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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Marriott Took Over The Omni Jacksonville Hotel. A Progress Report

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Something happened on the way to becoming a Marriott Hotel for the former Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. It wasn't a good thing. An Era Ended. An Error Began.

The Omni Hotel brand is listed as an upper upscale hotel by Smith Travel Research. Their former location on 245 Water St. in downtown Jacksonville reopened as a Marriott this past December. If you are accustomed to the Omni style of luxury and decide to stay at the Marriott Jacksonville Downtown, be prepared to unaccustom yourself.

Not that the Marriott doesn't do hotels well. The simply haven't done this hotel well, for now.


Read on, my dear travelers, to find out why I wrote "for now" in the sentence above.


Donna and I spent many a night at this location when it was the Omni. It has a special place for us. I was eager to get back to it and had that opportunity in mid-June.


Walking through the door I felt exhilaration coming back to a place with such great memories. The exhilaration was fleetingly wiped away.


What couldn't be wiped away was the stain on the couch in my room nor the unkempt look of the hotel bar, J Bar,


Not only was J Bar wet from other people's drinks, making it hard to find a bar stool to settle into, The. Service. Was. Slow. (Update: return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23; It. Still. Is. Slow.)


Did I mention that the rug in J Bar was worn?

Since the restaurant, Juliette's Bistro, was closed, after all, it was 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, and no one wants restaurant food at that hour. I ate at the bar. The strawberry salad fit nicely into the overall blahness of the entire Marriott Jacksonville Downtown. (Update: return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23; I ordered the strawberry salad again; it tasted much better. Not thrilled with the stain on the seat next to me, though.)


The Swiss chocolate vodka martini equaled the averageness of the strawberry salad. (Update: return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23; I ordered martini again. It still didn't blow me away though it wasn't horrible.)


What of the room, you ask? I had a corner room, a lot of windows, and an open feel to it.


Sounds nice. Indeed that part was.


But:

- The outlets on the desk didn't work.

- The lamp light switch on the desk was just as dysfunctional as the outlets.

- There was no hand soap in the bathroom.

- The video streaming wasn't great.


One nicety is, the hallways leading to the room are beautiful.


Being an optimist, I looked forward to the next day.


The aforementioned stained couch was positioned perfectly to catch the sun as it rose above downtown Jacksonville.

Amazingly, Juliette's Bistro was open for breakfast. The option of the buffet or a selection off the

menu was a nice offering.


I choose the buffet. Dining on a fruit salad, half a blueberry muffin and eggs. The fruit was top-notch, as was the muffin. The eggs were good. I'd like to have the option of warming up the muffin, similar to the bread. Also available was a nice assortment of cheeses cut into cubes, bacon, Chobani yogurt, danishes, grits, oatmeal, sausage, and all sorts of toppings. One United States standard of the breakfast buffet was missing, an omelette station.

I typically shrug at nonorganic, mass-market teas. However, I was impressed by the Bigelow green tea. A generous amount of tea was served, the equivalent of three cups, by an eager waiter who perhaps asked me one too many times if I was okay.

Juliette's Bistro closed for breakfast and was supposed to reopen at 11:00 a.m. for lunch. It was not. A bartender at J Bar said Juliette's Bistro would be open at 11:30 a.m. Thirty minutes isn't a lot of time to wait, but after all the things I didn't like, this was one more thing to add to the list of unlikes. (Update: return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23; hours were still listed as open. They were not. However, J-Bar offered a full menu. The server was very pleasant.)


Other no-go's you should know, if you go to the Marriott Jacksonville Downtown.

- The lobby bathroom was barely cleaner than a gas station bathroom. (gr bathroom looked great.)

-The cool idea of infused water that the Omni placed next to the front desk is gone. I know that different hotel brands do different things. However, that is something the Marriott might want to consider offering once again. It is a nice touch after checking in to have a refreshing drink available. (Update: return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23; It is back!)


There is hope for this location; a redesign is in the works. A friendly woman at the front desk informed that renovations are expected by the end of this year. When that happens, I will be back. But be aware, between now and then, it seems they are letting the hotel fall into disrepair.


(Update: During a return visit 20 days later, 7/19/23, I found out renovations have been underway for a few months. That rooms are currently the focus of Marriott's renovation plans. An M Club is coming. Then, on 10/18/23, I phoned the front desk and was informed the renovations would not begin until 2024. Considering that most of the redesign was supposed to be completed this year, it is obviously moving along slowly.)

Check the vid for renderings and the current look which is pretty in pictures if not in real life.


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