Marriott’s M Club lounge experiment

M Club Lounge Marriott San Francisco Airport Waterfront (Photo: Marriott)

The M Club Lounge entrance at the Marriott San Francisco Airport Waterfront conveys its hip vibe. (Photo: Marriott)

Is there steak behind Marriott’s M Club Lounge sizzle? The giant hotel chain’s fans have been buzzing about its brand new club room concept, up-and-running now at four properties: San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront, New York Marriott East Side, Wichita Marriott, and Marriott Marquis Washington, DC.

Next in the queue is an M Club at the Miami Airport Marriott, set to open in July or August. Each of the four existing clubs is a little different—varying by hours, access policies, or food service, for example.

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What’s the game-plan? Marriott’s John Wolf told TravelSkills the company is testing these lounges as they’re rolled out with a “proof of concept” approach. So, the answer is, “it depends.” It depends on what works in real-life for guests and for the brand. We’ll see if there was steak behind that sizzle of the roll-out rhetoric.

Cheerful seating at the New York Marriott East Side's M Club Lounge (Photo: Marriott)

Cheerful seating at the New York Marriott East Side’s M Club Lounge (Photo: Marriott)

The M Club Lounge concept is described by Marriott as “an exclusive space with premiere services where guests can work, enjoy a bite, recharge and connect.” The rooms provide a variety of seating options to relax or work, whether individually or in a small group. The brand-new Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC even has outdoor seating, an appealing option. Each lounge has a dedicated host, including a concierge, who can help with local recommendations and resources.

Of particular note for business travelers is free high-speed Internet and wi-fi printing, data ports, tablets (loaded with newspapers and magazines) and charging stations. Business services, such as computers, phone, fax, scanner and copier, are also available.

A few of the lounges are open 24 hours, which is an interesting idea—especially for those with jet lag, an off-hours flight or plain old insomnia. But hours are determined by location and are being tested by the chain.

Evening appetizers at Wichita Marriott's M Club Lounge (Photo: Marriott)

Evening appetizers at Wichita Marriott’s M Club Lounge (Photo: Marriott)

For the food and beverage side of things—for which biz travelers have high standards—there’s the expected breakfast daily, evening bar service and free appetizers. Aside from the complimentary food, a menu offers food for purchase. There’s also access to snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, including a Starbucks Single Brew Coffee Machine. And it all aims for flexibility: The idea is to provide food for consuming within the lounge, as well as grab-and-go opportunities for those who don’t want to linger.

TravelSkills reader JS from St Petersburg, FL wrote, “We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront Airport near SFO on Sunday night…. they are testing a new concept there I thought you might be interested in. The concierge lounge is now called “M Club” and it was very fancy.  Gourmet food, full service waiter/bartender.  You have to pay for drinks but the food is complimentary and it was fantastic. We had both the appetizers and dessert at night and the breakfast in the morning, nothing like I’ve ever seen before in a Marriott concierge lounge, more like Ritz-Carlton.”

Gold/Platinum Marriott Rewards members receive complimentary access and may bring one guest. For at least one property, the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront, additional guest passes can be purchased for $20 each. Others hotel guests can purchase access (upgrade) to the M Club Lounge when making reservations or upon check-in.  Upgrade prices vary among properties.

Have you experienced an M Club Lounge? What did you think? Do other hotel chains offer something similar that you like? Please leave your comments below. 

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  • Regular Traveler

    stayed at a Marriott in New Orleans recently where the M Club concept is new (a few months). Brought my 3 teenage children and they were charged $30/day to access the lounge (we get a light breakfast and occasional soda/water during the day). Really! Not at all happy about this…… Have been an platinum elite member over 10 years, travel weekly at Marriotts- and this is the thanks I get. Hotel staff wouldn’t budge and they were truly rude about it- there is a guard at the door. Will be leaving soon to another hotel chain soon.

  • Nat

    Wondering if this will this compliment or replace the concierge lounges. Concierge lounges have wifi, free breakfast, free snacks, drinks (free internationally) and generally good views since they are on high floors.

  • Nat

    I’ve found that the free drinks are only at the international properties, at least from my personal experience.

  • Chris McGinnis

    Interesting to hear that about Grosvenor Sq — and all this time I thought it was so “posh!” — chris

  • bibliomaine

    The M club concept clashes with Marriott’s cutbacks at other properties. In London, I have stayed on several occasions at the Marriott Grosvenor Square. The hotel offers a “Club Lounge” in a rather stark basement room. There is a buffet hot breakfast in the morning and in the evening “nibbles,” and a full bar. On the last visit (within the last eight months) – the bar was gone, replaced with commonplace wines and beer. I concede that some guests spend their whole day down there and abuse the free booze. But I got the general sense that Marriott – like Delta – has gone to the business model that you have to spend a small fortune to get anything “free.”

  • Chris McGinnis

    Thanks, Eric! Good to hear. Sounds like folks appreciate the new clubs…esp that one at SFO! — chris

  • Eric H.

    I hit the M Club Lounge at the SFO Marriott back in April for the first time. It’s a bit odd to have a club lounge on the ground floor as this one is, but the club itself is very nicely done. Food was great (I only did breakfast there), and the staff was excellent. The experience was closer to what I’ve had in club lounges in Europe and Asia.

  • Neil

    I just returned from a trip to Asia and stayed at the JW Marriott Hong Kong Harbor and the Marriott in Singapore and both properties offer very similar services but also offer free drinks along with all the services you describe in your article. I am not sure why US properties don’t elevate there services to the ones the overseas properties do but am hoping this is the beginning of a good thing.