Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa

Since we had to be in Florence overnight, Av and I decided to visit the new Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa there.

The hotel has only been open since June; they get a lot of business from being one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail hotels. When we were checking in, lots of other people were there with their golf bags.

This hotel is developed by the RSA (Retirement Systems of Alabama), who also oversees several other nice hotels in Alabama. A little more about the RSA’s involvement can be found here.

The Renaissance Tower there was built several years ago as the ‘tallest tourist attraction in Alabama’ (it’s 300′ tall), which gave a really good view of the city and the Tennessee River. There also used to be an aquarium feature inside the tower. I’m not sure if that’s going to be reopened.

Av asked during check-in if the restaurant, 360 Grill, was open yet, but it won’t be open until September 20th; the neat thing is that it is a revolving restaurant, like the one at Niagara Falls (and Atlanta, and other big cities). The person at the reception desk told Av that it will make a quicker revolution during lunch and a much slower revolution at night for supper. Neat!

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was that the doorman called us, and the other guests “guys”, like “how are you guys?”. Everything else about the service, from the check-in to the maid service, and room service, was great though.

A great sign was that when we got on the elevator, this gentleman, who was also a guest, asked if we had ever stayed there before. We told him that we hadn’t, and he said that we were in for a real treat – that he had already stayed at the hotel a few times this Summer and that it really was nice.

Hotel Room, Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa, Florence AL
The room was nice. The beds were a little more firm than Av and I like, but we really enjoyed our stay. The furniture that the television sat on featured fishing scenes, which was appropriate for the location. Inside it was a mini-refrigerator. There was also a desk with chair (although internet access was $10 extra/day), and another chair to lounge in beside the balcony door.

The bathroom had separate shower and tub. The bath amenities were the usual small Neutrogena soaps, shampoos, etc.

We did get to try the room service since our supper at Dale’s, which we love, was a flop (see here). When we got back to the hotel, I just wanted to get in my pj’s and watch the rest of the rest of the Alabama game with Av. We called room service, and I got the nachos (not so great) and Av had the hamburger (very good), and we shared a slice of the creme brulee cheesecake (pretty good). It wasn’t Dale’s, but then again we couldn’t have watched Alabama beat Southern Miss in our pj’s there either! hahaha!

I think that room service must have come either from their restaurant/bar called “Swampers” (remember the part in Sweet Home Alabama where they say, “and Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers”? The hotel named this place after the Swampers, who were a group of studio musicians that recorded backup for people that came to town like Elvis, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, *tons* of people – Muscle Shoals was a huge music-recording town) or from the other restaurant on-site, the Bronzeback Cafe (‘bronzeback’ is another name for a smallmouth bass).
BTW, we didn’t get to try the spa yet, it isn’t going to open until September 20th.

We’ll definitely come back to this hotel the next time we are in town. It really was nice.

Trowbridge’s in Florence AL, Dale’s in Florence AL, and Ricatoni’s in Florence AL

Trowbridge’s ( 316 North Court Street, 256.764.1503) has been open in downtown Florence since 1918. It is a lovely little ice cream parlor where you can sit at the counter and watch everyone’s treats being made.

Trowbridge's, Florence AL

Order Board, Trowbridge's, Florence AL

Isn’t this order board great??!!

Egg & Olive Sandwich, Trowbridge's, Florence AL

I ordered an egg and olive sandwich, which was very good. I ate about half of it (it was conveniently cut in half) so I could still try the ice cream.

Oh-My-Gosh Brownie, Trowbridge's, Florence AL

Av ordered the ‘oh my gosh’, which is a brownie topped with ice cream and caramel, whipped cream (which he asked them to leave off) and a cherry. The brownie was served warm and was *excellent*.

Orange-Pineapple Ice Cream, Trowbridge's, Florence AL

I tried one scoop of orange-pineapple ice cream — it also happens to be one of the ‘100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die’ that’s being promoted by the Alabama Bureau of Travel and Tourism this year — with one scoop of butter pecan. I liked the butter pecan a little better, but only had room for about 1/4 what they served in the glass!

Everybody that works at Trowbridge’s was really nice and friendly, and we’ll visit again the next time we’re in Florence.

Dale’s (1001 Mitchell Boulevard, 256.766.4961), one of my and Av’s very favorite places, was supposed to be where we were going to have supper Saturday night. We arrived right on time for our 8:45pm reservation and were seated promptly. A waiter came right over for our drink order, and had our drinks back in just a couple of minutes. Then twenty-five minutes went by and the waiter hadn’t come by for our order (no nothing – even to let us know that he would be with us, just that it would be a little while). We decided just to leave, so we went to the front desk to pay for our drinks. Since we couldn’t get a waiter, we couldn’t get a regular check. The gentleman at the desk asked what was going on and we explained… cost for the drinks. We’ll still go back next time; everybody has a bad night every now and then, I guess.

Ricatoni’s ( 107 North Court Street, 256.718.1002) was lunch on Sunday. (I just noticed that Ricatoni’s bread with herbs is *also* on the 100 dishes list (and it was very good).)

I had the Ricatoni Ravioli, which was cheese-filled ravioli in a tomato cream sauce. It was soooo good. Av really liked his pasta too.

We both really liked the atmosphere, with the double-height ceiling (part of the room has a balcony), tin ceiling, and an open – and pretty loud – kitchen. We’ll definitely come back to Ricatoni’s too. Yay!