Interesting start to my stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue

Last night I checked in at the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York, which I’ve wanted to try out for a while now. While I’ve stayed at the Andaz Wall Street many times, and love the property, Gary has always raved about the 5th Avenue property, so I figured it was time to finally give it a try.

Gary briefly recounted his stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue, as he already checked out. After riding with Gary and his wife from the Sheraton LaGuardia to the Andaz 5th Avenue, we spent maybe ten minutes talking in the lobby (which I believe Andaz refers to as “the lounge”). Ironically we were told that we needed to move for “security reasons,” which seems contradictory to the whole Andaz philosophy of creating hospitable public spaces.

I was really waiting to check-in, so when the guy started checking me in I couldn’t help but ask what security policy we had been violating. He explained in a nicer way than earlier that there was someone high profile staying here that was arriving shortly, which is fair enough. Though it was the way he originally approached us that irked me.

Then I was brought to my room by the “host,” only to find that my room was on the 3rd floor. Fair enough, I’m fine with that, since I figured I received some sort of a room upgrade. Unfortunately I was wrong, and as it turned out I had one of the three smallest rooms (per the floor plan on the door) on the second floor to the bottom of the hotel.

Look, I think my expectations of elite benefits at hotels are reasonable. At Hyatt I’m entitled to the best non-suite that’s available. In this case the hotel was basically sold out, so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. That being said, as a Diamond member I think it’s reasonable enough to at least expect a standard room on a high floor or a slightly larger room on a lower floor. The other thing is that the Andaz 5th Avenue has lots of premium room categories, even if they’re only slightly larger.

I don’t remember the last time I actually complained about the lack of an upgrade, but for whatever reason I couldn’t help myself. While the hotel was sold out, I just can’t imagine that I was basically one of the six “lowest ranking” guests out of 200 rooms (given that I was in one of the three smallest rooms on the second to lowest floor.

I went back down to the lobby and nicely explained to the host that I was a bit disappointed with the lack of an upgrade as a Diamond. I said I had stayed at the Andaz Wall Street several times and was excited to try out the 5th Avenue location, but was a bit underwhelmed. I explained that I realize the hotel was totally sold out, but the fact that I got a standard room on one of the lowest floors, especially with the noise associated with New York City, was rather disappointing. The host was friendly and apologized and explained once again the hotel was totally sold out and that they had nothing better available.

Fair enough, I would have accepted that as an answer, though he went on to explain that I was checking in late, and that they give upgrades based on check-in times. I couldn’t help but ask if they didn’t have a policy of pre-allocating rooms to guests, just like every other luxury hotel I’ve ever stayed at as an elite member.

He explained they do not, which I found bizarre. I asked for the reasoning and he said that it was because they never know whether someone will actually show up or not. Now wait a second, I can only cancel my room up until 3PM on the day before my arrival, so they’re getting paid for the stay either way. In other words, why should I be punished for checking in late? You should assume everyone arrives, and if they don’t, you’re getting paid for the room anyway and can provide someone else with an upgrade.

I had a problem with that reasoning and explained it to him, and he was once again apologetic. I explained that I realize it’s not his fault but just wanted to express my disappointment in the lack of pre-allocation on the part of the hotel. He said he might have a better room available the following day. I nicely explained it was fine and there was no need, as the room is fine; I was just trying to share my feedback.

Five minutes after I get back to my room I get a call from the host explaining that they just had a cancellation… for the nicest room in the hotel (or so he claimed). He fetched me from my room and swapped out keys, bringing me up to a 2 bedroom suite that usually goes for over $3,000 per night. He explained that the CEO of a large Middle Eastern airline usually rents out the room months at a time, so it happened to be vacant.

Now first of all, that didn’t totally add up. If the room usually goes to someone that rents it for months at a time, I can’t imagine there was a cancelation in that five minute window. Don’t lie to me, c’mon now.

That being said, I appreciated the gesture, though I honestly felt bad. Like I said, I’ve never before complained about the lack of a room upgrade. My goal was never to try and squeeze a suite out of the hotel. Instead all I wanted was something on a higher floor that might have been a bit quieter, or maybe just more space. My reasoning was simple — I stay in New York hotels a good amount, and the Andaz Wall Street is my preferred hotel. I don’t have any outrageous expectations there, though they usually do a good job. I figured there was no harm in asking if they had something better, and would have easily taken no for an answer. At the same time, had I not expressed my disappointment and ended up in that original room for two nights, I would have probably never returned to the hotel.

So while I’m certainly not suggesting anyone complain in hopes of getting a massive suite, I appreciated the gesture. It almost made me uncomfortable, though I suppose it was one possible solution to my disappointment.

A full review of the hotel is on the way in the next couple of days.

Comments

  1. I’m heading to NYC next month and was considering to use one of my Diamond suite upgrades at the Andaz 5th but thought I would have better luck getting a nicer suite at the GH NY. The two bedroom would be great but that is unlikely. Nevertheless I think I’ll give the 5th ave location a shot.

  2. I’ve never been real good at complaining about things in person. I’m better with letters. For example I was given a room late at night that still had a person in it. When I went downstairs the girl started asking me all these questions like I should have investigated further. I was just happy the guy in the room didn’t attack me or had a weapon. I sure wasn’t going to ask him “hey why are you in this room?”

