First, from booking our reservation, I have to say that it was easy breezy. Especially given that I decided to stay an extra night and needed to call back and change our reservation. Because I used to work in customer service I especially appreciate when I have a seamless call for service that is both friendly and efficient.
My roommate for the weekend was my good friend, Nichole from So Cal Savvy Mom. It was at the very first ShiftCon that we really connected and bonded over wine. We lucked out with near front row parking and as we walked in to the hotel for check in we couldn't help but admire the welcoming view that made us feel like we were on a mini vacation.
This is right near the pool and the palm trees paired with sounds of water falling create that total relaxation experience that anyone desires when they head out of town. We made a pact right there that we would be sure to come outside and kick our feet up to enjoy the view at least a little bit during the conference. I wish I had brought my swim suit though because these cabanas were calling my name!
Photo courtesy of Marriott Manhattan Beach
At the check in counter we were greeted with a smile and someone with a great sense of hospitality. ShiftCon was not the only private event going on that weekend and we were advised we would be switching rooms from two double beds to a King bed for our third night. I was kind of bothered by this because I've never had to switch rooms during a hotel stay before and shared my concern at check in. It takes finesse to explain to someone that there is a little bit of a hiccup in their arranged stay, but even with finesse sometimes it is necessary to offer a perk to make up for said hiccup. I was very grateful for being offered a room overlooking the golf course and free wi-fi to make up for the inconvenience of having to switch rooms. To be honest I don't know what those upgrades cost, but it comes down to making your customer smile and feeling well taken care of, which we did.
Our room had little touches of comfort from room service menu easily spotted on the pillow, a coffee maker in case we needed help waking up, shower essentials and something I think all hotels should do in this day and age, a "care for our planet" message hanging next to the towels that helps us all conserve water. When we are on vacation or on a business trip we ought to continue to care about our water use and how our actions affect the planet and our community at large. Kudos to the Marriott for being green and delivering this message!
After some mingling at one of the evening receptions we wanted to channel our inner wolves and headed outside to enjoy the beautiful moon underneath the enchanting lights. So Cal Savvy Mom got a much better photo than I did and I think it was her photo posting to the twitter wall in the reception that drew some of our new found friends out to enjoy the evening sky with us. It was lovely to chat with fellow bloggers on the same green journey, share some tips and just get to know one another in a casual, yet remarkable setting.
Photo courtesy of So Cal Savvy Mom
Then one of the Marriott rock stars came over to light our fire pit and that's when it got really cozy! Talk about comforts of home... this reminded me of hanging out with friends around our own backyard fire pit clinking glasses and bonding. This touch of ambiance is what I think set the mood for a weekend of growing new friendships, one of the goals of ShiftCon.
Upon turning in for the night I realized I had inadvertently left my booth brush and toothpaste on my dresser at home and the gift shop had closed. Lucky for me, the Marriott staff aims to please and came to the rescue.
The next morning the marine layer resting on the golf course provided for this beautiful view. I used to live just next door to a golf course and this reminded me of their mesmerizing influence. I gave thanks for the opportunity to be here and learn more about this food movement and the role I play in sharing that information with new moms.
I had encouraged a group of San Diego Mom Bloggers that were represented at the conference to gather for lunch. The restaurant on-site was not officially open and the hostess advised me that our group could order from the same menu at the bar upstairs. Because we had a group that planned to lunch together, she was happy to make arrangements for us. We chose to eat outdoors because of the beautiful backdrop and several umbrellas were moved to make sure we wouldn't melt in the sun. As I mentioned before there's just incredible serenity that begs for you to delight in the sounds of the water and views of the palm trees.
There were so many items on the menu that sounded good and ultimately I went with the Grilled Apple and Feta Salad w/ Chicken. I was thrilled to see the plate show up with plenty because I was starving.... in fact it was probably enough to feed two people. When I make it back I would order this again!
Photo courtesy of Marriott Manhattan Beach
The lobby and bar area are equally welcoming. The decor reminds me something I'd see while touring brand new model homes. Being in an upscale environment gives you a boost in confidence. Maybe that's what pushed me to take the leap and become a red head during our stay.
And this might seem odd to mention, but I told Nichole that the carpet on our floor made me happy. It may be the yellow, or the fun pattern, I'm not sure. This is what I mean about the attention to detail at the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel. They've just got you smiling and you may not even know why.
When it was time to switch rooms on Saturday they made it as easy as possible on us and gave us the option to have our bags moved while we attended our conference sessions, or we could have a bell hop assist us with the transfer. And the view from our new room made the room change worthwhile.
I heard the beach was not too far from the hotel and while we didn't partake in this, I love that this Bike and a Bite at the Beach is offered to guests as a way to explore the nearby restaurants and enjoy the sand between your toes. It would be something on my bucket list for a future stay. I wonder if they have kid bikes too? I could just imagine all five of us pedaling along with the ocean breeze and relishing in the joy of short getaway.
I also have to say that the setup for the conference was ideal because none of the workshop sessions seemed too far away and the hospitality suites were altogether and the open space for the Expo was very inviting. Everything was easy to find. Our conference registration desk was spacious and again easily accessible. Clearly this place knows how to set things up for a conference and has a staff that is well trained in making things run smoothly so everyone enjoys their time at the hotel.
I tell ya, I'm looking forward to a future time that I can have an excuse to escape to enjoy these sights and sounds again, a little slice of paradise in Southern California that is Manhattan Beach Marriott.