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Even when you fill a hotel with 300 people, things can go sideways in Marriott land. Met at the door by a persnickety doorman, I was refused luggage service when I arrived and asked to drive around to the loading dock. What?! Well, there was a bit of music equipment, but in the past it has all fit on 2 carts. No bending of the rules for mr door weeny.

Too much luggage for the front door?  Nah.

Too much luggage for the front door? Nah.

So, instead of a welcome I got to bake in the heat, sweat through the shirt I was going to wear in a video shoot an hour later, and work with (the very able and excellent) security people. Hey Westfields, your front entrance situation needs a reboot. (FWIW, after a chat with the manager, the checkout situation went much more smoothly.)

Still from the video shoot.  Had to change shirts due to checkin SNAFU.

Still from the video shoot. Had to change shirts due to checkin SNAFU.

But there is some good news. The Internet situation has been fixed. Free, more reasonable net. Which when you are running a conference full of geeks (like last year) is important.

And there is some bad news. The shower still sucks in suite 130. I mean really, get a new shower in here. The rest of the room is far better.

This is the bad shower in 130 at the Westfields Marriott.

This is the bad shower in 130 at the Westfields Marriott.

After a long day, including a video panel, a talk, and a music performance, it was nice to retire to some wine and cheese left by the event staff. Thanks for that! It was demolished before I thought to take its picture.

The stage ready for some Gently Let Down by Catherine.

The stage ready for some Gently Let Down by Catherine.

There was fruit and cheese here last night?!

There was fruit and cheese here last night?!

Thanks for the note and the wine.

Thanks for the note and the wine.

All in all, the Westfields Marriott is an even better place for a meeting than in past years. But the staff needs some training and suite 130 needs a new shower. They can make you an espresso in a pinch though, and they’re actually pretty good at it.

Morning at the Marriott.

Morning at the Marriott.

Three showerheads for the Westfields. Run a meeting here, but don’t come here for the sleeping rooms.

Not that long ago, all 300 of us piled into the Westfields Marriott for a technical meeting of the minds. I just came back to this Marriott property to run another conference—smaller but including executives from 38 different firms dispersed around the world.

I stayed in the same room (130 which is the Presidential Suite). Sadly, they did not get around to fixing the shower since my last visit. So this well-appointed marble palace of a room is marred with a plastic shower curtain. Add that to the fact that the shower has no water pressure at all—an insufficient dribble—and we have a problem Houston. Miserable. Here in noplasticshowers-land that sort of problem is a fatal flaw.

This shower is not good.

This shower is not good.

One of these things is not like the others.

One of these things is not like the others.

The rest of the room is probably decorated about the same way it was when Ronald Reagan stayed here in the ’80s. New paint? New carpets? That would be nice. (Contrast with this.)

Living room.  Nice place for an '80s party.

Living room. Nice place for an ’80s party.

Fireplace (fake variety).  On switch.

Fireplace (fake variety). On switch.

And then down the spiral stairs.

Spiral down.

Spiral down.

To the room where nobody wants to hang out. Even when the full bar is put down there and there are too many people upstairs.

Yuck

Yuck

Need music? No problem. Some massive, heavy, metal core speakers can be hooked up with a metal box, RCA adapters, and thick cables to your ipod. Time warp!

The bed is nice.

Bedroom

Bedroom

But Marriott still has very bad Net that costs money?! Authentication systems straight out of the early ’90s too. yay?

Desk with a view.

Desk with a view.

Bathroom art (in bathroom 1)

Bathroom art (in bathroom 1)

No shower here.

No shower here.

We had some fun times in 130. The rent-a-cop came to visit once but then went on his way when informed that it was only 11pm.

All in all the Westfields Marriott is a very good place to hold a meeting. Nice facilities, but very very dated technology. Creaky internet with really stupid authentication (why is net not free here?!). A/V equipment manufactured before advanced alloys. A default liquor and wine list that needs work. But the food is great, and the lobby is gorgeous. Can’t win ’em all I guess.

All in all a three showerhead (a one head demotion) for this place. Hey Marriott, fix your shower!

For a month now, the Chicago Palomar has been leading the “battle of the Palomars.” With their artists suite hack, replete with house made jerky and a truly outstanding bar downstairs, they were looking like a lock. (Not to discount what San Francisco has been up to this year, I just need to get back there!) But Steph Vogel, GM at the DC Palomar has joined the game, and the Presidential Suite certainly doesn’t hurt!

