The Courtyard Marriott Hotel Miami - Review.
Stayed... 6th – 10th September 2013
We drove down to Miami from Orlando to spend the last 4 days of our two week holiday in the Courtyard by Marriott, Miami Beach Oceanfront, 3925 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. The address caused us problems, as it did to another customer we encountered. Therefore, it can be deduced that the problem was not ours alone, but, one encountered by clients on a regular basis, and which the hotel must be aware of, but which it has failed to address. Let me explain, so that others are not so affected.
Apparently, according to the receptionist, with whom we spoke later, the 39 in 3925 refers to the intersection of Collins Avenue with 39th Street, but she told us that this convention was not necessarily applied everywhere. Our problem, on entering Miami was that Collins Avenue is very long, running to at least 200 intersections or blocks. We joined Collins on 30th Street, coming off the Interstate 95, and made our way down the street towards 1st street looking for the Marriot, not realising that there were at least another 170 streets intersecting Collins Avenue behind us. We stopped and asked someone for help and we were told that there was a Marriot on or about 2nd Street.
We pulled up outside the door and the valets wanted to unload the car, but not until I insisted on knowing if this was our hotel as the front did not appear to reconcile itself with my recollection of the photos I had seen of the rear of the building. After some confusion we were directed to 39th Street, a fair number of miles back in the direction we had already travelled.
This uncertainty was not just a problem that this stupid Brit had faced. In the reception of the Marriott on 39th Street a day later, a man asked the receptionist if he was in the right Marriot as his taxi driver knew of at least another one, possibly two, on Collins Avenue. Clearly the location of the Marriott is a mystery to the locals as well.
My suggestion, therefore, is for the hotel to publish its address, with a reference in brackets, to show that the hotel is at the intersection of 39th Street, e.g. 3925 Collins Avenue (at the intersection of 39th Street), Miami Beach, to help those people who are not prescient enough to know the location of this particular Marriot along this extremely long avenue.
On finally arriving at the correct Marriott we made our way into reception (the lobby) whilst the valets unloaded the car of its luggage. The receptionist was pleasant enough and booked us into room 425. It was possibly the worst room in the hotel situated as it was around the front and looking out onto a ‘courtyard’ of three walls, the fourth side being a restricted view of Collins Avenue.
But, the principle reason the room was not satisfactory was because it was also overlooking the main air conditioning plant for the hotel, just below our window. The view out of the dirty window (no balcony, why would you want one?) was, as you can image, industrial and the constant droning noise unacceptable and irritating. We asked to be moved.
Our request was granted, we moved to room 910, a room on the ninth floor overlooking the beach as long as you ignored the hotel extension tower block under construction directly in front of you, and looked over to the right. But, the room was a great improvement over the first room, and we were overjoyed with the prospect.
But, the toilet cistern filled up extremely lethargically. A maintenance engineer duly arrived. He wanted to replace a component in the cistern because it was so old, but, the problem was that the shut-off valve was not shutting off, which meant that had he removed the part the floor would have flooded. We transferred to a room on the fifth floor, room 510, directly below our second room on the ninth, so that he could make good the malfunction early the following day in room 910, and perhaps we could return after he had applied his expertise to the task in hand.
Although the view should have been similar to that one the ninth floor, because it was much lower we could no longer see the beach. The engineer appreciated this and so attempted to fix the toilet so that we would be able to move back, possibly tomorrow, but that night if possible. The engineer was able increased the flow of the water into the cistern on the ninth floor and arranged for us to transfer back to room 910, 20 minutes after we left. It transpired that to change the component and permanently fix the problem, as he wished, was not possible as the water system in that part of the hotel dated back to the 1950’s (he said). This was because, as the shut off valve did not work in the room, the only other option would have been to shut off the water to the entire hotel. Anyway, we were now back in the room we though best and the toilet was behaving satisfactorily.
Before we move on, let’s describe the rest of the room. Guests should be aware that the sliding door leading to balcony did not run easily, which made it difficult to open and a little frightening to close. The maintenance man said he would return to fix it with a spray of oil, but he must have forgotten. Furthermore, there is a lip over which you had to remember to raise your foot to access the balcony. The only time we saw our neighbour was as she fell through the door onto the balcony, tripping over the lip and expressing her surprise with the expletive, “sh?t”.
The room was clean and elegantly presented, as was the bathroom to a standard one should have had the right to expect for the price. But, after a run of over two minutes the bathroom sink mixer tap only managed to change from cold to lukewarm. We never managed to get hot water out of the sink tap. The shower had a different problem. The water ran warm to hot and went from comfortable to almost painful as you were engulfed in the jet.
