The Clark Marriott Hotel purportedly provides guests with 5-star accommodation and curated amenities in Clark Freeport Zone. It is advertised as “the only 5-star hotel north of Manila“, featuring 260 rooms and suites with contemporary design elements and deluxe amenities.
Well, whilst the Hilton Hotel remains under construction the Clark Marriott is certainly a welcome addition to Clark Freeport and deserves recognition as probably one of the best hotels in the area – however, to call it a “5-Star Hotel” is stretching artistic licence to the extreme! We would classify the Clark Marriott as an excellent 4-Star Hotel. Read on to discover how we justify this…
Although we agree that the Clark Marriott Hotel is ideally located close to Clark International Airport and does indeed provide access to numerous shopping, dining and entertainment choices – few options are within walking distance of the hotel.
As of March 2020 there is a lot of construction taking place at the front of the hotel, which looks very uninviting. It is fair to point out that no construction noise is apparent inside the hotel itself, but some guest rooms may suffer from noise transference. We would welcome any personal experiences from readers via the comments section below!
Conferences, Weddings & Social Functions
The Clark Marriott Hotel has some excellent conference facilities, with a very functional layout that favours breakout sessions and the flexible movement of attendees. The hotel also has technology to assist in the planning & implementation of corporate seminars and presentations etc.
The Grand Ballroom is certainly quite impressive and a good choice as a quality wedding venue or social event setting. The decor is subtle, stylish and classy. Think ‘understated elegance‘ – which we like!
Quan Spa & Pampering
Let’s face it. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of pampering? Whatever the reason (no excuses necessary!) you are sure to enjoy a little indulgence and ‘me‘ time with a visit the to the Quan Spa. This is the Marriott’s full-service spa and wellness centre. The Marriott advertises the Spa as a “5-star hotel experience”. Compared to several other Spa’s in the Philippines it is certainly an excellent Spa. There is some debate however, if the Quan Spa is truly a “5-Star Spa” by international standards? In our judgement we would classify the Quan Spa as a 4-Star Spa at best.
Goji Kitchen + Bar
This is the main restaurant of the Clark Marriott. An all-day buffet style restaurant in a 5-Star Hotel? We think not! Relaxing atmosphere? We don’t think so! 5-Star hotels have silver service. Guests simply do not fetch their own food, period! And where is the sommelier? Expect lukewarm food, sweaty cheese and everything tasting like the dish next to it.
This is a good option. The hotel ‘blurb’ states: “Treat yourself to authentic Korean cuisine at Smoki Moto, a specialty Korean restaurant that boasts delicious food, modern décor, and a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere.” We do not disagree. Smoki Moto is not pretending to be anything it isn’t. Food is good and reasonably priced.
When a hotel states “casual dining” what this really means is anything more than a light snack will be unbearable. It’s basically in-room dining + people watching. A viable option though, if you wish to avoid the buffet chaos.
Our coffee here was tepid. Hot coffee needs to be served hot! Lukewarm coffee is the realm of Starbucks not a luxury hotel. The pastries are inviting, look freshly made and of good quality. The area is quite small and some may find the open-plan design unsettling – it’s not a cosy place by any means.
Hopefully, when nearby construction ends, more people may venture up here and enjoy the view. The hotel states on its website “…enjoy a cool cocktail as you take in the vibrant Pampanga atmosphere.” What vibrant atmosphere? Were they daydreaming at a different hotel when they wrote this? The design of the area is lovely, but it simply cannot be described as vibrant. This area of Pampanga is far way from ‘vibrance’ of any kind. Relaxing and breezy it is. A great place for plane spotting!
Described by the Marriott Hotel as offering “a smorgasbord of Asian noodles, garnishes, and condiments for hungry diners.” Well, firstly, why refer to an Asian dining experience by the Swedish term ‘smorgasbord‘ – which means ‘sandwich’ & ‘table’? It is ridiculous to do so. It is utterly illogical. Did the marketing department get over-excited with the use of a thesaurus? However, nit-picking aside, the food at NOODLE INC is cooked to order – so thankfully the food is served HOT. It is unclear from the hotel’s own website whether this is a dedicated restaurant or not? It isn’t. NOODLE INC is an area to the side of the main Goji restaurant. The area is pleasant enough and ideal for a light lunch or diner.
The Clark Marriott Hotel is certainly a quality, luxury hotel with good security, modern design and an elegant ambiance. However, there are certain aspects of the hotel that highlight why on an international level it would be classified as a 4-Star hotel . If you do not wish to avail of valet parking, then you will park in the underground car park. Whilst this is secure, upon exiting the car park (with luggage?) you have to walk across the main forecourt (shared with Widus Hotel). No problem when it is dry – but when it is raining? Yes, you will get wet.
International 5-Star hotels have ‘silver service’ restaurants. Food is served at your table by trained, experienced waiting staff who ‘crumb-down’ your table between courses, top-up your wine/water (from the Right) and know how to “serve food from the Left – pick up from the Right“. 5-Star hotels flambé at your table, have knowledgeable sommelier’s and first class crockery and cutlery. 5-Star hotels have ‘Bellboys’ (not to be confused with security staff who open the door for you – it’s not the same thing!) and a dedicated concierge.
Overall, we would recommend the Clark Marriott Hotel as an excellent 4-Star hotel. International travellers expecting the hotel to be of a 5-Star standard (as advertised) will be somewhat disappointed by the lack of 5-Star service/touches they would expect.