Starwood is rolling out two robotic “Botlrs” named A.L.O. at the Palo Alto Aloft. The robotic butlers, built by Savioke, are able to perform tasks in the front of the house and the back of the house, as well as navigate around guests and use elevators. Wochit reports that for the most part the Botlrs will be delivering amenities to guest rooms in lieu of front desk staff. The Aloft Botlrs are currently “training”, and will officially go live in the hotels starting on August 20th.

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

This is part five of a thirteen part trip report from my third and most recent trip back to Thailand and includes my stay at the W Bangkok which opened in December 2012. 

The W Bangkok may be two years old, but it still felt brand new to me and service was top notch. As a platinum, I was upgraded from my prepaid $99 Spectacular Room to a corner Spectacular Room (the hotel was sold out, otherwise I’m confident I would have received a suite).

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The lobby bar on Fridays and Saturdays is hopping and as a Platinum you’ll receive two drink tickets upon check-in!

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Up to the corner spectacular room…

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Pretty cool tablet to control everything in my room at the W Bangkok, from lighting to A/C and messaging. I’ve had other recent stays at W hotels, but they’ve been a bit older than this one which opened in December 2012 and had no tablets. Tablets are by Archos…

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The bathroom is part of the bedroom, separated only by a curtain. Here’s the positive – the shower pressure was probably the strongest I’ve ever experienced at any hotel, awesome! The negative – without a change in the level of flooring, there is going to be flooding…and it will happen fast, especially with the power of the shower (see the pics below). Essentially, I would call the front desk to clean up the flooded bathroom each time I left the room.

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So just how great was the service at this hotel? Here are a few examples:

  • If you are taking a taxi, the doorman actually sits in the passenger seat and speaks to the driver in Thai, ensuring he turns on the meter and knows exactly where to go…no misunderstandings.
  • Similarly, the concierge had some amazing local restaurant recommendations for us. She too came outside and sat in the taxi with the doorman, both of them instructing the taxi driver exactly where to head.
  • I had a 4pm late check out which they pushed back to 7pm for me. My flight wasn’t until midnight and so at 7pm they called and asked if I wanted to stay longer. I did but they needed the room, so someone came up with a key to another room where I could shower and store my luggage.  Wow!

The food and drinks at the pool are overpriced but sometimes you just want to relax….oh and there’s underwater music which reminded me of some of the first motels/hotels I stayed at on our family vacations to Cape Cod or Disney World back in the day!

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Regionally Related:

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These are some pretty fantastic views of Lake Michigan, but the view will be even better for tonight’s 4th of July fireworks celebration. I checked in and was upgraded this morning before 9am to a room on the 32nd floor (no suites were available). Pretty sweet vista upon entering…those boats are snagging spots for tonight’s show:

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The trip was planned last minute so I didn’t even realize that the fireworks are set off right near the pier directly across the street. Even if your room has no view, the hotel has set up a special viewing area with a BBQ and cash bar for tonight. You can even bring up to two guests!

The room is great as well and the hotel just completed a $38 million dollar redesign…

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Full trip report coming soon…

It’s actually a miracle that I even arrived. My flight yesterday afternoon from LGA to ORD was canceled as was almost every other flight to ORD by any carrier from any NYC airport…this is for another post but persistence pays off and I’m also shocked by one airlines lack of notifications and irregular ops recovery when compared to their two largest competitors. Anyway, instead of flying all day on this routing -> NYC-MCO-ORD, I was happy to secure myself a direct LGA-ORD flight at 230am for a flight less than 5 hours later. More on that next time.  Happy 4th to all!

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Another generous check-out for a Platinum member by Starwood! It’s 11pm here in Bangkok and I just checked out of the W Bangkok 2 1/2 hours ago at 8:30pm. When I first checked in they asked me whether I’d be flying out of Bangkok the day that I was checking out. I thought it was a strange question, but I provided them with my flight details. I was later told by the front desk that my check-out time had been extended to 8:30pm as I should leave for the airport by 9.  Wow, pretty sweet and I didn’t even have to ask. I’ve had similar experiences at other SPG hotels lately….

