Ok - we've stayed so many places in HHI and the world over, have seen lots of places both awesome and horrible. I will tell you this, for a property that is 30+ years old, Marriott proves how great they are at maintaining the very high quality standard benchmarks we have come to rely on from Marriott. If you think about the usage this property must have gotten over these many years and when you still see the quality in spite of that, you know Marriott rocks! It must be a huge challenge to maintain that. So impressed were we, that we went out and bought more Marriott club points. Go figure but for a family of 5, it's important (it will also be important when the kids are gone and my wife and I want to continue traveling on our own).
Here's what I think, take it for what it's worth - we originally wanted to stay at Marriott Grande Ocean, where we've stayed before, but due to our last minute booking there was no way we would get that. But we did manage to get into this place due to a late cancellation as we were told. Even with some of the mixed reviews here and our being spoiled by the many 'no brainer' Marriott properties out there, we decided to take a whack at it and rely on the Marriott promise of quality we have come to enjoy (plus, you have to take some reviews here with a grain of salt as what's important to some may not be a big deal to you).
Checking in was quick and painless as usual, staff was very friendly. As we were driving around to get to our building, we took note of the absolutely beautifully manicured and mature landscape (nicer than Grande Ocean). Folks, the one thing you cannot 'develop' into a new porperty is a mature landscape. These grounds are gorgeous, something that is important to us. We don't like to stand around our accomodations and feel like we could be anywhere; we want to feel like we are in the HH low country and this nails it.
The room we got was on the second floor, overlooking the central gardens/ponds, perfect and beautiful. No matter where you stay here, it's not a huge place, so you never have far to walk anywhere. Inside the room, you can see it being a little dated but nothing that we thought was a deal breaker or disappointment in any way. No signs of mold, dirt, bugs or the like. In fact, we were quite impressed by how clean everything was, bathrooms and kitchen included. To compare, our last room at the Grande Ocean was not this clean. I mean, the kitchen counter was granite, so it's not that dated. We immediately felt great about the choice. We were also told that all the rooms will be undergoing renovation in late 2012/early 2013. I will tell you this, once that is completed, the Grande Ocean will no longer be a 'slam dunk' choice (I don't think it's a slam dunk now but most people probably think it is).
Plenty of activites, fitness center, pool table, ping pong, etc and we did it all. Having stayed here and the Grande Ocean, we were just as happy here and did not feel like we were missing out on anything or 'slumming it' in any way. In fact, with the grounds being so fantastic I thought this was better. Also, staying here in Aug 2012 at the height of summer, the beach never felt overly crowded; plenty of space, nice wide beach. We brought our own chairs and moved them in and out with the tide, no issues with other beach goers or too many of them. Pools on property are nice but nothing fancy or special, no biggie there for us. There is a real nice pavilion in the middle of the grounds, with tables and chairs for sitting, chatting, eating, etc. This is where the grills are located that you can use for grilling your own grub (grills were well maintained and very clean by the way). This is a feature we have always liked and we use it! There is a large screen lcd TV hanging in the pavilion too, so on several days we grilled some lunch and sat out there watching the Olympics which were on that week, perfect family time!!
And nothing beats Sea Pines for biking! We biked right in and out of the resort on the bike trails and went to Harbour Town and all over. You can't beat this location for that! The mature lanscape and canopy within Sea Pines is great too because it helps knock down the sun's rays and makes biking very comfortable on a hot day! Also, within minutes you can be down at Coligny with all the shops and restaurants they have.
Overall, I have absolutely NO complaints and would not hesitate to stay here again. And the bonus is that once the reno is done, Marriott will have a real (and no longer hidden) gem on its hands! We come to HHI every year, and when we asked the kids where they would pick to stay next year, they chose this place, not the Grande Ocean. And yes, they are old enough and well-traveled enough to know the difference (14, 13 & 10). All in all, another job well done by Marriott!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.