Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina Unveils Two New State-of-the-industry Ballrooms
The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina was first opened back in 1986. Since that time, the hotel has grown (a south tower was added shortly after Marriott originally acquired the property from Intercontinental), transformed and consistently augmented its services to become one of the premier destination properties in San Diego. Most recently, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina razed a section of its building, constructing two brand new, state-of-the-art ballrooms equipped with two massive digital walls in the foyers. The Marriott Grand Ballroom boasts a gorgeous Swarovski Crystal chandelier/art piece (called “Tidal”) that welcomes guests from around the globe. The new ballrooms were designed to increase the available meeting space in San Diego while offering breathtaking areas consisting of two different levels offering San Diego Bay Marina views. City Brand Media was invited out to experience the property and attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new ballrooms.
The New Ballrooms
The primary purpose of my trip was to discover and experience the two brand new ballrooms at Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. Indeed, they are both grand and the magnitude of the undertaking and their construction was incredible! The General Manager of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Tuni Kyi, San Diego Mayor, Kevin Faulconer and Chairman of San Diego Port Commissioners, Marshall Merrifield all spoke during the ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration where approximately 250 media and VIPs attended.
Remarkably, the expansion was 10 years in the making! “Our owners, Host Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International tenaciously kept working on overcoming all obstacles and look at us now!” says Kyi. “We made our vision become a reality.” The previous meeting and convention area was razed and the new ballrooms were thoughtfully constructed to best address how companies, businesses and patrons utilize and enjoy event space. Kyi continues, “We also built, for public’s use, the new Marina Walk… between our building and Manchester Grand Hyatt, connecting downtown to the harbor. It is truly spectacular with a wide open view corridor to the waterfront. We call this ‘Downtown San Diego’s Window to the Bay.’” He also declared that the expansion came through both on time and on budget. The new event space is expected to attract increasing numbers of meetings and conventions as well as additional jobs in nearby businesses. Some of the first organizations to take advantage of the new event space at Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina are Future Business Leaders of America and Comic Con.
Mayor Faulconer conveyed his appreciation of the capital investment that it took to complete the event space. He also noted that the addition will continue to attract people from around the globe to San Diego to do business, attend conventions and enjoy vacations. Faulconer says, “This is an important milestone for our city. And by the way, great timing; it’s summer… As we’re getting ready to kick off not only Comic Con, but the All Star Game and so many other great events here coming up in San Diego.”
Merrifield adds, “This building is beautiful inside and outside. Just look at it. What a great addition to the San Diego waterfront!” There were many thoughtful design touches throughout both of the new ballrooms and event space.
Two 36,000 square foot ballrooms (Marriott Grand Ballroom and Pacific Ballroom) which are divisible by 13 sections and complete with expansive foyer space
27,000 square foot Marina Terrace overlooking the gorgeous bay
8,000 square foot Marriott Grand Ballroom Terrace is designed to be a breathtaking setting for weddings and smaller social functions
The Marina Walk now establishes a new walkway connecting downtown San Diego directly to the harbor
Two LCD Digital Video Walls are located in the foyer of the Marriott Grand Ballroom. Each highly engaging wall is 9 feet by 16 feet and will display content tailored to a specific event. During the ribbon cutting and ballroom unveiling, the “digi-walls” displayed Twitter and Instagram posts that tagged the Marriott property. It was a genius way to showcase the many unique areas of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina and surrounding areas.
Three distinct art pieces are incorporated into the new event space project
TIDE –An exterior sculpture comprised of a series of LED-illuminated waves created from powder-coated aluminum tubes and ceramic tile pavers
KELP – An outdoor sculpture constructed of painted steel strips with LED lighting that lines the pathway along Marina Walk
TIDAL – The one-of-a-kind sculptural chandelier was designed by artist Mark Smith with Swarovski crystals and embodies the sultry coastline of San Diego. The chandelier is located in the Marriott Grand Ballroom pre-function foyer and is visible to the public from Harbor Drive.
Indeed, the new ballrooms are a gorgeous addition! During the ribbon cutting festivities circus acts dazzled the crowd and there were about a dozen food stations chock full of a wide variety of culinary offerings. Exciting culinary offerings is something that Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina truly knows, as conveyed over the four days of the media visit!
During our first evening on property, our group was treated to a five course wine pairing dinner at Marina Kitchen, a free-standing restaurant that is incorporated as part of the hotel. The spacious, casual and relaxing space is overseen by Marina Kitchen general manager Michael Miller. It’s no small feat, given the expansive space and number of guests that the restaurant accommodates daily. Quality and integrity is instilled in every facet of Marina Kitchen and even if someone is not staying at the hotel, it’s a delicious destination for any meal.