WET Deck Lobby Tuk Tuk Lights

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Pretty cool tablet to control everything in my room at the W Bangkok, from lighting to A/C and messaging. I’ve had other recent stays at W hotels, but they’ve been a bit older than this one which opened in December 2012 and had no tablets. Tablets are by Archos…

W Bangkok1 W Bangkok2 W Bangkok5W Bangkok3W Bangkok4

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This is part eleven of a fifteen part trip report from my travels to the Maldives and Dubai. This picture report covers the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort in Dubai. This one night stay was unique in that we received two nights while redeeming points for only one.

So this was the plan with our Dubai stopover on the way back to New York from the Maldives… we would stay at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, checking in at 3am using Starwood Platinum’s Your24 benefit. The benefit is supposed to allow you to select your arrival and departure times and this was actually going to be my first time using the benefit. The hotel confirmed the check-in time (as did SPG) and so I thought we were all set…all for 12,000 points.

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Our flight arrived around 130am and we were at the hotel by 230am. We went to check-in but the front desk told us to come back around 830am, 6 hours later. What? I showed them the confirm for a 3am check-in but was told it was impossible and a mistake given that the hotel was oversold and that six guests had been sent to nearby properties. I asked for the manager who explained the situation, apologized, and offered to take our bags, give us some taxi money to explore (explore what at 3am??), and told us he would work to get us checked in by 5am once a few guests had departed. Instead, we opted for some coffee and sat ourselves down in the lobby to wait. I had already been upgraded to a suite using a Suite Night award and of course offered to give up the upgrade in exchange for any available room. In the meantime, I called SPG using Skype and explained the situation. They talked to the same manager and assured me that we would be in a room by 5am and that this would not count as a Your 24 check-in! That was extremely useful as this was Monday morning at 3am, meaning that we would be able to sleep in the room Monday morning from 5am – 10am and then again on Monday night into Tuesday. Even better, we would get our guaranteed 4pm check-out on Tuesday (our flight was after midnight on Weds morning), which ended up being extended to 6:30pm.  While two hours in the middle of the night in the lobby wasn’t ideal, the situation really didn’t turn out to be all that bad!

In the end, not only were we given the room at 5am, but it was actually the junior suite as promised via the Suite Night redemption. Even better, we were given a 6:30pm check out the following night. That’s almost a 38 hour stay (and 2 nights of sleeping) for only 12,000 points…and a little inconvenience.

That said, the hotel staff and lounge staff were fantastic and the outdoor areas of the property were nice. However, the inside (besides maybe the lobby) is in need of major renovations. I’ve previously stayed in Dubai and this hotel didn’t give you a luxurious Dubai feel at all. In fact, it didn’t even give provide a consistent Sheraton feel – everything seemed extremely dated.

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Where we waited in the middle of the night.  I should mention the most annoying part of that process is that no one actually checked out before we received the room. The hotel was simply making sure no-show guests who had booked from the previous night were not still planning on arriving.

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The Room – Our upgraded junior suite with sea view was quite dated, though did have some Arabic flare.

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The curtains from the bedroom open up into the living room / dining area…

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Not one outlet anywhere in the bedroom besides at the desk…and only two there.

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Old and leaky shower in Dubai…

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The views were beautiful, however note that they are dredging the land just offshore and you’ll now see construction cranes and drills from your room:

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Oh…and a Christmas caroling scheduling:

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The executive lounge service was actually quite great – three people there to help what was never more than 5-10 guests in the lounge. They knew both of our names after our first visit. Nightly alcoholic drinks and appetizers, all day snacks, water, juice, coffee and tea, and morning breakfast are served. The lounge has both inside and outdoor seating and also has views out to the sea.

The breakfast is nice enough but I’d recommend going downstairs for the much larger buffet (also complimentary for SPG Platinums)

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Breakfast in the main lobby -

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As you can see, extensive selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options at the buffet as well as an omelet station. We choose to eat outside…just watch your food as the birds gather around and patiently watch for you to not be on your game!

