Two years ago, we experienced some four showerhead luxury on Amelia Island off the coast of Florida. We’re back for another corporate event (the BSIMM Community Conference), once again with no spare time.

This time United upgraded both legs in and out. Global Services privileges are a good thing.

Great news about the Ritz-Carlton is that they’ve added a much better bar since we were here last. Better selection, and more importantly, bartenders who know what they’re doing.

Sadly, NPS was demoted from 832 (the huge Presidential Suite) to 432 for this visit. The 2018 room had a nice ocean balcony and was a very nice room in its own right. It just was not palacial.

432 has a long double balcony overlooking the Atlantic


Sitting room

Like last time, we were greeted on arrival on the property (in the hotel car service) by the staff. Really fun! Champagne and treats. Woo hoo!

Honey from the very local hives

Goodies included a cocktail book and a jigger made of salt

Sparkling water because someone pays attention

The 432 suite has two bathrooms.

Entrance hallway with a small bathroom

The bathroom itself is nicely appointed. Showers are not plastic.

The anteway entrance to the main bathroom has plenty of room

This is very likely the last Amelia Island corporate visit for NPS. Four showerheads again, and kudos for the bar upgrade. If you are into the luxurious big giant conference hotel thing, this is a strong iteration.

Do you rememebr the days when Ft Lauderdale was the hangout of the rich and well-heeled? Neither do we. But The Pillars was there. It has not changed much, but it is now surrounded on all sides but one with towering hotel monstrosities of every single hotel chain on earth.

If you have to stay in Ft Lauderdale, the Pillars is a great choice. Best just not to stay in Ft Lauderdale. Pick a different route to the Bahamas that does not involve Silver Air.

Though the hotel was empty except for one other room, we were still assigned a “suite” that was small and unremarkable. Overpay much? We did.

Wifi was free and decent. The HVAC system in the room was creaky, loud, and needs to be replaced.

The bed takes up the room

The desk/chair console under the window

Tiny bathroom

At least the shower has no plastic!

Dear all old school hotels. Please put some plugs above the surface on bedside tables. This is no longer a design novelty. EVERYONE has stuff to charge. Remember, that’s why you have wifi now.

Need to plug in a device?

Um, not how to do it

The pool (apparently set to 85 degrees)

Dinner was great at the restaurant downstairs by the water. Inspired salads and good wine selection. We were joined by tarpons and the worst Negroni ever created by humankind.

Sunset was beautiful over the waterway

Three showerheads and a leg up to the 1900s for The Pillars. Not worth the money. Just go there for dinner.

Lets tip our NPS hat to the people in marketing, shall we? We’re running a conference for a couple of hundred senior people down in Florida. So Amelia Island it is, and the Ritz-Carlton at that. Anyway, how does this property rate? Off the charts.

Room 832

Room 832

United pulled a ridiculous head fake on the way down: You’re upgraded. Oh, sorry, nevermind. Oh no wait, you ARE upgraded but now there is no room for your suitcase since you’re already seated in the back. In the end the trip was great and NPS appreciates the upgrade. Nice try united! Lets do it again and get it all right next time!!

The hotel provided car service at the airport, and our driver was superlative. He took a shortcut that saved us 20 minutes getting on the island. There was some evidence of hurricane damage on the sides of the road coming in. This island dodged a bullet when hurricane Matthew stayed off shore just two weeks ago.

We were greeted by name at the door with some champagne (which we sadly had to skip), and whisked up to 832 by gregarious staff. Outstanding greeting.

And the amenity shows that someone has been doing their homework. Cocktail? Yep. Sparking water? Yep. Hand written note? Yep. It’s all here and all awesome.

Pirate Loot (chocolate treasure, a cocktail, and sparkling water).

Pirate Loot (chocolate treasure, a cocktail, and sparkling water).

832 is nothing short of palacial. A gorgeous room with an incredible view of the ocean from its five balconies.

The suite has two main sections and 5 rooms.

Living area off the bedroom

Living area off the bedroom

832 bedroom

832 bedroom

Dining area

Dining area


Of course, we’re here for the showers. This non-plastic shower is also off the charts. Multiple shower heads and a bench? OK then.

Shower in the bathroom suite (itself several rooms)

Shower in the bathroom suite (itself several rooms)


The bar situation here is not good, which in 2016 is just plain sad. Sure, you can get some scotch if you try hard enough. But no bourbon to speak of. And if you order a proper cocktail (say, something like a sazarac) you will be sorely disappointed. Ever had a cocktail served hot in a glass straight from the dishwasher? How about a sazarac made with angostura? Yeah no.

Time to invest in some people who actually know what they’re doing Marriott. In the meantime, stick with the Mt Gay Extra Old rum (in a glass that has cooled off).

Four showerheads and a sincere wish for some more free time and a real bar for the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island. Gorgeous property run by hospitality experts.

It’s not as bad as the Disney Sheraton, but it’s close. I find myself trapped in a Marriott resort for a meeting. It smells like a Marriott, kind of dusty with hints of clorox.

Welcome to hall.  Always a cart or two out for your viewing pleasure.

Welcome to hall. Always a cart or two out for your viewing pleasure.

I am in glorious hamster cage number 428, which is distinguishable from all of the other rooms here only by its number. Here is what Marriott has for us today. (There are no flowers. There is no note. There is some water I can buy for $6.)

Rectangle view one.

Rectangle view one.

Rectangle view two.

Rectangle view two.

Yay! A plastic shower of the most banal possible type.

Plastic shower at the Marriott (well, what did you expect?!).

Plastic shower at the Marriott (well, what did you expect?!).



Maybe I can plug in my ipod? Uh, no. Should have brought along some CDs?! Really?

Real new "digital" technology.

Real new “digital” technology.

Yes, Marriott continues to bore. I’m afraid to even go down and look at the bar. When do I get to go to NY??

One sad drippy showerhead for this place. Avoid.

At least it's in Florida.

At least it’s in Florida.

Here’s a little story. A buddy and I came back from a late dinner last night and decided to have a night cap around 11. Fraternity boy server dude (think Spicoli only less cool) was asked to bring some sparkling water and two glasses when he brought our drinks, one glass with ice, another without. 15 minutes later he returns with a tiny bottle of Pelegrino. Said, “That’s a bit small to share, can you get us a big one instead?” Leaves for another 10 minutes. Returns with nothing. “There were no more big bottles,” he said, “Sorry, man.” “But what about the little bottle you brought before?” “Oh I gave that to someone else.” FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Marriott, what has become of hospitality in ‘merica?

And another. Having a breakfast meeting with a work buddy. Arrive a bit early and request a table. Ask server to sit by window. “Oh you can see just as well from here,” she says directing me to a decidedly non-window table. “I really don’t want to sit here, but I will if you make me.” Silence. “You see sir, sections, <blah blah blah middle management blather>." "Yes, but I don't want to sit here. Do you understand that? I will do so, but I don't want to." Sat there.

Story 3. Wrote down stuff that was broken in my room in a note and put a URL to this entry. When I was walking by the front desk they asked me how my stay was going. I said, “Glad you asked, here is some information about that.” Heard nothing at all from management about the note. Not even at checkout.

Speaking of which, the cute blond at checkout asks, “How was your stay with us? Did you enjoy your evenings?” “Not really. I provided some feedback about that.”
Blink. Blink. She replies. Silence. Nothing. Who trains these people?