My main concern over the room is this. Why were we booked into what must have been the worst room in the hotel, room 425, when there were better rooms available, for example 510 and 910, and perhaps others? And, should we have been moved 4 times in just over an hour and a half?
We met a couple of gentlemen coming out of their room on the ninth floor on our first morning in the hotel. They were off on a cruise around the Caribbean. They explained they were glad to be off, especially to be away from the music. At that point we did not understand what they meant. The music was not to our taste either, though to an ear that was accustomed to it, it was possibly perfectly acceptable. In the main, the music comprised of upbeat Latin style and occasionally sounded more electric techno. In summary, the music was not relaxing, the playlist had the appearance of being compiled by a young person who enjoyed the local Latino bars.
We spent our first day, Saturday, ‘relaxing’ around the pool. Behind us, over a cloth type fence was the ‘endearing and sweet’ (sarcasm) sound of what we believed to be a high powered industrial cutter slicing its high pitched screams through concrete. The iphone helped, but did not completely obscure the torment.
And, between the pool, and the Tiki bar and beach was also the pretty picture of building works adding to the recurring theme of reconstruction.
Just before we relaxed around the pool on our first morning, we went for breakfast. This was satisfactory, though the cooked items such as the sausages, potatoes and bacon were over greasy, and the bacon was of the crispy streaky and well cooked variety that crumbled on contact with a fork. However, the copious quantities of Florida orange juice washed the worse aspects of this feast away.
Point 6 (1)
But, it was the normally inoffensive toaster that caused more consternation and concern than anything else in this hotel. The toaster was half broken, but that was not the main reason for the consternation. However, let’s get the damage to the toaster out of the way first before I go on to explain the dangerous situation that the toaster was potentially causing, see Point 6 (2). The toaster had four slots, the two on the left were not working, so the two on the right were working overtime and a queue was forming because only half the slots were operational. The broken toaster was then replaced/fixed two days after I pointed out its defect. How long had it not been working? I can only guess, but, I cannot image that the first day I turned up for my first breakfast was the day the toaster suffered this deficiency.
Point 6 (2)
But, more importantly was the fire hazard that the toaster represent and the reluctance or inability of the staff to react. The toaster was placed on a breakfast table, which was in turned pushed up against a taller bar fronted by curtains. As the toaster was used it was pushed further back on the table so as to touch the curtains, the top of which overhung the toaster. Put simply, the curtains where in danger of catching fire from the hot elements of the toaster which were only some two or three inches above the top of the toaster. The movement of the toaster towards the curtains was facilitated by the guests pushing down on the toaster’s levers.
After breakfast I asked, in the lobby, to see a manager. I asked her to come to the breakfast area as I was concerned about something. She brought along a person she described as the restaurant manager. I explain the problem and told them how to fix the problem, both temporarily and perhaps more permanently. The temporary solution was to place something behind the toaster to stop it moving backwards towards the curtains.
The next day at breakfast the toaster was once again up against the curtains, but had been moved along the table, but still the above circumstances remained. I asked another person who seemed to be in charge to accompany me to the toaster. It turned out she was the second restaurant manager, too many managers? I couldn’t see any certainty of my concerns registering behind her eyes. Then, she told me that there had been a discussion about the toaster and a new one was being ordered. I clearly told her – as I did her colleagues the previous day – that the most pressing problem was not that the toaster was not fully working, but that there was a potential for the curtains to catch fire, and who knows the hotel might burn down and people die. Then, because these senior people seemed unconcerned, I told her if this should happen, now that I had told her, it would be her fault.
So, what did she do? Nothing! 15 minutes later I took a plate and placed at the back of the toaster. But, clearly one plate was not heavy enough to stop the toaster’s slide, so I place several plates at the rear of the toaster. It was then that I realised that the situation was worse than I thought, because the there was a gap at the rear of the curtains, which meant that there was nothing of substance to stop the toaster being pushed into the void, which may have meant the curtains would have been wrapped around the toaster. That the hotel had not had such an incident was not a reason to do nothing.
At the end of breakfast, still nothing had been done. Even if the hotel staff thought I was wrong, they should have reassured me. But they did not. They did nothing.
I then met the maintenance man in the lobby. I asked him to accompany me back into the restaurant and I relayed the details that I have set out above, including the danger of the toaster falling into the void. He agreed with me as to the potential danger the current set up posed, or at least he appeared to, suggesting that he would need to put a wooden board in front of the curtains as a temporary fix and something was needed to stop the toaster sliding backwards.
Later that day I also told two receptionist of my concerns – one defended the hotel’s inaction by telling me that the curtains would have to be completely inside the toaster to catch fire, the other receptionist told her this was not so, as heat rises. To date, I had relayed my concerns to 6 members of staff or management; I awaited the results of my protestations, in the hope that tomorrow some appropriate action would be forthcoming.
