My Wife and I decided to take the SPG plunge and book a Friday night at The Westin Houston Downtown for first Starwood experience. Since it was an Astros home game each Friday night after the game is a great fireworks display so I booked a corner room which is would be right across the street from Minute Maid Park to view the show.
I checked in via the mobile app and arrived just after 3 PM. The valet was full of attendants so no waiting to get your car checked in at all and they took pictures of the vehicle condition just in case of any possible issues when you picked it up which was a great idea.
When we arrived at the front desk we were met by a nice young lady and I told her this was our first Starwood property to which she could have actually cared less about. Since I had already booked the exact room type we wanted I only needed to make sure we had the correct corner view so no worries about an upgrade. She did ask if I wanted the Platinum bonus points of 500 or something else. Well since it was our first stay I inquired about what were my options......hmmmm lets see, breakfast in the restaurant for guess how many....yep, just ONE!!!! Kidding right, I've got to pay for breakfast for my Wife.....ahhh no thanks give me the points please. So I then asked about the Executive Lounge. Ahhhh, what Lounge. This joint in downtown Houston does not have an Executive Lounge, again kidding right!!!! And to top if off, no pool either (not that we wanted one mind you)...no pool in Houston, Texas. WOW Needless to say we were very underwhelmed by our first five minutes of our first Starwood experience. My Wife said in the elevator to the room, "take me to a Marriott"!!!
Arriving at our room things got instantly better. A huge corner room with large windows and right next to Minute Maid Park was what we found when we opened the door. Things are looking up for sure and of course the bed must be tested for comfort immediately.
The bed was great, bathroom awesome and all so very clean as well as quite fresh aroma of the room. A nice touch for the Mrs., was they had a small bottle of Lavender Oil (one of if not her favorite oil) so all was well with the joint regardless of how it started out downstairs with being slightly disappointed with our welcome.
Quickly unpacking it was time to get out amongstem and head across the parking lot of the Westin to Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse for a glass of Vino before they filled up with pre-game patrons. As we decided to make this a progressive evening as we were not attending the game this time, we next picked a place on the other side of the Westin across the street to Potente – Upscale Italian in Downtown Houston for our next glass of Wine and a tiny appetizer (actually HUGE) of LEMON ARTICHOKE HUMMUS 5 CRISPY ARTICHOKES, CRUSHED PISTACHIO, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, ARTISAN BREAD that was outstanding.
Getting to be about 6 PM and we needed to walk off our little appie we wanted to visit the what some might call the Marriott crown jewel property in downtown, the Hotels in Houston, Texas | Marriott Marquis Houston Downtown. This is the place with the lazy river pool in the outline of Texas on the 6th floor of some 29. The place was full of folks attending conventions (name tags nothing anything as nice as our TIPPLE name tags thanks to nationwide) as it is connected by a walkway to the George R. Brown Convention Center | Houston Conventions. Our overall impression of the Marquis was it is a new glitzy hotel that seems more like Times Square, loaded with people dashing here and there, not nearly as quaint and quiet as our Westin was nor the Hotels in Houston | Autograph Collection | Hotel ICON Houston, or our TIPPLE place the Downtown Houston Hotels | JW Marriott Houston Downtown. So glad we did not stay there even though I was going to try and steal the Presidential Suite that nationwide was promised!!
Enough of the Marquis so we walked across the street (getting the idea things are pretty close around downtown) to a great fun spot for a bite, dinner and drinks at Grotto Ristorante - Downtown Houston, Texas. This place is nothing like the other Grotto Restaurants around neither in decor, menu or staff. This was our second visit to the place and once again plopped down at the Pizza making bar where sure enough the Executive Chef Sean was holding court. Sean is a friendly bright happy guy who enjoys seeing folks enjoy great food, fun atmosphere and sharing some of his favorite things with you. WOW did he ever knock it out with some of his imported thin sliced meats...YIKES that is soooooo good. Brianna was our server and was on top of everything from the moment we sat down and coordinated with Sean for our every desire (not that there were any). Since they were making our Pizza taste buds scream watching them make all the lovely pies, Sean recommended the Chef Special Pie that was loaded with roasted veggies on a very thin crispy crust which was cooked to perfection. Perfect combination of everything one could want on a somewhat healthy Pizza. It was so nice to see Sean taking time with a new guy who was assisting him that evening and instructing him in ways to present dishes, preparation of things and interacting with guests the entire time. Kudos Sean, you probably kick started that young mans career....bravo!!!
Hey, it's the bottom of the 7th inning, we gotta go get a glass of Wine and get settle in our room for the fireworks display. Thankfully our Stros won the game 3-1 and we were all set in the room. With the roof opened after the game the 20 minute show was pretty darn good.
Great show and sound even through the huge soundproof windows.
We awoke well rested on Saturday morning to find the "Juice Box" roof still open from the night before, guess to get some natural light and air inside for the field.
We decided to head homeward and get on the bicycles for the 10 minute rude to our Woodlands, TX | Restaurants In The Woodlands | Kona Grill for some Sushi before getting things started and working around the house.
After a shower and packing up we were off the get the car from the valet gang. Oh but not so fast.......valet ticket has no number to call from the room only a number to text them. Okay so we text them and checked out of the room via the TV, grabbed the keys to return to the front desk and headed out. As I handed the keys to the fella at the front desk he could have cared less that we stayed there, not even a grunt out of him let alone a thank you. Hmmm interesting. Outside I hand the valet ticket to the attendant and there our car it no where to be found. Nice, we gave them some 15 minutes to get the thing and it was only in the parking lot between the hotel and Vic & Anthony's. I asked where was our car and the attendant told me, "oh Sir, you have to come down here on Saturday/Sunday before we bring your car out since we have limited space"!! Well, on the ticket it clearly states only on Sunday must you present the ticket to the attendant before they bring you the car. The guy laughed and said, "well you got me"! When the car appeared he asked for our room number which seemed odd until we got home and checked out bill online.....he credited us the valet charge for our small tiny trouble. That was way overboard yet very well done. Thank you so much.
So all in all as we had a nice uneventful drive north on the Hardy Toll road toward the house we decided the Westin was pretty good even with the underwhelming welcome when we got to the hotel. We will probably pick the JW first and the Westin second on our next visit downtown for a concert, game, show or just a night downtown enjoying the diverse foods and sights of H-Town.
Thanks much for reading and hope everyone has a great Marriott/Starwood stay in their future.