Review: Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey

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A couple of days ago I reviewed the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.

I spend a lot of time in the Los Angeles area, typically at the Andaz West Hollywood, which is sort of my “home” hotel in the city. But I’ve decided to mix up my hotel stays a bit lately, and have been trying to review some new properties. I really enjoyed my stay at the Sunset Tower Hotel, which I booked through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.

So I decided to try another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property in the area — the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey.

As a reminder, Fine Hotels & Resorts is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. When booking this hotel through Fine Hotels & Resorts you pay the same flexible rate you would directly with the hotel, but receive:

  • Noon check-in, when available
  • Guaranteed 4PM check-out
  • Room upgrade upon availability
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • In-room wifi
  • A $100 food & beverage credit to be used during your stay

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits

That’s quite a bit of extra value, especially for a one night stay, given that the $100 food & beverage credit is per stay and not per night (meaning that perk is proportionately more valuable on a short stay than a long stay).

Anyway, the rate for a standard room at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey was ~$350, which definitely isn’t cheap, though at the same time I at least thought I was getting a decent value thanks to the Fine Hotels & Resorts perks.

I arrived at the hotel at around 3:30PM. From the outside, the hotel looks just like any other cookie cutter chain hotel, be it a Westin, Hyatt, etc…

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey signage

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey exterior

Perhaps the entryway is a bit more “tropical” and nicely kept than more mainstream chains.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey entrance

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey entrance

As I pulled up a bellman offered to help me with my bags, though since I just had a carry-on I declined. He still pointed me towards check-in, which was inside the lobby and to the left.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey entrance

Inside, the hotel feels just like any other generic chain hotel.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey lobby

The reception desk was to the left, and there was maybe a five minute wait before I was helped.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey reception

The associate that helped me was friendly, though had the same “issue” I have with a lot of luxury hotels in the US, as I wrote about in the post titled “Dear Luxury Hotels: Stop Trying So Hard.”

The whole interaction felt very scripted, and she must have said my name about a dozen times over the course of a few minutes. I’m not sure why so many hotels train their associates to constantly butcher rattle off guests’ names.

She informed me that my room wasn’t yet ready, which seemed a bit odd at 3:30PM. However, the hotel’s check-in time is technically 4PM, so I guess that was legit. She took down my number, and I roamed the property for a bit.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey reception desk

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later I received a call indicating that my room was ready. I had been upgraded to a room with a view of the marina, and was also handed a sheet explaining the perks I’d receive for booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts. In addition to the $100 food & beverage credit, it’s worth noting that the daily breakfast credit was for up to $80 per day, and was valid either in the restaurant or for room service, which I thought was awesome.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Fine Hotels & Resorts perks

I was also handed the typical Fine Hotels & Resorts pamphlet, with an enclosed survey about my stay.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Fine Hotels & Resorts perks

The elevators were located down the hallway from the reception desk and on the right. The public facilities in the hotel really did feel like any other past-its-prime Ritz-Carlton in the US, in my opinion.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey hallway

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey elevators

My room — 628 — was located on the 6th floor, at the end of the hallway.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey hallway

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey room entrance

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey floorplan

The room featured an entryway with the bathroom to the left and a closet to the right.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room entryway

The room had a comfortable king size bed facing a flat screen TV.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room TV

The minibar was located below the TV, and was stocked with just soda, water, beer, and snacks.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey minibar

While I rarely consume anything out of a minibar, I always like checking the prices. And I thought the stuff here was actually quite reasonably priced. $2 for a Snickers Bar isn’t too bad, if you ask me.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey minibar prices

Then by the window there was a chair with a side table, as well as a desk with a chair (which wasn’t really an office chair, but rather more of a living room chair).

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room seating area

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room desk

The bathroom was compact, with a sink, shower/tub combo, and toilet.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room bathroom

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room toilet

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room shower

Toiletries were Asprey branded.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room Asprey toiletries

The highlight of the room was the balcony, which had two chairs and a small table overlooking the marina.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room balcony

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room balcony

That really is a pretty soothing view, especially with nice temperatures (unfortunately this stay was during the LA heatwave, but it was still nice in the mornings and evenings).

