Review: The 1.7 Star Worst Marriott Hotel In North America?

An anonymous reader shares an experience at what is likely Marriott’s worst hotel in the Americas, a deflagged Hilton with 17 year old mattresses, a restaurant that’s still closed, and no daily housekeeping.

I don’t often feature guest posts. I’ve done it just a handful of times in the past 20 years. But I found this report on the Woodlands Plaza Toledo Hotel was interesting as a window into what Marriott has become willing to sell to its customers.



Review: The 1.7-star Hotel That May Be Marriott’s Worst Hotel

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself after booking a Marriott International hotel with a 1.7-star rating that has to be one of the worst properties anywhere in the company’s portfolio.

Admittedly, star ratings are horribly inaccurate outside France and a handful of other places with strict government-regulated classification systems. Domestically, a diamond-rating from AAA means way more than any hotel’s self-description. That aside, the rating generated by Marriott is based solely on the responses to surveys that some guests receive after stays.

Formerly a Hilton until it was deflagged and then more recently a Radisson, the 212-room Woodlands Plaza Toledo Hotel with its rating of 1.7 stars is so bad that it is operating as an unbranded hotel, pending renovations. Whenever renovations are complete — supposedly in 2023 — it will officially hoist the Delta Hotels by Marriott flag.

For those unfamiliar with the brand hierarchy of Marriott’s portfolio, Delta, formerly a brand of Canadian business hotels, was acquired by Marriott not long before it also purchased Starwood. Today, Delta occupies the so-called “premium” lane, which is shared with Sheraton and Marriott’s flagship Marriott brand.

While legacy properties in Canada may be on par with a Marriott or Sheraton, every Delta I have ever stayed at in the United States has been more comparable to a Holiday Inn or Four Points by Sheraton. Regardless, an email from Marriott confirming my reservation claimed that Delta focuses “on the details that truly matter” to “make them perfect.” Among those details was the specific promise of “ultra comfortable beds.”

Arrival

The Woodlands Plaza is located on the edge of the University of Toledo’s Medical Center campus, which should make it a gold mine. Downtown Toledo is six miles away. Detroit, the closest major airport, is 50 miles away.

There were just five or six cars in a massive parking lot that had clearly seen better days. Like the lot, the exterior of the hotel looked tired and in dire need of improvement.

The lobby itself wasn’t bad, but there were no signs of life anywhere. Not even staff. I stood at the front desk, saying “hello” and even calling the hotel phone to no avail for what must have been 10 minutes before a staff member emerged from a back office to handle check-in formalities.

While Marriott and Delta signs were visible, the front desk clerk never mentioned Marriott or Delta, never recognized my Bonvoy ambassador elite status, and never explained anything about the hotel or whatever services and amenities it offers, except to tell me where the elevator was located after I asked. “Around the corner and to the left,” she said.

Despite a self-described “larger” room being available — and Marriott’s booking channel offering a confirmable upgrade with a suite night award certificate — I was never given the upgrade required under the Bonvoy benefits. Instead, the front desk gave me a room with a king-sized bed on the third floor facing the parking lot.

With taxes, the rate I paid for a standard king room was $137.77. Had I used Bonvoy points, it would have been 23,000 points.

Room

It became apparent when walking through the lobby to the elevator and then down the third-floor corridor that this was a really old hotel. Everything looked and felt a solid 15 years overdue for an exhaustive renovation.

Upon entering my room, I was a little surprised. Yes, it was way outdated, but everything appeared at first glance to be clean and in working condition. Then I started noticing stuff — and not in a good way. Sure, the TV and coffeemaker looked new or, at least, newer, but the closet door was broken, there were hairs on the toilet seat, the telephone still had Radisson branding visible (paging Radisson’s trademark lawyers) and the bed felt lumpy.

Suspicious of the bed, I started to remove the linen, which to housekeeping’s credit was clean. That’s when I saw the mattress cover. For all I knew it had previously been a sail on one of Lord Nelson’s ships at the battle of Trafalgar. There were that many holes in the cover. The holes exposed a highly discolored mattress that still had its tag indicating it was manufactured for Hilton way back in 2005 — yes, 2005, as in 17 years ago.

My jaw dropped as I started to think about all the guests who have slept on that bed or done the things adults are known to do in hotel rooms. While it is theoretically possible that the mattress sat in a warehouse somewhere for some of the 17 years, it is also likely — judging from the overall state of the Hilton-turned-Radisson-turned-Woodlands Plaza — that it had been in that room each and every night for the last 17 years.

Amenities

Delta is one of the Marriott brands that offers breakfast for the three highest elite statuses in Bonvoy. Properties are required to operate either a traditional club lounge or pantry, the latter of which is generally useless except for free nonalcoholic beverages. Properties without a lounge or pantry are required under Bonvoy to offer eligible guests a choice of 750 points per day or breakfast in the restaurant.

Despite advertising itself as a “full-service” hotel with a restaurant, the restaurant is in fact closed. A sign taped to the doors said it “closed today” for “cleaning.” There was no evidence it has ever been operational.

