We needed a hotel downtown the night before our cruise sailed from Norfolk. The Marriott Waterside was a great choice. The dock is within a 4 minute walk and the hotel is modern, clean, comfortable and with a very nice staff. Rooms are typical Marriott and the beds very comfortable. The restaurant "347" makes a fabulous Pomegranate Martini! My only complaint is that Norfolk has not caught up with the times and permits smoking in restaurants. I had forgotten how unpleasant eating with second-hand smoke can be as it wafts over to the non-smoking area, of course.
Safety is not a priority
I recently had the worst experience I've EVER had in a hotel at the Marriott Waterside in Norfolk. I paid $199 a night for a room (in the off season) and an additional $14 a day for parking in the Marriott lot adjoining the hotel (although it is operated by a different company). I expected a certain amount of safety and security for my investment.
When I returned from my first day of meetings on Monday, my light was flashing on the phone in my room. It was a message from the police. The parking lot attendant was missing a manhole cover and decided to look for it around the cars (I guess this must happen fairly frequently based on the fact he knew to look for it). He found it inside my car. Someone had thrown it through the driver’s window at a high speed to break the glass to get in. They didn't want the Billy Joel CD's or the soccer ball in the trunk. In fact nothing was stolen because there was nothing of value in the vehicle. They searched the console, glove compartment and trunk. However there is more than $3000 in damage to the leather seats, the console, and assorted interior damage due to a very heavy, greasy manhole cover bouncing around. Glass was everywhere (in air vents, the trunk etc.).This is a Toyota Camry - not a fancy car.
The police don't follow up on these. The police said it happens to 150-200 cars a night in Norfolk. The parking garages make no effort to secure the lot or put up barbed wire to keep people out. Complete negligence.
I had to leave my business meeting early so my business was not accomplished. Marriott would do absolutely nothing. The parking garage made me PAY for 1 of the two nights of parking since there was no damage the first night.
I tried to clean some of the glass off the seat with a towel from the hotel and cut my hand before I checked out. The drive home was a disaster. Going up interstate 95 with no driver’s window, shards of glass were flying everywhere and cut my ear. I've been without a car for 2 weeks while the body shop tries to put it back together.
Yet neither the Marriott nor the parking garage is willing to make ANY concessions for their negligence. Don't go to Norfolk. If you have to - rent a car and DON'T STAY at the MARRIOTT. (I've been a Marriot Honored Rewards guest since 1988 and I'll be staying at different chains from now on)
I didn’t ask for anything unreasonable – just some help with out of pocket expenses for dealing with this – or even a free night. I’m appalled that I had to pay over $400 for this horrible hotel experience.
Head for Downtown When on Business !
Frequent business traveller ended up at Marriott Waterside as it was closest hotel to meeting site. With stays in over 50 hotels a year, this hotel exceeded expectations for room and restaurants in and around hotel.
I had not been in downtown Norfolk for years. A recent rebirth associated with the MacArthur Mall and a really serious city redevelopment plan has paid off. If travelling for business, and a beach walk is not your idea of a hot time, forget Virginia Beach and head straight downtown !
Rates can run the gamut --- it is one of the fanciest hotels in the region, so shop the internet carefully and get a good rate if you can. I stayed there 4 times in the summer of 2005. I had room rates from the 120's to well over $239 per nite ......... I suppose it just depends on the (actual or predicted) occupancy. There is a great pool at the hotel, perhaps 8 floors up, with spa tubs, a large balcony terrace and a good view of the very active harbor. The hotel gym is good. The conference facilities are top notch, and there is a mahogany "ye olde English private club" atmosphere bar on the second floor above the lobby. Service there a bit on the slow side, but it is a great room for a private chat or a snuggle up. Beware, in summer 2005 they allowed smoking in that particular hotel lounge. Just wallk up the Grand Staircase, if only to see.....
Of course Marriott charges (handsomely so) for Internet. Downtown hotels still tend do so in the USA. In Europe it is the standard .... I have paid over $30 a day for internet at the Charles de Gaulle Airport Hilton, but hey, the Boss needed that report and it could not wait ..... I just slipped in a few love notes to the wife and listened to NPR while on line. As is the case across the USA in the higher grade hotels, do not touch that in room telephone unless you have the sudden urge to wash hotel dishes for a week to pay the bill. If you have to talk for hours, get a cell phone.
