I Was Actually Impressed By.. A Marriott.. at the Seattle Airport No Less!

For the first time in my life late last month I spent five night at an airport hotel. In a row.

I flew out to Seattle for three back-to-back events.

  • Global Flight’s loyalty industry conference
  • The Freddie Awards
  • Frequent Traveler University

I had agreed to emcee a panel at the industry event, which included the head of a hotel loyalty program, the head of partnerships for an airline program, a data guy, and an IT solutions provider. The topic was on creating a program beloved by members. I had to come in on a Tuesday night because my panel was at 9am on Wednesday.

The Freddie Awards would be the next day at the nearby Museum of Flight, and I was the emcee.

And then I would be giving four or five talks and spending time with mileage hobbyists at Frequent Traveler University Friday through Sunday.

All three events were held at the Seattle Airport Marriott. And at first I was a bit annoyed by the venue since:

  • I’m not a frequent Marriott guest, I wouldn’t be earning points that I highly value and wouldn’t be leveraging status
  • I don’t value Marriott status that much anyway, their top tiers are the toughest to get but don’t promise that much — at 75 nights you aren’t even guaranteed late checkout, let alone a suite if available.
  • It’s an airport hotel, a real trek into the city or other interesting places.

I spent a night at the property back in December when a misconnect in Seattle forced an unplanned overnight.

And after now spending a total of six nights at the hotel in four months I think I can say it’s actually a pretty darned good property.

Back in December I chose it over the Hilton next door, even though I had Hilton status, because of a coffee shop opening early in the morning so I could easily pick up a freshly brewed coffee enroute to the airport. (Both properties were ~ $99++ for the night that evening).

This stay I spent more time and was able to appreciate it more.

The first thing to know is that when you’re a part of a conference, hotels generally throw in a few suites for the same price as a regular room (or comped) that the organizers can assign. As part of the three event block, I was assigned a suite upgrade which I didn’t know in advance.

That was great — it gave me some space to eat in seclusion while I got ready to get up and talk throughout the event.

Although being candid I will admit that I didn’t share with anyone at all throughout the weekend that I had a suite. I didn’t want my room to become ‘the gathering place’. I enjoy everyone’s company very much but I also need a place to go as a respite.

What many blog readers don’t realize (though some do, as I’ve shared it here before, and of course several have met me as well) is that I’m a terrible introvert. Non-stop interaction is draining for me and I need a space to re-energize.

One area where the hotel did a great job was breakfast. They have a club lounge but it’s suitable for fewer than 40 people at a time. During Frequent Traveler University there were upwards of 200 people eligible for access. After all, United Gold elites and higher as well as many Marriott or Ritz-Carlton co-brand credit card holders have Marriott Gold status which provides for lounge admittance.

So the hotel proactively offered breakfast vouchers to everyone that was Marriott Gold or higher. The vouchers were good for breakfast for two so everyone buddied up and I’d bet that a majority of frequent flyer attendees had comped breakfast, a choice of the buffet or ordering off the menu (I chose the latter).

The public spaces were nice, especially the pool housed in the middle of the complex in an enclosed atrium.

Kudos to the Seattle Airport Marriott, they even told me that check-out time was 2pm when the website lists 1pm (which is in itself generous, for this non-status guest though I am Silver after this stay).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Welcome to Marriott – I mostly use them and like the program for its consistency and lower prices than other chains.

  2. This is my fifth or sixth year in a row as Marriott Platinum. I ended up with them mostly by coincidence as my first travel customer required that I stay at the Marriott Airport Burbank. For nearly three months. I’ve been a happy Marriott traveler since and they earned my loyalty when the soft-landed me one year as Platinum even though I only had SIX nights. Well before ‘rollover nights’. I’ve since thrown most of my business to them because they’re simply where I need to be and where my customers are.

    Yes, I have the Hilton Visa (that you recommended and probably earned a referral on) for those times when a Marriott is not nearby or the best option for the price (Milwaukee last summer seemed to be exorbitant for Marriott and only reasonable for Hilton).

    I see from the images that they gave you a much nicer suite than I got as a Platinum. 🙂

  3. @ Gary — I too liked this hotel, with one exception. The rooms on the first five floors that face inwards towards the pool are impossibly noisy. We were originally assigned to one of these rooms, but asked to be moved after about 10 minutes. We were assigned to a room on the 7th floor, which is above the atrium and very quiet. Otherwise, a great airport property!

