on March 14, 2008
A five to ten minute drive from the center of Port-of-Spain (and most of the Carnival action), the Courtyard is convenient though not particularly scenic. The hotel property abuts a highway, across from which is the Hasely Crawford stadium where some of the pre-Mas events are held, but there are no views. It is next to a large mall which can provide decent shopping and dining, but nothing terribly authentic. The hotel itself is fantastic, and exactly what you’d expect of a well-run chain hotel. The staff is exceptionally courteous and helpful, and will answer any questions you might have. They can also call for taxis and maxis (minibuses) and even helped me arrange the collection of a credit card that I’d left at another hotel. The rooms are large and clean and maintained efficiently. They contain a safe which I used to some degree, but in my fatigue one day, I’d left a US$20 bill lying out. If it had been taken, I never would have remembered it was even there, but sure enough, it had been left alone. The truth is, over the course of Carnival, one tends to stumble into the hotel room, exhausted and over-served, only to sleep a couple of hours and go at it again, so it was extremely reassuring to know that I did not have to scour my room each time I left and returned.The food is fine. To be honest, the food in Trinidad is good, but not amazing. There are some exceptions, which I’ll get to in another review, but it’s mostly your standard rice, beans, chicken, and pork. There is almost always a vegetable served with meals, and most places, including the hotel, are pretty accommodating to vegetarians. Sorry, vegans, I don’t know whether they look after you. However, cassava and curry are also used liberally and everything, if not amazing, is appetizing and filling. The main dining room at the Marriott is buffet-style but will take orders off of a menu that is similar to the room service menu and which includes sandwiches, burgers, salads, and a few more local dishes like empanada-like appetizers. There is also a small cantina adjacent to the front desk which sells a variety of sundries and is open 24 hours. It is worthwhile to note that you can buy Stag or Carib beer here at any hour of the day or night, and for slightly less than the bar a mere 10 yards away. So, if you happen to spend most of the late-night hours cavorting around the pool—also open 24 hours—make the effort to get out of your chair to snag an armful of Stag rather than wait for someone to ask you what you’d like from the bar. The pool is not huge or deep, but is perfect for a dip after a long day of dancing in the sun. The sun stays overhead for a while, and I spent most days sipping a cold brew amidst the palms around the pool, waiting for night to come. There is also a small grassy area (I’m hard-pressed to call it a lawn) that looked as though it were being considered for renovation. I don’t know what they’d do with it, but I’d suggest lawn bowling or horseshoes, or at least some flowerbeds. If you’re planning on participating in Carnival and need a clean, comfortable, convenient place to stay, this would do nicely. It’s not as central or as high-end as the brand new (as of February 2008) Hyatt Waterfront, but it was more than pleasant and the staff was very kind.
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