Hotel Group: Marriott International
Hotel Category: Cat 6
Hotel Status: Gold
Booking Type: AAA Rate
Room Type: King Lagoon View
Located at 1000 PGA Tour Boulevard, Ponte Vedre Beach, Fl. You’re just down the road from TPC Sawgrass and a ton of dining options.
The hotel has a huge conference area with several different room types. Don’t be fooled into thinking the villas are actual villas. They are just standard hotel rooms. To get a villa you need to book a villa suite. I booked a villa thinking I was going to be in one but it was just a standard room.
They have miniature golf, two pools (that I know of), several different dining options including a Starbucks, and an Avis car rental, spa, beach access and priority golf access at TPC Sawgrass which is home to the Players Championship.
This is a resort hotel so there is no club lounge in the hotel for elite members. Elites get no free breakfast.
Valet parking is $24 a night.
Here’s a map of the hotel just to give you an idea how big the property is.
They have shuttles that run from the convention center to the Cabana club. They pretty much just wait for people to get on instead of running every few minutes. When I needed to be picked up from the club the associate called them to come back.
I landed at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) around noon. It’s 34 miles to the Sawgrass Marriott and took approximately 40 minutes. Depending on traffic it could take a little longer. I doubt you could do it much faster than 40 minutes because there wasn’t much traffic when I was en route.
Another option would be to fly into Northeast Florida Regional Airport formerly known as St. Augustine Airport. It’s only 25 miles from the resort and takes approximately 30 minutes.
I was coming to town for the Web.com Tour Championship at Atlantic Beach Country Club. As you should know I’m a caddie, hence the name. I was hoping to lend my assistance to one of my old pro’s Brice Garnett but ultimately Hurricane Matthew had other plans.
I had my eye on staying around Jacksonville Beach or Ponte Vedre Beach, checking in Monday leaving Sunday. After a quick search I found the Sawgrass Marriott was offering a AAA rate of $78 a night. which is a steal and much lower than all other surrounding hotels. Funny thing is, the Marriott phone app was showing $78 and the desktop version on my laptop was showing a AAA rate of $98. I was hoping to book on my Citi Prestige credit card so I would get the fourth night free but I figured they would only see the $98 rate. So I went to book it on the app for $78 and on the last screen right before locking in my reservation it said the rate had gone up. It was now $110 a night. It was still showing $98 on the desktop version, So I called the number on my Citi Prestige card to book the room through them. They could only see $110 but I was still seeing $98. So I told them I’d call back in about an hour in hopes that the $98 rate would appear. Lo and behold, after about an hour they were able to book it for $98 a night. Moral of the story, don’t always book the first rate you see, hotel prices fluctuate from day-to-day. It was ever so true with this hotel. I booked for $98 but the next day it was $145, next day after that it was $205, day after that it was back to $98. That’s not typical but it does happen.
I’m going to do some ranting here and Sawgrass Marriott gets the brunt of it because they like to charge resort fees.
RESORT FEES! Lets talk about resort fees for a few minutes. It’s something that I absolutely hate and normally it drives me to stay elsewhere. It’s $25 a night here but the Cabana club is having renovations so they dropped it to $15 a night. Here’s what they advertise you get for $15 extra a night. Free Internet (members get this anyways, so scratch that), access to their Miniature golf course (Putt-Putt), two waters daily, two complementary drinks at the bar, 1 year subscription of Golf Digest, self parking and free shuttle to their private beach club. I think it’s silly of them to include self parking (they have a huge dedicated parking lot for guest), internet, shuttle to the beach club and waters. Those should be included like most other hotels do. Do airport hotels charge you to use the airport shuttle? No, at least $95% of them don’t. So, basically, I see it as they’re charging me $15 a day for Golf Digest (which I’m sure a very low percentage of people actually use), Putt-Putt and two drinks. Quite aggravating.
I’ve never met anyone who likes resort fees. All they have to do is just add $15 or so to the original room rate and all is fine. It would make their guest much happier, I know I would have been.
Ultimately, Hurricane Matthew put a damper on the whole week and we had to evacuate the area on Wednesday so I ended up putting the two night stay on my Marriott credit card to earn 5 points per dollar spent at the resort.
