My colleague Patrick Mayock rightfully gasps at the lack of construction in the Las Vegas market in his blog “Whatever happened to the Vegas development boom?” There was a time when it seemed like a week couldn’t pass without an announcement of a new mega-hotel there. And like Sin City, Miami had a run during the last up cycle during which there was a running joke that the official city bird was a building crane because so many dotted the skyline.
Of course, that was during the heyday of the condo-hotel boom—a boom that went bust nearly as fast as Nena did in 1984—you remember “99 Luftballoons,” don’t you? Back then, it was music to the hotel industry’s ears that an alternative source of financing—other peoples’ money—took center stage for about two years before the proverbial balloon burst.
So, we fast-forward to 2011 where hotel construction is slow but showing signs of life. According to STR’s March Construction Pipeline Report, Miami has eight hotels in construction, six in final planning and 28 in the planning stage.
That’s on top of the six that opened during the past 12 months, including the JW Marriott Marquis. It’s a fantastic downtown hotel that offers guests plenty, but after staying there in a city view room last week while attending the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit and the Hotel Opportunities Latin America Conference, I found one huge flaw that exists throughout the industry.
The JW Marriott Marquis Miami
First, the good stuff. The size of the room is generous—it makes me wonder if there were plans for it to be a condo-hotel at one time. The bathroom mirror had a TV embedded in it. There’s nothing like watching ESPN’s SportsCenter while taking a shower!
The stainless steel pool is spectacular—a great view from the 19th floor perch. It is located just off a multi-purpose room that easily changes into a regulation size basketball court—something NBA teams have already taken advantage of while staying at the hotel. Other recreational amenities include virtual bowling, a golf school and a 3-D theatre room.
The food-and-beverage offerings are nice. Award-winning chef Daniel Boulud provides a wonderful experience at db Bistro Moderne—even if the street-level terrace dining battles the loud din of traffic.
Yes, the hotel with 41 floors (257 rooms and 56 suites) and 80,000 square feet of meeting space is a nice addition to Miami’s hotel supply. (Note: The building’s top three floors are occupied by the Hotel Beaux Arts Miami, which I didn’t get a chance to check out.)
And now the bad news …
But the JW Marriott Marquis has one major flaw, which happens to be my No. 1 pet peeve when it comes to hotel rooms. There’s a beautiful, spacious desk for work and a spectacularly large (my guess is 50 inches) high-def TV on the wall. But, while I was working at the desk, I couldn’t clearly see the TV! That’s the biggest faux pas of all in my book. A designer convinces an owner to spend big bucks for a grand work area and a top-of-the-line TV, and a road warrior like me doesn’t find it functional. I guess the hotel can take solace in the fact that it’s not the only one to commit the design sin—the Hyatt Place at which I’m writing this blog has the very same problem. It really makes me want to scream.
The hotel’s positive attributes outweigh the biggest issue, so all is not lost. But as the city gears up for its next wave of hotel construction, here’s hoping designers can put together a complete package for hotels looking to please all guests.