(Fourth) Rate the IL Hotel!-Durham


It’s time once again for the game show which has a maximum occupancy of 60……

(Fourth) Rate the IL Hotel!

And now, here’s your host, the man whose luggage cart always veers to the left…..Jason Benetti!

Thank you Gene Wood, and a pleasure to be along with you all for the second installment of (Fourth) Rate the IL Hotel!  If you’ve just joined us, this is the game where we assign a score to each of the hotels the Syracuse Chiefs stay in and tell you why.

This week’s contestant is the Durham Marriott City Center.


Nestled on Foster Street in downtown Durham, North Carolina, the Marriott towers over most of the buildings in the area and provides a generally pleasant experience for International League teams.

We’ll give you three pluses and three minuses.


1) Heart of darkness

When I was a kid, I’d get back from school on certain days and my father would be asleep.  He was an air traffic controller and was preparing to work an overnight shift.  He’d already worked until noon or so that day.  So, in order to be ready for his rather intense job, he needed to sleep.  So, it was important that whatever I did was quiet enough to be considered considerate.  Even more importantly, though, his bedroom had to be dark.  So, he’d cover the window with a towel or something else to simulate nighttime.

In the “what I’d really like dad is to borrow the car keys” department, I now know how Rob Benetti felt.  Sometimes–like last night–baseball games run long.  So, real, restful sleep requires a person to slumber until after it gets light outside.  For that reason, a baseball hotel gets high marks for having window curtains which:

1) Keep the room pitch black


2) Cover the entire window

There’s not much worse than a sliver of light seeping through a cavernous room causing a 6:45 A.M. wakeup.   The Durham curtains are unrivaled in the International League in the darkness they create.  It’s virtually impossible to see in the room with the light off and the curtains drawn.

2) Food stuffs galore

Within a four-block radius of the Marriott is the best burger I’ve had at Bull City Brewery, the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had at Dame’s:

Yes, that's honey dijon, syrup, chicken and a sweet potato waffle.....

Yes, that’s honey dijon, syrup, chicken and a sweet potato waffle…..


Plus, theres a slew of restaurants near the ballpark which include a pizza place, a Cuban place and a bundle of sports bars.  Before this season, that made Durham the foodie capital of the International League.  In 2013, though, there’s more.  Just a block away from the Marriott, tucked away on a one way street lies some of the best ice cream in the world at The Parlour.  To any International League travel wonks, go there.  Fast.  They make their own ice cream and it is superb.  They also feature a creative team behind the counter.

The menu lists “ice cream sandwich” as an option.  Seeing the pre-made cookie sandwiches in the freezer propped near the door, I asked the woman behind the counter if I could cook up my own ice cream sandwich.  They said there’s no reason why not, and off we went.  They plopped a few scoops of honey chai ice cream in the middle of two chocolate snickerdoodles and created frozen Valhalla.

Dessert so good, it can't contain itself.

Dessert so good, it can’t contain itself.


Sweet, flavorful ice cream + brilliant service = must-visit.

3) Elevation

Durham’s Marriott has two elevators for nine floors and I didn’t wait more than 30 seconds for a lift.  An Otis miracle.


1) Watered-down

In previous years, the Durham Marriott staff has put out fruit-flavored water in a jug next to the elevators.  No dice this time, though the table is still there to taunt those of us who remember what used to be placed on it.

2) Key players

There’s a bank of doors on the side of the building which provides easier access to the hotel’s lobby by foot from the ballpark than the main entrance.  After game one of the series, those doors were open.  After game two, which was shorter than game one, the doors were closed.  No need for them to always be open.  Just be consistent.  Post a time.  Stick to it.

3) ‘net results

The internet access is still slow in spots.  Precise spots.  You know how sometimes it rains on your house and not your great aunt’s place a mile-and-a-half away?  Internet in my room, 609, was spotty and generally slow.  Chiefs trainer Jeff Allred, in 607, reported high, consistent speed.




9 complimentary shampoos out of 10!


Tremendous work. See you next time, when the Chiefs travel to Toledo……will there be a pizza box in the room?  A (Fourth) Rate the IL Hotel cliffhanger!



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