At the risk of sounding like Poster Boy, we really like Marriott. It’s one of the preferred hotel brand families for the whole TravelLatte crew for two reasons: they are almost everywhere we go, and the experience is consistently good. Better than good, more often than not. From budget to luxury, we feel like we can count on the various brands within Marriott International to satisfy our wants and needs.
Over the past few years, we have noticed what we hope to be a trend at Marriott. Brand growth via strategic acquisitions has brought some great properties into the system. We’re talking world-class resorts; the sort of hotels where you’re happy to check in and not leave. Except maybe to go to Disney World. Maybe.
Let’s back up a couple of years to that time in 2012 when Marriott signed an agreement with Gaylord to take over the brand and management of their four resorts and convention centers in Nashville, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Washington DC. While each city has major attractions, the Gaylord hotels are attractions themselves with nightlife and dining even locals check in for, and special events on grand scales.
Then, in the summer of 2014, Marriott invited the iconic Atlantis Paradise Island resort to join its equally iconic Autograph Hotels collection as its first location in the Caribbean and Bahamas. For Marriott Rewards members, it was the cha-ching heard round the world: you could “earn & burn” rewards points at Gaylord resorts and Atlantis Paradise Island. Does life get better?
Let’s jump over to the Pacific to answer that question. Our friends at Marriott recently invited another iconic resort, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, to join the Autograph Collection as the group’s first property in Hawaii. Now, Marriott has some great hotels in Hawaii, 11 others, to be exact. But the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is in the rarified class of historic hotels that transcend the hotel industry. It’s an icon, a landmark, a vacation destination to aspire to. And now, it’s a Marriott.
The move comes as the Mauna Kea celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a major refresh that brought all 252 rooms and suites to their original mid-century glory. The award-winning hotel, Built by Laurance S. Rockefeller as the first resort on the stunning Kohala Coast, was designed to blend into the environment, earning it a place on the American Institute of Architects’ Top 150 list of America’s Favorite Architecture. Of course, it’s hard to focus on the architecture when every room looks out on the white sands of Kauna’oa Beach, ranked by many as the best beach in the Hawaiian Islands. Then there’s the Mauna Kea’s Golf Course, regarded as one of Hawaii’s most scenic for its signature over-the-ocean third hole. It’s also good to take a tour of the resort’s collection of Asian and Polynesian art, which has been growing since the hotel opened in 1964 and now includes more than 1600 pieces.
As good as these recent additions are, there may be better things to come. The Autograph Collection is billed as “an evolving ensemble of strikingly independent hotels, exactly like nothing else.” They are aggressively seeking out lifestyle properties with unique qualities to create memories through enriching travel experiences.
On second thought, being a Marriott Poster Boy might not be such a bad job!