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room balcony view

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Marina Terrace Room balcony view

The wifi in the room was fast and the room itself was in pretty good shape, though it still all felt a bit shabby chic. I’ve seen Westins with better remodels than this place.

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, there was a pool located off the side of the main tower.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey pool

While I suppose the Ritz-Carlton isn’t a “resort,” per se, I didn’t think the pool was especially impressive.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey pool

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey pool

On top of that it was “temporarily closed” for unnamed reasons, per the engineering department.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey pool

The hotel had a gym across from the pool, which is also where the fitness center is located. The fitness center was well equipped and quite empty when I visited. It’s also connected to the locker room which has showers, etc.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey gym

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey gym

There are some nice paths near the hotel around the marina, which are great for an afternoon stroll.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey marina

My boyfriend joined me for the evening after work, and we had dinner at Cast & Plow Restaurant, which is located off the lobby. Since we had a $100 food & beverage credit, that seemed like a no brainer.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in hotels for 18 months, it’s that hotel restaurant marketing is amusing. There are some hotels which have true “destination” restaurants, while typically they’re decidedly mediocre, and are almost never visited by people not staying in the hotel.

The Ritz has Cast & Plow Restaurant, which describes itself as being the “next generation of farm-to-table dining,” and being “Locally Sourced, Community Made.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just don’t remember the last hotel restaurant I visited which didn’t hype itself for how “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” it was. I sort of wish some hotel restaurant would be mavericky and not try to play that card for once.

With that out of the way, the restaurant itself was quite nice. The dining tables were located near the windows, and then there was more of a bar and lounge area closer to the lobby.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant

The restaurant also had a beautiful outdoor terrace, but due to the heavy rain the night prior, it was still closed.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant terrace

The server helping us was friendly, and he made some suggestions. The menu read as follows:

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I had a kale salad to start.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant starter — tuscan kale salad

Meanwhile my boyfriend had the red quinoa bowl.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant starter — red quinoa bowl

Then I had the salmon as my main course, while he had the chicken.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant main — organic salmon

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey Cast & Plow Restaurant main — petaluma chicken

All four dishes were good. Not memorably so, but they were perfectly nice.

The next morning we ordered room service breakfast. The room service menu read as follows:

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We’re both early risers, so were up well before 6AM. So we ordered at around 5:45AM, and our breakfast arrived shortly after 6AM.

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Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey room service breakfast

What I discovered while sitting on the balcony before 6AM was that the hotel was close enough to the airport so I could see the early morning flight arrivals. It’s pretty magical to turn on flightradar24 and liveatc.net while sipping coffee before sunrise and monitoring the traffic arriving and departing from the airport. It’s even more magical to have a non-aviation geek special-someone who not only tolerates that, but pretends to show interest in it as well. 😉

I checked out that afternoon at 4PM, so had the late check-out benefit honored without issue.

Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey bottom line

Overall I had a perfectly pleasant stay, though I realize the review might sound critical. I guess the thing is that I don’t “get” the Ritz-Carlton brand.

I didn’t think there was any aspect of the hotel (the physical building, decor, service, food, etc.), which was noticeably better than what I’d expect from a Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Westin, etc.

Matt recently wrote a post entitled “Hotel Branding Is A Complete Mystery,” and I think that rings true here. Are there amazing Ritz-Carltons? Absolutely. The one in Hong Kong comes to mind.

The Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey certainly doesn’t, though. But was I expecting better for a hotel in Marina Del Rey? Not really, I suppose.

So if the price were right and I needed to be in Marina Del Rey, I would definitely consider returning. That being said, I don’t view this as a “destination” resort, and personally I don’t find Marina Del Rey to be especially convenient for what I like to do in the LA-area. The hotel seemed to mostly be filled with convention-goers, so I guess that explains their primary market.

Have you stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey? Does anyone not find Ritz-Carlton to be wildly inconsistent in terms of quality?