I earned 4210 base points and another 1500ish for using my Marriott Premier credit card for a total of 5700 Marriott points. which under some expert opinions is worth around $40.
The entrance into the lobby is quite cool. As you enter, you see the lagoon through the windows and the reception desk is just to the left.
The receptionist was fine. He was friendly but didn’t go over any benefits, I’m not even certain he recognized me being a gold member but they did put me in a lagoon view room. Check-in was quick, about 4 minutes and I was on my way to my room. Call it what you will but I was put in room 666. I think this is the first hotel I’ve ever seen not skip this number.
The newly refreshed lobby was nice. This is where the restaurants were as well as Starbucks and Avis.
Just past Avis is where the convention center is. I spent little time here but thought it was nicely laid out.
There’s also a golf shop and a souvenir shop on the lobby level.
Room 666 was located on the other end of the elevators facing the lagoon. If you don’t want to walk the length of the hotel ask for something closer to the elevators. Even the rooms closest to the elevators aren’t actually that close to them so you shouldn’t have to worry about noise.
You enter a small entryway with the bathroom on the left, closet on the right and then the room opens up.
Not much to say about the closet. It was spacious but that’s about it. I was disappointed not to have a robe in there.
The mini refrigerator was located next to the closet. Surprisingly, it was empty. The coffee maker and the two free waters were on a shelf just above it.
The bed was comfortable being semi firm with four pillows.
Only one side of the bed had outlets. I always wonder do the people who design hotel rooms ever actually stay in hotels? If they did, you’d think they know it’s a good idea to have outlets on both sides.
On the one side that did have two outlets only one of them worked. I called down the next day and they put in a converter so both would work but it was frustrating dealing with it that night. Just picture me trying to lift the nightstand up so I could get to the outlets in the back and the phone and computer sliding off the nightstand into the floor. Not ideal when It’s 11pm right before bed. Awe, The joys of a hotel room.
In front of the bed was the work desk, drawers and TV mounted on the wall.
I didn’t turn the TV on all week but I actually remembered to take a picture of the channel list. I always forget to do that.
Over by the window is the couch with a small table. They do advertise that the windows open but don’t expect them to open more than an inch or two. At least for this room.
Like I mentioned before I had a lagoon view. It was fine but nothing I’d pay extra for.
Here’s the room service menus.
As standard as they come. Not much to say besides the cold water facet leaked when the hot water was turned on.
The shower head had immediate hot water with good pressure.
Toiletries were standard Marriott Thann soaps and shampoos.
There were two pools; a lagoon pool and a resort pool. Both are beside each other just separated by a few trees. Over by the resort pool is also a jacuzzi.
The deep end was 6 ft and I’m pretty sure it was heated.
The lagoon pool is a little smaller. I didn’t test the water so I’m not sure if it was heated. I assume it is.
In between the pools down by the water is the American Gator Club. It’s a bar/restaurant that over looks the lagoon to the 13th fairway of the Stadium course. It was closed the day I was there but looked like a great spot to post up and have a drink, especially during the Players Championship.
Cabana Beach club
It was under some major renovations so I didn’t get to see what it was like. But did manage to get some pictures of the seating area outside and the beach.
This was two days before Hurricane Matthew made it’s way up the coast so I was able to get some cool pictures of the water.
Normally they offer a lot of activities but not much was happening this week. Just getting everything ready for the Hurricane.
I did notice a sign at the hotel with a new attraction coming this fall. I’m not sure if this will be at the beach club or at the hotel but looks great.
The spa was a let down. I got a tweet from Sawgrass Marriott telling me I’d be one of the first to experience their newly refreshed spa. I can’t speak on their treatment rooms but the only thing I saw that was refreshed is the relaxation room.
According to them, there will be plants soon in those pots.
I was thinking about getting a treatment but after I saw the men’s area I decided I could spend my money at a nicer spa.
The men’s locker room was ok. It was clean but nothing special. They did give you robes in the locker but not sandals.
The sauna and steam room was a let down.
The steam room walls were dirty and the handle of the water faucet was stained. I would have taken a picture but cameras don’t work too well in a steam room.
The sauna was much cleaner but both the steam and sauna rooms were luke warm. I could have stayed in both for hours.
