While my main destination in South Florida was the St. Regis Bal Harbour, I decided to make a one-night stopover at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida, on the way down. It was available on Cash & Points, so cost only 4,800 SPG points plus $90.
I’ve been wanting to stay at this property ever since Gary wrote about it, as he said it’s the hotel that offers the best Platinum recognition anywhere, thanks to the fact that they have 86 suites.
A few days before my stay the Starwood website showed that I had been upgraded to a one bedroom suite, though the morning of my arrival that unfortunately switched to a grand deluxe room.
I arrived at the hotel at around 4PM and left my car with the valet as I checked in.
Check-in was efficient and friendly, and within a few minutes I had keys to my room. I asked about the possibility of a suite upgrade, though the agent said they were fully committed that night, which the Starwood website seemed to confirm.
I went outside to park my car. Valet parking is available for $25 and self park is available across the street from the hotel for $20, and I went with the latter.
I was assigned room 3245, in the south tower (which I recommend staying in if you can, since the views are better looking south than north).
While the room wasn’t a suite, it was spacious (especially since I was staying alone) and beautifully decorated.
The room featured a king size heavenly bed, a comfortable couch, and a desk.
The entrance to the bathroom was by the door of the room, though there was also a “panel” door that could be opened so that you could look from the bathroom to the bedroom.
The bathroom featured a single sink, bathtub, toilet, and Heavenly shower (with Westin bath amenities). Both the water pressure and temperature control were excellent.
The highlight of the room was no doubt the balcony, which featured beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Being so high up and looking south was pretty awesome, since you could look down the Florida coast for miles and also out over the Atlantic. It was almost like being on a cruise ship.
The balcony also looked down on the beach and the hotel’s pools. While the pools are huge and there’s plenty of space to lounge, the hotel does have 900 rooms, so they were always pretty full.
The club lounge is on the 34th floor, and physically the most stunning club lounge I’ve seen in the US. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but it really is a beautiful space.
It even had two massive balconies, one facing the ocean and one facing the intercoastal waterway.
Despite the physical beauty of the lounge, the evening spread was the most pathetic I’ve seen at any Starwood property. It was at best equal to a domestic airline lounge — cheese, crackers, chips, and salsa/hummus was all that was on offer. I’d almost say “why bother.”
The breakfast spread was more impressive for a US hotel (though still not exceptional), with fruit, salmon, bagels, pastries, cereal, etc.
The most controversial part of the breakfast and evening spread was that when you visited they gave you a card to fill out with your room number, and it had a line for gratuity.
Yeah, it’s incredibly tacky, and it’s the first Starwood property I’ve stayed at where they do this. But dare I say, it actually worked, and they got a couple of bucks out of me with each visit. While there’s not a whole lot of food on offer, the people working there were incredibly friendly and immediately cleared plates (as opposed to other properties, where you do it on your own). They’ve even put some thought into how to maximize tips, because with breakfast they offer you a bottle of water as they bring you the slip for gratuity. I’m sure they’re not doing that out of the kindness of their hearts. Tacky? Yes. Does it work? Apparently so…
So on the whole I really enjoyed the Westin Diplomat, and think it’s a great mid-range South Florida resort. The rooms are beautiful, the Platinum recognition is excellent (given that my lack of a suite upgrade was the exception rather than the norm), and the beach/pool areas are very nice too. I’d definitely consider returning if I’m in the area.