Could this be the finest hotel in Texas? (A Marriott Annual Free Night Stay)

Background: 

After about 2.5 years of virtually no stays at Marriott Hotels (or many chain hotels for that matter), the annual free nights I get from my holding various versions of the Marriott credit cards really started adding up and inadvertently expiring. Most of these nights would’ve expired in 2020 but they kept getting extended because of the pandemic.

Owing to my traveling to more destinations without Marriott hotels in recent times, I completely lost touch with what’s available. During a conversation with Robert (a friend and fellow frequent flyer) about possible local redemptions for those expiring nights, two hotels came up as his recommendations: The Hotel Adolphus (in Downtown Dallas) and the Hotel Drover (in Forth Worth).

I usually hesitate to burn free nights in my own town because well I live here and no suite can honestly beat the comforts of home. However,  I figured it would be a shame to waste those two expiring certificates. I initially planned on trying out both of these hotels, but got to only try out one as work and other commitments got in the way. My sister ended up doing the stay at the Hotel Adolphus (her thoughts on that property are coming up very soon).

The Hotel Drover is a category 5 Marriott, meaning it costs 35,000 Marriott points for a free night. If you aren’t familiar with the annual free nights from the lower tier Marriott cards, the certificate is valid for stays on up to 35,000 points. In this instance it can be a of a decent value as average nightly rates at the Drover are hovering around $300 mark. If you are interested in the card I have, it’s linked here. and has a decent offer for 125,000 Marriott points and a free night award right now.

Interestingly enough, the 2 queen bed room wasn’t available for redemption, but the hotel was more than happy to change it for me before my arrival.

 

I ended up booking my room for a quiet Tuesday in the middle of October to potentially avoid any unmasked crowds (I’ll tell you why this may be a concern later). I figured it also gave me a better chance to clear one of my suite night awards I had left over in my account (I’m Lifetime Platinum with Marriott).

Suite Night Awards:

Fast forward a month, and just a few days before my stay at the Hotel Drover, I received the following email saying my Suite Night Award request was rejected:

When I messaged my friend Robert about this, he said he had no trouble clearing his upgrade at all. In fact he was upgraded all the way to the Vice Presidential Suite, which is a step above the standard, executive suite. Seeing that more suites were available for sale online, I attempted to call Marriott and asked them to try to reapply the certificate. Unfortunately, nothing came of it despite the representative making his best efforts. So the hotel I guess is a little stingy about these upgrades for Platinum members?

In the end this didn’t really matter to me because my sister ended up tagging along to compare her stay at the Adolphus to the one at the Drover. We needed the two queen beds anyway.

Getting to the Hotel

The Hotel Drover is a 25 mile (~40 min) drive from the DFW Intl Airport and a 35 mile drive (~50 min) from Dallas Love Field. The hotel itself is located within the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards, a neighborhood famous for its old western style architecture, bars, and restaurants.

The cheapest way to get to the hotel is taking the TEXRail from DFW Airport to Northside Station in Fort Worth (a 40 minute ride) and transferring to an Uber or bus service from there. Good luck if you decide to commute there in rush hour traffic because I’ve seen drive times of up-to 2 hours from most of Dallas. I often joke about Fort Worth being in another state because of how long of a drive it is from Dallas and just how culturally different the town is.

Arrival & Parking 

Overnight self-parking at the Drover is located across the street/train tracks from the hotel near the small old fashioned covered mall. The parking rate is $20 per night and is your only option, unless you want to valet park the car for $28 plus tip and tax per night. The lot was wide open on this particular Tuesday evening and we had no issues paying for parking at the meter.

Judging by the looks of it, the hotel doesn’t seem to have the option of covered parking. And so I don’t see any benefit to valet parking, but then again who knows? I saw a Lamborghini parked out in front. Maybe it’s safer for those to be parked right out front (the hotel probably loves the marketing). I should note here that the hotel features 8 electric car charging stations (which are complimentary for hotel guests). So if you drive a Tesla or similar drivetrain, it’s a great value.

Anyway it was an otherwise empty driveway on our day of check in. Tuesdays usually tend to be that way both at the airport and otherwise.

