I recently stayed at the Anaheim Marriott during a short work-trip and today I'd like to share my experience with you.
On previous visits to the area, I've stayed on-site at the Disneyland Resort or in Los Angeles; so I was excited for a new experience.
Built in 1981, the Anaheim Marriott is a large full-service hotel in the heart of Orange County. Boasting 1030 guest-rooms and more than 100,000 square-feet of event space, the hotel is indeed one of the largest in the Anaheim Resort area; but that doesn't mean that the levels of service fall short of what you would come to expect from a Marriott property.
Since the opening of Disneyland in 1955; the Anaheim resort has been a popular tourist destination within Southern California which is just 28 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles. Fast-forward to 2016 and the resort is as popular as ever with theme-park visitors and business travellers alike.
The hotel has recently undergone a staggering $15 million renovation which was designed to enhance the customer experience for the modern-day discerning leisure and business traveller. Some of the highlights include the introduction of Marriott's "Great Room" concept for a lobby, bar, restaurant and lounge; refreshed guest-rooms and a number of other enhancements.
Situated on West Convention Way; the Marriott is adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center and approximately two-blocks away from the Disneyland Resort; making it the perfect choice for conventioneers and "mouseketeers" alike. I'd probably say Disney is a 15-minute walk from door to door. Keep reading for further details on how I worked that out.
There are several airports that are easily accessible from Anaheim.
I have included the approximate mileage and driving time from the hotel, but of course these times are with light traffic; which you could say is often a rarity.
John Wayne - Orange County (SNA) 13 miles / 25 - 30 minutes
Long Beach Airport (LGB) 18 miles / 30 - 35 minutes
Los Angeles International (LAX) 35 miles / 55 - 60 minutes
The Great Room Concept
As a global hotel brand, Marriott seem to be going in the right direction with their "Great Room" concept.
The idea has actually been around for a while, but Marriott are gradually rolling it out to their properties.
The principle of it is simple; an open space which encompasses several different areas - similar to what airline lounges do today. With comfortable seating (and power outlets too), it's a great place to meet, do business, socialise and relax; all while enjoying the complimentary Wi-Fi and the occasional live acoustic performance.
From the moment I arrived to the moment I left, I felt like a valued guest at the Marriott Anaheim. The hotel may have a very high capacity, but even when full; I still experienced a superlative level of service that you would expect from any other Marriott property.
After a long flight from the UK I didn't actually arrive in Anaheim until late in the evening and although I felt tired, it was lovely to receive such a warm welcome at check-in. The agent who assisted me was very friendly and professional; who recognized me as a member of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program and made the experience to be as hassle-free as possible. I was asked if I needed assistance with my luggage, however I politely declined. Within a few minutes I was en-route to my room.
Guest rooms at the hotel begin at 300 square feet and feature one king or two double-beds. Standard amenities include a work and sitting area, LCD TV, mini-refrigerator, iron and ironing board, in-room safe, coffee-maker, and a neatly-sized marble bathroom with shower/tub.
Unique to hotels in the area, rooms at the Anaheim Marriott feature small private balconies from where you can sit outside and enjoy your cup of coffee and take in the views of the city and the Angels Stadium in the distance to one side, or the Disneyland Resort and the nightly fireworks to the other.
I was fortunate enough to be staying in a Concierge-level guest room on this occasion, which as the name suggests feature access to the Concierge Lounge and an evening turndown service. The room itself was bright and airy, and the contemporary furnishings really do make a difference compared to the "dark-wood" other hotels seem to use. The one thing which I usually find lacking in a hotel room is power sockets; but I am pleased to report there were plenty around the room and even in the desk-mounted light fixtures too.
If you're looking for that little bit of luxury, then based on my experience I would certainly recommend the Concierge-Level rooms.
These feature access to the Concierge Lounge which is located on the 18th-floor of the hotel and is open all-day from Sunday to Thursday; and just for breakfast on Friday and Saturday. Initially I did think it was strange; but I soon learned that the demand for this offering is usually much less on these days.
As you would expect, complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available within the lounge in addition to complimentary internet access, a business centre and scenic views over Anaheim.
Food & Drink
nFuse is the hotel's bar, restaurant and lounge which serves up fresh local Californian cuisine with a slice of inspiration from around the world in addition to offering more than twenty craft beers and more-ishly handcrafted cocktails; all which were competitively priced. As mentioned previously, this is part of Marriott's move to a "Great Room" concept which serves for all purposes.
In my view, the Anaheim Marriott has indeed catered to their common demographic with a variety of 5, 10 and 20 minute quick bite options which are designed for guests-on-the-go. That could either be the business traveller who only has a short break in-between meetings and events, or the family who returned to the hotel for a little refresh before returning to the theme-parks in the evening. Who fancies a "Deconstructed S'more"?