Breakfast in the hotel restaurant is a bit stuffy --- trot across the street to the left to a friendly Starbucks (not the small concession in the hotel lobby) for coffee and a muffin, or next door to the Starbucks there is a greasy spoon diner for those that need some bacon fat to start the day. I am not a fan of "pay as you eat" type hotel breakfasts in the USA because I am almost always disappointed with overcooked bacon without enough soft fat and toast too darned cold to melt butter. So eat lightly and save the $18 breakfast money for beer.
The parking is not operated by the hotel, and they make no bones about it. It is a multistory lot operated by the City of Norfolk. You can arrange payment thru your hotel bill for a surcharge of abt $5 dollars a night abv the city rate, or you can simply pay the city attendant. Pay the attendant and save the parking money for beer. I never heard of car break ins at the city run garages, and I sure did not see any manhole covers on the 4th floor of the concrete decked garage, but it is certainly possible. I try and park near the skywalk that crosses to the hotel or near the attendant booth to minimize chance of nefarious activity
Forget about the "Waterside Marketplace" commercial development on the water unrelated to and opposite the hotel .... that Rouse project opened in the early 80's has simply 'gone by' despite a fantastic location, and now has degenerated into a half empty bar and trinket market. The restaurants there are not worth even a lunchtime visit. We tried. Twice but not thrice. The younger ones in our group did like the bars there, but the Aussie stewardesses in our group did have a punch up our first night ashore with an apparently overbearing local boy. The girls won.
There is a good sailboat ride that leaves from The Waterside Marina that takes about 2-3 hours each evening. They have day trips too. I think the name of the boat is the ROVER, but do not hold me to it. This really is fun, and you can walk to it. My wife, by no means a sailor, loved it. The boat is large, abt 80 feet or so, and steady, the decks wide and clear, the seating good and you do not get wet. The rigging is all well overhead and is quietly managed by the crew. There is no shouting or jostling about, just a great chance to snuggle up and wisper in ear other's ears as the scenery passes by. There is a bar and they have flush toilets aboard.
For seriously good dining and entertainment nearby, hit the re-emerging Granby Street 'et environs' for some of the best late twenties to forties age group night life and dining you will find in the region. Although in my 40's, I was travelling with a younger crowd and we partied the nights away. We even hit a Tidewater Tides minor league baseball game at the big Waterside (baseball stadium) Park one summer night, a huge treat for the group of antipodean and European travellers we had assembled in Norfolk. One of our group even caught a foul ball, at the first baseball game he ever attended--- and he was estatic -----
Over a month the young men and women in our group all had new "local friends", some several, perhaps as a side benefit of their native British, Aussie and NZ accents. Despite all the fun, we had no arrests, thefts, muggings and only the one bar fight in our group of 12. We even managed to go bowling - an apparently international sport.
The in hotel Shula's restaurant is" tops" in my book for steak and seafood --- bring money , lots of money, but it is worth it. Watch the uneven spot in the Shula's floor as you pass the hostess station entering from the hotel lobby - an old coot like me could slip a disk if you catch it the wrong way. The discontinuity in the floor surface .... is subtle but there. We eat a lot of restaurant food, and Shulas was at the top of their game, much better than the Ft. Lauderdale location. The service was efficient, attentive, friendly and the excellent staff training showed. As a result the tips flowed like water every time we dined there.
There was a hotel multi-elevator breakdown one night during a large convention of retired sorority sisters but this was of no consequence considering the fun time we all had. A sort of Spring Break for the Senior Set.
The hotel rooms are very quiet and the air conditioning efficient for those that need a cold room and a warm partner to sleep. The front desk staff was tepid, but efficient, particularly when the desk was not swamped. Housekeeping was very good. There is a good little store in the lobby, open to abt 11 pm. They have those chocolate covered Haagen Daz popsicle jobbies that you just cannot resist and big bottles of cold water.