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The grounds are great with multiple lawn areas, a pool (unfortunately shaded in the morning), and the beach. The sun at the beach prior to 12pm is also blocked by local buildings but the Sheraton beach crew can recommend locations where the “sun is coming soon”. One told us to sit in an extremely shady area and to wait just 20 minutes and the sun would be right on top of us… his timing was perfect and we had prime seats (before everyone else) for the rest of the day. The water was extremely calm during our trip and was nice and warm as well. Again, unfortunately you’ll see the dredging just offshore. You can also walk the length of Jumeirah Beach all the way to the marina. Note that guests at the Hilton down the beach were much more tightly packed on the beach and at the pool, but the actual grounds were nice and felt more alive…that typical resort feeling that the Sheraton lacks.

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Anyway, for a short stopover in Dubai I’d say we did well. 2 nights for 1, a relaxing day on the beach, and time for two full days and nights of activities (pre 3am arrival and post midnight departure).

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Emirates car service back to the airport…

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I previously reviewed the Le Meridien Dubai and found their grounds and outdoor areas to be superior (though those interiors are in need of updates as well). Dubai Trip Report – Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Emirates Business Class to Cairo, Dubai Activities

I also stayed at two fantastically renovated Sheratons last year, actually two of my favorite stays -

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

It’s hotel promo reminder time! Check out the rundown of the numerous Q1 promos that have been released across all the major hotel brands:

Hyatt – Endless Possibilities Promotion  -

Hyatt Q1 Promo 2014

Choose Free Nights - Earn a free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after you stay five eligible nights. Enjoy 4 free nights (valid through July 31, 2014) after you stay 20 nights. Register for free nights hereOR

Choose Bonus Points - Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first five nights, and then more for every additional five nights, up to 50,000 bonus points. Register for bonus points here.

Hyatt Endless Possiblities Q1 2013

Things to Remember:

  • Once you’re registered, you CANNOT switch your selection. Now, all stays will count towards the promotion retroactively which means it might be smartest to WAIT to register until you figure out your travel plans. The total nights you plan to spend in Hyatt properties during the promotion will help you determine which choice is better. If you’re saying just a few nights, the free nights seems like the better option, but obviously plot out what works best for you. JUST REMEMBER to register by the March 31st deadline…bullet two below
  • You need to register for your choice by March 31st
  • Eligible stays are from January 15th – April 30th at any Hyatt hotel brand worldwide

Starwood – Bring on the Earnings Promotion 

SPG Bring on the Earnings Q1 2014 Promo

Earn 2,500 bonus Starpoints for every five eligible nights you stay from January 5 through April 30, 2014 — up to 10,000 bonus Starpoints and 20 eligible nights. Plus, get an additional 5,000 bonus Starpoints when you hit 25 eligible nights, for a total of 15,000 bonus Starpoints.

Things to Remember:

  • You must register by February 28, 2014
  • Earn on all eligible stays at any of the hotels and resorts in the SPG program. No exclusions
  • Eligible stays dates are January 5 – April 30, 2014

Marriott MegaBonus – 

Marriott MegaBonus Q1 2014

Multiple different offers, log in here for your personal offer. I received “earn a free night (category 1-5) after 2 stays, up to 2 free nights.” However, other reported offers include the same as mine above but the free night is only for a category 1-property, earn 35,000 points after 20 nights and another 15,000 bonus points after 25 nights up to 50,000 points, and earn 25,000 points after 15 nights and another 15,000 bonus points after 20 nights up to 40,000 bonus points, and earn 35,000 points after 20 nights plus an additional 2,000 bonus points after each additional night  – up to 55,000 points. Also see - Marriott 1 Free Night After 2 Stays, Stackable w/ MegaBonus!

Things to Remember:

  • You must register by March 31, 2014 but all stays during the promotion period prior to registration will count towards the bonus
  • You must stay between February 1 – April 30, 2014
  • Eligible stays dates are January 5 – April 30, 2014

IHG (Priority Club) – The Big Win -

IHG The Big Win

The Big Win  is an expansion of the original “The Big Win” which provides customized offers to win points or airline miles. Registration is already open at The Big Win dedicated site and provides points or miles for any IHG hotel stay between January 1st and April 30th. For this one, you must register PRIOR to your stays but registration will remain open until the promotion ends.

Hilton HHonors More Nights, More Points -

Hilton HHonors More Nights More Points Q1 2014 Promo

Stay two nights and get double points, stay three nights and get triple points, stay four nights and earn quadruple points for your stay.