The property boasts 17 sommeliers, including the hotel manager, Steve Pagano. Marriott Marquis also has a record-setting 12 bartender, who successfully achieved Level 1 Bourbon Master certification, setting a high standard for bringing bar programming to a new level. Monthly "Wine Hangouts" are hosted by Chef Aron Schwartz and notable winemakers each month, so plan to join the group and learn more about a variety of wines. And "bee-cause" they have thought of everything, Marriott Marquis now produces its own honey and pollen to create innovative honey-inspired fare including their new locally-sourced Honeycomb Harvest Cream Ale, brewed with the organic, raw honey culled from the hotel’s rooftop honeycombs. I've tried that honey and I must say, it is heavenly!
Executive Chef Aron Schwartz came out to tell us about each entrée. His emphasis is on fresh. He has relationships with several farms in San Diego where he procures items at peak freshness. For this reason, the menu pivots seasonally to reflect everything that is new. Our first course was butter poached Maine lobster with shaved celery and kissed with spicy mayo and bread crumbs. Being on the waterfront, you just can’t go wrong with lobster and this tasty dish was a wonderful combination of flavors that broke out of the “just add butter” mindset of serving lobster. It was perfectly paired with a rose wine that gave the dish a delicious finish.
The second course consisted of Chino Farms artichokes with preserved Meyer lemon and tomato jam, finished with olive oil and garnished with pea shoots. The risotto style dish was light and refreshing and paired with Banshee sauvignon blanc. Next up was a pan roasted Alaska Halibut with a lightly breaded and flash fried local squash with a black bean puree. This dish was exceptionally creative and the squash was tender, flavorful and added to the unique flavor profile of the dish. It was paired with a 100 percent single vineyard pinot noir from Tina Marie Vineyard.
Our fourth course was Brandt beef hanger steak lightly drizzled with bone marrow vinaigrette and accompanied by grilled asparagus and corn pudding. I particularly liked the full flavor and tenderness of the steak and the corn pudding was an unexpected, but absolutely delicious addition. The combination of flavors and textures on this entrée was simply outstanding. The fourth course was complimented by a cabernet sauvignon. Finally, dessert was a whimsical combination of ripe French and California Chino Farms strawberries with toasted meringue, lemon curd and whipped cream. Ooo, la la! What a way to finish off a meal. It was accompanied by a light and refreshing prosecco.
The next morning, our media group met on a private patio looking out to the bay and enjoyed a festive bloody mary bar and the offerings of the Marina Kitchen breakfast buffet, complete with an expansive omelet station, fresh fruits, breakfast breads and much, much more.
While at the hotel, I stayed in an executive suite that literally was the perfect size for someone like me, who was working from their hotel room. I can also see this suite being a great size for a couple with two small children, as long as the two kiddos don’t mind sleeping on the sleeper sofa. The suite had a bedroom separate from the living/work space and it was remarkably quiet. The luxurious bath amenities included two varieties of bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion from the Aromatic Wood Collection by Thann, a Thai skincare company. The various items imparted a woodsy/citrusy fragrance and were very refreshing and moisturizing. In-room coffee and tea and a beverage refrigerator were also convenient touches in the suite.
Of course, the focal point of the room is the gorgeous San Diego Bay view. I stayed in the south tower on the 19th floor and it was a pleasure to leave the large sliding glass patio doors wide open and watch the boats come and go in the marina, along with the occasional massive cargo ship. My room was positioned almost directly over the pool and adjacent Roy’s restaurant, which is thoughtfully positioned front and center in the marina and is equally accessible to Marriott guests and those walking along the bay front. I loved to see all the buzz and excitement taking place at the resort throughout the day with a bird’s eye view of all the fun.
After retreating to my room for an hour to do some writing after breakfast on the Marina Kitchen patio, I was invited to The Hideaway – the signature spa at Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. Massage and skin care treatments are available by appointment on the mezzanine floor of the north tower. I received the lasting hydration facial which featured the softening action of seaweed and fruit extracts and two refreshing masks. The addition of a fine aromatic mist was relaxing as was a light facial massage. Other services at The Hideaway include a wide variety modalities of massages and facials. Additionally, spa services can be performed at various locations on the hotel site, at the poolside cabanas and even on boats, yachts and catamarans. Event services and group services include chair massage, table massage, mini-facials and manicure, pedicure and polish changes.