The advertised gym is nominally open. I say nominally because most of the treadmills were broken. All of the equipment looked older and in poor condition. The pool also looked open, but I didn’t trust that the water was clean.

As one of Marriott’s “premium” brands, daily housekeeping is supposed to have returned. But the Woodlands Plaza has a sign at the front desk saying stayover service is not provided.

Final Verdict

The Woodlands Plaza was so awful that I left for refuge at a more reputable hotel. I was unable to officially check-out or get a refund as the front desk clerk disappeared. Attempts to get her attention, including through repeated phone calls, were unsuccessful. Emails to the general manager went unreturned.

If Marriott still has standards and quality control, then it needs to shut the hotel down immediately. Bragging about the quality of Delta’s beds but then letting a hotel with 17-year-old mattresses open within your portfolio is beyond unacceptable.

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 »

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Comments

  1. Delta in the US seems to be a catchall for old tired properties at a level which is even worse than Four Points or IHG’s Crowne Plaza.
    There’s a Delta in Willowbrook IL which was I believe a Holiday Inn for a few decades and was closed for a couple of years before Marriott took them on. It was a dump 20 years ago, so it’s likely a bigger dump today.

    The only Delta I know if in the US which seems ok is in Huntington WV, although I ended up staying at the Doubletree down the street instead.

  2. My first guess to where this was, was in fact where I live, Toledo. It’s downright beyond my imagination that Marriott would run this hotel, literally less than a mile from my home. I only knew it existed as a Radisson long ago, but didn’t know it was still open. There is no excuse to be like that at all and yes, it would be closed. I’m very disappointed in Marriott and especially the mgt there.

  3. I’ve not only been a rewards member since the mid 80’s, not long after they program started, I also did shopping services for the Corporation back then and thru the late 1990’s, so I am fully aware of the standards set by Marriott for all their properties, albeit quite a few less brands back then.

    Back in February, I stayed at a Courtyard in Riverside, CA that makes your description of the Delta property look like the Marquis NY Times Square compared to this pit (except maybe the mattress age as an exception). Spiders and webs on the walls, duct tape holding carpets together, curtains held up by file clips, frayed cables behind the TV, a non-working phone, loose toilet seat and rusty, corroded faucets in the shower and in general, not a clean feel to the room. There were more issues that I can’t recall from last February and had I not been attending my second memorial services for a friend since high, I would have definitely sent corporate my list of complaints and photos I took to verify my complaints. Unfortunately, I deleted those photos a month or so ago so I can show you them, but trust me, it was the worst of the worst.

  4. I’ve noticed that Marriott appears to be expanding broadly without considering quality of the hotels it acquires. I’ve actually checked into a hotel under the Marriott brand and after looking at the room I turned right around and told the desk clerk I couldn’t stay there, the room looked like a rundown cheap motel room. I then made a reservation at a better Marriott brand. I wish Mr. Marriott would consider having a quality control team to oversee the new hotels they acquire..

  5. @Nicole: Mr. John Willard “Bill” Marriott Jr. (born March 25, 1932) is an American billionaire businessman and the executive chairman of Marriott International with 11.28% ownership. To help protect his investment of owning dumpy Marriott properties and displeasing guests, I recommend sending him an email regarding this issue.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Marriott

  6. Gary we stayed at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel which is part of the Bonvoy hotel group . I am a Titanium with Bonvoy. We just stayed there for one night last month since we were going on a cruise the next day. The Hotel rooms look clean when you take a glance. Once you get closer they are horrifying . All the furniture is stained. We put towels on them to just sit. The worst came when it was time to go to bed. We pulled out the sofe bed to find it looked like a crime scene . I have to say they did not care to much. I have travel a lot and I can say this hotel will go down in my top 5 worst hotels. Up till now I only had 4.

  7. I have to call attention to a dangerous condition present at a lot of the Marriott brand bathrooms where the bathroom lights operate via motion sensor. This is dangerous because the motion sensor does not detect when someone is in the bathtub/shower and the light turns off which can cause the guest who is unable to see in the dark to slip and fall. I get that the hotels are watching their profit margins but the potential for serous bodily injury should supersede any money saved from bathroom light use. To prevent injury in the shower, Mr. Marriott should require all the Marriott brand hotel bathrooms to have lights operated by an on/off switch.

    Since I am on a roll with my comments, I am also going to address a feature that Marriott is lacking. The Hilton brand has the digital key feature where the guest check in via the Hilton app on their cellphone. The digital key is sent to the phone, and the app says to tap it to unlock the hotel room door. Marriott tell guests to use their app to check in but it is a worthless step since the guest still has to check in again at the front desk with their id and credit card. Hilton has had the digital key feature since 2015 and I am sure Hilton would not have had the digital key feature all these years if there had been any problem resulting from it. Marriott should install the digital key feature and see it in a way as it will benefit the hotels by savings on employee labor costs.

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