Things to Remember:

  • The offer is valid for stays completed between October 10, 2013 and January 31, 2014 at any participating hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio (click here for hotels who have chosen to not participate).
  • You must register prior to your stay in order to earn the bonus points, no retroactive credit!

Club Carlson – Stay 3 Nights. Get 1 Free. -

Club Carlson Q1 Promo

Stay 3 nights between January 6, 2014 and April 13, 2014 at any of the participating hotels worldwide to earn 38,000 bonus points (1 free night).

Things to Remember:

  • Only one bonus per member will be awarded.
  • Stays or nights paid for using Points + Cash are not eligible for this Promotion.
  • Members only need to register once, but registration must be received before checkout of the first Eligible Stay to qualify.

Best Western Rewards - 1,500 and 1,000 Online Booking Bonus Promos -

Best Western Q1 2014 Online Booking Promo

Best Western Ride Rewards members who register for the promotion PRIOR to their stay and book a qualifying reservation online will receive 1,500 bonus points per stay before February 2nd, 2014. OR register PRIOR to booking a qualifying rate on bestwestern.com and receive 1,000 bonus points per stay before February 2nd, 2014. Elite members get 500 more bonus points per stay. Use the 1.5K and 1K links above.

Expedia - $25 off your next mobile booking - Save $25 on your first hotel booking on the Expedia app of $100 or more. Book by 3/31/14 Coupon Code: MOBILE25

Expedia

Posted by Adam | One Comment

Starwood is opening one hotel in China every two weeks, Hilton plans to go from 39 to 150 properties, and InterContinental is doubling its hotels in China to 400 over the next three to five years. Overcapacity or just fueling business need? From the Asian Review:

In the northeastern port city of Dalian, a Ritz-Carlton, a Grand Hyatt, a Langham and an MGM are all under construction. The Starwood group alone is preparing three hotels simultaneously. That is on top of a Shangri-La, a Conrad, a Hilton and a Furama already open and within walking distance of one another.

As per the Review, occupancy rates at luxury hotels in mainland China are significantly lower than in other countries. While the rates in Hong Kong and Singapore hover around 80% and break-even is said to be in the 70% range, China is falling well below that at a rate of 57.6% reported in May 2013. However, it’s important to note that hotel brands like Starwood and IHG reduce their risk by simply agreeing to manage the hotels without having to invest their own capital in the projects.

Check out the full article from the Review for some insight at to why it still might make sense from a brand recognition standpoint to grow in China despite these occupancy rates.

beijing st regis

Posted by Adam | 5 Comments

It’s hotel promo time! Check out the tips, strategies, and details for each of the numerous Q1 promos that have been released across all the major hotel brands.

Hyatt – Endless Possibilities Promotion  -

Hyatt Q1 Promo 2014

Choose Free Nights - Earn a free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after you stay five eligible nights. Enjoy 4 free nights (valid through July 31, 2014) after you stay 20 nights. Register for free nights hereOR

Choose Bonus Points - Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first five nights, and then more for every additional five nights, up to 50,000 bonus points. Register for bonus points here.

Hyatt Endless Possiblities Q1 2013

Things to Remember:

  • Once you’re registered, you CANNOT switch your selection. Now, all stays will count towards the promotion retroactively which means it might be smartest to WAIT to register until you figure out your travel plans. The total nights you plan to spend in Hyatt properties during the promotion will help you determine which choice is better. If you’re saying just a few nights, the free nights seems like the better option, but obviously plot out what works best for you. JUST REMEMBER to register by the March 31st deadline…bullet two below
  • You need to register for your choice by March 31st
  • Eligible stays are from January 15th – April 30th at any Hyatt hotel brand worldwide

Starwood – Bring on the Earnings Promotion 

SPG Bring on the Earnings Q1 2014 Promo

Earn 2,500 bonus Starpoints for every five eligible nights you stay from January 5 through April 30, 2014 — up to 10,000 bonus Starpoints and 20 eligible nights. Plus, get an additional 5,000 bonus Starpoints when you hit 25 eligible nights, for a total of 15,000 bonus Starpoints.

