Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina: Waterfront Business Hotel, Downtown Resort by Emma Krasov

Photography by Emma Krasov

During my stay at Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina last month, on more than one occasion I’ve caught myself contemplating the high art of mixing business and pleasure at this part business hotel part vacation resort.

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I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new grandiose event spaces, with speeches from the city Mayor and Marriott executives; brass band, circus acrobats, stilt walkers, and a lavish champagne reception.

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I walked the newly unveiled Marina Walkway on my way to a professional mixer/boating tour on the luxury catamaran Adventuress with stunning views of the city and an amazing spread of treats and libations onboard.

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I took part in a monthly Wine Hangout at Marina Kitchen with the restaurant’s GM Michael Miller, and enjoyed an exquisite five-course dinner prepared by the award-winning hotel Chef Aron Schwartz who puts high emphasis on farm-to-table concept and loyally supports local farmers creating fresh seasonal dishes, full of flavor and artfully plated.

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(At dinner, the Southern California bounty was represented by San Diego-style lobster roll with shaved celery, spicy mayo, and bread crumbs instead of bread roll; Chino Farms artichokes with preserved Meyer lemon, tomato jam, and olive oil; pan-roasted halibut with local squash and black bean puree; Brandt Beef steak with Chino Farms corn pudding, grilled asparagus, and bone marrow vinaigrette; and lemon tart with Chino Farms strawberries, toasted meringue, and shortbread).

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I explored a rare and interesting concept in the food industry – catered sushi for private events at the Sushi on a Roll with Chef Aron Schwartz and Chef Jeff Roberto.

I tried to lose some of the delicious calories in an early-morning Spinning with Sydney class at the hotel’s Fitness Center. (This year, the hotel debuted in-room yoga program. It streams original content from Marriott’s onsite Wellness Warrior Hella Neumann. 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. Adding to the benefits of fitness, spinning, and yoga, Marina Kitchen offers healthy food items and drinks).

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And speaking of health, I had Body Relax (Gommage Vegetal) treatment at Hideaway Spa. (This botanical exfoliation is free of abrasive particles and uses carob and citrus extracts to hydrate and eliminate rough patches. With the stimulating effect of a loofa saturated with the 5 essential oils of Yon-Ka Paris Quintessence the skin becomes smooth, silky and toned).

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I also luxuriated in a poolside cabana; joined my colleagues for a casual dinner at the outdoor Tequila Bar & Grille by the fire pits, and was having the most wonderful time working in my room and then relaxing swimming in the pool until dark…

Curved in a sinuous wave-like line, the two 25-story majestic glassed towers of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, owned by Host Hotels & Resorts and managed by Marriott Hotels International, look onto the city’s downtown on one side, and waterfront on another, over the sparkling San Diego Bay.

With 1,360 guest rooms, 280,000 square feet of event space, a 446-slip marina, the hotel serves as a perfect venue for all sizes of business meetings and conferences as well as for ultimate relaxation easily achieved at the many resort-style facilities.

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Two free-form heated pools with whirlpools and private cabanas; the Hideaway Spa providing massages, skin care, and body treatments; the Fitness Center with yoga, spinning, and fitness classes; bike and boat rentals, walking and jogging trails, and of course, the hotel’s award-winning dining are found on the premises.

Marina Kitchen Restaurant & Bar featuring American cuisine, Tequila Bar & Grille with Mexican fare, Roy’s – Asian Fusion, plus Exchange snack bar and Starbucks keep the guests well fed and happy around the clock, while the hotel’s extensive wine program is implemented by a team of professional sommeliers led by the hotel’s own manager, Steve Pagano. Marriott Marquis also has a dozen of bartenders with Level 1 Bourbon Master certification.

On the roof of the hotel a thriving beekeeping operation is going on, with honey and pollen used in Chef Schwartz’s kitchen, and also in the new Honeycomb Harvest Cream Ale. The restaurant also features unique, oak barrel-aged batches of specialty cocktails, like Old-Fashioned made with bourbon, simple syrup, water, and bitters.

The recent expansion of the meetings and events spaces that amounted to $107 million resulted in the new building with two 36,000 square feet ballrooms (Marriott Grand Ballroom and Pacific Ballroom), each accommodating up to 3,700 guests. Both ballrooms have grand foyers awashed in natural light that can be used to extend the space.

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The new building’s interior, created by tvsdesign, and inspired by the Southern California nature, features crystal wave patterns on the ceilings, coral-reef color scheme on carpeting, seaweed-themed wall décor, and a unique Swarovski chandelier “Tidal” in the front foyer designed by Mark Smith – a dazzling airy art piece consisting of 44,000 crystals arranged in asymmetrical motif and visible even from the outside Harbor Drive.

“We drew inspiration from the host community with its iconic coastline, which we incorporated into the design, capturing a sense of fluidity and movement throughout,” said Patricia Richey, lead designer and principal of tvsdesign.

Two 9×16 feet LCD digital video walls, exclusive to the hotel, bring in cutting-edge technology capable of high level live time projections visible from every corner of the Marriott Grand Ballroom foyer.

There’s also a brand-new 27,000 square feet outdoor Marina Terrace, accommodating up to 4,000 guests, and a landscaped public walkway, Marina Walk, that connects downtown and the Bay, with decorative paving, public art installations, and views of the waterfront.

Two public artworks at the Walk were produced by Los Angeles-based art collective, After Architecture –“Tide” sculpture comprised of LED-illuminated waves made of powder-coated aluminum tubes and ceramic tile pavers, and “Kelp” installation constructed of painted steel strips with LED lighting, symbolic of sunlight kelp on the ocean floor. Marina Walk is wheelchair accessible, and equipped with bike racks and benches.

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is located at 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. To book event space, call 619-230-8314. For more information, call 619.234.1500 or visit: