Visiting AC Marriott by Marriott Bonvoy
The Resort Caribbean team has finally visited Kingston’s most popular hotel, AC Marriott! AC Marriott is one of two hotels in Jamaica by Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott International is one of the largest resort and hotel chains worldwide, like Sandals that has several resorts in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Many might not know this, but apart from Courtyard Marriott, also located in Kingston, Royalton Resort also falls under the Marriott group. Located near the heart of the Corporate area on Lady Musgrave Road, AC Marriott is easily one of the most accessible and common hotels. Maybe this is what makes it so popular. Or maybe it’s other attributes. Based on it’s rating and popularity, we were wondering if it’s the best hotel in Kingston. Maybe you are wondering too, so read on to find out more.
Membership, Booking and Checking In
One of the things we need to get out of the way firstly is that AC Marriott is not the cheapest hotel in Kingston. It’s high demand, popularity, services, features and location are some of the factors that contribute to the cost. Winter being peak season is also a factor (read this before booking your trip to Jamaica). It is however still affordable, and even more affordable if you sign up for membership. With a Marriott Bonvoy membership, you can book rooms at a slightly lower rate, and may also receive exclusive offers, such as having access to the gym, complementary WIFI, and points with each purchase. This makes it a win-win situation, and allows you to receive benefits. However, if you do not plan to return anytime in the future, maybe a standard booking would do for you.
Interestingly, contrary to the policy listed on their website about checking in, needing to show your I.D., etc., we didn’t see this being enforced. For this trip, three members from the team were booked to stay. I was the last to arrive and literally didn’t have to check in! I was utterly shocked, because this is the first hotel/resort I’ve been to without having to show an I.D, making them know that I am one of the guests. This was my first brow-raising moment.
Architecture and Facilities
The landscaping and aesthetics of the property is very beautiful. Especially since it’s Christmas season, those ornaments and lights add to the look and feel. It’s one of those places in Jamaica that the architecture doesn’t make you feel like you’re in Jamaica. I’ve encountered the Courtyard Marriot Hotel in Washington DC, and the fixtures and architecture look consistent to this one, however, Jamaica’s is more modern (here’s why you need to visit Jamaica for your next trip). This is expected because it’s newer. Before the age of Marriott in Jamaica, Pegasus Hotel was the most popular in Kingston.
On the compound, there is also a car dealer, seemingly owned by the franchise or the family that operates that hotel franchise, as well as a large parking lot for the hotel.
Might I add? There are glass windows everywhere on the building! This is one of the things that add to the aesthetics, but this may pose a privacy concern. I don’t think it’s a place where you can easily hide because it’s a small property. Not to mention the apparent and somewhat subtle chrome fixtures that blends in perfectly. Additionally, people can stay from outside and look inside the lounge. I believe this is the reason why we were caught and deterred when we were trying to capture footage using a DSLR camera, if not, then it was to the security surveillance cameras.
Other Features and Facilities
Other features and facilities at AC Marriott include:
- Conference room and Ballrooms
- Self-service laundromat
- Outside pool and lounge
- Ice-maker in the halls
- Electric Car charger (first Jamaican hotel with this feature)
The public restrooms also have very beautiful fixtures. They’re even more beautiful than the one in the bedroom. There was also subtle ambient music playing in every public area, even the bathrooms. This was very cool! It reminds me of when we visited Ocean Coral Spring Resort.
Other than the corporate groups that meet/host events there, we saw other groups promoting events, like the Burna Boy concert that is the new buzz in Jamaica. It’s like they figured a lot of people might need a place to stay in Kingston, as the concert venue is right around the road.
Why do so many people gather at AC Marriott?
Now let’s explore the elephant in the room. Though we didn’t see a party of people the days we went, AC Marriott has a reputation for attracting crowds! I’ve never once been there without seeing someone I know, or a celebrity. We actually saw Asafa Powell, who was once the fastest man in the world! Another time, I saw Shelly-Ann Frazer, who was once the world’s fastest woman. By the way, each member of the team has been there before. This is telling that it’s a common area. Most of the other hotels in Kingston we’ve been to, we’ve stayed there only once. Personally, the time I first visited, it was government business, so I didn’t get to explore much. I didn’t even know there was a pool…until now!
