Just back from a fun filled family weekend in San Diego, where the extended "fam" booked a block of (6) suites at the San Diego Marriott Vacation Club Pulse. The occasion was my Mom and Step Dad's golden wedding anniversary. As I recall, someone asked me to report back on the property, so I thought I'd take the time to share my experience.
To review, Marriott Vacation Club Pulse is a somewhat recent brand extension of Marriott's Vacation Club. It comprises a unique (and presently small) collection of properties in vibrant cities.
There are currently 5 properties, located in:
- Boston - at Custom House, great location, swanky rooms, observation deck with stunning views.
- New York City - Mid town location, walking distance from both Penn and Grand Central Stations, and just next to SHS and FFI in the garment district, roof top bar with spectacular views, and once again, swanky rooms.
- Washington DC - At the historic Mayflower Hotel (Autograph Collection) property, occupies the 7th floor.
- South Beach, Miami - In a historic building in the Art Deco District with a laid back vibe, near shopping, dining and a vibrant night life.
- San Diego - A stylish downtown retreat that perfectly blends historic ambiance with a modern, urban vibe. As I found out, it is close to practically - everything in the heart of the city.
The purpose of the brand extension is to provide Vacation Club owners with more city-centric vacation options. They can trade their weeks there, but also, any Marriott Rewards member can book a stay there for either cash or reward points, subject to availability.
The San Diego Pulse property is located in downtown San Diego on A street, near Cortez Hill (and the Historic Cortez Hotel.) At first I thought the location seemed a bit out of the way from all of the happening action. It didn't take long for me to find out that my impression was mistaken.
Getting There. I arrived at San Diego International airport early Friday morning on my new fave small jet, an E-175, having waived the breakfast offering (sweets for breakfast, in this case a banana muffin, just don't appeal to me) and well ahead of the 4pm hotel check in time. I walked out of the terminal, and waited a very short time for bus #992 (which circulates between downtown and the airport) at the stop directly outside of the Alaska Airlines ticketing counter. Normally, I take the 5 minute bus ride to the Santa Fe Depot, where I hop off, cross Broadway Street and then hop aboard the train to North County where my step-Mom lives, however this time my destination was San Diego proper. I stayed on the bus past Kettner Blvd and promptly got off just 2 short stops later at Broadway & 6th, at a cost of $2.25 ($1.10 for seniors, and exact change, please). There are always people on this bus with luggage, so I didn't appear out of place at all. From this stop, I made the short walk to 7th Street, and then headed 2 blocks north to B Street. At B street, I crossed and turned right, where I entered the lobby of The San Diego Symphony. This was an easy peasy walk with luggage as the blocks are small. Why go through the San Diego Symphony building on B Street? Because it avoids the hill up to A Street! In the elevator lobby, you hit the 12th floor button. The elevator then takes you up to the back side of the main floor of the San Diego Pulse. Walk through the Shake Lounge to the Front Desk Lobby and voilà!, you're there.
The morning I arrived and throughout the entire weekend, the skies were a gorgeous blue, with temperature in the mid 70's and a light breeze. Our weather man at home refers to this as 'A California Classic'. Yes it was.
(This photo was actually the morning I departed.)
Now if you choose to arrive by car or taxi (seriously, don't take a taxi) or Uber, this is what you'll see. Just to the right, on the close end of the building, is the parking garage. SUV's are not allowed, and there is a reason for this. The turns are so tight, big cars just won't make it, and it's wise to believe this. My sister joked that she got so dizzy driving the spiral ramp, that at one point she had to stop to keep her head from spinning! She then declared that the car wasn't budging until check out (she and her husband don't do valet, he didn't arrive until the next day). Everyone else used the valet, which is probably a good idea. Also, though almost any place of interest can be reached on foot from this property, Ubers are plentiful, and it doesn't cost more than about $5.50 to go anywhere downtown (my mom was on crutches and had to Uber everywhere).
Up in the lobby, I was warmly greeted by Lysette. I asked if I could valet my luggage since it was so early. While we were going over the room assignments, my room suddenly became ready. It was around 10:30am. At a Vacation Club. Yay! Amazing. Delightful! (And later, we were also given a slightly late check out too, of 12pm.) Impressive.
Looking across the lobby to the Shake Lounge. Shake? (Martini, anyone?) Anyway, it was nice. Before heading up to the room, I crossed over to the Concierge Desk to speak with Carlo and Tommy, who were helping us with our Friday night dinner reservations in Old Town at Casa de Reyes. They did a great job setting the 12 of us up. On Sunday, all of the staff were sporting San Diego Padres baseball jerseys. The Padres - and the Marlins - were in town. We are acquainted (almost family in a way) with one of the Marlin's starting pitchers, so usually watch them when they come to town (once/year), but this time we were occupied, and well, we were with the other side of the family this time.
On the opposite end of the Shake bar/lounge/restaurant and to the left, is the elevator bank that will take you to the ground floor of the SD Symphony on B street (a nice little shortcut when headed in that direction for Petco Park, Gaslamp District, Seaport Village, Midway Museum, etc.) Breakfast is served here in the mornings, but not complimentary.
Check out some of the unique furnishings. I loved this scissor lift table. They used a lot of faux iron works as design elements, which appealed to me.
I also liked this very tall, ceiling to floor metal mesh curtain, like you might see over a fireplace. Cool.
