This post has been sponsored by Marriott’s Wish You Were Here – Florida! campaign. All opinions below are strictly those of our own @JenVargas. Check out the slideshow below for more images…
Going into this, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott property prior. Coming off a terrible first experience at another chain the weekend before, I welcomed ANYTHING better! Most of all, as I said in my first post having been slammed the past few months with projects, I just wanted to RELAX without having to worry about any appointments. The 12-hour drive from home was much more pleasant than I’d expected, for I’d checked out this blog: 8 ways to keep kids entertained on long car journeys, which came to of great help since I was travelling with two kids.
The hotel? Courtyard by Marriott on International Drive/Convention Center (8600 Austrian Court, Orlando, Florida 32819). At first glance I was impressed with the property; the rooms looked clean and updated, the amenities were basic but acceptable and the location was central to Interstate 4, Beeline/528 and in the heart of the International Drive corridor.
Upon entering the lobby area, I was taken aback. In remembering last weekend I had no expectations but I can honestly say, I wasn’t expecting something as… modern. While the outside may have seemed a little dated, the interior was certainly like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog. Very lovely, and very clean! I was a huge fan of the FREE WiFi and ample charging stations throughout the lobby. I LOVED the Media Pods (like a modernized, cozy breakfast nook with a flat screen tv) close to The Bistro, Courtyard’s on-site restaurant and cocktail bar!
Everyone I encountered on the front desk staff was very welcoming and informative. Check-in can be a crazy time, especially for those coming in from the airport and are anxious to start their weekend. Despite the small line, the staff made sure everyone’s questions were answered and all were informed about The Bistro hours, The Market (a small, on-site 24 hour convenience store) and basic off-site information. Since Courtyard I-Drive is an Official Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel, our room key cards were appropriately (and adorably!) themed; one was a Monsters University Student ID card, the other was of The Beast and New Fantasyland.
My first impression of the guest room was that it was on the smaller side. Once opening the door (which was quite heavy!), you’re lead down a narrow corridor which forks off into a bathroom/closet area then out to the main bedroom/living space. To be fair, I’m used to staying in ‘suite’ style rooms when I travel so, comparatively, this might be average or slightly above average size. (Note: This property has suites available and connecting rooms.) Our room was a simple Guest Room with 1 King sized bed and a pretty snazzy sofa bed with a Poolside view and small balcony.
Both the bedding and towels were very clean. The bed and pillows were very comfy! Some pillows are too firm or not firm at all, these pillows were a nice middle ground. The sofa bed also comfy. It was so hip and stylized, I swear I saw it once inside a Starbucks. In fact, the furniture, photo shelf and color scheme of the room were mildly reminiscent of a coffee shop type vibe (in the most complimentary way possible). The sofa even had a small, built-in side table for drinks, a laptop or even small lunch. The modern furnitures are amazing in style, and use. If you want to see more of these, look for LA Furniture store.
The bathroom itself was large and the closet was a good size. The sink and dressing area, just off the room’s entrance, was also a decent size. I was, however, slightly disappointed with the bathroom amenities in our room. The website shows Paul Mitchell bath products are provided in all rooms; shampoo, conditioner and Lemon Sage energizing body wash. Unfortunately our room was not supplied with the body wash on either day, only generic bar soap, and of course I forgot to call and ask about it. [D’oh!]
Other hotel amenities and services include; a small laundry room, a clean pool area (with towels) and an expanded fitness center. I asked about a spa/hot tub. Sadly it was rarely used so Courtyard decided to add on to the Fitness Center with a small weight set, updated treadmills and stationery bikes that are iPhone/iPod accessible, and a mirror-walled area for yoga, stretching, meditation, etc. Filtered water and sanitizing wipes are also readily available.
In the end, I was very pleasantly surprised by this property. The staff, the food, the guest rooms and amenities were fantastic for the price. Even if I didn’t know the area, I would feel very safe and secure as a guest. For the convenience, cleanliness and comfort, I would gladly recommend this property to out of town guests and family. Courtyard is also a great staycation destination for locals too. Wish You Were Here – Florida! package deals are available at all 36 Marriott properties throughout Florida.
Jen’s Top 5(x2!) Courtyard I-Drive Favorites:
- A 12pm check-out time! No rushing through breakfast to shower and pack!!
- All-in-one lamp and charge station on both sides of the bed – SUPER handy for someone like me.
- On-site parking is complimentary!
- WiFi in public areas and rooms is FREE (upgraded service available)
- Dining at The Bistro: They brew Starbucks AND the food is reasonably priced for what you get
- Courtyard’s GoBoard is very useful, user friendly
- Workspace/desk in room is a good size
- Charging stations comfortably placed throughout lobby and business center
- YMCA Aquatic Center (next door) partnership is a great bonus for gym rats
- Courtyard is a SMOKE-FREE HOTEL!!
Room(?) for improvement:
- Currently, there are no shuttles to/from the hotel to local theme parks (the front desk is very friendly and will assist)
- The Bistro is only open for Breakfast and Dinner (The Market, however, is open 24 hours)
- It was hard to find ticketing kiosk agent
- The balcony overlooking the pool area was a teensy bit small
- Not pet friendly