If the Marriott Waterside room rates outweigh your desire to have a good time, or the cup of your expense account no longer runneth over, there is a Marriott affiliated Residence Inn a few blocks away. Despite feeling like a banished stray dog after a week's delight at the Marriott, I also stayed at the Residence Inn, under muffled protest to the Boss. This hotel is very new, clean and has a restaurant in the lobby area. Use the restaurant for emergencies only. It is edible, but is strictly "heat and eat" fare.. The front desk appeared to have lost the laundry at the Residence Inn, definitively, and they were not so good with keeping track of FedEx deliveries, but heck, we did not really want those things anyway ........ If we need that I will be sure to stay at the Marriott Waterside where they have no trouble. Are you listening Boss?
The Residence Inn rooms truly are fine, but park in the hotel valet lot. The city operated parking lots adjacent to that hotel are ground level unfenced open. Keep a wary eye open when walking near that location at night.
Granby Street and the street the Waterside Marriott is on appear pretty safe nowadays.
The MacArthur Mall, between the Waterside Marriott and the Residence Inn is impressive as a building, but is little more than a downtown version of every large suburban mall you have ever seen. For stores Aventura Mall or Bal Harbor Mall it definitely aint'. The restaurants at the mall are not worth the effort.
To eat, I repeat, head for Granby Street ......... or some really flash joint like Club Soda or Todd Jurich's Bistro, more or less across the street from the battleship. Now there is $$$$ome fun and the food is great ........ Oh yeaaaah ... they have an amazing wine cellar here. If you can get away with it gracefully, have your new friends pick up the hefty tab.... if not, well grin and pay it.
There is a cinema at the nearby MacArthur Malll, and that is a good place to cool down should your friends, clients and/ or Boss abandon you to your own devices.
I can't wait until my next assignment in Norfolk.
Had A Nice Stay, Even With The Problems
Our stay here at this property was made by the two employees who staffed the concierge lounge. They were just great and helped resolve the difficulties we encountered. Specifically, on the first night our room airconditioner continued to go out....it was fixed about every other hour up until we went to bed, then went out again sometime during the night. The next morning they graciously moved us to another room and comped that first night. Next night was great. Concierge lounge was really comfortable. Location is right across street from really big mall, which I enjoyed while my husband was tending to his business. Rooms were clean, baths were nice, beds were the new Marriott style beds. Parking was convenient. Starbucks right across street.
Look Around Before Choosing This Property
Remodeled rooms were nice and the location is good. And that is about the nice things I can say. Poor desk service; poor availabilty of information about tourist attractions / ticket availability. A general overall lack of
interest in the guests as the staff perceived us an interuption of their day.
We were accosted inside the hotel garage each night by teenagers / homeless people begging, AGGRESSIVELY, for money and I would not recommend anyone being in the garage after nightfall alone. We reported each incident to the desk staff, and as all other requests or questions, were met with indifference.
There are other hotel choices and I suggest you consider those first and as a last resort, if you're feeling lucky, book at this property.
Great (small) Room, Great View, Nice Staff
We only stayed one night on the way to Hilton Head Marriott Barony Beach. Room was very nice, looked recently refurbed, with new drapes, bedding (thanks for removing those terrible 3 inch foam mattresses!.
Entire building is interconnected with several others, including the convention center, and the various parking lots.
We had great help from the staff. They seemed to try to please in every way.
Corner room had two sided-excellent view...and a high floor.
In the area, we walked to the Waterside...had dinner in the Outback...OK...just like most of their other places. Lots of teenage kids on a Friday night, just like those found in most other normal American Cities...
Schlotskies Deli right across the street. When asked for a Corned Beef on corned Rye (like at Katzs in NYC) the girl laughed and said...."I doubt it, but I'll try..." It was good...bu not like Katzs'
Breakfast Buffet was above the typical Marriott with smoked salmon, lots of fresh fruit, fresh waffles, all kinds of omlets to order, and the same breads and pasteries found in most other Marriott. I feel it was worth the price. (We just returned from an extended month vacation, can't remember the price here, but I think it might have been $12.99 adults.
Please look hard for deals. On the Marriott Site, they were offering $119 a night with a $50 Marriott Buck Coupon for a stay in any other Marriott.
We would return...unless we wanted to go swimming in Virginia Beach