Hotel Weddings And The Guest Experience

Conferences and weddings can be huge business for hotels. While the “core” of what most hotels provide is rooms, the reality is that conferences and weddings can contribute almost as much to their bottom line.

Which brings me to what I consider to be an interesting topic of conversation.

I spent the past weekend at the St. Regis Monarch Beach, which is a property I really like. It’s not a resort I’d fly cross country to vacation at, though it’s a short ~75 minute drive from LA, so is a relaxing weekend getaway.

I love going there and just doing nothing other than lounging by the pool and beach for a couple of days (not something I usually do, but when you’re with the right person it can be fun).

St-Regis-Beach

I live in hotels full time, so I’m used to seeing all kinds of weddings and conferences. Heck, the uniqueness of many conferences is one of my favorite things about living in hotels.

But this past Saturday the whole wedding thing was taken to a level I had never seen before. There were six weddings at the hotel in one day.

My first thought was that I sort of felt bad for those getting married, as there were ceremonies taking place just a couple of hundred feet apart, which seems like it would take away some of the uniqueness of the wedding.

St-Regis-Wedding-1

But more so than that, I couldn’t help but feel like at some point a hotel having six weddings in a day takes away from the guest experience. Some restaurants were closed/operating limited hours because of the weddings (since all the staffing went towards the weddings), and in general I couldn’t help but feel like I was just dodging wedding parties for most of the day. You can’t really enjoy the botanical gardens (which they made a point of telling us about at check-in) or lawns when there are wedding ceremonies happening there.

I realize this is a case where there’s probably simply not a solution. Hotels won’t stop scheduling as many weddings as possible. It’s huge money for them. And I also guess hotels won’t disclose to guests in advance how many weddings there are, since they want people to stay there.

But in general I couldn’t help but feel like there should be a better system, because at some point you feel like an inconvenience at the hotel when most public areas are being used by wedding parties, and you’re just trying to dodge the groups all day.

I’m curious to hear if anyone has any thoughts on this in general. Again, this isn’t a complaint, but rather just a general topic of conversation. I see weddings all the time, but this was my first time experiencing six weddings at a single hotel in a day.

On the plus side, at least one of them was Indian, which are my absolute favorite weddings to watch. As usual, they even had a horse!

Wedding-St-Regis

Does a hotel have any obligation to disclose weddings to other guests in advance when they’re a majority of what will take up the hotel? Is there any other solution? Is it okay for the guest experience to suffer as a result of weddings?

Comments

  1. Immediately thought of the St. Regis Monarch Beach when I saw the title – have only been there for weddings.

    Our family had an Indian Wedding at the Ritz Carlton Laguna down the road – we didn’t have a horse, but I think an elephant beats that! Marriott bonuses really helped with getting tons of free rooms for that one.

  2. This seems like a nice spot to have a wedding, but the hotel weddings at some non-descript place in the suburbs confuse me. I’ve been to at least five of those weddings. What’s the use of renting out a bland space when every metro area has unique, beautiful places to have events?

  3. I do think the hotel has a responsibility to disclose extreme situations like this.

    I don’t expect them to stop having the weddings or conferences, but I also don’t think this should be a surprise to a guest staying there. I also don’t get why the hotel wouldn’t tell you, vs. dealing with the complaints, especially from elites.

    I stayed at the W Koh Samui two years ago, and their main pool was being resurfaced and tiled. They emailed well before my stay to let me know – and to tell me that the pool at their biggest suite would be open to the guests. A nice touch. Now ultimately at a resort with a good beach and individual pools at the villas, it wasn’t a big deal, but I certainly appreciated the notice.

  4. This seems to be a frequent issue at this particular hotel. Can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone there for drinks and dinner, only to be told the entire property has been rented out for some special interest group or another. Quite annoying, and being a hotel guest during six weddings and barely being able to use the property amenities (and working around the crowds) would severely tick me off. Honestly, I can see the value of loyalty to a hotel program, but sometimes for a good life experience, it’s better to branch out. It’s worth it to try out the Montage and even Pelican Hill, neither part of any loyalty program, but maybe less chaotic for relaxing by a pool than the St Regis and its continuous massive events bookings.

  5. Some hotels are better suited than others to handle weddings and large groups. In general, though, I feel the hotel should notify guests upon booking, and offer some form of recompense for the inconvenience.

    I’ve stayed at a hotel where a large wedding reception was booked, and the children took great delight in playing tag in the elevators – truly annoying if you were trying to get from the lobby to the eleventh floor. In another hotel I had the room directly under the dance floor of a wedding reception with an exceptionally loud DJ. I eventually took my pillow and went to sleep in the lobby.

  6. Under the circumstances you described, I think the proper remedy is to permit you to join in the wedding festivities!

  7. Last year, a friend got married at the Four Seasons Bora Bora. This property has a policy of one one wedding per day, which reduces the problem significantly.

    However, there were times when several wedding couples were about getting photos done when it wasn’t their wedding day, which got around this restriction a little.

