Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa: Room with a view
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- The best part of the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa is the roominess.
One walks into a spacious, bright lobby with a wall of windows overlooking the pool and behind that, the ocean. You are the master of your domain, not a rat in a maze.
The building, which arose in the late 1970s under Hyatt's ownership, switched to a Marriott in 2001. Since, Marriott has invested millions to spruce up public areas, adding a grocery on the first floor and turning a huge gift shop into a ballroom and the gift shop into a boutique now crammed with merchandise from saucy sundresses and swim trunks to snacks and a full Godiva selection.
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa: Refurbishment
In 2008, Marriott again splurged on the resort, pouring in $33 million. It refurbished all of the guest rooms and the lobby.
It also opened Spa Soleil, keeping up with the trend that dictates that a resort isn't a resort unless it has a spa. But Spa Soleil isn't any spa, it's one with Marriott's expertise in customer service behind it.
It sprawls over 10,000 square feet, taking over two former meeting rooms. The services are vast, from full-body scrubs to massage, saunas and hot tubs and a relaxation room to rival anyone's imagination: lounge chairs, a floor-to-ceiling fountain and soft, relaxing lighting.
Next door is a fitness center, also with a wall of windows. No closed-in feeling there. One element you'll remember is the chilled, peppermint-scented damp towels. Whoa.
Next to the spa is the indoor pool, complete with tropical foilage and a hi-def TV over the pool for "dive-in" movies, said Sales Manager Ben Chambers. There is a hot tub and ping-pong table for the days that the weather is less than perfect or at night.
Outstanding Marriott service
Michael and Addy Gould, of West Des Moines, Iowa, recently brought their three children to the resort.
"We honeymooned here 13 years ago and came back for our 10th anniversary, and we decided we didn't want to wait for the 15th," Michael said.
As a frequent traveler, away at least 75 nights a year, he knows about accommodations. "We've stayed at other Marriott resorts, but what's really great about this place is the location," Michael said. "It has the ocean, the pools and the hammocks."
Yes, Hammock Point offers a half-dozen hammocks that are gently rocked by the ocean breeze between the pool deck and beach. "I love those hammocks," said Addy.
"They treat you very well here," Michael added.
That thread of service permeates the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa. One is greeted by every employee. Every one. From the housekeeper to the young man with the leaf blower, you'll receive a smile and a greeting.
One can enjoy that level of service anywhere at the resort, but I recommend putting it in action outdoors, on the mammoth deck the sits between the hotel and the ocean. In fact, Marriott moved its outdoor restaurant, Ocean Blu, over to one side to give deck chairs prime real estate.
There is a large pool, a whirlpool and a kiddie pool and no reason to venture indoors or even to a standing position for hours. The cabana -- Liquids -- provides libations, while Ocean Blu provides lunch and dinner. Flip up a flag located on each chaise lounge to indicate that service is requested.
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa: Eating options
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa also has several dining options indoors.
Conroy's is named after Lowcountry author Pat Conroy and offers lunch and dinner. It regularly trumps the competition with its crabcakes in an annual island cook-off.
The Cafe, for breakfast and lunch, opens at 6:30 a.m. giving one plenty of time for the buffet before the first tee time of the day. The lobby lounge, also with a great view, it an inviting place to get a drink and catch the game.
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa: The verdict
Marriott hotels have perfected how to ensure pampered travel, no matter where they are located. Add atop that service the beauty and miles of beaches offered on Hilton Head Island and you can't go wrong.
There are a lot of superlatives for the island resort: one of the oldest on the island, the biggest with 513 rooms, the tallest at 10 stories (the island later imposed a five-story limit), the most freshly renovated. All of that comes with some of the best service in the Marriott empire, having taken up residence among the top 10 for guest satisfaction years running, Chambers said.
You won't doubt that for a second. Stay there, and you'll gush, too.
May 11, 2010