While the lobby is on the 12th floor (accessed directly from the ground level), our rooms were on the 23rd floor. A key was required to operate the elevators, which extended to the 35th floor.
This is an all suite property. My sister and I had a 2 bedroom connecting suite, which was really just two suites next door to each other with a connecting door. And - weirdly perhaps - our room keys worked on both doors from the hallway. The suites were a bit small, but very comfortable with modern styling. I didn't have a view of anything and the windows were really dirty, but it wasn't a big deal. I spent very little time in the room. Frosted glass doors seems to be the new 'it' thing with Marriott these days.
Signature towel animal. He was so cute, I couldn't mess him up.
I liked the bathroom. Nice and large with clean lines.
Interesting bath products.
After the obligatory photos, it was time to shed the flying clothes in favor of flip flops and short sleeves and head out the door for an explore and some exercise. For all the times I've been to San Diego, I've never hit the Gaslamp District. It was time to do that. This was when I discovered how close this property is to virtually everything. I walked through the Gaslamp District to Petco Park in short order, looking for possible dining venues. There was no shortage. From there I headed over to Seaport Village and back. I found a few dining establishments that looked promising, and in no time I found my home at Provisional Kitchen for some light gourmet fare while sitting outside and enjoying the weather. Some other really great places that I scoped out for Gaslamp dining were Lion Fish (no website?), Jsix, which is right across the street from Water Grill, where my sister and I took my Mom for lunch the next day (step-Dad hung back and watched sports), and we loved it. Later at dinner, my step-brother reported that he and his husband walked from the SD Pulse to Balboa Park. I was so surprised and delighted to find out how close it actually was/is. Also, at dinner at Casa de Reyes in Old Town, though we took an Uber, I realized just how easy it would be to take the trolley. I imagine there is a way to get to Sea World on public transportation as well. One really can get around San Diego pretty handily on foot or public transit, then just saving a car rental for the days when you might want to head over to Liberty Station, Point Loma, Coronado Island, San Diego Wild Animal Park or La Jolla.
My Gaslamp Dining Finds
That evening, we Uber'ed over to Old Town where we dined at Casa de Reyes. What a super fun and festive place. The outdoor seating was perfect, and is surrounded by little quaint shops. In the center is a stage where live music played and by the time we departed, the dancing had begun.
Casa de Reyes - Old Town San Diego
The next evening, we enjoyed our big event, the anniversary dinner, at de Medici's in the Gaslamp. They were just great, having set up our table the night before and let us come over in the afternoon to decorate. It was a fun, memorable evening!
The next morning, prior to departure, my sis, her husband and I walked down to Little Italy for some breakfast at a popular bakery that we heard about, PAPPALECCO. It was popular alright. The line was out the door, but we managed to snag a table outside. It's small, with an uninspired store front, but the food was pretty good. I discovered that I might even like Little Italy as much as, if not more than the Gaslamp District. They are in the process of turning a couple of blocks into a pedestrian promenade, and it looks like it will be fantastic. They have a Christopher Columbus Festival every year, and the promenade should be completed in time for that.
Famous Italian baseball players. I think I know a certain cubsfan here on Insiders who may appreciate this.
Before I knew it, it was time to say good-bye to the clan and head back up the coast on other business. In closing, I have to say that I was very happy with the San Diego Vacation Club Pulse. Would I stay there again? Quite possibly, however there are numerous Marriott options, including a few SPG options. Upon further meditation, I think quite probably I'd put this property high on the list of San Diego options.
I do have reservations for the Vacation Club Pulse in South Beach this August, for the purpose of seeing the Marlins play on their home turf (and there by check Marlins Park off of myball park bucket list.) , maybe I should try to get to all of the Vacation Club Pulses after all. And with DC also on the horizon in September, I seem to be well on my way.
Bonus Report - Vacation Club Pulse - Washington, DC
The Mayflower Hotel, formerly a Renaissance property and now an Autograph Collection property, has opened a section for Vacation Club Pulse. It's on the 7th floor. And so speaking of DC, my folks stayed at the Vacation Club Pulse in DC last October. Here are their thoughts... via text...
Me: "I want to blog about MVC Pulse. What can you tell me about your stay at the Mayflower Pulse?"
Mom: "Urban and elegant and very roomy. Had a one bedroom suite. Restaurant food excellent. Best clam chowder ever ( emoticon is my editorial. ). Easy walk to everything."
Me: "Tell me about the suite. What amenities? Coffee makers? Tub/shower or separate? Did you have CL access?"
Mom: (Sends photos). "These photos will help. Not sure about shower/tub. Mini fridge, yes. Large mirrored wall added to spacious look at entry and the fireplace was a nice touch."
Me: "Beautiful, thanks. Did you have a coffee maker? Did you have CL access?"
Mom: "Yes, we had a coffee pot and CL access. Food offerings a step above most (in U.S.). Pasta and salad offered along with a variety of other things. Not crowded when we were there and had dinner in the CL when it was raining. CL closed on weekends (but serves breakfast)."
Me: "And one last question... Was the fireplace in the bedroom too or just in the living room? And were complimentary adult beverages served in the CL?"
Mom: "The fireplace was only in the living room. Yes, for a $5 charge."
Me: "Thanks, Mom. You're a Rock Star."
Thanks for reading!!