Check In

Fort Worth is often considered the point at which the American West truly begins. And when you step inside the foyer of this hotel, you are immediately drawn in by the southwestern style of décor in and around the hotel. I absolutely loved the cowboy, the chandelier, and the images of sunsets from the characteristic landscapes of the American West. It feels rustic without seeming old.

The energetic receptionist went through the motions of checking us in a matter of minutes. There was no mention to me of any upgrades for being a Platinum Member, but I was thanked for my loyalty as a Marriott Platinum.

What is really a downer at this property is that there is no real free breakfast for Platinums, just a $10 food/beverage credit. And the way the receptionist made it sound to me as if it was only available for one guest per room. I later messaged the front desk about the breakfast benefit on the Marriott app and was surprised to hear that vouchers were available for continental breakfast (for two people) on request in lieu of the $10 credit or 1000 points.

My friend Robert who checked in right behind me mentioned that the front desk really played down the continental breakfast because it’s worth more than the $10 food/beverage credit according to the hotel menu (more on that later).

Lobby:

The lobby of this hotel is quite elegant and the furniture as well as design truly looked like it had some thought put in. The small details in the longhorns on the wall and the color palate really gave it the homogenous look of contemporary  Texan luxury.

My favorite area was probably the library with its well lit bookshelves, rustic wooden table, and brown leather lounge chairs.

The ladder which led to a second floor of bookshelves really added to the ambiance and vibe of the place. I’m not exactly sure if you are actually allowed to use the ladder, but it was a brilliant touch.

 

COVID-19 Safety Protocols: 

Let me just say that as soon as you enter the lobby of this hotel, you will notice a world of a difference between what it’s like to live in Dallas and west of here. Absolutely no one was wearing a mask in and around the hotel, including not a single staff member. I don’t think I’ve walked indoors in Dallas without seeing at least a couple of people wearing a mask. We were probably the only ones with masks on within 5 miles by the look of things. All of these were true throughout our stay. I was not eager to stay for too long in the packed common areas of the hotel in the evening, where no one was wearing a face covering of any kind. We all know how the honor system fell apart at the end of the summer. This pandemic isn’t over, whether you like it or not. Ending it is a collective effort, not an individual one.

Deluxe 2 Queen Room

The elevators were located down a corridor adjacent to the lobby. The old western touches continued throughout the place:

The corridors were lined with understated colors and more images from West Texas and other western landscapes. Whoever picked the art work out did a fantastic job.

We were assigned Room 322, which was pretty much your run of the mill middle of the corridor room.

As soon as you step in the bathroom is located on your right and the main sleeping space straight ahead.

The floorplan of the room didn’t break any molds, but the aesthetics were again very pleasing and the room was in tip top shape. The highlight of the room had to be the bathroom which featured a gigantic walk in shower, beautiful black tiles with flowers, and a large black marble vanity. The quality of the fixtures and flooring screamed elegance without being over the top.

The toiletries were by Los Pablanos branded. I do love soaps which are lavender scented, without exception here, but I would’ve appreciated individual bottles in a hotel of this caliber. I understand though that the mini-toiletries may be going away for good everywhere so it wasn’t specific to this hotel.

The rest of the room featured two extremely comfortable queen beds, large tv, a desk, and a comfortable reading chair.

Again this isn’t any groundbreaking floorplan, but the small touches really make it an aesthetically pleasing space. Stuff like this clock on the bedside table and the old fashioned speaker that connects to your phone. I should also mention that it was nice to see the remote wrapped in plastic. I often find them dusty and disgusting at some hotels.

It was great to see that the hotel incorporated a Chromecast system into the large TV to directly stream anything from your phone. It’s a simple enough feature but not enough hotels offer it.

Finally the view from the room looked out on to the pool area, which was well designed but not particularly large. I can see this place being very crowded on weekends when the hotel reaches a higher occupancy level.

The Vice Presidential Suite (“Republic Suite”)

My friend Robert graciously invited me to check out his room and take pictures inside before he moved in. His room was located on the fifth floor of the hotel (Room 510).

I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but the standout features were the soaking tub and tv in the bathroom alongside the bookshelves with interesting decorative pieces. It’s truly a great space for entertaining while staying at a hotel.