When the weather's warm (which is often the case in Southern California), there is even the possibility to dine outdoors beside the pool. Pure delight indeed.
If you need to get your coffee fix before you set out for the day or when you return, there is an on-site Starbucks / Marketplace serving up all of your favourite beverages along with several "grab and go" options. I was surprised to also stumble upon a Pizza Hut, which is perfect for grabbing a quick snack to take-away.
Of course there is always the option for room-service too. I had a look at the menu and the prices were not too bad at all.
Amenities and Things to do
If you manage to find yourself with some time away from the events at the Convention Center or Disney; you can sit back and relax outdoors by the pool area, which also features a partially covered section, which is great for when it's too warm to be in the sunlight. Additionally you can take advantage of the Marriott's full-service fitness centre.
A couple of miles away in Buena Park you'll find Knott's Berry Farm - which is great for all the family. But if theme-parks aren't really your thing, there are a number of other attractions nearby which I'm sure you'll love:
For shopping and dining that's within walking distance of the hotel, be sure to check out the Anaheim GardenWalk, Packing House, and the Downtown Disney District; where there are a plethora of retail and dining outlets for everyone. There are also a number of restaurants along S Harbor Blvd and neighbouring streets.
To experience a bit of the Southern Californian beach life, I thoroughly recommend you hire a car from the on-site Hertz rental facility and take the short route down to Surf City USA; otherwise known as Huntington Beach. Travel slightly further south and you'll reach Laguna Beach. Venture north along the rather famous PCH (Highway 1) and you'll drive through the beautiful Santa Monica en-route to Malibu. It's worth noting that LA traffic is completely different to anything I've experienced before - so it's always best to plan ahead and allow for any delays.
Be sure to ask the team at the Marriott for their tips on what to see and do. They are more than happy to assist and can even recommend some organised tours and excursions which will allow you to let someone else do the driving.
Slightly off-topic I know, but seeing as I am a huge tech-geek; I couldn't resist writing a little about the "smart elevators" which distribute demand to ensure there are minimal waits. The process is straight-forward. Use the touch-screen pad to enter your destination floor and you'll then be assigned to a specific elevator. Simply step inside and you'll be taken to your destination in no time at all. Best of all, there are no "floor keypads" in the actual elevator itself; so you shouldn't have to endure that awful experience when someone presses the button for every single floor as a joke and then leaves... It really isn't funny.
So how close is Disneyland?
At an average walking pace, I left the Marriott and arrived at the bag-check facility on the Eastern side of Disneyland in approximately fifteen minutes.
You can walk down W Convention Way, take a left onto S Harbor Blvd. and then follow the crowds.
It is also sometimes possible to utilise the walkthrough besides the Convention Center, or Hotel Way beside the Hilton. Using this route, you'll emerge on W Katella Ave, take a right then a left to reach S Harbor Blvd and then follow the crowds. Alternatively, take a left on W Katella Ave, a right at Disneyland Dr, and cut through the Grand Californian hotel and you'll end up in Downtown Disney.
ART stands for the Anaheim Resort Transit system and regularly runs a shuttle from the Grand Plaza at the Convention Center. Routes 1 - 5 and 14 - 15 serve the stop and run approximately every 20 minutes. It's best to check rideart.org for details and pricing.
Another tip which not so many people know about is the possibility to catch one of Disney's shuttles from the Toy Story Parking Lot. This is located along S Harbor Blvd, literally just at the end of Convention Way.
Some things to know
Complimentary internet access is available in all the public areas of the hotel.
If you wish to use the in-room internet, this is complimentary for all Marriott Rewards Members. For other guests, the charge is $12.95 for high-speed internet, and $16.95 for the enhanced high-speed option. Plus tax. My advice? Sign up to Marriott Rewards to enjoy complimentary internet access.
On-site parking is available for $25 per day, which includes in and out privileges. Add an extra $5 for valet parking. This is pretty competitive for hotels in the Anaheim Resort area.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with my experience at the Anaheim Marriott.
It is certainly a large hotel in a prominent location right next door to the currently-expanding Anaheim Convention Center; making it ideal for those visiting for business purposes or attending conventions. It's also ideal for those wishing to visit Disneyland and other attractions within Southern California.
Side note: I kind-of wish I stayed at the Marriott during Disney's D23 Expo - it would have been perfect for the early morning sprint to get-in-line for some of the major presentations. I know where I'll stay for the next expo in 2017!
Thank you so much to everyone at the Anaheim Marriott for a lovely stay.
For more information on my Marriott experience, be sure to check out #JSBenInAnaheim on Twitter.
Disclaimer: I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to a Concierge-level room at the Anaheim Marriott during my stay, however all views are my own.