And I am not alone - check out all of the comments on Trip Advisor. Frankly, I am at a loss as to what to do (if there is anythign I can do)
I stayed at the Reef portion of this property for five days around New Years. The resort is in a beautiful location but the staffing was, with one exception, horrible. They told us that the hotel was sold out but there clearly were not enough staff at the front desk, in housekeeping, maintenance or in any of the bars/restaurants. Two years ago I stayed at the JW Marriott in Costa Rica for New Years - which is 100 times better than this hotel.
Let's start by noting that I am a Platinum Elite Marriort Rewards member. The hotel was not cheap (minimum +450/night plus fees) so I used rewards points and then paid $130/night for the "upgrade" (which was the only way to use points) plus $30/day resort fee; when i made th reservvation this room was on the web at +$600/night). I had an "upgraded" room - the room was not large so I assume it was because of the water view. The air conditioner was very loud.
We paid the mandatory $30/day resort fee. We did not know until day 3 that this meant we should get some bottled water daily (which we did NOT get most days) or could use beach chairs/umbrellas/ tennis courts/water sports. If you are going to make people pay a resort fee, you must tell them what it includes.
The hotel manager emailed me in advance to find out when my party would arrive; I told them my flight arrived at 1:30. We arrived at the hotel at 2:20pm and after waiting for 25 minutes, I was told the room was not ready but should return in an hour or so. We went to one of the onsite places (Coco Joe's) for lunch; service was slow but not bad. We returned at 5pm and the room still was not ready (after waiting for 15 minutes). Walking to the room, the hallway smelled faintly like a sewer, which continued throughout the stay.
We had to call the front desk a few times over the stay; more likely than not, no one answered the phone so we had to keep hanging up and re-calling.
Housekeeping is a disaster. We had a terrace and there was garbage on it from the people before us. Housekeeping did not empty the garbage cans when cleaning the room. There were dirty glasses on the table and they left them there when cleaning the room. On more than four occassions, I asked for additional towels - we never received them. Two out of five nights they did not give us the bottled water included in the resort fee (see below).
The beach is very pretty. Chairs are not reserved for resort guests so unless you set up chairs with towels by 8 am, you will not get a decent seat or umbrella. This was especially problematic the day that the cruiseships were in town. Lots of cruise people were in the chairs and/or under the umbrellas; the staff was not good at confirming that these folks had paid to use these items (and then ask them to move when they had not and refused to pay). The staff at the beach hut where you get towels/floaters/water sport stuff frequently disappeared. One day the man helped me with the floaters but generally they were unfriendly and unhelpful; for example, when we asked about renting a cabana, they didnt know whether one was available the next day and then never got back to us to tell us whether one was available; the next day, we were surprised to see that one was available to rent. Seriously what kind of service was that? Also, in five days, I only saw a waiter once walking around taking drink orders.
The one elevator to the beach did not work after our first day; apparently the area was under construction though the signs saying as much did not appear for another day. The one elevator to the waterside Reef rooms did not work for the last 3 days that we were at the resort; they told us that they were waiting for a part but come on - that is ridiculous. This meant that we had to use the emergency stairwells everytime we went anywhere. Thankfully we are able to carry our stuff to the beach and then for checkout, but I felt sorry for anyone unable to do so or who had heavy luggage, young children, etc.
The restroom for the beach was disgusting - toilet paper and paper towels all over, no soap or hot water. It may as well have been a public city bathroom.
The pools at the Reef are beautiful and well maintained; I did not look at the pool on the beach.
I expected the food onsite to be overpriced but tasty. It was overpriced but not at all tasty - it was pretty bland. And essentially the same thing at every place onsite. The service ranged from ok to horrible at all of the restaurants. The service at Azur Bar by the infinity pool was good. The service at the Sunset Bar was horrible; it should not take 15 minutes to order drinks when the bar is empty - the staff acts like they are doing you a favor by getting you drinks. Also, when I asked about the happy hour drink specials, they practically grunted at me. The service at Sunset Grill was worse - there were only two waitstaff for a full restaurant, so lunch took over 1.5 hours; it dids not help that the Reef restaurant layout is such that the waitstaff has to walk far to get drinks and food. The one day I had breakfast at Coco Joes, the staff was nice and let us order as they were transitioning to lunch; the meal and service were good. We left the resort as much as we could for meals; the one time we went a place strongly recommended by the hotel (Mims), it was ok - there were definately better places.
There is nowhere to get anything to eat or drink after 11 pm. What kind of resort does not have anything - even a vending maching - all night??? The one time the hotel staff provided good service was when the manager found us some drinks and snacks late night after the New Years Eve party.
My friend needed to use the dry cleaner after her sunscreen leaked in her bag. When she called the front desk, they told her not to drop it off that night because "we will lose it;" instead she should drop it off in the morning. While that might be honest, what kind of place admits they will lose your dry cleaning???
In sum, some of the service issues might be attributed to understaffing during a busy week (which clearly reflects poor management), but the overall unacceptable service means that this is a horrible Marriott.