  4. I just completed a stay at the JW Marriott in Orlando. I’m a long time SPG Platinum and love SPG, but I had an amazing experience at the JW (plus several other JW/Ritz experiences) anyway, I requested a 2pm late checkout . They tried to charge me $85… Needless to say I will continue to be loyal to SPG.all they had to do to win me over was a 2pm late checkout, yet they decided to be dicks (I have Marriott gold thanks to united) and they still threw a fit over a late checkout when availbiltly wasnt an issue.

  5. I had been Marriott Platinum for the last 10 years. Until last year when I switched more to the Hilton properties. After looking back I rarely got an upgrade, many of the properties I stayed out needed to be refreshed and they require a crazy amount of points for reward night room stays.
    I do still take advantage of their get-a-way programs to rack up those free night certificates.

  6. I was at the Marriott for FTU and am Marriott Gold. I only found out about the generous breakfast option when it was mentioned on stage, on Sunday. Since I wouldn’t normally be eligible for the restaurant it is not an issue. However, they seem to have dropped the ball on their own process.

  7. It was a mediocre airport property at best. You got a comp’d upgrade on your room and a free breakfast only available during the event you were at which isn’t really tied to the hotel so much as the event.

    Did you actually pay the $189/night rate for the Global Flight conference? Did you pay the $99/night for the FTU nights? I know that most (if not all) speakers were offered comp’d rooms for the FTU, self included.

    And the noise problems pointed out above were very real.

  8. Reviewing an airport Marriott is a bit like reviewing a Starbucks you pretty much know what you’re going to get, and I guess thats half the point.

  9. So you enjoyed a comp’d room upgraded to a suite? This week has really shown the level of smugness.

  10. Hotel hosting convention of frequent traveler program leaders puts on good show. More at eleven.

  11. @Wandering Aramean – I am not a Marriott loyalist of fanboy. I thought the hotel did a nice job for an airport hotel, managing the conference. I was not comped a room by Global Flight, although I did not pay a registration fee to attend as I was on the program. Perhaps where I was in the hotel, I was away from the noise and quite fortunate.

    It sounds like the noise was emanating from the pool. Lots of folks were drinking heavily out there. Perhaps they were at fault? 😉

  12. You just got lucky with your room location. The first time I stayed there, I had a room on the pool side; noisy into the wee hours with adults, starting again just a few hours later with squealing kids. The second stay, I specifically asked for a quiet room and got another poolside room; when I asked to switch, they put me across the hall in a room next to the exhaust fans. I gave them one more chance — and got the exhaust fans again. I’m a Marriott Gold and generally like Marriotts, but apparently there aren’t many quiet rooms at this hotel. And most of us stay at an airport hotel to get some sleep.

  13. While I can understand your annoyance with being forced, more or less, to stay at a chain with which you don’t hold elite status, my sympathy is largely mitigated by your choice of professions and the fact that you had one of the best rooms in the house. Presumptively the elites did not enjoy the same benefits. As an IHG elite, it should be interesting to see the circumstances in Chicago later this year. I should add that I say this with no rancor, and as an avid daily reader.

  14. Marriott is usually very good and consistent. Problem is that they look terrible from the outside (most properties have a pinkish old color and the architecture is from the 60’s) but they have done a good job in renovating the inside. I find their program not appealing at all and the benefits are not there when compared to Hyatt and SPG. The big advantage is that they have properties all over the US so no matter where you are there is a hotel from Marriott chain.

  15. Ah, how the other half lives…

    My first floor, non-pool facing room was fairly quiet if not cozy. I have no status with Marriott, so no breakfast for me.

    I am surprised you didn’t mention that you had to pay for wireless Internet access. I was amazed that paying for Internet access in my room did NOT provide Internet access in the conference areas of the hotel (this property was, for me, a complete dead zone on my Verizon iPhone).

    Thanks for sharing the photos, good to see other rooms weren’t that much different.

  16. The pool garden setting makes for an interesting marketing challenge, you call it an airport hotel no one things it will be anything special, you can it something to indicate the family-friendly, indoor retreat aspect and you lose the airport business. I was quite surprised to see something interesting at a US airport hotel, and happy with my stay.

Comments are closed.