My old friend Steve texted me and he asked me if he could Facetime me via our phones. “Sure, what’s up?” I asked. The image of aqua blue pools running left from left to right from an office window flashed on to my screen. “Huh?” But I had already accessed my memory banks. Are you at Marriott’s Crystal Shores? …
He replied affirmatively and explained that he had transferred from Marriott in Orlando down to Marco Island. Steve and I had worked for various Marriott Vacation clubs since meeting over 20 years ago and enjoyed the friendship and commonality of a shared career.
“Get me some pics from the Poolside balcony – please.” I excitedly pleaded. My family and I had been to Marriott’s Crystal Shores back in March 2013 and had not been back since. During that time Marriott’s Crystal Shores had tripled its inventory with two new buildings added to the original L-shaped oceanfront building which had been constructed during the financial market meltdown in the decade prior.
“Wow” “Wow”… was all I could murmur as he took me on a tour of the property via Facetime. More pools, more buildings, however, it seemed more open then I had remembered. Something about the layout of the building and it’s architecture opened the resort up even more rather than making it feel cramped and claustrophobic.
Steve dropped our connection while he made his way up to higher floors. Connected again, I took in the incredible ocean views from one of the resort’s balconies. I could almost feel the warm breezes undulating over me as in reality I sat cold in my poorly insulated home office up in frigid Pennsylvania. “Come on dude, come back to Marriott and work with me here” – Steve urged. I hadn’t sold timeshare for nearly ten years and had been operating my own company for the last seven. But sitting at home looking out the gloomy Pennsylvania January landscape, contrasting that with the cloudless azure Marco Island skis, gray vs. bright blue, I was tempted. I shook my head and laughed – “I would go back and work if you promise I don’t have to sell anything. I just want to hang out with you and the sales reps, talk story and enjoy living in Marco Island”. That was the only scenario in which I would consider leaving the company I had built. I laughed an imagined myself the old sales dog they’d bring in to drink coffee and reminisce about the good ole days – laughing and giving advice to the team.
Ridiculous work scenarios aside, I am heading back this spring and will probably toy with the idea of returning to sales – but as the late comedian Joey Adams says “ Don’t worry about avoiding temptation, as you grow older it will avoid you.”
So, what can I tell you about Marriott’s Crystal Shores and Marco Island? Well, to begin with, I believe the Naples/Marco Island area is the Boardwalk space on the Florida Monopoly game.
Marco Island is about 100 miles west of Miami, and both are firmly ensconced in the bottom regions of the Sunshine state close to the same latitude. However, that’s where many of the similarities end. Miami is an urban jungle, Marco Island, a warm verdant island crisscrossed with canals, small islands, mangroves, and greenery everywhere you look. Wide white beaches, bathwater ocean water, and beautiful shells – Marco island mixes the hideaway feel of the keys while avoiding its isolation and lack of convenience with access to culture and infrastructure.
As for the resort itself, Marriott International purchased the former Radisson Suite Beach Resort in 2006 and began reworking the property, replacing the existing hotel with its first oceanfront tower, which opened in March of 2009.
I remember working in Maui (for Marriott) at the time of Marriott’s Crystal Shores opening and being surprised by the price of their inventory, comparable to that of our own. Although I had lived in Florida prior to Maui I hadn’t a chance to visit Marco and was not aware of just how special that area of Florida is. Years later during my stay at Marriott’s Crystal Shores, I was struck by the similarities and difference of both properties. Both shared amazing weather, with ocean breezes cooling the warm subtropical air, both oceanfront with great pool areas and amazing accommodations. I preferred Maui’s topography with its soaring verdant mountains to Florida’s pan bottom flatness; Collier beach was worlds better than Kaanapali beach: no rocky sharp reefs to contend with, wide powder sugar beaches to warm ocean water in comparison to Maui’s relatively cooler ocean temps.
It would not be hyperbole to say that in terms or purchase price, rental rates and its’ incredible prime gulf front location in Marco Island, Marriott’s Crystal Shores challenges the Hawaii vacation clubs in terms of preeminence in Marriott Vacation club system.
Here is my list of pros and cons for Marriott’s Crystal Shores
- Incredible beach. A white band that separates the resort from the turquoise gulf. In most oceanfront properties I have visited, the pool area is generally the center of bathing activity, not so here at Marriott’s Crystal Shores. The sublime beauty of the beach is the centerpiece for all types of beach activities – seriously just go and Google or Youtube some of the images and videos of this gorgeous shore.
- Great open pool areas, lots of activities, food and drink service at the pool. Fitness centers, marketplace, and restaurant on property.
- Lovely accommodations. The guest bedroom features two queen beds which I prefer to the typical king bed and queen sleeper sofa arrangement found at most vacation clubs.
- The site has tripled in inventory size in the last couple of years, this may be minus for those who prefer a smaller resort with fewer amenities and people.
- Size of units are limited to 2BR and 3BR which makes it cost prohibitive for smaller families or couples to enjoy the property.