The following day nothing appeared to have changed, the toaster was close up to the curtains. My wife then sat down and told me that she pulled the toaster forward and a wire grid was behind the toaster, but could not be seen as it was pushed into the void, but was stopped from falling into the void by the curtains wrapping around it. It was about half the size of a dinner plate, of little discernible weight, and so was wholly inadequate to the task in hand.
And, judging by the response to my fears it was clear that this temporary, but inadequate fix, was hardly likely to be sustained, and perhaps a day or two after my departure the situation would revert to as it was before, and no permanent solution would have been contemplated.
Whilst we were in Miami, it was reported that a hotel had been closed by the fire department because of inherent dangers. Do not think, therefore, that just because this is rich Miami and there are 200 full-time fire officers situated in Miami Beach, you are necessarily safe if this inherent indifference to health and safety exhibited by other hoteliers.
Saturday night, 11:00 pm, we were in bed, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to be confronted by a young man who asked if we had found his wife’s purse in a cupboard, as he had occupied the room before us, before being transferred to another room. We had not. I’m guessing his wife had insisted he did this, but quite why he could not wait until the morning, or ask reception to telephone the room, I know not. But, I question the thought process behind a man knocking on a guest’s door so late at night, especially when he could not be certain that the occupant of the room was not female. It unnerved my wife, what it would have done to a lone female, I could not guess.
The reason he must have transferred to another room, from a room we thought was acceptable – because our initial room was most certainly not – was because on Monday morning the construction workers were back early, around 7.30 am, which awoke us. There was the regular sound of, what we believed was, a lorry reversing, with the beep, beep, beep sound, resonating through the balcony door.
On our last morning we met another maintenance man, Manny, in the lift. He too was very pleasant and showed us up to the Penthouse Suite floor, taking us to a rooftop terrace with wooden tables and chairs that overlooked the sea and gave an idealised view of the coast and sunset. The trouble is, and we do not suggest for one minute it was his fault, no one told us, and I suspect no other guest knew of this facility. So to any future guess who decides to chance their stay in this hotel, they should make their way to the top floor, take a bottle of wine and enjoy the sunset.
Following on from the late night knock on our door, on checking out we noticed that we had not only been charged the $34.00 dollars each day for the valet parking – which if you think you are obliged to tip every time, you call for and return your car, this could amount to easily $50.00 each day – we were also charged a sum of $47.00 for what turned out to be drinks in a bar we had never attended. What’s more, knowing how easy it is to run up these “put it on my room please” charges, we never go down that route of placing such things on this form of credit. If you are a person who places everything on the tab, then it must be very difficult for you to differentiate, and prove, that any of the items booked to your room are not yours.
We suspect that this $47.00 charge may have been the previous occupants of our room who may have accidentally charged these drinks to our bill/room. But, the systems in place in the hotel should have stopped this from happening. It’s as if hotels are reluctant to ask a guest to prove that the charge is being assigned properly.
I was in the lobby on the Sunday evening, when a man next to me asked the receptionist to charge something to his room, which he said was room 520. The receptionist tapped in a few buttons on her terminal telling the man that could not be his room (because that room did not exist, I was later told). At this point I was listening intently. He told her he was sorry, he had made a mistake, his room was 524. I was waiting to see if she said, for example, are you Mr Jones, or if she asked him his name. The latter was obviously the correct method to ensure at least a minimum level of security - because asking him if he was Mr Jones would only have helped his deception, if there was any intent to deceive. However, she did not engage either option. Neither was he asked to sign an invoice so that a paper trail was available.
Back to my erroneous bill of $47.00, this was only amended because the signature on the drinks bill did not match ours and the name was clearly not ours. But, more inquiry was initiated by the hotel to remove this item from our bill than ever was used to ensure the correct people were charged, and that we were not. Luckily the hotel did have a signature that clearly demonstrated the debt was not of our making. But, during our second day at breakfast, we were not asked to sign for our meal, and so it can be concluded that we were lucky indeed not to have to argue all the more to prove our innocence over this $47.00. And, remember, the man at reception was hardly asked to pass any security checks, excepting that he gave a couple of rooms as alternatives so that the bill could be assigned somewhere. That transaction did not require a signature. And, how was anyone to prove their innocence, especially if it was an item amongst many.
The exasperation and stress of having to argue that the $47.00 dollars should not have been assigned as our debt only added to the sense that our short stay of four nights was not up to the standard we had a right to expect, and to the feeling that the staff, although nice were unable to empathise, be bothered to think outside the box, and clearly, many of those we had dealings with, as described, were in need of training.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.