Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas, Newport Beach, CA

Anyone who follows me will know that we spend at least 1 week every year at Newport Coast Villas. It’s one of our favorite resorts, especially when we are there with other members of our family. It’s got something for everyone, and is close to wonderful restaurants, beaches and shopping. We’ve come every year since it opened — even while construction was going on. There’s always room for improvement, but overall Marriott handles the “bigness” of the resort very well. Until this year.

Let me set the scenario. BEFORE COVID when things were normal, there was a shuttle that ran from Crystal Cove to Marriott nonstop during the day. It took about 20-30 minutes to make it round trip, and the trolley was a favorite with our younger grandchildren who got to ride on “Daniel Tiger’s Trolley Car”! People were able to go back and forth to the beach and ride the trolley or shuttle van without waiting more than 30 minutes, and the groups were managable. AND the State Parks Division allowed cars to drop off passengers and beach supplies for no charge near the Beachcomber Restaurant. That convenience is no longer available — no fault of Marriott on that one.

Then COVID hit, and understandably, things changed drastically. Everyone had to wear masks, the trolley schedule was greatly reduced for intense cleaning, and crowds were very small.

Now things are again back to “normal”, but unfortunately, the shuttle hasn’t returned to the service provided before COVID. You receive a schedule when you check in, which I took a picture of to refer to. You can check out the schedule yourself below. But the CROWDS to get on the shuttle — well, that is frustrating to say the least. We arrived at the resort shuttle stop to go to Crystal Cove 8 minutes before it was scheduled to leave and waited with the 50 other people lugging their beach chairs, beach toys, towels, etc. The trolley showed up, but only about half the people could fit onto the shuttle van. She said she would return and pick us up ASAP — which she did — 25 minutes later! That second shuttle was completely full as well, and many of us were standing in the back holding onto the backs of the chairs for support.

The worst was returning to the resort. Again, the crowds were large to return, and again the first shuttle couldn’t handle more than half of the crowds! After waiting in the hot sun for an hour for some of the passengers (yes, they expected the shuttle schedule to be what it was before COVID), all patience had evaporated. Crowding to get on a shuttle that obviously couldn’t hold everyone was chaotic. Groups were being separated, and parents were trying to keep the children together.

Perhaps in the winter when crowds aren’t trying to get to the beach, a more infrequent shuttle schedule would be sufficient. But during July when the crowds are the biggest, don’t think that a shuttle every hour is going to accommodate your guests. Marriott , you’ve got to do better than this!!!

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