Breakfast:

Breakfast is served everyday at the hotel restaurant: 93 West. My friend Robert and I met up early the following morning for breakfast on the patio. Breakfast opens up at exactly 7:00 AM and we were there super early just in case there was a crowd.

Again the design and décor of the hotel truly deserves 5 stars. The ambiance is beautiful especially out on the patio.

 

The breakfast menu read as follows. As I mentioned before I went for the continental breakfast voucher (after considerable discussion with the front desk) and my friend Robert went for the $10 food and beverage credit.

Service was prompt and Terry who was working at the restaurant that morning was extremely friendly and chatty. She was well aware of the Platinum discounts vouchers and asked for them ahead of time so that we wouldn’t forget. My continental breakfast included a tiny fruit bowl, an assortment of pastries, coffee, and or juice

I can’t say there was much to write home about. The pastries (muffin, cinnamon roll) were average at best, the scone was super dry, and the orange juice was definitely not freshly squeezed, even though I had requested it. I guess the waiter thought I wouldn’t pay for it in the event it wasn’t included is my only guess . I didn’t realize that Terry had charged my friend Robert for the OJ until her corrected me. The only consolation for my sugar filled breakfast tray was the tiny fruit bowl, which didn’t make me feel better about eating some of the pastries in the least bit.

To be honest I wasn’t really interested in breakfast as much as I was in the sunrise outside. I just sat there kicking myself for not venturing out somewhere taking images of the old town during this fiery sunrise. This was becoming the epitome of taking one for the team lol

 

Meanwhile, Robert ordered the Ranch Hand Breakfast which he seemed to really enjoy.

The value of my continental breakfast was $21 in total ($42 if you include my sister’s voucher which we never used), while Robert’s food and beverage voucher was $10. So you can clearly see which one had more “value” in terms of total dollars, but I can’t say the continental breakfast end of things was any better than what you find at a SpringHill Suites or Residence Inn. Service of course was friendly and on point.

The term cost cutting comes to mind immediately. I can’t help but feel Marriott and other hotels like the Drover, just want top tier guests to sleep in and forget about breakfast. This is an extremely cheap way to proceed with the breakfast benefit for elites on both their parts. Also, it was never made clear whether the food/beverage credit was available on a daily basis or not so you could very well not be covered if you were staying for a longer span of time.

Location:

As I mentioned before the hotel is located within the historic Fort Worth Stockyards so everywhere you look you will we met with the Old West character. I’ll have more on this in a later post, but here is something to give you a good idea:

There’s no doubt that its presence has become the center point for the rejuvenation of tourism to the area. You can kind of feel that as you walk down Main Street.

Bottom Line:

The Hotel Drover is the finest hotel I’ve seen in the Lone Star State in terms of style, décor, and room comfort. It truly fits peoples’ imaginations of Texas without giving up on modern amenities and conveniences. The location cannot be beat. Fort Worth continues to surprise me, in a very good way, with how much character and culture it has compared to its larger neighbor: Dallas (more on that in the next post).  Elite status recognition at this hotel is pretty ok given that one of us got an outstanding suite upgrade, but falls short of anything remarkable given the breakfast benefit. Service across the hotel was remarkably good though I wish public health measures were taken seriously. I personally wouldn’t want to stay here on a weekend when rates sky rocket and there’s very little room to social distance oneself. On rather quiet weekdays, it presents itself as a great redemption of a Marriott annual credit card free night.

6 Comments

  1. DaninMCI

    I didn’t think there was a mask mandate in Fort Worth or Texas for that matter. Most places I travel right now outside of super major cities and anywhere near an airplane have few if any wearing masks lately. Anyway, the parking fee alone keeps this from being the finest hotel in Texas in my opinion but it does look nice. Thanks for the review I might check it out the next time I’m in the area.

    1. There isn’t, but people are generally better in my experience within the urban areas. At least in Dallas you can’t go far without seeing people wearing masks (especially hotel staff). My friend Robert corrected me on the parking, it’s $28 for Valet parking not $45 so I made that amendment to the article.

  2. Deltahater

    Why the need to include political statements like masks or social distancing? It cheapens the post and you are guaranteed to tick off 50% of your audience. Or potentially more. It is really not beneficial

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.