A short answer to your question: yes, but they are different.
You will find several "AC Hoteles by Marriott" in Madrid and Barcelona, and one in Valencia. In these early of the AC-Marriott association you might notice, in particular, that the AC standard brands differ from their conventional Marriott counterparts (i.e. Renaissance and Courtyard) in terms of style, mood and facilities offered - particularly to Elite MR Card holders. I sense that, over the next few years, these differences will gradually lessen, and that the brand names will eventually merge. It is also worth noting that the partnership with AC Hoteles has added around 75 hotels to the Marriott portfolio in Spain - a significant improvement.
A small number of AC's in Madrid have been added to the Marriott Autograph brand; you'll find that these tend to be the more "historic" sites; and you will also note that history comes at a price. The choice is there.
You might like to look at some of the pieces on AC Hotels that I posted earlier this year to get more details and a couple of pictures of rooms etc.
We traveled to Spain in Oct and stayed at 3 locations: Madrid, Toledo, and Costa Blanca. In Madrid we stayed at AC Carlton (3 nights) and Coslada (last night before departure home). In Toledo, we stayed at the AC. In Costa Blanca we stayed at Marriott Denia. We were satisifed will all. The AC brand tends to be more contemporary design and not as luxurious as Marriott or even Courtyard - but still nice and very good value. In Madrid at the Carlton, We were given a larger room, it was spacious, the bed was comfortable and had a clean, modern bathroom. In contrast to US hotels, the floors in all the AC's we stayed had wood floors. The neighborhood around the Carlton is not the best but it is near the museums and seemed to be quite safe. The Coslada location near the airport is in an industrial area - not very nice but the hotel itself was comparable to other AC's. The Toledo AC is in a historic building just outside the old city with views of the old city. There we also had a very comfortable room although a bit small. We quite loved the Marriott Denia which is what is expected of a Marriott property - very nice room, carpeted; very nice bath, rooms with balconies, etc. It's located outside town so a car is needed to get around. In every case the staffs were very helpful. Also, the breakfasts in each location were very nice with plenty of choices, and well-prepared. The Denia breakfast buffet was spectacular!
Our travel was done before points or credits were being given but I felt I was being given 'extra' treatment for my Platinum status. All in all, we found the AC hotels to be very good value and will use them again when we travel in Spain. They are not as plush as a Marriott, but are much less expensive. Given the previous sparcity of Marriott properties in Spain, they are a very welcome addition.
A quick note to say that I appreciated yours - even though it wasn't directed at me: You picked on the point that I think might surface frequently next year when more US Insiders start to use AC Hotels - that is, they are not just another variety of Marriott; both in appearance and outlook they are different. That is not to say that, in time, they will not become more clearly identifiable as part of the Marriott portfolio, but the transition will take a few years - to say nothing of a few million euros (or whatever) in refurbishment costs.
The comparison between Denia and the AC hotels was well made.
Enjoy your travels in 2012.
thanks for your comments. Some more - we did enjoy the AC hotels but you need to be careful in selection. Their price points are below Marriotts (appropriately so), so you should expect a difference in the accommodations but there is a significant price range even within AC. The Coslada hotel had a very industrial look (In an industrial area even!). If you don't like industrial modern design, maybe choose something else. The Carlton in Madrid had recently been added to the chain so had a different "look" than other AC. The Toledo was renovated from an older commercial building and the rooms were small. All were very good value and will gladly use them again but I plan to look closely when making a reservation.
Again, thanks; your comments re "care in selection" mirror exactly my own conclusions. I hope the community takes note of your advice.
I've also stayed in one AC in Italy - Bologna - and found it very good in terms of accommodation and quality of service, Stylistically, it was very similar to the AC Carlton in Madrid.
And I would add to Arkwright's wisdom that I have had to get myself out of the habit of always staying at Marriott properties because I'll get points. Last year was a lesson for me in that regard, since I would otherwise have missed the glories of Cordóba and Granada had I decided to stay on the Costa del Sol. It was a very good decision for me because I was starting to get used to the 'beaten track.'
