Iowa doesn’t have many large convention centers, especially those large enough to hold an anime convention of over 2,000 attendees. Fortunately, the Coralville Marriott Hotel / Conference Center offered enough space for the convention, but at a price as well. The Marriott boasts over 60,000 sq feet of convention and event space, and has over 7 floors for rooms. From the moment you enter this Marriott, you can be pleased with the decor. The warm red and orange colors decorating the chairs and couches in the lobby area give off a warm feeling, and the large crystal chandelier helps brighten up the inside. The hallways on the inside of the convention center looked good too, kept clean and decorated neatly with few, if any, blemishes in the decor.
The most important part of the entire hotel, however, is it’s convention space. The hotel was designed for events and conventions, meaning that most guests will be spending a majority of their time in the convention space. Fortunately for them, the Marriott’s convention space earns an A. For starters, there was plenty of space for all the events. And even though you had to walk the entire length of the hotel to get from the front desk to the largest convention space, it was worth it considering the massive airplane-hanger size space. The rest of the event rooms were well decorated with carpet and tended to have a positive ambiance.
The staff on hand were, in general, very pleasant and easy to work with. After speaking to several of the staff members, whom said they thought our huge group (ie, the anime convention) was one of the most interesting/unique groups they’ve had in the hotel. The front desk staff were friendly, although I noticed that they did not multi-task well. For example, if you were to go to Burger King, and try to ask for ketchup after you ordered, you would be in the situation where the person at the counter forced you to wait until they were finished helping the other person before handing you a little ketchup. Overall, however, the bellhop was friendly, and smiled the entire time, and the lady who seemed in charge of the bartending at night did a good job at conversing just the right amount with the guests.
The pool was one of the downfalls of the hotel. For such a massive convention center and hotel, the pool was one of the smallest I’ve seen. I was disappointed with the pool which was near the size of my 22′ pool in my backyard. Even though the hotel expects mostly business guests, and may have considered the pool excess and unneeded, they failed to consider the various other possible groups they might want to accommodate, which may include large families in need of entertainment for their children.
Once you arrive in your hotel room, however, you may find yourself a little less pleased. Upon first entering the rooms, they seem a little smaller than what you would be hoping for the sort of price you pay. When you finally unpack and take a longer look around the room, you begin to notice it is bigger than you first thought, although not by much. The drastic height of the king sized bed gives the illusion of less space, making the room seem almost cramped at first. Fortunately, there is still plenty of space in the rooms for 5-6 people, and they even managed to suffice for room parties of over 12 people at a time.
The price, which was discounted to $99 per night for our event, was not the worst in the world – I’ve seen much worse. But their standard price of $129 per night, or $149 per night (which includes little extra other than breakfast), makes the wallet sore. More importantly, the hotel actually charges you an extra $8 per day just to park in their parking ramp! This made the actual cost of the room $107 per night for my event, and normally $137, and $157 respectively.
Overall, this Coralville Marriott was a positive experience. Their prices were high, but I assume that is too be expected with the sort of “luxury” hotel that Marriotts tend to be. The pool was, however, much too small considering the hotel’s size, but the convention space was nearly overwhelming. Considering price, decor, and the size of the pool should all be factors when considering this hotel. And watch for the $8 per day parking cost.