By Terry Trucco
Good-bye, power suits. Hello, 21st century.
Earlier this month the Marriott Marquis unveiled its new lobby, centerpiece of its $39 million renovation. As befits a big hotel almost three decades old and 1,900-plus rooms strong big changes are on view in the sprawling 8th floor John Portman atrium lobby, punctuated by colorfully lit elevator cars whizzing up and down.
With the demise of the sushi bar, a touristy American restaurant and a fleet of tables littered with empty Starbucks cups, the hotel has sluffed off its shopping mall food court look and moved upscale in keeping with its high season room prices, currently starting around $500.
The décor still sports an offends-no-one appearance – understandable given the throngs passing through. But the look is buzzy and fun, adjectives that didn’t spring to mind in its previous incarnation.
The showpiece is the stylish Crossroads lounge anchored by a futuristic black-mirrored
tower, as shiny as Darth Vader’s helmet, ringed by the bar and 20 high-backed stools (nothing is scaled back at the Marquis). Eleven flatpanel TVs wink from the tower, all tuned to a football game the day we visited for a congenial Nam June Paik-meets-sports-bar effect.
An eclectic mix of chairs – purple upholstered benches, ruby club chairs, banquettes ringing a quartet of columned waterfalls – creates discrete seating areas, making the space feel more intimate than it is.
The lounge segues into the Crossroads Kitchen, an informal, open-all-day dining area and beyond that the Broadway Lounge, a sprawling bar/lounge serving up light bites and, more memorably, heart-pounding, camera-ready views of the lights and glitz of Times Square through floor-to-ceiling windows. This is where you want to be when the ball drops.
With the Giants edging ahead of the Eagles, we settled onto a banquette aimed at the screens with a $14.95 Negroni (delicious if you like Campari) and a $9 humus with warm pita, carrots and celery sticks (healthy but bland; there’s a reason some prefer nachos).
You can also score a club chair or table outside the lounges if you don’t want to pay confiscatory Times Square hotel prices for drinks or food (you can pick up a coffee at Starbucks, a hearty survivor from the previous lobby). True, the percentage of freebie seating has shrunk, but small sacrifice for agreeable surroundings.
More good news: the renovation extends to the rooms. The top floors sport fresh autumnal hues — brown and white with a splash of gold. All floors should be finished by spring 2012.