AC Marriott being cited as a “common area” doesn’t decrease it’s value. I do think it’s a very prestigious hotel. It’s seemingly the number 1 choice for corporations, celebrities, and high-class individuals. However, because of it’s services, features and public functions hosted from time to time, it tends to attract a lot of people. Apart from the hotel, there is the AC Lounge, which is basically a hang-out spot, which doesn’t require you to book the hotel. There is also a Starbucks inside the building. If you know Starbucks, you’ll know that it’s a coffee consumer bait.
Events and Nights-out
Throughout the year, especially during holiday seasons, there are typically upscale events being held. These are outside of the exclusive corporate events. You just might be lucky to catch one while you’re there. Families or friend groups may also lounge out, whether it is eating at the restaurant or bar. Because it’s Christmas season, the lounge is decorated with ornaments and lights, but outside of that, it is always posh, so don’t forget to dress up!
There are even people who come just to sit outside on the benches or take photos, without going inside, buying coffee, buying from the bar, or purchasing any meal. Thanks to the property being attractive, open and welcoming.
Restaurants and Bar
At AC Marriott, there are three main options that you may choose from when dining – AC Kitchen, AC Lounge, and the Pool Bar. The Kitchen opens from 6:30 am or 7 am until 10:00 pm on weekdays, and 12 am on weekends. This is where you can have breakfast. The Lounge however doesn’t cater breakfast, as it is opened from midday to midnight. The bar closes by 10 pm.
The restaurants have a few international meal options, though still not a lot to choose from. That was my main issue. A lack of variety. The meals prepared are also very expensive, however, what I admire is that though they do not have variety, they are open to making customized meals that aren’t on the menu. Nonetheless, I still think it wasn’t worth it, because the sandwich that they made me wasn’t delicious. I’ve also tasted other items on the menu, and they were average. Not bashing any cuisine style, but this could be due to the style being chiefly European, which is very different from Caribbean style. With all is, I don’t think the flavor of the meals were worth the cost, but if we’re talking about quantity, I’ll give them that.
Now, about the less public stuff. Though AC Marriott is perhaps mostly used by people who do not stay, may it not be forgotten that it’s a hotel. It doesn’t have many bedrooms, but I think it has just enough to accommodate multiple groups of people, and probably more than other hotels we’ve been to, such as Terra Nova-All Suite. The room that we were in had two queen-sized beds, but you can also book a room with one bed. The higher up your floor, the better the view from both inside your room, and inside the passage way. You see the entire upper Saint Andrew and the majestic mountains.
The bedroom is homely, this time, the bed and pillows(made of silk) were comfortable. Of course, there was a smart TV, but what was different is that when it’s powered on, there is a menu with your name, welcoming you to the room, and a list of options such as: television, TV guide, view your bill, connect to the internet, or access the hotel services. You can also order straight from your room and have it delivered. One of the downsides to staying at AC Marriott is that after a certain time, you may not have access to food, but luckily, there is a snack shop, or you can just simply order out and have it delivered.
Safety and Overall Impression
Another thing we were surprised about is that anyone seemingly could walk in and go to a room if someone with a key has already checked in, or walk in and access the gym. This was our major concern. I know us saying that it seems a bit too open might have you thinking, “since AC Marriott is so open, is it safe to stay there?” I’d say yes. It is highly secured. If it wasn’t, I don’t think so many high-profile people and celebrities would visit. The area is also relatively safe. However, anywhere you’re travelling to in Jamaica, it’s still wise to take precaution, so read these before you book your trip: before visiting Jamaica, what to expect, and how to stay safe while visiting Jamaica.
Despite the downsides, we highly recommend AC Marriott if you’re visiting Kingston. It’s a very popular hotel, but to say whether or not it is the best, we leave that up to you. Do you think AC Marriott is overrated? Or is it the best hotel in Kingston? Let us know in the comments or on Instagram.