My wife and I don’t often travel to the same place twice (except for obvious places like New York City) and we definitely don’t stay in the same hotel more than once very often. One exception is the Hilton Marco Island Resort.
This is the third year in a row we have stayed at this resort and the second straight year we have used our Hilton free night certificates. We had one available weekend for travel in May and the hotel was showing availability at the standard Hilton award rate of 90,000 points or $700+ per night (!)
Luckily I had earned two free night certificates at the end of last year when there was a bonus spending offer on the Amex Hilton Surpass card. As a Hilton Diamond member, I would also be eligible for some nice perks at the resort.
A few weeks before we traveled, I upgraded my Amex Hilton Surpass to the Amex Hilton Aspire card to earn another free night certificate and more importantly, take advantage of the $250 Hilton resort credit that comes with that card. We flew from Atlanta to Fort Myers (RSW) on a Saturday morning and even got upgraded, a rare occurrence these days for a Delta Platinum Medallion out of Atlanta.
We picked up a rental car as we had a couple of excursions planned during our trip, so it made sense to have our own vehicle. We have used Uber to and from the resort in the past. It’s about $60 or so each way from the airport and there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of the resort, as well as delivery options, if you feel like leaving the driving to someone else. Parking is $25 per day plus tax and is not waived for Diamond members.
We arrived around 11am after a quick stop at Walgreens for some sunscreen and bug spray. As has become the norm at this resort, we were able to check in and get upgraded to an Oceanview room. I’ve never really pushed for a suite here as it’s just the two of us and I always check in early. They probably sell out the suites anyway given the cash cost of standard rooms and the number of families with small children at the resort.
Resort fees are waived for all who book with points (usually $35 per day). This fee includes two beach chairs and an umbrella each day on the beach, two bottles of water per day, and up to 4 beach towels per day that can be picked up at the pool (can also use them for the beach).
In addition, Diamond members get two drink coupons per stay (up to $15 per drink) and a $15 daily per person food and beverage credit up to two people per room (in place of the former breakfast benefit). I’ve also had no issues with early check in and late checkout each time I’ve stayed at this resort.
We were given the option of a second floor room with a sunset view or a seventh floor room with a partial ocean view (non sunset) and I took the second floor room. I was a bit concerned about noise from the pool deck but I’m happy to report that the soundproofing is excellent.
The rooms here are fairly recently remodeled and have mostly tile floors (which help keep the rooms cooler and are no doubt easier to sweep up the sand. There are also plenty of outlets, both plug-in and USB, right next to each side of the bed. There’s a huge TV and plenty of channels to keep the kids occupied when they’ve had too much sun.
The bathroom has double sinks and a large walk-in shower. We declined housekeeping for an extra 1000 points but when we asked for some extra towels, they arrived within five minutes.
The balcony had two chairs and a small table. The view from our room featured the pool area and the beach beyond.
While the bones of the resort are fairly old, the design is good, the number of rooms is manageable (especially compared to the nearby JW Marriott) and the updates have been well-executed. Most importantly, the staff are all friendly and helpful.
Food and beverage options at the resort aren’t plentiful but what they do offer works pretty well. There’s a main restaurant and bar where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. That same space has openings to the pool deck where you can order drinks and food to take out to the beach. We’ve eaten lunch here a few times and it’s always been a decent value (for a resort hotel) and tasty. Some of the bar staff has been at the resort for over 20 years, which shows how well the employees are treated here, and that extends to how the employees treat the guests.
There is also a Market where you can grab some food and drinks to go throughout the day. The value here isn’t great ($4 for a 16oz Diet Coke) and more like the hotel and resort value (or lack of) that you are used to.
One of my favorite food and beverage features is the Gulf Cart. This is a mobile bar that rolls around the beach area where the Hilton beach chairs are laid out. You can get cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks along with snacks right from your beach chair.
There are also food stations around the pool with freshly made burgers, tacos and other fare which is geared toward families that hang out at the pool most of the day.
On Mothers Day, there was apparently a buffet set up, but we weren’t looking for a big meal that day so we did not get a chance to check it out. I think I prefer the food and beverage credit rather than the breakfast credit as it makes your time a bit more flexible rather than feeling like you have to take advantage of the free breakfast at certain times.
The first evening we ate at Da Vinci, an Italian restaurant across the street from the resort within easy walking distance. The second evening we ordered pizza from Joey’s, a local restaurant and it was very good.
On Mother’s Day morning, I booked a shelling tour with Treasure Seekers. My wife loves searching for shells and this tour combined a nice boat ride out to some uninhabited islands and some unspoiled shelling beaches. I recommend this tour if you are into shelling.
On our last morning we drove very early over to Tigertail Beach State Park. We discovered this beach on our last trip. It has great shelling and is much less crowded than the regular Marco beaches. In order to get to the beach, you have to wade across a tidal pool that’s about waist high.
After our exertions at the beach, we tried a new place for breakfast, Doreen’s Cup of Joe. We enjoyed the omelette and French toast.
After breakfast, we returned to the Hilton and got packed up. I used about $180 of my resort credit so we’ve got some left if we decide to come back again later this year.
We flew home from Fort Myers airport on Monday afternoon. All in all, we had a great weekend in Marco Island. If you’re looking for somewhere to use your Hilton free night certificates and you can’t get to the Maldives, Cabo or Hawaii (or can’t ever find standard award night availability there), the Hilton Marco Island Resort is a great east coast option with easy access from Fort Myers airport (50-60 minutes) and even Fort Lauderdale airport (90-120 minutes). It’s family-friendly but also great for a romantic weekend.
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