Review: Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida

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.


Hotel exterior


Hotel exterior

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.


Lobby


Lobby

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).


Hallway

While the room wasn’t a suite, it was spacious (especially since I was staying alone) and beautifully decorated.


Room entrance

The room featured a king size heavenly bed, a comfortable couch, and a desk.


Room


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.


View from the other side of the room.

The bathroom featured a single sink, bathtub, toilet, and Heavenly shower (with Westin bath amenities). Both the water pressure and temperature control were excellent.


Bathroom


Tub looking towards bedroom


Shower


Toilet

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.


Balcony


Balcony


View from balcony

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.


View of pool

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.


Club lounge


Club lounge


Club lounge

It even had two massive balconies, one facing the ocean and one facing the intercoastal waterway.


Balcony

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.”


Evening spread


Evening spread

The breakfast spread was more impressive for a US hotel (though still not exceptional), with fruit, salmon, bagels, pastries, cereal, etc.


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread

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…


Water and gratuity slip

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.

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Comments

  1. I’ve read alot about the Westin Diplomat in the FT forums, glad to be able to see some pictures…

  2. i would be furious if I had saw the hotel had upgraded me to a suite pre-arrival and then saw that they’ve taken it away.. =/

  3. @ Jamison — At the end of the day I think we should be thankful for SPG’s transparency in this regard rather than holding it against them. I understand operational circumstances can change (paid suite guest extending stay, suite out of service, etc.), and I’d hate for them to be less general with upgrades in advance because of it.

    But again, it’s frustrating nonetheless. 😉

  4. I started staying at the Diplomat years ago, back around 2006 the evening service was amazing … a first service with substantive food, and then a late dessert service with delicious treats. And they kept replenishing.

    And they didn’t always put out the $0 checks either.

    (Although cocktails in the lounge have never been free, historically they have been MORE EXPENSIVE than the bar downstairs.)

    The only time I failed to get a suite here was the week between Christmas and New Years.

  5. Ben – also saw the gratuity/room number cards at the Sheraton Chicago this week. Obviously a new chain wide standard – wonder if they’re researching lounge use.

  6. Ben – I must be a bit dense, but how do you find out in advance if you’ve been upgraded? I’ve never noticed that on my SPG profile or when looking at my upcoming stay.

  7. The Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago does the same tip card thing in their club lounge too!

  8. @ Scott — When you look at your reservation online, the room type will update if you’ve been upgraded. So it showed me as being booked into a one bedroom suite in this instance.

  9. The Atrium Club lounge at the Westin Times Square in NYC is aggressive about having you sign a card with your room number with a big entry for a gratuity

  10. Nice trip report. This platinum also did not get a suite, but feel that platinum recognition is pretty good at this hotel. Got a nice view room.

    I also agree that the lounge view is excellent but the spread is pathetic. I thought the $0 bill was them fishing for a tip… for that reason alone, I would not tip!

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