A view of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina by boat
A view of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina by boat

The waterfront location and recent $107 million renovation at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina’s (333 W. Harbor Drive in San Diego, CA; 619-234-1500) truly make the place one of a kind. Following an extensive makeover of the resort’s 1,360 guest rooms and public areas, the hotel has completed its overhaul of the meeting and events space—where now hangs a unique Swarovski crystal ceiling installation with 44,000 crystals!


The foyer to the new ballroom at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
The foyer to the new ballroom at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

The ribbon-cutting—and the ballroom!
To celebrate the grand (re)opening, hotel executives, officials and guests—including me—attended a kick-off event complete with acrobats to show off the new space. General Manager Tuni Kyi and the San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, among others, cut the ribbon to complete the hotel’s extensive makeover. The mayor noted that “Marriott is synonymous with quality.” And he thinks the public will be impressed by this stunning space:

“The natural light and the views of the city [make it] a remarkable edition to our waterfront,” said Mayor Faulconer.

The much-anticipated completion includes a new two-level stacked meeting space and terrace and a public walkway—Marina Walk—that makes it easier for anyone to access the marina from a new direction. General Manager Tuni Kyi calls the Marina Walk “downtown San Diego’s window to the bay.” The walk also features two public works of art—illuminated waves and a kelp forest—by a Los Angeles-based art collective.

Champagne ladies hand out champagne
Champagne ladies hand out champagne

After the official ribbon-cutting, festivities continued with acrobats showing off the beautiful new ceiling of the grand ballroom while doing some seriously awesome maneuvers. And champagne ladies (above) handed out the sparkling beverage by pulling champagne flutes off their dress for guests. Sushi stands, sliders, fresh seafood, meat, cheeses, and local wine and beer all helped to make it a fitting celebration.


Acrobats after the ribbon-cutting
Acrobats after the ribbon-cutting

At the Marriott: The largest ballroom on the west coast
The updated, 36,000-square-foot ballrooms (Marriott Grand Ballroom and Pacific Ballroom) can each hold up to 3,700 guests, and each has earned billing as the largest ballrooms on the west coast. The foyers themselves are 25,000 square feet, allowing a party to be extended if need be. The new space gives the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina 280,000 square feet of meeting space in total.

The ballroom’s beautiful blue glass reminds guests of the sea behind them at the marina while creating a comfortable and functional space indoors. The most special details, to me, are the wave patterns on the ceilings and “Tidal,” the unique Swarovski crystal ceiling installation.

Also new with the renovation is the Marina Terrace, which can hold 4,000 people and offers beautiful views overlooking the marina.


Spa relaxing room
Spa relaxing room

At the Marriott: Wellness throughout the property
The Hideaway spa is a special treat, offering massage, skin care and body treatment services inside the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. While the spa is smaller and the water amenities aren’t found here (there are two whirlpools outside), I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had here. Lori Bloom was amazing because she actually listened to my massage needs (I feel like I give the same directions to all of them, but few listen). She did some extra stretches with me and utilized a combo of different massage techniques. The spa does a lovely lemongrass and sage oil blend featuring Yon-Ka. No wonder she’s been in the business for 25 years; she gets the best skill of massage, which is listening.

Inside my room, I loved that the guestrooms had in-room yoga channels. It motivated me to get out and go to a class with hotel yoga guru Hella Neumann.

"Persian Majoon" smoothie: banana, yogurt, honey, dates, pistachios, sesame seeds, walnuts, coconut, and almonds
“Persian Majoon” smoothie: banana, yogurt, honey, dates, pistachios, sesame seeds, walnuts, coconut, and almonds

This Marriott Marquis also offers healthy food and drink options, which Hella helped create. I got to try one of her smoothie concoctions, “Persian Majoon” with banana, yogurt, honey, dates, pistachios, sesame seeds, walnuts, coconut, and almonds. It was so yummy!!


Beef hanger steak
Beef hanger steak

At the Marriott: Eating well
The Marriott Marquis has four restaurant options plus a Starbucks on property. The Exchange is great for a quick grab-and-go meal. They make fresh, hot, made-to-order sandwiches. The Tequila Bar & Grille is cool because you can snack on some gourmet tacos outside overlooking the pool there.

I highly recommend Marina Kitchen with Chef Aron Schwartz. Try the poached Maine lobster, Chino Farms artichokes, local squash blossom and beef hanger steak. During my days at this hotel, I got to sample some wine from Banchee in Sonoma and my favorite was the pinot noir. The restaurant has a pretty extensive wine program with a tasting bar. They also started “wine hangouts” that feature notable winemakers. I got to meet the winemaker from Banchee and his personality and love for what he does makes me want to add this winery to my next Sonoma visit (for my last Sonoma wine visit, see this story)!

Beekeeping happens on the roof of the hotel!
Beekeeping happens on the roof of the hotel!

Also, if you happen to get a dish with honey incorporated in it, the honey is probably from the urban beekeeping project that’s operated upstairs on the hotel’s terrace. The hotel works with a local beekeeper to get the bees in place and bam… they get raw honey culled from the honeycombs. (Sounds cool under supervision, but probably not the thing to experiment with at home!) Programs like this and the wine hangouts add an extra something special to the experience of hotel dining.

Nearby the Marriott: Food, shopping & more
The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is in a great location next to the San Diego Convention Center and two blocks from the all of the Gaslamp District action (shopping and great nightlife). If you venture off the property for dinner, check out Grant Grill for a fantastic dining experience of white-linen table tops, beautiful chandeliers, and a solid craft cocktail or local beer. Be sure to try the scallops and local fish of the day.


View from my room at the pool and marina
View from my room at the pool and marina

Nearby the Marriott: Marina activities
The hotel has two pools and whirlpools, which I could see (along with the marina) from my room. After I spent a bit of time relaxing at the pool, I went out to the marina. I did some stand-up paddleboarding with Seaforth Boat Rental (located right next to the hotel). The temperature was a perfect 80ºF, and exploring the boats in the marina proved to be a great arm workout.

The 60-foot catamaran
The 60-foot catamaran Adventuress

Later that day, we had a real treat with the Adventuress, a 60-foot sailing catamaran private charter. The yacht was so nice, with extra space up front and classy blue bean-bag couches that made for an extra-comfy sailing experience. We had endless drinks (the owners always kept our glasses full) throughout the afternoon ride. We snacked on appetizers of shrimp, eggplant, olives, cheeses, meats, and more—enough for a whole dinner.

For more on the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, visit sandiegomarquis.com. All photos credited to Caitlin Martin.


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