HUGE variability in quality of hotel club lounge offerings

Maybe someone can explain this to me. This past weekend I stayed at both the InterContinental San Francisco and Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport. As usual, the InterContinental was spectacular, and it remains my favorite hotel in the US (in terms of all around value and quality). The service in the club lounge (and everywhere else) is consistently spectacular, and the club lounge offerings are great — scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bagels with lox, etc., in the morning, soup during the day, and crab cakes along with other snacks and an open bar in the evening. No request is too big and the employees just couldn’t be nicer.

Then I spent last night at the Hyatt Regency SFO. I guess I always assumed there was some minimum “standard” that can be expected in club lounges. While I don’t drink, I’d like to think free booze is one of them. Hell, Embassy Suites offers all guests free alcoholic drinks during their cattle call “manager’s reception.” But, no, instead they have an honor bar charging $3-5 for drinks. That was even the case at the Grand Hyatt Tampa. Now maybe I’m missing something, but I thought “Grand” Hyatt hotels were supposed to be kind of special. Like, aren’t they better than Hyatt hotels and Hyatt Regency hotels? Yet they still pinch a few bucks out of you for booze?

The kicker for me, though, was this sign in the club lounge at the Hyatt Regency SFO:

I must be missing something. Are they really saying each guest can only have two bottles of water and/or two bottles of non-alcoholic beverages? Is that per visit? Per night? Per stay? You’re really limiting the number of 18 cent non-alcoholic bottles guests can consume when you try to charge $45 for the honor of using the lounge? Hell, does anyone even consumer more than two bottles of anything per visit? Insulting, in my opinion…

Now I realize most guests are probably Diamond members that get free access, but Royal Ambassadors also get free access to the club lounge at the InterContinental San Francisco…

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Free alcohol is pretty rare in my experience in hotel lounges in the US. Yes, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, and Residence Inn locations typically offer some form of it, and I’ve even seen it in some Hamptons and Courtyards in the evenings. But in general, my experience with lounges in full service Starwood, Hilton, and Marriott properties in the US is that alcohol is not free. Outside the US, it usually is.

    However, I’ve never encountered anything that implied they were rationing the soft drinks and bottled water for guests with lounge access. That truly is a first.

  2. I am currently staying at the Cairo Marriott and I cant even get into the lounge because its over crowded. The past two days I have been asked to come back at another time or wait 10-15 minutes to be allowed entry.

    As a compromise I asked if I could have a banana and bottle of water to go and was told no I could only consume while in the club.

  3. i think of myself as more of a PC apologist, but to be fair, hyatt regency is more in the same class as Holiday inn and Crowne Plaza, the fact that hyatt regencies have a club is already good enough. That said, i think its pretty funny that Hyatt Summer-fields will offer free booze during their evening social hours, but HRs and GHs charges for theirs.

  4. And have you ever witnessed guests descending upon a lounge consuming everything in sight just because it was available for consumption? Acting like they were at a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s not a pretty picture. So, I can understand the request to limit the water and beverages.

  5. I stayed at HR SFO several times and it is only lounge (I have been to) with water/soft drink bottle limit posted. FYI, this lounge is only attended during the certain hours of day and it could be one of reasons for the such limit. BTW, I haven’t seem it enforced. Regarding the comment about Hyatt Summer-Fields not charging for boozes, you can make same argument for Staybridge Suites vs HI/CP, Marriott Residence Inn vs FS or Hilton Homewood Suites vs FS Hiltons.

  6. I’ve been to the IC Toronto Centre and they also have an honor bar in their club lounge (though they generally are much more liberal with Ambassador benefits averaging a minimum of a two class upgrade just for regular Ambassadors). Marriott always does the honor bar with their club lounge.

  7. Marriott Marquis Times Square has a better lounge than any other Marriott I can think of (and I’ve been Plat for about 10 years). Marriotts across town or at the airports are very poor and distant cousins.

    As for the limit, I was in the Marriott Copenhagen lounge last Fall and saw someone leaving with a canvas bag containing all of the bottles of cold water in the fridge. We shared an elevator to the lobby, and I witnessed this same person handing out the water to the others in his group (same T-shirt). It appeared to be a chaperon/teenager scenario. Perhaps if this isn’t an isolated incident, the 2-bottle limit sign is justified.

  8. Domestic US Hyatt lounges all charge for alcoholic beverages except for Grand Cypress in MCO and the Hawaii properties.

  9. It seem that all of you are missing an experience at the Ritz Carlton Hotel company which offers a club lounge in all of their hotels in the USA. The club lounges are also offering complimentary alcohol since they have a full bar.
    The Club Lounge @ the Ritz carlton San Francisco is one of the best in the USA and you should experience their services. You will not be able to stay with any marriott rewards or points.
    Have fun…

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