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.