The W Hotel St. Petersburg Leaves Starwood

In the summer of 2016 I had the chance to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, and had a nice time. I especially enjoyed St. Petersburg, which is easily one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. In St. Petersburg I stayed at the W Hotel. It was the only Starwood hotel in the city, and was one of the nicer Ws I’ve stayed at.

A couple of readers had noted over the past few weeks that the W St. Petersburg no longer seemed to be showing up on spg.com. I suspected that meant that the hotel would be leaving the brand, and that has now been confirmed.

As of February 2018, the W St. Petersburg has turned into the SO Sofitel St. Petersburg. SO Sofitel is Sofitel’s “lifestyle” brand, targeted at hip millennials (or at least targeted at what non-millennials interpret millennials to be like). Here’s how the brand as such is described:

SO/ Sofitel hotels are a playful mix of sophistication and the dynamic style of each locale. Highly creative and fashion-led, each SO/ Sofitel is an avant-garde masterpiece imaginatively inspired by an iconic, signature designer. Energetic, social and bursting with individual character, SO/ Sofitel hotels are the places to see and be seen. With SO/ Sofitel’s unique ‘Just Say SO’ attitude, guests can enjoy service excellence delivered with an audacious and fashionable twist.

I think they used almost every corporate millennial buzzword, well done!

This was the only Starwood property in St. Petersburg, though Marriott has one Renaissance and two Courtyard properties in the city. On one hand it’s surprising that the hotel would leave the portfolio, given that it’s not exactly a market saturated with Marriott and Starwood hotels.

I suspect this is simply that Sofitel has better name recognition in Europe. Russian media reports suggest that the service at the W wasn’t premium enough, and that this caused guest complaints. I’m not sure how true that is, and for that matter whether simply rebranding will change that. My guess is that the change is due to a combination of Sofitel’s strength in Europe, as well as lower fees for the hotel, given that they’re joining a new hotel group.

(Tip of the hat to EWR in the Ask Lucky forum)

Comments

  1. Great location; I didn’t think the service was great, but chalked that up to more European service standards. Maybe in that vein, being part of a European brand will better align service expectations 😉

  2. A friend had her points reservations cancelled with no word or help from SPG to book a new place. Reservation was not honored even though was booked with many months in advance, during the soccer world cup this summer.

  3. So, the place to visit for snooty, narcissistic millennial hipsters. Sounds like a fun bunch to cater to; very easy to please.

  4. Shame to see this leaving SPG. I enjoyed my stay here a lot; in June, the rooftop restaurant/bar was perfect for the long summer nights and had beautiful views. It’s also a great location that is very walkable. With all that said, it certainly had more of a small boutique feel to it and was more understated than some of the other, larger Ws that have a flashier and more clubby vibe (like London, Barcelona, and Amsterdam). With that said, it had a similar vibe to the Paris and Verbier Ws, so not totally unprecedented in Europe.

  5. This hotel was not a W… it was a nice hotel but nothing linked to W… far from the brand standards. + was not “spg friendly” at all, had the feeling to stay in an independent hotel.
    For those who know the place, it’s not a surprise at all.

  6. Have a points stay scheduled in April. I emailed them to hear the status (my reservation does not show on my SPG account, but my points have not been refunded either. Will report back…

  7. I was informed on Jan 28th that it was leaving SPG on Jan 31st and my reservation was for Feb 2nd. As I was booked on a corporate rate, they did not honor the rate I had. As a SPG Platinum, I was shocked at how poor of service I received from Starwoods as they were just like, sorry it’s leaving with only a couple of days notice before I traveled! I ended up staying in a great Crowne Plaza near the Moscow station. Very poor on Starwoods part though.

  8. I last talked with the staff there at 1/26 for a tourist visa and they were acting like everthing is normal. My stay is not till May, but it looks like starwood will not help and I will have to find another hotel.

  9. Following up with my previous post. I emailed the W, no response. Found an email on the So Sofitel site (a random gmail address) and I did get a response confirming my reservation had been cxld. No notice from SPG and my points have not been refunded. I’m pretty frustrated with how SPG has handled this. I sent an email asking how they plan to handle it. I’m sure they’ll suggest the Renaissance, but goodness that hotel looks blah. We’ll see what they say.

  10. I found this on SPG rules:

    3.2.h. If an SPG Participating Hotel or SPG Partner Hotel exits the SPG Program for any reason after an SPG Member makes an SPG Award reservation but before the SPG Member’s stay, Starwood will use reasonable efforts to have such former SPG Participating Hotel or SPG Partner Hotel honor the reservation or assist in arranging equivalent accommodations nearby; however, Starwood cannot guarantee that any SPG Awards, upgrades or any other benefits that an SPG Member may earn under the SPG Program will be honored.

  11. Just one more follow up. Still no email from SPG (two days seems plenty) so I called. The woman was very apologetic and got me my points back. I am not sure that would have happened without a call! But there was nothing further offered. This is really a pain… but as posted above they covered themselves in T&C and she said there is nothing more they could do.

    We’ve tweeted SPG our disastisfaction but, my guess is they through a few star points my way and that will be that. it’s a bummer… so now it’s either stay at the very dated looking renaissance, or pay… Amex FHR seems the best options right now.

  12. I had a similar issue. Booked this hotel for June during the wold cup. Noticed on February 2nd the reservation was canceled, called spg got points refunded, now yesterday the refund was taken back with description “W St. Petersburg Relocation”. Called spg, they have no idea what is going on, escalated to supervisor, still waiting for a call back.

  13. Further follow up on this

    I have to say the communication has been epically bad. I’ve reached out multiple times a few times I got back “we’re working on it” This week I got a canned letter offering us to book with points at the Courtyard St. Petersburg in a completely different part of town. I said if I must stay in the family I’d rather stay at the Renaissance due to location and asked what kind of compensation they were giving us. As obviously just booking with marriott points I could have done myself. This is a massive downgrade in property and the hotel is only $100 a night, so I’m no interested in using 90K MR points for this. Again I’ve received no response, but my points were magically returned to me yesterday without fanfare. Which I take to mean when I asked for compensation their response is “pound sand” but we won’t even bother to tell you to pound sand you should just figure that out on your own. I’ve loved SPG for so long. It’s hard to love them right now!

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