Things to Remember:

  • You must register by February 28, 2014
  • Earn on all eligible stays at any of the hotels and resorts in the SPG program. No exclusions
  • Eligible stays dates are January 5 – April 30, 2014

Marriott MegaBonus – 

Marriott MegaBonus Q1 2014

Multiple different offers, log in here for your personal offer. I received “earn a free night (category 1-5) after 2 stays, up to 2 free nights.” However, other reported offers include the same as mine above but the free night is only for a category 1-property, earn 35,000 points after 20 nights and another 15,000 bonus points after 25 nights up to 50,000 points, and earn 25,000 points after 15 nights and another 15,000 bonus points after 20 nights up to 40,000 bonus points, and earn 35,000 points after 20 nights plus an additional 2,000 bonus points after each additional night  – up to 55,000 points.

Things to Remember:

  • You must register by March 31, 2014 but all stays during the promotion period prior to registration will count towards the bonus
  • You must stay between February 1 – April 30, 2014
  • Eligible stays dates are January 5 – April 30, 2014

IHG (Priority Club) – The Big Win -

IHG The Big Win

The Big Win  is an expansion of the original “The Big Win” which provides customized offers to win points or airline miles. Registration is already open at The Big Win dedicated site and provides points or miles for any IHG hotel stay between January 1st and April 30th. For this one, you must register PRIOR to your stays but registration will remain open until the promotion ends.

Hilton HHonors More Nights, More Points -

Hilton HHonors More Nights More Points Q1 2014 Promo

Stay two nights and get double points, stay three nights and get triple points, stay four nights and earn quadruple points for your stay.

Things to Remember:

  • The offer is valid for stays completed between October 10, 2013 and January 31, 2014 at any participating hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio (click here for hotels who have chosen to not participate).
  • You must register prior to your stay in order to earn the bonus points, no retroactive credit!

Club Carlson – Stay 3 Nights. Get 1 Free. -

Club Carlson Q1 Promo

Stay 3 nights between January 6, 2014 and April 13, 2014 at any of the participating hotels worldwide to earn 38,000 bonus points (1 free night).

Things to Remember:

  • Only one bonus per member will be awarded.
  • Stays or nights paid for using Points + Cash are not eligible for this Promotion.
  • Members only need to register once, but registration must be received before checkout of the first Eligible Stay to qualify.

Best Western Rewards - 1,500 and 1,000 Online Booking Bonus Promos -

Best Western Q1 2014 Online Booking Promo

Best Western Ride Rewards members who register for the promotion PRIOR to their stay and book a qualifying reservation online will receive 1,500 bonus points per stay before February 2nd, 2014. OR register PRIOR to booking a qualifying rate on bestwestern.com and receive 1,000 bonus points per stay before February 2nd, 2014. Elite members get 500 more bonus points per stay. Use the 1.5K and 1K links above.

Expedia - $25 off your next mobile booking - Save $25 on your first hotel booking on the Expedia app of $100 or more. Book by 3/31/14 Coupon Code: MOBILE25

Expedia

Posted by Adam | One Comment

I last visited and blogged about the Westin Excelsior Rome last September, ending that post with “The Westin Excelsior is a SPG category hotel, priced as low as 200E in the off season but averaging 300E or more per night during the high season. A standard room can be redeemed for 20,000 SPG points per night or 10,000 SPG points and $180. The hotel is majestic with a ton of history and an amazing central location but what did you think – old world charm or renovation please?” You can read that full original review here.

After that post, I received several emails including one from the hotel noting that renovations were in the works but that the hotel really shines for its history and noting that “there’s no more special place to stay in Rome”. Well, 15 months later has anything changed?

This is the second part of an eight part trip report from my travels to Rome and Siracusa, Sicily:

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Check-Ins: My flight got in quite early and I arrived at the hotel before 9am. I had reserved the lowest level room, a deluxe room, but I was warmly welcomed back, thanked for my Platinum status, and told that I had been upgraded to a suite. Awesome! It wasn’t a complete surprise as I had been following my reservation on the SPG app, seeing the upgrade first to a Grand Luxe Room and then later to a Grand Luxe Suite.

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Not only that, but the front desk called housekeeping and the room was ready, even before 9am! The check-in agent actually walked me up to my room to make sure I was happy with the upgrade. Unfortunately, upon entering the room the smell of smoke was present, very present! Funnily enough, the agent told me she did not smell anything, but that she smokes so she wouldn’t. She called up three colleagues, who all smelled nothing as well, all also admitting that they were smokers…HAH we are in Italy! They offered to move my room if I wanted or they could bring up an air purifier. I knew the purifier wasn’t going to do much as the room smelled like it had been smoked in for the past 50 years. After a quick call by the agent to a manager I was moved to another suite. The only problem…it had two twin beds instead of “two twins join together as King”. Before we move on to that room, I did capture a few pics of the original suite which had a bedroom, foyer, separate living room, two full bathrooms, and some very nice views…

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Bathroom 1 – heated floors and towel rack

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Bathroom two across the foyer…

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Separate living room…

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This was hidden behind the desk but I remember from my last visit to pull it out, otherwise you’ll find minimal outlets in the room, besides two at the desk…that’s it!

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Now, you can see that the room has that old room charm (and most of the rooms at the Westin have the green decor or a similar design in red). I think what I said during my last visit still holds true – No matter what room type you receive, you will either love or hate the decor. The Lovers - the rooms are very large and spacious when compared to other European hotel rooms. The bathrooms are enormous as well and some have great stand-up showers (others have tubs with a shower head that is OK). If you are into the classic old palace feel then you will love the rooms. We are talking chandeliers, fireplaces, turn of the century desks and chairs, glass and cloth covered night tables, and red or green silk paneled walls. The Haters - If you are used to a modern SPG property a la W or Le Meridien, you are in for a shock. Some members of my team described the rooms as old and gaudy, with worn out carpets, uncomfortable chairs, rusty lamps, and a “classic” smell. You also won’t like the lack of outlets, as the rooms weren’t designed for today’s technology. If you want to plug in your laptop, iPhone, etc., you’ll need to unplug a lamp or two. The good news is you should have lamps on either side of your bed for easy access to a plug. You also won’t like that most king rooms have two twin beds pushed together to form a king with about an inch of separation between them (though the beds were certainly comfortable when not in the crack). 

So yea, that renovation never happened and there doesn’t appear to be one in the works. But hey, no one cares. This hotel still has one of the best reputations in Rome, it’s an institution. You’ll find that out with your first taxi ride. When you tell the driver where your staying, they always say – “oh wow, the Excelsior (no one calls it the Westin), it’s fantastic isn’t it? One of the nicest hotels we have here in the city.” It’s undeniable that the locals love it. It’s the place to be seen. There were so many events held at the hotel each night, each drawing nicer and nicer cars and according to the hotel – some of Rome’s most famous celebrities and politicians.

OK, on to that next suite. Despite the two twin beds, I really enjoyed this suite so much more. It was off the main staircase instead of the back one, had an extremely grand entrance, amazing views of Via Veneto, and a much more modern bathroom (still with heated floors and towel racks), bathrooms I should say:

Landing from the staircase right outside my room…

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That nook to the right of this picture has the double doors that open into my suite…

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Welcome gift

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Views and balcony below to Via Veneto:

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Separate living room, take a look at all the waters on that table. Unlike my last visit, water service was amazing this time. Each day two bottles were placed in the living room and two in the bedroom. Another two plastic bottles were in the bathroom and during turndown another two smaller bottles were provided. No need to hide your water either LOL, they leave new bottles regardless of whether you’ve used the ones previously left.

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Entrance and foyer:

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Bedroom…

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Huge lack of outlets in the room besides this one all the way at the desk, useless for using your laptop on one of the beds. You’re going to have to unplug one of the bedroom lamps or you might also want to relocate the surge protector from behind the TV).

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Fireplace!

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Bathroom one, much more modern than the last suite with a gigantic shower area.

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I still mainly found the staff to be excellent, especially the agent who checked me in. Several of the front desk staff recognized me and greeted me by name just a day or so into the trip, and that was common for everyone I stayed with. Less nice things to say about the concierge. They can be a bit surly (and lazy) at times, I’d also avoid their restaurant recommendations which tend to be quite touristy. I’ll be doing a separate post on the amazing restaurants I visited this time around, but feel free to shoot me an email as well.

