Not that mom and I needed a reason to travel, but we decided a road trip would be the perfect way to celebrate our reunion. After 8 years of living in South Beach, Florida, Mommy returned home to D.C., and I couldn’t be happier. Upon a Virginia Beach resort recommendation from a friend and itching to get back to a beach without having to fly anywhere, Mommy and I packed our bags and hit the road.
That road led us to the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel. Before I get into my review, let me first offer a caveat. Having traveled to beaches all over the world from Aruba to Thailand, mom and I could be defined as triple B’s, also known as Bougie Beach Bums. That being said, we’d both been to Virginia Beach before so we knew it would be a different vibe from the other beaches we’ve experienced. We also felt comfortable knowing that we booked what is classified as a luxury, oceanfront resort that opened just a year and a half ago – yep, right in the heart of the pandemic.
There were some things I loved about this resort but candidly, there were also several things I did not. I broke them down into two categories: what’s hot vs what’s not. Let’s start with the positive since you know, that’s where I like to reside. :)
Accommodations: I enjoyed the spaciousness of the one-bedroom suite, offering a pullout sleeper sofa in the living room and a large King size bed in the bedroom. I also loved the adjoining bathroom off of the living room and bedroom that allowed privacy in case someone wanted to use the shower while someone else used the toilet. There were also sinks in each segment of the bathroom.
The food: We stayed on the property for the majority of our time in Virginia Beach, partially because it was hard to get a reservation at the sister hotel, The Cavalier. The other reason was that we actually enjoyed our dining experiences. Our favorite was Orion’s Roof, the Asian-fusion rooftop restaurant. Even if you choose not to stay at this hotel, it is definitely worth the visit. Mom and I split the ribeye steak the first night and enjoyed the beef short ribs and lamb chops our last night there. Absolutely delicious!
The main restaurant for the hotel, Tulu Seaside Bar & Grill, which also provided the room service menu was also solid. The lunch and dinner menus offered a nice meaty crab cake and a scrumptious crab stuffed shrimp appetizer, but breakfast is really where the restaurant shined for me. Their interesting take on the Chesapeake Benedict and even the classic American breakfast was spot on. Oh, and I can’t forget about their heavenly bread pudding! Lastly, the Beachside Grill offered delightful fish tacos, a yummy lobster roll, and perfectly seasoned peel-and-eat shrimp.
The service: The hotel and restaurant staff delivered the type of service that you would expect from a luxury resort. We were pleased with the timeliness in response to requests we made from our rooms and their willingness to accommodate us at every turn. Everyone from the pool attendants to the staff who checked us in made us feel right at home.
I also enjoyed the indoor and outdoor connected pools.
Suites Without Balconies: One of the first things we noticed upon arrival to our suite was that it offered the ocean view it promised, but there was no balcony from which to enjoy it. Upon inquiring at the front desk to see if we could be moved to a suite with a balcony, we were met with a huge shock. None of the suites offered balconies, only the guest rooms. This was quite a disappointment considering the price point for the suites. There was, however, a sliding glass door that you could open to at least take in the fresh ocean breeze.
Beach Amenities: Considering my mom’s experience living on South Beach for years, we were accustomed to the idea of paying for beach lounge chairs and umbrellas. The cost for the quality is what most disappointed us. They charged $25 per lounge chair, which looked as if they were used lounge chairs purchased from a garage sale. To be charged an additional $25 for an umbrella, we were also surprised that the hotel did not offer beach service. If we wanted snacks and drinks, we had to walk quite a distance to order them from the Beachside Grill or Tulu. Again, identifying yourself as a luxury hotel with luxury prices, you expect an establishment to deliver on luxury amenities, and this is where they fall short.
The Flies: We discovered about a day and a half into our trip that there was an unusually abnormal amount of flies at the restaurants. Granted, both Tulu and the Beachside Grill are both open-air and outdoor restaurants, however, we found ourselves swatting away flies constantly. Having most of our dining experiences outdoors over the last several months due to the pandemic, from Florida to D.C., this dining experience was notably different. When commenting to one of the servers about the fly problem, she acknowledged that we weren’t the only ones who had complained and they were trying to fix it.
All things considered, the pros outweigh the cons and we had an enjoyable stay. But the cons were enough to not give this resort the glowing review that I normally give accommodations in Golden Life Musings.
If you plan to visit Virginia Beach, here are a few more useful tidbits to note:
- Instead of calling a shared ride or taxi, the trolley service is a great way to get to the boardwalk where you can find shopping and other restaurants. It’s just $5 per person for unlimited rides for the day.
- Check out Catch 31, a delightful oceanfront seafood restaurant that offers front-row seats to the concerts at Neptune Park. We only had an appetizer and drinks, but what we had and the view was great!
- If you’re a BBB like me and mom, don’t expect the powdery white sands and clear blue water of the Caribbean or South Florida. If you’re a kid or someone who likes to ride waves, this beach is ideal because of the pretty big waves this part of the Atlantic Ocean offers. The sand also gets pretty hot, especially mid-summer, so I recommend water shoes.
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