Sushi on a Roll
I was still recovering from a huge breakfast when we were whisked away to restaurant/event space Sushi on a Roll (SOAR). Chef Jeff Roberto is the stuff of sushi legend. The formally trained sushi chef and president of SOAR has been working in the sushi industry for 25 years and is highly skilled, entirely creative and simply as charming as they come. Typically, SOAR is not open to the public, except for 5-8 p.m. Wednesday evenings. If you’re planning a vacation to San Diego, please plan a trip to SOAR on Wednesday evening. Guaranteed, the sushi experience will be a highlight of your trip! Roberto heads up SOAR as a sushi catering company and provides sushi for hotels, concerts, country clubs and more. He works in conjunction with other hotels and restaurants in San Diego, assisting them in designing their own sushi programs. SOAR also offers sushi classes and the physical set up of the space is thoughtfully designed to accommodate a group of 20 or so.
The cute SOAR location is in Barrio Logan, home to the Naval Base San Diego, NASSCO shipyard, outstanding Mexican food and many studios and galleries. Our lunch was a four course festival for the palate! First was a charred Chino Farms tomato salad with Shishito peppers, shiso, white ponzu and a bit of ice plant – not the kind you find growing on the hillsides of San Diego, but rather a unique looking plant with a superb texture that originates from Korea. Our second course was a protein roll with blue crab, spicy tuna and avocado topped with salmon.
The third course was an outstanding shrimp tempura roll that included asparagus topped with seared tenderloin and wasabi tobiko. The fourth course was the jidori chicken, which was unbelievably tender and included miso marinated eggplant and a soy glaze. Chef Roberto and Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina Manager Steve Pagano made this meal a memorable one by catering to the guests, answering questions and explaining the history of Barrio Logan and the unique orchestration of each dish as it was served.
The Adventuress luxury catamaran beckoned us next and our group headed out on a late afternoon cruise around the bay. The privately chartered catamaran was arranged by the hotel, and food and cocktails were also catered on board by Marriott. The Adventuress is a custom built catamaran at 60 feet in length, 32 feet at the beam (wide) and can accommodate up to 48 guests. The captain and crew took time to point out all the features in and around the bay, plus all the larger ships and Naval vessels. The couple who owns the boat could not have been more accommodating and catered to our group in a most professional fashion.
The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is perched on the marina’s edge, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the landscape from the hotel on the marina side, or go down to the water and rent a jet ski or stand-up paddleboard. The Adventuress runs charters out of San Diego and will go to several of the smaller surrounding islands and Catalina Island. Visit www.adventuress.us for additional information.
Chef Aron Schwartz and the crew at the Marina Kitchen once again outdid themselves by throwing a private tequila dinner poolside for our group. Several types of tequila were being poured, either as shots or in mixed drinks. Our bartender was particularly adept at discussing every kind of tequila that was being offered and what made each style unique.
The first round of cocktails was accompanied by a massive bowl of house made guacamole and chips and what a way to kick off the evening! At the outdoor kitchen station, a variety of delicious street tacos were made-to-order. I particularly liked the lamb street taco and the mushroom quesadillas were absolutely scrumptious. The entire party was fun, festive and with a cool bay breeze, it was one of the more memorable parties I’ve attended. The staff at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina once again knocked it out of the park with this private event. From the exceptional staff, to the skilled bartenders, food, event spacing and the outstanding guacamole, the tequila dinner was everything that I could have expected, and more!
Breakfast by the Pool
After attending a spinning class or a relaxing class of yoga with instructor Hella (who expertly heads up an in-room broadcast of yoga classes at scheduled intervals), our media group was treated to a healthy breakfast at a private poolside location tucked into the lush Marriott Marquis landscape. Breakfast featured healthy frittatas, chicken apple sausage, fruit and a variety of yogurt and muesli selections, serviced by the staff who prepared fresh squeezed Valencia orange juice while we watched in savoring anticipation. "Wellness Warrior" Hella Neumann has been a key figure on the property in developing healthy programs designed to delight and help guests to relax and rejuvenate. With yoga mats delivered to the rooms, guest can choose from six workouts including sunrise yoga, morning flow, sun salutations, meditation, core session and cool down. Neumann is an absolute asset to the Marriott brand and all hotels should be so lucky to have someone as focused on wellness as this engaging Wellness Warrior!
Neumann introduced our group to a very unique item – one that I had not had before; the Persian majoon. The healthy smoothie included a fine blend of banana, yogurt and honey with Medjool dates, pistachios, sesame seeds, walnuts, coconut and almonds. Wow! Talk about healthy breakfast in a glass… I was sure to grab the recipe so I could create this delicious concoction for myself at home!
Alas, Every Party Must Come to an End…
The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is simply an unforgettable destination. Whether you want to stay on the property and relax or venture out on the water or to nearby Seaforth Village, there is simply no shortage of things to do. For businesses and conventions, the new event space is simply outstanding and visually is unmatched! With the addition of the Marina Walk, now guests of the Marriott Marquis and the general public can easily access the San Diego Bay and experience all the beauty and excitement that it has to offer. For additional information on the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, visit www.SanDiegoMarquis.com or call (619) 234-1500.