Here’s an example of that laziness, I gave the hotel eight restaurants to book reservations for me. They sent a letter to my room noting that they could not complete the request for ANY of the restaurants as they were all closed or not answering the phone. Hmm, maybe because they called at 10am in the morning. Instead, they recommended that I see them for new restaurant recommendations. I of course called all eight on my own that afternoon and made reservations without a problem:

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Breakfast could be selected as a platinum welcome amenity and was served at the Doney restaurant. It was quite nice including a great buffet, prosecco, and items for special order (omelets, pancakes, etc.).

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Overall, I still really like the hotel, though I do feel it could maintain that majestic feeling and have a bit more modern rooms. That said, the staff was great, the views from my room amazing, the housekeeping and water service excellent, the size of the suites (and rooms) fantastic, the ease of upgrade amazing (did not post about coming to the hotel prior to arrival), and the location is unbeatable - situated on Via Veneto and just a short walk to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Borghese Gardens. Arriving back at the hotel at night, you truly do feel like you are staying somewhere special and important to the city with a ton of history. PS – Also important to note that the suites I was upgraded to retail for EUR 1400-2300 per night for most of the year.

OK all that said, I have to say that I also very much enjoyed my stay just two months earlier at the Marriott Autograph Boscolo Palace, located diagonally across the street from the Westin. This is a hotel with a past (not quite the past nor is it the place to be seen today like the Excelsior) but it is a hotel that completely refurbished the rooms and common areas less than a year ago. Check out that review here - Trip Report – Marriott Autograph Boscolo Palace Roma – New Favorite Rome Hotel

Oh, and final thing. If one night you don’t feel like going for a sit down dinner. You must check out Cafe Lotti (make a right outside the hotel, then your second right walking towards Borghese Gardens). A cute older couple runs the cafe and makes fresh Italian dishes each day. They are cheap and delicious. You can eat them there or ask for takeaway to bring back to your Westin suite ;-). I hadn’t visited them in over two years, and they still remembered me when I walked in and were super excited that I had come back.

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Posted by Adam | 7 Comments

Last Sunday I wrote about our Dubai stopover on the way back to New York from the Maldives. The plan was to stay at the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, checking in at 3am using Starwood Platinum’s Your24 benefit. The benefit is supposed to allow you to select your arrival and departure times and this was actually going to be my first time using the benefit. The hotel confirmed the check-in time (as did SPG) and so I thought we were all set…all for 12,000 points.

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Our flight arrived around 130am and we were at the hotel by 230am. We went to check-in but the front desk told us to come back around 830am, 6 hours later. What? I showed them the confirm for a 3am check-in but was told it was impossible and a mistake given that the hotel was oversold and that six guests had been sent to nearby properties. I asked for the manager who explained the situation, apologized, and offered to take our bags, give us some taxi money to explore (explore what at 3am??), and told us he would work to get us checked in by 5am once a few guests had departed. Instead, we opted for some coffee and sat ourselves down in the lobby to wait. I had already been upgraded to a suite using a Suite Night award and of course offered to give up the upgrade in exchange for any available room. In the meantime, I called SPG using Skype and explained the situation. They talked to the same manager and assured me that we would be in a room by 5am and that this would not count as a Your 24 check-in! That was extremely useful as this was Monday morning at 3am, meaning that we would be able to sleep in the room Monday morning from 5am – 10am and then again on Monday night into Tuesday morning. Additionally, we would get our guaranteed 4pm check-out on Tuesday (our flight was after midnight on Weds morning).  While two hours in the middle of the night in the lobby wasn’t ideal, the situation really didn’t turn out to be all that bad!

In the end, not only were we given the room at 5am, but it was actually the junior suite as promised via the Suite Night redemption. Even better, we were given a 6pm check out the following night. That’s a 37 hour stay for only 12,000 points…and a little inconvenience.

The hotel staff and lounge staff were fantastic and the outdoor areas of the property were great. The inside is in need of a bit of renovation, but I’ll have a full trip report next week with full details.

Have you had better luck using Your24? Unfortunately, this is something that was based on individual circumstances and not easily repeatable. I am curious though whether those readers with experience using Your24 and checking in at their promised check-in time are ever offered late checkout or does the hotel ensure your are out at the 24 hour mark?

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Posted by Adam | 5 Comments

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