Myself, my wife and our 6-year old daughter stayed Friday, May 2 - Sunday, May 4 at the Holiday Inn Marina in Marathon, Florida.
After reading many of the reviews here I was less than enthusiastic about the quality of the property. We were more than pleasantly surprised at the excellent quality of the room and this property.
I had been reading about the surly front desk staff here not allowing any early checkins. My wife (who was already in the keys for business was meeting us driving down from Orlando). My wife transferred her luggage from the Banana Bay Resort in Marathon where she had stayed most of the week already (she was less than impressed with that room and rate at that place btw).
After tellling the front desk staff of our plans, she was allowed to check in more than 2 hours in advance of the stated 4pm check in time. This made it very convienient for her to change and sit at the fantastic Holiday Inn pool and wait for us to arrive an hour later!
Our room was directly across from the pool for a fantastic rate of $118 per night plus tax. The room was excellent and clean. We had two double beds with clean, fresh sheets. The air condition worked fabulously (although I did see one a/c unit sitting outside a room that wasn't working but it was being replaced quickly by maintenance). The room had cable tv and a remote (both of which worked great) and a weird thing that resembled a refrigerator but we couldn't turn it on. My wife called the front desk and they said it was a 'cooler' and advised that we place an ice bucket in it to keep it cool (we didn't). We weren't charged any extra charges for the 'cooler' however so it wasn't an issue.
Our nights were quiet at the Holiday Inn. Posted pool hours are 7am - 10pm and no one violated this thankfully. I guess we were lucky because there was no noise whatsoever at night. We didn't expect this either so we were very surprised and grateful even for a 'sold out' Saturday night in the Keys due to a fishing tournament being held in Marathon that weekend.
The front desk staff were courteous if not overly friendly. The Holiday Inn Marina offers free coffee and treats (chocolate chip cookies and muffins) in the lobby daily. The only issue I had was trying to check out where the only front desk lady was attempting to help a foreign tourist (French i believe) calling her rental car company to explain what charges had been placed on her credit card while I as a Priority Club member had to stand 15 minutes to wait for this call to end. It is not the duty of the Holiday Inn staff to book or negotiate car rental charges for hotel guests but I guess the front desk clerk was trying to 'go the extra mile' which was admirable.
The ice machine in the hallway worked great and allowed me to replenish my twin coolers, a neccessity in the Keys heat!! There is also a gas station in the adjacent parking lot that has a convienience store (Publix and Winn Dixie grocery stores are 5 miles away south toward Marathon).
The tiki bar by the large and clean pool offers free live 'entertainment' from 5-7pm on Fridays and offers an accompanying happy hour with $1 beer and $2 well drinks. The bar does not serve food at any time (a disappointment) and the Holiday Inn restaurant is only open for breakfast. The tiki bar was more like a morgue early Friday afternoon but became more populated closer to 7pm by older people. I wouldn't call the local 'band' 'entertainment' by any means though. They obviously play there every Friday and draw a regular crowd of locals (average age we saw was 70 i guessed) to come up and sing songs along with them.
One well lubricated old man sang some song he ad libbed with the words 'I hate you [-]!' over and over while my 6 year old was playing in the pool. Oh well we laughed at him and his crappy singing anyway (it is the Keys you know). NOTE: Parents, you will see/hear/experience some very distasteful things in the Florida Keys (especially in the Key West streets) that you will have to explain to young children so be prepared.
The Holiday Inn Marina is still closed or being renovated or something. It resembled a floating ghost town with piers. The only inhabitants of the Marina now are the large native iguanas which also swim in the canal adjacent to the hotel. My daughter enjoyed watching and taking pictures of them, and it was an educational experience anyway.
Please note, this hotel IS NOT ON ANY BEACH NOR DOES IT OFFER A DIRECT OCEAN VIEW. The Holiday Inn is located on the Oceanside (not Gulf of Mexico 'bayside') of US1. The property does not advertise this though some people expect everything in the Keys to be directly on the ocean with a sandy beach (real 'beaches' are rare in the Keys so don't expect a Daytona or Miami equivalent).
If sunsets are your thing, you can walk across the street and stand on the side of the road for free and watch the always lovely sunset over the Gulf of Mexico or eat at the highly expensive 'The Island' restaurant. We got in the car and drove 6 miles north and parked on the side of the road at a nature site and watched the sunset also....a fantastic, natural experience.
Marathon offers the best of the 'family' environment in the Florida Keys. The Dolphin Research Center is 5 miles north in Grassy Key, FL and takes about 10 minutes to get to (their dolphin programs are quite pricey for what you receive however). Seven Mile Bridge and Bahia Honda State Park are 10 miles south of the property going through the Marathon City limits.
I also recommend going to nearby Sombrero Beach, a City park that offers a clean, relaxed atmosphere with children play equipment, bathrooms, and great views. Bravo to Marathon for providing such a great place for its residents!!!
We also drove down to Key West (a 55 mile trip) for dinner and just to let my daughter experience Mallory Square. She had a blast watching the street performers (including the famous 'cat man') juggle, act, mime, and otherwise blatantly ask for money (she wanted to give them all our money LOL). The later it got, we quickly retreated from the increasingly drunken young crowd back to the safe retreat of the Holiday Inn Marathon, where it seems the city shuts down after sunset. Fine with us!
All in all I think I made out like a bandit for $118 per night poolside at the Holiday Inn Marina Marathon and i'm already ready to return. I hope others experience the same treat we did at this property. I almost want to keep it a secret all to myself and not write this review!
We considered booking a more expensive room at Islamorada, FL at the Holiday Isle 'resort' but thanks to Tripadvisor I read tons of bad reviews of that place...When we were driving home to Orlando we saw about 1,000 motorcycles parked there and people stumbling all over the place. I can only imagine the noise and the human flotsam and jetsom that was staying there all weekend. Glad we chose the Holiday Inn Marathon!!!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We invite you for a fun-loving tropical vacation at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in the fabulous Florida Keys. Stay with us for fun in the sun and the convenience of local businesses, the Florida Keys Marathon Airport (MTH), and local island attractions. Our hotel is pet-friendly and 100% smoke free.The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Marathon is located in the heart of the Florida Keys; a short drive from Key West. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Holiday Inn Express And Suites Marathon
- The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Marathon Hotel Marathon
- Holiday Inn Marathon
- Marathon Holiday Inn