    Maybe they checked and found out who you were?

  3. The hotel should have allocated a better room to you in advance. The Beverly Hilton did this for me when I had a stay and the hotel was all sold out, they still allocated a top floor quiet room as an HHonors Gold. I am glad you got a good rooom in the end.

  4. The Hyatt Regency St Louis pre-allocated me a room with two double beds. For the record, no, that is not my preferred room type. I asked why and they said that they were sold out. I explained that my bed type was guaranteed and they told me that they pre-allocated what was available – and that I should look at the bright side – they didn’t walk me to another hotel.

    Yeah…I’m a diamond. Didn’t matter. I checked in at 11:30 pm, which is late – but not THAT late by hotel standards.

    So, look at the bright side, your first room was at least what you booked.

  5. haha I wonder if the CEO of the middle eastern airline did have it booked and just didn’t happen to be there that night1! They could have been double booking the room. Maybe he’ll express his displeasure if he sees your review online!

  6. Am I the only one who feels this sounds like “Don’t you know who I am?” I’m top-dog with most hotel chains and, yeah, once in a very great while, I wind up with a crap room. Yeah, they should have given you a better room. Yeah, they blew it by not blocking your room. Maybe you can look at it as an opportunity to appreciate what we sometimes take for granted? Life is good, even with crap rooms once in a great while.

  7. Coins,

    As a New Yorker, I feel it’s always important to express your views to the front desk staff (some might use the word complain). There’s no harm / no foul in asking for a better room, no matter what your status.

    As for the front desk suddenly finding you that upgrade, any New Yorker will tell you this is a ‘nice safe’ by the front desk… once again proving the point IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T GET (what’s rightfully yours anyway).

  8. “just like every other luxury hotel I’ve ever stayed at as an elite member.”

    The Andaz brand is supposed to be luxury? Hyatt can call it whatever they want (boutique luxury) but pricing puts it mid tier at best.

    You room upgrade seems to have gone like this. You complained, rightly so, but the front desk didn’t have anything available he was authorized to upgrade you to, so he apologized and sent you on your way. Then he googled you, saw your picture on travelsort along with half a dozen recent articles, told his manager that you were a travel writer, and they promptly placed their lips on your behind.

  9. The Andaz brand won’t be around in five yrs. Work nearby the 5th Ave property, so have been there three times — for a party, for drinks, and last for breakfast. The latter was an extremely poor show — indifferent and very slow service, food not cooked to order (when they can’t get the eggs right…). Rubbish for NYC prices. This brand is unnecessarily trying to reinvent the hospitality wheel and failing spectacularly!

  10. I have a feeling that there was no way the security guard could have approached you that wouldn’t have “irked” you. And, I also have a feeling that regardless of how nice he could have asked you/did ask you, the simple, harmless request would have ended up in this blog.

  11. And, while you were downstairs complaining — err– sharing your opinion, you sure you didn’t mention that you were a travel blogger? 🙂

  12. @qbrain – ding, ding, ding. We have a winner…though I have a feeling that Google wasn’t necessary.

  13. Just checked in and can see why people like this place especially compared to other midtown hotels. Upgraded to Loft King without asking. I was ready to drop Ben’s name 🙂

  14. I too would have been “irked” if the security guard apporached me and asked me to move on.

  15. I have been upgraded to some spectacular rooms in the past, but on most times it seems to happen when I am staying for a few hours, i.e. late check in, early check out.
    I just smile and say oh well.
    I find it amusing about the note of UGing to 2 beds. A 2B suite isn’t going to make you sleep for 4 hours each in each bed. Give me a comfy, clean bed with nice TV and bedside water bottles and I am a happy camper.
    To each his own.
    My $0.02, I hope the front desk realized that they could (& did) UG a “diamond member”, and not a blog writer. It’s SAD if they googled you and caved in because they were worried about a -ve review.
    If I am running that property, I will give you what you deserve, fair and square. Not what you complained you should.
    Even if they some how missed an UG for you and gave you a smaller room, I just can’t imagine you feeling so insulted that you had to walk back and provide your feedback.
    Have you ever walked into other “luxury” properties you have stayed and said “I only deserved a single category UG due to my status, but you gave me multiple Category UG. Please take it back!!!!”
    You can’t walk into a restaurant and announce you are the Food section editor of local newspaper and expect to write a fair review of dinner that night.

  16. I stayed at the Hyatt Andaz and used points and I got a weird vibe from the property. The host had this “I am too cool” attitude and it was really pretty discomforting. I’m a diamond member, so I stay at Hyatt a lot, in fact, I stayed at the Hyatt down the street before and the service may not be “cool” but they’re not to cool to make me feel welcome.

    The gym at the Hyatt is so “cool” that they don’t even have instructions on any of their machines. Very odd.

  17. Well poor you, made to feel guilty about getting an undeserved $3,000 room.

    “You’ll find the shame is like the pain, you only feel it once.”

    — Marquis de Merteuil, from “Dangerous Liasons”

  18. You are entitled to what is available at check-in or whatever the terms/conditions give for upgrades. If the hotel was full and that was all that was available, then that is your entitlement. Nice that you got the suite, bully on you for asking I suppose, but not a valid complaint in my opinion, unless what they gave you did not meet the T&Cs.

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