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Comments

  1. @lucky hmmm I find your comments about Ritz Carlton quality puzzling

    I find that although as you say some westins are nicer in general across the board you get a more consistent higher quality at Ritz Carlton whereas at Westin Marriot the standard is lower.. a good comparison would be the Marriot and Ritz in berlin which are just across from each other, although the ritz there isnt memorable it is just a tad better than the Marriot and this is so at most properties, it is just a matter of maybe preference or if you notice. now the Hyatt brand is a mixed bag, because they segregate their brand into Park, grand and regency etc… whereas Ritz is more of a category thing.. the only Ritz Ive seen that is really shabby I think is the one in Seoul…which is one I can think of which just by looking online I wont consider staying.. a low end Ritz which isnt memorable but I would return to is the RItz Carlton Pacific Place jakarta which is great value if you book the club, comes with 5 HOURS ! of alcohol haha…

    And in the end i think it is just a preference and if you notice the little details… quality of finishes etc…

  2. I’ve stayed there three times over the past 5 years for conferences, and it is, at best, an average hotel. I don’t understand how this is in the same league with the other RC’s at which I’ve stayed: Dana Point and Half Moon Bay in California are much nicer. Hong Kong and especially Singapore (amazing hotel!) have RC’s that are so much better that it’s hard to believe they’re part of the same company.

  3. Brian – I’ve stayed at Ritz Half Moon Bay and found the service marginal at best and a good many of the rooms cramped. I’ve never really gotten what the Ritz hype is about.

  4. Some more details about the room service breakfast. What did you order, the quality, etc, and is it worth it without the credit from the hotel?

  5. I too find the Ritz-Carlton properties to be uninspiring. On the other hand, they’re very, very safe and, given that their prices are usually quite high, I can’t help but believe their target market are older people than you or I. These rooms are almost identical to the one I had at the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, and, believe you me, I didn’t dig that hotel, but my parents, who are in their 70s, would have loved it.

    That said, I’ve stayed in other R-C properties that were much, much more inspiring.

  6. While the $100 credit is higher as a percent of room stay on a one night stay, it locks you in. It’s extremely rare that I want to eat in the hotel unless I”m in Asia. In the US, hotel restaurants (absence an anchor restaurant that you would want to go to even if not there) in general are blah.

  7. To be fair, Ritz does organize its properties into tiers so unlike say a Four Seasons, you should expect some inconsistency. But overall, yes, compared to Laguna Niguel, Palm Springs, Dove Mountain, Half Moon Bay, the Marina del ray property is absolutely underwhelming.

  8. Also, meant to say the properties in Asia look amazing. We’re staying at Tokyo and Hong Kong RC’s with club level upgrades soon and are looking forward to it so much (using club level upgrades from RC credit card!).

  9. I stayed at RC Marina del Rey a month ago (for a one night layover in LA) and had the same impression. Super underwhelming for a supposed luxury chain. But for people comparing to Four Seasons, the generic “grandma’s house” lackluster room decor wasn’t substantially different than the Four Seasons Dublin (now Intercontinental) IMO.

    After that one night stay I flew to Japan and stayed in the RC Tokyo and RC Kyoto; both are like a completely different caliber of hotel, both in hard and soft product. The hard product in Kyoto is especially impressive: the design is stunning.

  10. I’ve stayed at this property a couple of times (as well as the RC in downtown LA – totally different vibe). Is it particularly awe-inspiring? No. Are there better Ritz Carlton properties? Yes. Is it a solid bet when you’re in the LA area? Yes. We like it because it’s generally pretty quiet on the weekends and the views are nice. Their club lounge is pretty solid, too. I find their staff to be pretty accommodating and friendly in a completely unobtrusive way. With stay credit, it ends up being a pretty good deal – for us.

  11. @Ben I was glad to read that you “don’t find Marina Del Rey to be especially convenient for what I like to do in the LA-area” as, while I think it’s great that you are exploring different areas of LA, while close to LAX, it is quite isolated and not where I think you’d prefer when considering moving to LA. Of course I don’t know where your boyfriend lives (or, perhaps, travels to work), but think 1) you’d better enjoy a more central neighborhood, like West Hollywood or, if you prefer someplace further west, Westwood or Brentwood.

  12. The RC’s in Denver and Cleveland are similar in being past their prime. However, the staff at both locations are wonderful and they are both conveniently situated in the downtown cores.