  8. Not related the post, but this site has been popping up all sorts of dialogs and warnings trying to get me to install software. It’s like a porn site not letting me close them and read the content!

    It’s probably not an experience you want your readers to have!

  9. Having grown up in Orange County, this hotel and the others around it are kind of synonymous with weddings (I should add that I’ve attended a family wedding at the Ritz down the road). I still think this is a pretty stunning property, but gets very crowded, especially in the summer. But Monarch Beach/Dana Point are pretty far from most destinations in Orange County and LA, save for beaches and golf.

  10. Bet you youre planning on marrying yourself 😛
    Jk
    But who are you travelling with?
    Oh and 6 weddings…. a bit much?

  11. To echo what Linda said above, while I love the points/miles game as much as anyone, in some circumstances you simply need to leave the nest, and this is one of them — as an OC local, I can tell you that Montage and/or Pelican Hill (depending on your desire for in town or secluded location) would have provided a vastly better experience for you even without a free upgrade and elite welcome gift.

  12. I booked a non-cancelable room at a nice hotel in Italy. As a courtesy I emailed that I would arrive at midnight as I had a 9-hour drive to reach it, even though I knew once I had booked my money was non-refundable. I arrived at 11.55pm to find the hotel overrun by wedding guests. The reception told me they did not have any room for me. I explained I had emailed and phoned giving my arrival time which I had kept and that anyway my room was non-cancelable. Clearly they had given my room away so as not to upset the big wedding party and could care less. They told me they had arranged a room for me at another hotel with such a bad reputation I would never have set foot in it. I told them this was unacceptable but they were not even polite or apologetic.

    The room that was all they offered in the other hotel was old and disgustin. It had that horrible urine smell pervading the room from the bathroom that was so thick it was almost choking. I am not exaggerating. I left the room and slept in my car.

    Since then I have continued to visit that town and told several people on each visit about my experience. If I can ever take business away from that hotel I will do so for the rest of my life. The conditions of my booking were that I could not change it and it was not refundable. It was not particularly cheap either. As a single lady who had travelled on motorways for 9 hours to and arrived to find herself walked to a stinky room somewhere else at 1am in the cold, that hotel treated me disgustingly.

  13. I can understand your frustration with SIX weddings in one day (ironically one of my favorite photographers shot a wedding there this weekend!), but on the flip side of that… We got married at a Ritz Carlton, sold our entire initial room + suite block plus some, and we had the worst service all weekend. The staff made my parents and I feel like the biggest inconvenience. They later blamed it on being sold out for our wedding weekend, but I would think they would also try and cater to people who spend lots of money with their hotel, and at the very least, convert the couple to loyal guests. I should also note that my parents and I both had status with MR, so we actually had a proven track record of stays… I guess I’m saying that I see it both ways… but six seems excessive! I would have been unhappy about that as a guest and a bride! 😉

  14. I was in Buffalo this weekend visiting a friend. The Hyatt there had 3 or 4 couples staying who were married elsewhere, as well as weddings at the hotel itself. We had the misfortune to have a room across from a quasi-suite with a little connecting hallway between the 2 rooms for one of the couples and their party. They felt it was ok to leave all the doors open and run back and forth while shouting and generally being obnoxious while getting ready. Then Saturday night, Bridezilla came home drunk at 1:15 a.m. and started shrieking “who moved my sign?!” at the top of her lungs because some stupid paper sign had been moved off the outer door to one of the inner doors. We had to tell them to shut the hell up.

  15. The Westing Tokyo has up to 12 weddings on busy weekends but with all their ballrooms and extra staff they do a great job of managing it and keeping much of it out of the way of regular guests so I guess it really depends on how the property handles it.

  16. Just had this last week at the FS in Westlake Village. Hotel was a zoo. That part I can overlook, as a hotel is entitled to be at capacity. However, when booking these large events, I think that while they don’t need to proactively warn guests, in cases where there are disruptions the hotel should have an allowance for credits and such. Case in point, we were woken at 2AM (on a “tranquil floor” no less) by rowdy wedding guests. In this case, and cases like that(perhaps if a bar or restaurant were closed), the hotel should offer some sort of credit(a drink or free breakfast) that would compensate for the inconvenience. I didn’t find a simple apology to be enough, esp at a high end hotel.

  17. I wonder how big were the weddings. Even at a few hundred peach each, that’s a huge number of people, especially if they were going on simultaneously. Sounds like hotel may need to get better at logistics.

  18. We recently got married at the Hilton Orrington in Evanston. One of the selling points for us in picking that is the hotel guaranteed we’d be the only wedding there that day. That’s a huge plus. I agree that having other weddings so close together takes away some of the “mystique” of it all.

  19. My wife and I looked at the St. Regis as a place to have our wedding but something about that venue wasn’t right. It was kind of like a factory. You could almost pick up a brochure at that stand where hotels keep third party brochures for things like river rafting or the San Diego Zoo. Just not special. We ended up getting married at the Montage.

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