I´ve been to Madrid four times the last year and have tried three of the AC hotels so far. I join with others in saying that they are "different" from what US Marriott customers are accustomed to, both in terms of service and accommodations, but not necessarily always in a bad way. I first stayed at the Autograph Collection Palacio del Retiro, where I found the staff very pleasant and the room quite comfortable (except for the desk chair which was very loose and which they wouldn´t swap out for another when I asked, and the fact that the air condition/heating vents were above the bed and aimed right at my head as I slept, and there was nothing to be done about that, just poor placement). The complimentary breakfast provided as a platinum member was sparse, hardly even what would be considered continental, and I made the mistake of accidentally taking items that were not included (they were side by side on the table and nobody was there to explain what was complimentary and what was not) and the charge was something like 30 Euros. Pop! As a business traveler, I found the internet service acceptable, but it did go out one day during my stay, and they had no way of telling me when it would be restored, nor was there free wifi available in the lounge or elsewhere, I was just out of luck. Their suggestion was to find a Starbucks!
I also stayed several days at the AC Recoletos, which is much more downscale than the Retiro. The exercise room was in a weird spot in the basement, down some stairs, through several doors, and completely hidden away -- didn´t feel too safe down there -- and the offerings were scant. The internet service at this hotel was challenging -- for some reason they use prepaid 24-hour access cards from Telefonica (free to platinum members). I tried and tried but could not get the service to work. My IT desk said it was the service, not my computer, and I had never had any difficulty anywhere else accessing in-room internet. Luckily there was free wifi in the lounge and library, and so my needs were met in the evenings when I was not at my temporary office. Breakfast was quite good and included for platinum members -- much better than at Retiro, and no confusion because everything was included.
I stayed the next time at AC Santo Mauro, another old palace. This one was the worst of the three. They gave me a room that was in a different building than the reception area and fitness center, which meant walking outside, down two sets of stairs, across a plaza, and into another building and up more stairs only to access the elevator to the second floor. My room backed onto a busy road with lots of traffic. The internet service, again prepaid Telefonica cards which you have to get a new one every day, never worked. Because the free wifi in the lounge was in a different building, I called the Telefonica service line 4 times to no avail. They promised to get it working, but never did. The hotel front desk didn´t seem to care and didn´t offer another solution. After 3 hours on the phone with my IT helpdesk, they concluded it was Telefonica again. So I left the hotel after two days and went to a non-Marriott affiliated hotel, where the internet worked the second I turned on my computer. The AC branded hotels could learn some lessons from their competition about accommodating business travelers. I also was appalled that the housekeeper on the first and only day the room was cleaned, left my door unlocked. She apologized later when she came by for the turndown service, but leaving my room unlocked was the last straw. Too bad because it is a lovely building in a lovely neighborhood. They just need to understand if they are going to have business travelers, both Recoletos and Santo Mauro have to get better, easier, and more reliable internet service. (Of course, if youŕe not visiting Madrid to work or use the internet, you should enjoy some unplugged time and walk around the beautiful city as much as possible.)
Also, interestingly in light of platinum benefits, not at a single one of these places was I offered the allegedly complimentary room upgrade. Candidly, I´m not the type of customer who feels comfortable asking, and believe that the staff should say something like "thank you for being a platinum member, as you know one of your platinum benefits is a complimentary room upgrade which we are pleased to offer you during this stay OR which we unfortunately are not able to offer you on this stay." Being told nothing is available is better than the staff not even mentioning it. Maybe they´ll get it eventually, it meaning the typical Marriott standards of customer service.
Hope this helps -- too long I know but I always find specifics more valuable as a traveler than generalities about the service being nice or the neighborhood being cute.
Many thanks for your excellent reviews of three of the "up market" AC Hotels in Madrid. Please don't apologize for the length of your piece. The detail you offer adds weight to the comparative assessments you provide and is very informative. I'm sure you are right in suggesting that there will be "teething problems" in assimilating the AC's into the broader Marriott portfolio, but the medium- to long-term effect will be to enrich the overall range of choice open to Marriott clients in Spain and elsewhere.
I just spent 12 days in the AC hotels of Spain. They are closer to the Courtyards in terms of service and comfort. The internet service with the telefonica cards was a problem in all three locations we stayed at in Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona. As Platinum members this is how your are supposed to recieve free internet in your room vs paying for it at each hotel. The staff is no help navigating the internet service as they are providing you with a card that has some numbers on it. It is a bad system that drives you to the common areas to actually get internet service.
AC Hotel Valencia was the poorest in terms of service from the front desk being unresponsive and not very well informed.They need some training and I am fluent in Spanish so that was not the issue. The bartenders were the best source and very helpful about local information at the Valencia location. Also, no air conditioning in any commons area keeps you from hanging out in the hotel itself for a drink or socializing. Besides the bar staff the maids were responsive as well. Also, no irons are available for guests. Easy bus routes to beach and near a major shopping center which is nice.