Super friendly checkin. The valet guys remembered the mosquito.

Room 924 is not just a suite in name, with tons of room and stylish decor.

The fruit and cheese welcome package came in very handy as dinner was slated for late. And loyal readers already know how we feel about sparkling water here in noplasticshowersland.

Greetings

Greetings

What President would like this?

What President would like this?

It’s refreshing to be in a presidential suite that was designed well after the Reagan administration. Compare this gorgeous space to what the nearby Westfields Marriott has to offer. Kimpton = skinny pants, Marriott = khakis.

Presidential sleep land at the DC Palomar.

Presidential sleep land at the DC Palomar.

This chair is crazier than it looks from this angle.

This chair is crazier than it looks from this angle.

There are two bathrooms in this space, and room for a small gathering.

Powder room.

Powder room.

The master bath has a glass shower and a gigantic whirlpool tub.

Old school glass shower with a marble floor.

Old school glass shower with a marble floor.

The usual sink.

The usual sink.

A visit to obelisk (right next door) for said late dinner was solid, but not outstanding. A couple of the creations were remarkable. However, the day’s entres needed more sparkle. Fourth visit not a charm.

It got better.

Cupcakes and san pellegrino!

Cupcakes and san pellegrino!

Imagine that after a long boring meeting you walk in to drop off your computer and you are greeted with cupcakes and a specially concocted cocktail. Jerry Chou made day2 special. Thank you Jerry. (Hey Jacques, you know that sitting a manhattan around in a barrel after mixing it destroys the vermouth, but the guys at Urbana don’t.)

A nice dinner at Noras followed by a visit to Bourbon just up the street made the day complete. And what does Bourbon have in stock?

William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller

Hirsch 16 Reserve

Hirsch 16 Reserve

Day3 allowed for some time at the Phillips collection after a nice lunch at Bistrot du Coin. The Van Gogh Repetitions show is fantastic even if you have been to Amsterdam (where I will be Monday).

The permanent collection (Bonard)

The permanent collection (Bonard)

This Bonard of the purple person shares a theme with the Postal Worker edition six. Disappearing subject.

Purple person Bonard.

Purple person Bonard.

Dinner at the much anticipated Range (a Voltaggio restaurant) interesting. Won’t be going back. See review here.

Five showerheads and current lead in the battle of the Palomars to the DC Palomar. Better watch out San Francisco and Chicago!

Kandinski at the Phillips.

Kandinski at the Phillips.

It’s time for the annual Tech Fair again where we get the entire company together in Virginia for some face time. This year we have moved from the bunker just down the road to the Westfields Marriott.

What can I say, it’s a Marriott. Beats the Sawgrass. About in the same league as the Battle House.

I am in 130, the Presidential Suite. I guess the presidency is frozen in time sometime in the mid-’80s. It’s all about a color of beige that your HSA might approve of should you be forced to live in suburbia.

The big room angle 1.

The big room angle 1.

The big room angle 2.

The big room angle 2.

Bar in the big room (angle 3).

Bar in the big room (angle 3).

The bedroom is also beige, and also spacious.

Bedroom angle 1.

Bedroom angle 1.

Bedroom angle 2.

Bedroom angle 2.

Is there a welcome note? Some flowers? Maybe a bottle of wine? Nope. Even though I am filling this hotel with 200 people, the management seems confusedd about how to conduct business. Fantastic!

I take it back. From the department better late than never, Director of Event Planning Ellen Ouellette had some fruit, cheese and Peligrino delivered along with a note. Thanks Ellen. Looks like Jennifer is wielding the power of the blog. After our 2am raid, here’s what’s left.

Remains of the day.

Remains of the day.

And then there is the bathroom situation.

Marble bidet?  Check.

Marble bidet? Check.

No shower in the tub room (no window either).

No shower in the tub room (no window either).

Ouch.  Here's the shower.  In the public part of the space with a plastic shower curtain and a broken place where the door belongs.

Ouch. Here’s the shower. In the public part of the space with a plastic shower curtain and a broken place where the door belongs.

The meeting space seems very good, but I would never choose this hotel for myself in a million years. A low four showerheads for Westfields.