The one thing I did enjoy was the plunge pool located across from the sauna and steam rooms. The water temperature was actually hot.
The shower area and bathroom felt kinda dirty. I suppose I felt this way after leaving the steam room which was dirty. I guess they expect you to walk around barefooted so I refrained from entering the bathroom area. I mean come on, what spa doesn’t offer sandals?
Outside of the spa is a heated pool with seating.
Overall I’d rate the spa very low. The front desk lady’s were delightful but I felt like the men’s attendant was not and he kept following me around. I came close to telling him to leave me alone. Every room I spent time in he would poke his head in to see what I was doing. It started to be annoying.
Here’s the spa menu in case you wanted to know the pricing.
For some reason they haven’t updated the year on the spa menu. It’s almost 2017 and they still have 2015 on there.
Also, the spa is located in a separate building from the main hotel. You have to walk out the front of the hotel and over a bridge. It’s probably a 2 or 3 minutes walk. Not that big of a deal, but when it’s raining like it was when I left the spa, needless to say, it’s not ideal.
One other thing to note, on my way to the spa I asked the receptionist if hotel guest got free access to the sauna and steam room. He was about to say no but then asked what level of status I had with Marriott. After I told him gold he said I was good. So I’m not sure if all hotel guest get free access to the spa.
The gym is located in the spa building. I’d say this is better than most hotel gyms. Lots of cardio and weight machines with a little room for floor exercises.
Water and towels were over by the door.
The 18 hole Putt-Putt course was located over by the villa suites. On my way I happened to notice a few of these guys hanging around the area.
You pick up your putter and ball over at the towel hut by the pools.
I played every hole as a par 2 and shot 7 over. Not bad if do say myself. And yes, if it falls off the green its OB.
There’s several dining options at the hotel. I’m only going to go over Vernon’s, Alice & Pete’s Pub and the Great Room lobby lounge. They have several other dining options over at the Cabana Club but with the renovations going on I didn’t bother to see if they were open. I don’t think they were.
Vernon’s is where they do breakfast but is also open for dinner. The breakfast buffet is $19.95. The breakfast spread was huge. I can’t think of anything they didn’t have within reason.
There was plenty of seating so getting a good table isn’t hard to come by.
The first night I was there I had dinner at the Great Room Lobby Bar. It’s a huge area with open seating and TV’s.
The waitress was attentive and nice. I had a couple of beers, wings and pizza. All of it was good. The pizza isn’t on the menu but you can order anything off the room service menu.
Here’s the drink menu for the Great Room.
Oddly enough they closed at 9pm. I was watching the Monday football game and rushed to finish my meal so the waitress could leave. I thought they would stay open a little longer than 9pm.
They do have a patio just outside of the Great Room lobby.
and just to the left of that is a cornhole area with a ping-pong table.
Final spot I visited was Alice & Pete’s Pub. It’s located in the same area of the lobby bar.
The last afternoon I was there I went in to use my free drink coupons and have some more wings. The wings were good. I suppose they’re usually better because they say smoked wings but she said the smoker was broken so they were fried but still, they were really good.
The dining room was cool with plenty of seating and a pool table just as you walk in. Just outside is a small patio overlooking the lagoon. They also have cigars for purchase.
I’ll give service an 7.5/10. Everyone I came into contact with was fine besides the male spa attendant, that guy just rubbed me the wrong way. The best associate I met was the chef/cook at Vernon’s. He was awesome. I chatted with him for about ten minutes. Overall though, no one besides him was over the top nice or anything worth writing home about.
This was a tough one. I really wanted to like the place. I was excited to stay here but there were too many small things I didn’t care for. The spa wasn’t up to par, no sandals in spa (I mean, come on), lobby bar closing at 9pm, no club lounge, having to pay a resort fee for things that should come free, no mini bar in the room, my villa not actually being a villa, no robe, outlets not working, faucet sink leaking. I feel the details that make a hotel standout were just not there. With that said, there were things I liked. Pool, Miniature golf, and beach. But the real question is, would I give this place another try? Sure, but the price would have to be right and I mean really right. This Marriott has a ton of potential but on this trip, I left a little disappointed.