically upgraded to CL with a view of the bay, so we were on the 27th floor. The Carnival Triumph was just across the way getting repairs and the U.S.S. Alabama was easily visible from the room. The train whistles could be heard all the way up to the 27th floor. Really an interesting arrangement with the convention center since 2 train tracks ran through the bottom floor of that building but didn't disturb us a bit.
A new maritime museum is almost completed next to the convention center, and an Omnimax theater is across the street from the hotel on the corner that also across from the convention center and museum.
We got no comped breakfast since the girl who checked us in said they'd been under strict orders not to give them for the last 7 years. We weren't charged the $12 / nite self-parking or the $6 high speed internet connection fee that one young lady told me we would have to pay when I called the front desk. She said we hadn't been charged for the 2 computers to be signed on and to tell them we'd like it taken off if we saw any. Internet is free for everyone, though, so we just thought that the higher speed would be the logical reward upgrade. I don't guess it is unless you appeal it.
The young lady checking us in didn't know how to use the e-cheques so she called for help and they just rang them as cash with part of the number. She was also the one who checked me out on Sunday and had to read the back of the Marriott gift card. She said that some Marriott gift cards were for merchandise only and there was nothing distinguishing about them. Then she said it wouldn't ring up and read some more. After a while, she tried again and told me the balance. I think she was too inexperienced to have that position by herself. Also, there are no concierge specialists there. Every desk clerk is also called a Navigator. Not a good concept, IMHO.
After finding out that this is a cat. 3, I should have used points, which is a steal for this place as razorback indicated in the previous post in 2011.
The ferry she referred to has 2 ferries now, in the tourist season and only costs $30 for a vehicle and driver round trip and $4.50 for each additional for a round trip. We didn't know about this or have much time since we were there for a convention in the convention center connected by a foot bridge.
Ft. Conde is the welcome center in Mobile and has free bus service running from it to various downtown places on weekdays until 6 p.m. Found that out later, too.
Sunday, we did go to a Spot of Tea Restaurant at 315 Dauphin, about 5 blocks from the hotel. It was listed in the AL tourist book given by the state at the welcome center along with the tip that the Eggs Cathedral was one of the top 5 things not to miss in Mobile. All of their food was delicious, so I'd recommend it for any meal. They had tables inside on 2 floors, wrought iron tables and chairs on the sidewalk and even across the street under the trees. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, the trees had Mardi Gras glass bead necklaces thrown up into the branches, and the bicycle parking stands were works of art in a satin finish stainless steel looking like large tires with seat attachments. The restaurant had a baby grand player piano playing a nice, soothing melody. The walls were a molded dark red paneling that looked like alternating ripples of ribbon. And a huge framed picture of Elvis near the player piano.
Friday night, we tried to go to Felix's Fish Camp, which is highly recommended. It was really crowded and there was a 2 hour waiting list for anyone without reservations. We went for lunch the next day and made reservations at 11 a.m. I really wouldn't recommend the place. The shrimp / prawn had too much of an iodine taste. (Much better shrimp on the Eggs Benedict my son got at Spot of Tea.) The fried green tomatoes at Felix's were nothing to brag about and neither were the small, round hush puppies (also called corn jalapeno fritters).
When will you be going?
I just noticed that Marriott is giving bonus points for nights stayed in Mobile for 3 of the brands, but not Ren. or Marriott per se.
I guess you don't even have to bother with different stays, just each night.
Plan a rewarding stay this spring at one of three perfect locations.
From April 8 - June 30, 2013, book this special offer and earn 2,000 Marriott Rewards bonus points for each night you stay.
We know there are many choices when visiting Mobile, which is why we are giving you a bonus to stay with us.
Room reservation is based on availability. Please see below for more terms and conditions.
Click on "Check Availability" to make an online reservation, or call 1-800-MARRIOTT from within the US, or one of our toll-free worldwide reservation numbers outside the US and quote the Promotional Code for this offer.
Thanks, Cal, and sorry about that. It's probably just as well that it's posted along with your findings anyway, though. It's so infuriating when Marriott acts like they're being nice and they're trying to sucker you instead.
It really shows more and more that they're starting to be the BAD guys with black hats instead of the white hat guys they were in the past under the Marriott family. Do they realize they can make a rotten name for themselves just as easily by those kind of tactics?
I didn't check each but one was $40 more than one of the discounted rates. I would expect that I would find even larger differences if I checked each for the best rate. 2000 points is not worth paying $40 more to stay. To be a good deal, one should get it on the best rate one can get.
The real point of this to me, though, is that Marriott was "acting" like this was an elite reward. So elite rewards really DON'T mean anything to them. Does this replace BOGO, e-checks, and everything else they're taking away? Trying to take away our money for nothing really, too.
I would have checked the rates, but we were actually planning to taking advantage of it at first glance because it's only a few hours drive for us and we really liked Mobile.
This property is one of my favorite properties! Unfortunately I am not in Mobile that often and when I do the price differential between the Fairfield and the Plaza was just to large to justify staying. We stayed on business the week leading up to Mardi Gras. Other than navigating nightly parade traffic, the location couldn't be more ideal, the views are awesome and the concierge lounge is totally stacked!