Georgia’s flagship Marriott hotel is a city unto itself
STORY: H.M. Cauley
With 1,663 guestrooms, 94 suites, a sports bar, wellstocked market and gift shop, lobby bar, upscale dining room, spa, fitness center, indoor/outdoor pool and its own Starbucks, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is not unlike a docked cruise ship. In fact, the spectacular soaring lobby, almost an optical illusion of curved railings and walkways that stretch 47 floors overhead, is reminiscent of a giant liner ready to set sail.
For those looking to escape the day-to-day stress of work, family and other responsibilities, the hotel on Peachtree Center Avenue downtown is an ideal place to hide. It’s only about a half-hour drive from Buckhead and a block from a MARTA station, so guests can leave the car behind as well. Once checked in, it’s easy to get pulled into the energy that spills across the 500-foot-high atrium lobby, usually bustling with business travelers, partygoers, vacationing families and convention attendees looking for one of the many ballrooms that make up the 160,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The Pulse bar, topped by a miter-shaped dome that changes colors throughout the day and night, is the lobby’s gathering spot, where guests and locals alike settle in for a cocktail at the bar itself or in a raised lounge area with views of all the hubbub below.
And gather they do, not just to drink, but to marvel at this masterpiece of architecture. Created by noted Atlanta architect and developer John Portman, the building still boasts the ambitious and breathtaking design that first wowed the hospitality world when it opened in 1985. A fast, smooth ride up in the glass elevators that look out over the atrium still makes ears pop and jaws drop.
But the Marquis is the kind of place where a guest looking to get away from it all can bypass the busy spots and retreat to a well-appointed room with all the right comfort requirements: soft beds, crisp linens, spacious bathrooms and attentive room service ready to handle requests from full-on meals to missing toothbrushes. The higher up the room, the more breathtaking the views: From the enormous plate-glass windows of the top floors, the vista extends for miles, from Kennesaw Mountain to the north to the Hartsfield-Jackson airport control tower in the south. A wide promenade circling the 10th floor offers broader views of the entire city as well as a perch for looking down into the lobby.
Along with gawking, guests will find a variety of relaxing options. Settle into a soothing massage followed by a stop in the steam shower at the spa. Unwind in the heated indoor/ outdoor pool beneath a glass dome surrounded by the city’s nearby skyscrapers. Be pampered in the upscale Sear restaurant, where dinner is apt to feature a few dishes made with the hotel’s own honey. A weekend stay’s highlight is the Sunday brunch buffet, built to rival a cruise ship’s lavish outlay of chef-created omelets and waffles, chilled shrimp, salads, pastries and a lox station complete with all the flavorful accompaniments.
As big as the Marquis is, it hasn’t lost the attention to detail. In fact, its dedication to the guest experience was recently honored by Marriott International, which named the Marquis the company’s 2017 Americas Hotel of the Year— a recognition well-suited for its cruise-ship-on-land status.
ATLANTA MARRIOTT MARQUIS
265 Peachtree Center Avenue
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.