The pandemic has changed many aspects of how families approach travel. Considerations of crowds, cleanliness and convenience become even more important especially when travelling to popular tourist destinations like Penang.
We stayed at the new Courtyard by Marriott Penang hotel during our first trip back after the pandemic to visit the kids paternal grandma. Here’s our authentic review.
Video highlights from our stay.
The pandemic has amplified the convenience of travelling by private hired cars (E.g., Grab). It has made travelling cheaper and faster in comparison to the pre-Covid days when we were at the mercies of taxi drivers and had to haggle for ‘reasonable’ fares while waiting for taxis by the roadside.
Courtyard by Marriott Penang, situated at Macalister Road – in the heart of Penang (some Grab drivers consider it city center), within walking distance to popular hawker centers, made travelling a breeze.
Due to its proximity, Grab cars arrive very quickly, average within 5 mins of booking. Fares are cheap and that added so much convenience when we want to go café hopping, hunt for street murals or go sightseeing. The location made it easy for us to be flexible with our itinerary especially when we needed to seek respite from the heat or simply for the kids to recharge midday.
Grab cars come really fast! It’s best that you book them when you are already at the hotel lobby so as not to incur penalty charges for making your Grab drivers wait.
Before we delve into the rooms and other amenities, we need to mention about the cleanliness and hygiene in the hotel.
The hotel is virtually spotless. Right from the time we stepped off our Grab car from the airport, there was an overall sense of freshness and hygiene in the environment. This was despite the hotel having 80% occupancy on the weekend we checked in.
During our stay, staff members were seen at the common areas cleaning regularly. This included the high footfall places like the restaurant and the lobby washrooms.
We booked the Family Escape Package that came with an adjoining twin single-bed, city-view room to our King bedroom. This arrangement was ideal for a family of 4 in terms of bedding arrangements. It was spacious enough to offer the privacy when sharing the bathrooms, wardrobe space, TV and workspace.
The rooms come with modern, contemporary amenities. What really stood out is the generous wardrobe and luggage space – which gave us plenty of room to rest and relax comfortably. We were impressed with the well-planned bathroom that had enough hooks for guest to use without resorting to creative ways to hang our bath robes and bath towels.
Tip: Due to its convenient location, we deposited our luggage at the hotel concierge and went to do a bit of sightseeing before the official check-in time. The hotel’s location made it really easy for us to return to check-in once they informed us that our room was ready.
Our room package came with breakfast and “Kids Eat Free” promo. We thought we wouldn’t be using them much (after all we ARE in Penang – the street food central of the world) but as it turned out, these dining options and discounts did come in handy! On days when we were lazy to head out to jostle with the crowds after a day of sightseeing or when we wanted a change of cuisine, we simply dined in.
The High-tea selections is another reason to return to the hotel for a respite from the city walkabout.
Penang Kitchen: Having a name ‘Penang Kitchen’ sets a the bar high. Moreover, hearing that the GM used to be a chef from a stellar hotel, upped the expectation quite significantly!
We love their selection of Lassis and Juices – perfectly refreshing to accompany our meals.
Our experience at Penang Kitchen, exceeded all expectations. The hotel’s menu, focused on promoting local fare, did not disappoint. The breakfast offered guests a good variety of local breakfast dishes such as Roti Canai, Nasi Lemak, and Teh Tarik, but we were pleasantly surprised to see even gluten-free breads and pastries!
The Peranakan High-Tea was delightful with its local curries and kuehs (local cake) which was a fitting tribute to the Peranakan heritage of the island. It was lovely to slow down in the afternoons to savour the afternoon tea as a family while on holiday.
Wide selection for breakfast, including gluten-free bread, generous servings of fresh fruits.
The dishes we ordered during lunch/dinner were equally scrumptious (we highly recommend the Lamb Biryani!). The kids enjoyed the lassi drinks and sugar-free cakes which were indulgent but healthy.
King Prawn Kerabu Salad (Left) and Chef’s Kampung Fried Rice.
Chicken Satay (Left) and Signature Nasi Lemak.
Buddy and his favourite dish – The Classic Burger
Service at the Penang Kitchen was prompt even though the restaurant had to serve and turnover tables at double quick time. The staff were always warm, approachable and obliging. Many of them would come forward to ask us how’s our day and give suggestions where to go next to discover more of Penang.
Selection of local delicacies including fried mee-siam for High-tea.
Tip: The hotel’s main restaurant, Penang Kitchen, offers a really good, viable alternative to eating out. Honestly, our photos do not quite do it justice!
Selections of delectable cakes and desserts from the Deli. We love the sugar-free options!
Gin Library: Tucked on the 23rd storey is Penang’s first and only distillery-themed bar and bistro offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and canapés. For this pair of parents with 2 active kids, this provided the perfect ‘sanctuary’ to unwind after an action-packed day.
The canapés were delicious and surprisingly filling but it was the gin cocktails that stole our hearts. Very well-concocted by a very experienced and friendly mixologist, Alif.
Tip: During the day, the Gin Library offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of Penang city which during the night, turns into a beautiful night scape of the city skyline.
Blue Oasis and Cucumber Gin
Succulent and fresh Oysters (Left) and Beef
The Gin Library – a great place for families, friends and couples to unwind and reconnect.
Pool and Gym:
Considering that this is a city hotel in land-scarce Penang, the pool offers a scenic view of the city with a jacuzzi at its side while the gym offers a comprehensive range of fitness equipment in a sanitised air-conditioned room with full-height windows overlooking the island.
Tip: Visit the gym and pool floor during early morning and/or evening to catch some stunning sunrises and sunsets.
We share our stay highlights here.
Letter to the GM:
As a family who travels widely, we are familiar with the Marriot Courtyard brand that offers a balance of family-centricity with a touch of comfort. Courtyard by Marriott Penang delivers all of that and more! We couldn’t be happier to have experienced your hospitality, especially on our first trip back to Penang in nearly 3 years.
We want to commend the extraordinary service level of your team. Simple gestures shown through their smiles and going the extra mile to make us feel safe and welcomed, as if being in a home away from home, were very much felt at every touchpoint. We would like to give credits to all of them for their hospitality (too many to name!) but especially to Fuad, Jivernesh, Balu, Yogaees, Alif, Yan and Melody.
Bringing children travelling in a pandemic can be unsettling for many parents but with the Courtyard by Marriott standard which your hotel has delivered: guest-centricity, strong service mindset and high adherence towards cleanliness and comfort, is your hotel’s winning formula to hedge against all these uncertainties travellers face.
To find out more about Courtyard by Marriott Penang:
Our 5D4N Penang Itinerary:
We’ll share our 5-day Penang City Escape Itinerary For Families next. Stay tuned!
For more of our Penang posts, follow us follow us on IG (Angie: @lifestinymiracles, David: @doting_dad ) and go to #OhanaDoesPenang on IG. Thanks for reading!
15 countries and counting! – DIY Trips with kids. We share all our experiences and itinerary here.