    There are two bonuses at the Denver location. First, there is an Elway’s steakhouse, and second, you get access to a full service commercial gym next door.

    At the RC in Toronto, the staff are also great, and the hotel is new, right downtown near plenty of restaurants, bars, attractions, etc., and has terrific dining. It also has a fantastic gym (probably because it is a combo hotel-residence). The club lounge in Toronto is also excellent.

    Gyms and steak are two priorities for me when booking hotels!

  13. Ritz in DC area provide more value….Half Moon Bay a much better property and Club Room is better than LA but the labor is below luxury standards………

  14. I kind of prefer the MDR Marriott having stayed at both. I have not used FHR rate so no food and beverage credit in my case but also no lounge access at RC as Marriott Platinum.
    MDR Marriott has excellent elite recognition and is a shorter walk to resturaunts along Washington Blvd.

  15. Hey Lucky –

    Interesting to read about the chain I work for. Would love for you to experience my Ritz-Carlton property in Georgetown, Washington DC. Very unique from traditional Ritz-Carlton hotels. If you are in the DC area needing a hotel, please contact me at daniel.mcclain@ritzcarlton.com

  16. @JustSaying If by labor you mean the staff I’d have to disagree. I’ve always found the Half Moon Bay staff wonderful. Granted, I haven’t been back in a few years and some friends that live in in HMB have said the quality at the Conservatory has gone down hill.

    What an incredible property though. Nothing like evening drinks by one of the fire pits overlooking the Pacific.

  17. I suspect it doesn’t get old being able to describe someone as “my boyfriend” in the blog. Happy to read it!

    I agree with beachfan that the $100 credit does seem to lock you in to use the hotel restaurant. Good review!

  18. My sister-in-law used to work in the luxury hotel industry, and she told me that one of the criteria on which hotels seeking a five-star rating are judged is that employees must use a guest’s name three times in any interaction. There are other inane criteria that I don’t remember right now (I vaguely recall something to do with folding over the first sheet of toilet paper….). So, it’s not necessarily that hotels think it’s a valuable practice to rattle off a guest’s name over and over again, but more so that the rating agency is telling them they have to.

  19. I think an interesting way to view this property might be as the ultimate airport hotel. You noted the proximity to LAX at the end of your trip report, Ben, but I know a lot of Angelenos — particularly those who live in the Valley or Pasadena — who spend their first night of their honeymoon (or vacation, or what have you) at the Marina Ritz before flying out of LAX early the next morning.

    It’s about a 5-10 minute drive from the terminals, and while not marketed as an LAX airport and not AS close as the hotels on Century Boulevard, if you consider it an airport hotel (as some Angelenos do in practice), it’s a really nice airport hotel.

  20. Stayed at the Maria del Rey RC a few years back when RC had the MB offering, where for a package you got a room and MB for your entire stay, that was a bargain. Over all thought the hotel was just OK.. But the 550SL was great!

  21. just noticed the date on this review and all be darned we may have just missed one-another. happened to be my bday 9/27 and we pretty much camped out in the club, a couple day before thru the 27th. i’m at this place a ton, 10-15 times per year, using my corporate rate, which makes it all worthwhile.
    i stay at the ritz mdr because i love the location on the marina, it’s just down the street from my daughter’s college campus, and i’ve become friends with everyone in the club lounge who’ve been at the property since it opened. feels like family up in the club.
    absolutely agree on your assessment of the food, front desk’s scripted dialogue (a ton of turnover at the front desk), and condition of hotel! the rooms are in dire need of a major reno, as well as the club which i believe begins this month.
    something lovely – the bikes downstairs off the gym. you can ride along the beach path in either direction upwards of 30 miles and get a wonderful workout or not. i hop on one of the cruizers and ride to redondo…pure joy and it’s like $10 bucks.
    and
    a little secret – I PARK ACROSS THE STREET ($7/day) in the county lot and run like hell to avoid getting killed on that insane street. the valet fees add up quickly and are ridiculous when you’re there as much as I am.
    hope to bump into you somewhere…maybe san ysidro ranch…just up the street from LA 🙂

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