The weary traveler, family in tow, covers the 420 miles between Phoenix and Albuquerque in roughly six and a half hours. Once on Interstate 40, they randomly drop off of the main highway onto Historic U.S. Route 66 — a byway that is both sad and nostalgic, and a relic of the distant past when Route 66 was known as “the Main Street of America”.
Approaching hour number seven, a large, granite-white edifice appears on the horizon. Easily the tallest building in the area, it almost appears to be a single large slab of stone. This owes to a strategic placement of all of the building’s windows at a 45° angled protrusion away from the highway so that each window faces the naked horizon to the north and west. Welcome to Marriott Albuquerque!
After such a long drive, there are certain expectations that need to be met, at bare minimum, to help our newly-arrived visitors to decompress from their long journey. Fortunately, Marriott Albuquerque ticks all of the right boxes, and then some.
Stepping into the lobby, one immediately notices the modern, smooth lines of a luxury hotel, but with none of the pretense. There are no painted-on smiles but rather a genuine visage of welcome and good cheer. It starts in the eyes and spreads to the rest of the face. A comforting sight after a long drive. This may sound like an exaggeration, but after seven hours on the road, one becomes hypersensitive to this type of stuff. An A+ for First Impressions.
On approach to the counter, there is more of the same. After initial niceties and the spontaneous handing over of driver’s licence and credit card, we’re offered free bottles of water. Yes, please, that would be perfect! Who wouldn’t be parched and dehydrated after such a trip? Another A+ for Empathy.
Hungry yet? Several options are available, morning, noon and night. The lobby houses a bar and lounge. It is both spacious and intimate, thanks to well-placed lighting and well-spaced tables in a range of sizes. Whether you’re a twosome looking for conversation over drinks, or a family of five looking for a light meal, the bar and lounge can accommodate.
Just beyond the lounge, out of view of the main lobby, is the restaurant, Cielo Sandia. You won’t know it’s there, so be sure to ask about it. The menu is a New Mexico-inspired variety of meal options that would appeal to all tastes. Prices are in the mid-range, emphasizing food quality, good service, and the amenities of a fine dining restaurant. In the morning, you can choose between a full buffet or an assortment of breakfast menu items. (The oatmeal with bananas, brown sugar and raisins is recommended.) For other meals, the menu ranges from appetizers and salads to personal pizzas, burgers and classic main dishes to please any palate.
At some point, you will want to retire to your room. The Marriott Albuquerque is a 17-story structure with fantastic views that are even more magnificent from the higher floors. As mentioned before, the windows actually protrude out of both sides of the building at an angle. So this fantastic view is, in fact, accessible from every room. In the distance, in all directions, you will see juniper- and pine-covered mountains and foothills, semi-desert plateaus, and — more often than not — low-flying, colorful hot air balloons.
Step away from the window a moment and take in the room. Once again, neat, clean and modern. The lighting is ample, as are the electrical outlets — so important in our plugged in world. Suites have both a desk and a sofa. The sofa opens up to sleep two adults, which is great for a family traveling with children. The super large flat screen TV is almost like having your own private movie theater. There’s ample closet and drawer space (yes, both!). The shower is wide-nozzled and the water is hot. The bathroom lighting is bright, which is essential for those of us who apply makeup.
Additional amenities outside the rooms include a full-equipped exercise room with cardio equipment, free weights and exercise balls; an indoor-outdoor heated swimming pool; and a business center for checking flights and printing boarding passes. For serious business users, the Marriott Albuquerque sports several meeting rooms and conference rooms, in addition to a large, sheltered, outdoor area for fair-weather use.
The hotel is situated in what is referred to as Uptown. Albuquerque is composed of several districts, including Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, Old Town, Nob Hill and UNM (University of New Mexico). Old Town, for instance, is the epicenter of Albuquerque’s cultural experience, including museums and parks. Nothing appears to be more than a 10-minute car ride from anywhere else. So your stay at the Marriott Albuquerque puts you within reach of everything from the zoo to the mall to the UNM campus. In addition, a myriad of stores and restaurants are literally across the street, within walking distance, or within a very short drive.
Much of what you see and experience at the Marriott Albuquerque is a direct result of some fairly recent renovations. Hotel staff are friendly, professional, and very attentive to the needs of the guests. Speaking with management, we are told that this is a culture that is instilled from the top down. The Marriott Albuquerque is, in many ways, a microcosm of the City of Albuquerque and its people. Stepping through the portal of this hotel, the grace and warmth of the city are on display.
For the weary traveler, this becomes a stopover where you can shed the stress of the road and, after a good night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed, wake up rejuvenated and ready to go out and explore the many attractions of Albuquerque, New Mexico.