AC Santo Mauro-Madrid is a unique and nice property. Not easy access to the Metro but a nice patio area. Pretty property as well. It is a very loud city area as well so bring ear plugs if you stay there. Nice staff at this location and the front desk was very helpful.
AC Sants in Barcelona was adequate. Right near train and metro stations so easy to get around and to get to from anywhere in Spain. Walking distance from all major transportation.
Nice to have these options as Marriott members.
Malinz, Many thanks for an informative and well-balanced post. Your observations re the AC Valencia mirror my own - even down to the helpful bar staff!
The key point that potential users of the AC By Marriott brand should bear in mind is, I think, that the AC portfolio in its original incarnation was designed for the modern business person and not (explicitly at least) tourists. This point finds expression most clearly in the location of many of the hotels; i.e. they are often situated in or near industrial parts, business centres and/or exhibition/conference sites, and not in city centres where the majority of tourist attractions tend to be. Valencia is a case in point, as are the (Italian) AC's in Padua, Bologna and Vicenza, each of which is 3/4 kms from the centre.
AC Cuzco, Madrid
5 to 10 min walking to the Bernabeu stadium or a bit more to a shopping mall of the El Corte Ingles
Cuzco underground station just in front, easy to do downtown to Tribunal or Plaza de Espana but for Sol you have to change line or walk an other 6 to 12 min.
Five enterprises just around the building but apart from the knowledge of being there no real problem
nothing bad nothing exceptional
the bed was good and I slept like a baby
free Nesperesso coffe machine
Kit-kat and honey almonds
free minibar refilled every day (something like water with and without gas, tonic water, a bottle of beer with alcohol , one without alcool, n orange juice, coke and fanta)
Good size flat screen TV
internet access via wi-fi, all the time an headache to connect properly but after 5 min of trials and perhaps a PC restart it works
if you ask for an iron board you get one... but to use it you have to sit leg crossed on the floor in front of it, way too low
better than average but I still like to have a bath tube AND a shower
funny soap bar in the shape of a golf bar
very nice bathrobe
decent guys, they all speak proper English
Steaming room or sauna
yes, there's one but it's out of order since a long time and there's no real plan to have it fixed, for this reason it's not even too clear if it was a steam room or a sauna OK, I like the Scandinavian way of cleaning up relaxing but forget it in Madrid, or at least in this hotel and around it.
well, there're free small bottles of water... I'm sure there's something more but it did not impressed me during my visit so I do not remember it
in my opinion it open simply too later (7am during the week)
there's a medium decent assortment of usual staff and the worst possible layout it could have been designed
You go there, bend over to take a plate or a glass (they are just under the food stand), hoping not to collide crash against the guest near to you and you have a glass or plate. Now you fill it and it and perhaps you wish to take a second something.... well, there's not a bit of empty space where to put the plate or glass you just managed. SO you have to go back to your table doing the whole tour of the room because there's no space anymore between tables if anyone is sitting there.
Nespresso coffee machine, perfect for coffee but if you go for tea... place the cup, press the button and do quickly two steps backward, the water is not just pouring down ... also "shot" around and it's hot !
Avoid the orange juice... if you had already orange juice in Spain. Usually it's fresh made, a few minutes or second before, pure nectar. Did you got ther idea ? If so, what you get there taste awful by comparison, like cheap stuff from basic concentrate. In my opinion this is the main negative point of the whole lot.
Platinum ? Well, no lounge and breakfast-internet were already included in the rate, so just the 250 points. It could have driven the allocation of a room with a free minibar anyway.
Most of the AC Hotels in Europe are nice. But.....I have never been able to receive my points from stays at any of the 3 properties I stayed in. The last one was in Nice, FR. Beautiful hotel but have been waiting since June 2012 for my points. They just don't offer them. I won't stay at any of the AC hotels again. Marriott customer support won't help with this either even after I sent in my hotel bills. Avoid them if you want points!
More Madrid links on MI
Hotel Ritz Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrt
AC Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madma
AC Hotel Aitana http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madai
AC Hotel Aravaca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madac
AC Hotel Arganda http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madar
AC Hotel Atocha http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madat
AC Hotel Carlton Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madca
AC Hotel Coslada Aeropuerto http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madco
AC Hotel Cuzco http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madcu
AC Hotel La Finca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfi
AC Hotel Los Vascos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madva
AC Hotel Madrid Feria http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfe
AC Hotel Monte Real http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madmr
AC Hotel Recoletos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrc
AC Hotel Rivas Vaciamadrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madri
AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madse
AC Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madre