Back in December I wrote an extensive post on the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York. Bottom-line is that there were a few things that could be improved, but that I thought it was likely to become my default property in Manhattan.
I spent the weekend there, this time in a suite. I had a Gold Passport Diamond suite upgrade that needed to be applied to a stay by February 28. I paid one night of the stay (always worth considering if you qualify for status based on stays rather than nights, plus when there’s a decent promotion based on stays it can be advisable as well though the new Hyatt promo which is based on nights doesn’t begin until April 1) and redeemed for the other night. The suite upgrade would technically apply only to the paid night, but my ‘private line concierge’ let me know that the hotel was happy to extend the confirmed upgrade for both nights of the stay.
One of the things I like about Gold Passport is the private line concierge. Starwood has platinum concierges which can assist with stays, but I found most of them to be more or less just reservations agents (though if you found one you liked you could ask them to be your regular agent). Hyatt will assign a dedicated agent to you, in my case I let them know that I prefer to work via email rather than phone and I was assigned an agent who worked well that way. (Or so I thought: the one I initially was assigned to wasn’t very helpful at all, I’ve been re-assigned to the greatest and most responsive specialist ever and that alone builds loyalty.) It’s my understanding that Hyatt will assign a dedicated specialist to any Diamond member who requests one.
My wife was checking in ahead of me, since I wasn’t going to get out of the office early on Friday and she needed to be up in the city by mid-afternoon. No problem, her name was added to the reservation and the check-in process was smooth for her. And my wife is on the ball. When I got there I asked which Diamond amenity my wife had selected, and it was the points…
So no ‘amenity’ but there were delicious cookies and a note waiting in the room.
We had room 1212, and it wasn’t much larger than the Extra Large View King room that I had back in December, though the suite did have two separate rooms. No public library view (which wasn’t a premium that I valued anyway), it did have a balcony which is fairly rare for New York City hotels. And the bathroom was very well placed — instead of being by the doorway it received direct light through the bedroom window which took care of the biggest complaint on my last stay that it was just too darned dark in the bathroom.
The other complaint I had last time was that there were no drawers in the room, on anything more than a single night stay I prefer to unpack. Well, the suite had a chest with a drawer in the bedroom, so again complaint solved!
A highlight for me is certainly the library space, they have plenty of books and a place to work where they offer complimentary wine in the evenings and refreshments throughout the day. I’m just happy for a refrigerator with an unlimited supply of bottled water.
The minibar also offers complimentary soft drinks, but I always want more than two waters per day between the two of us. (The complimentary snacks in the minibar, while limited, are quite tasty — very good chips, a top end granola bar, and chocolate.)
After my last stay I queried the hotel for the recipe to their lemon poppyseed pancakes. Diamond members get complimentary breakfast, the breakfast can even be taken via room service, and those pancakes were just amazing — I wanted to make them at home. Well, I was promised the recipe but they never came. I asked again, an apology was forthcoming, but again no recipe.
This time I ordered those same lemon poppy seed pancakes again and they just weren’t the same at all. Perhaps they’ve changed chefs (the hash brown potatoes were different too) but I admit I was really disappointed.
Problem was solved the next morning, I just ordered something different for breakfast, it was all perfectly good but I wasn’t going to be comparing the dish to the amazing breakfast I had on my December stay which is certainly for the better.
Checkout was smooth, my folio was preprinted at the desk. I didn’t take them up on web checkout because there’s a departure gift, I didn’t want to miss that mostly so that I’d be up to speed on the current offerings. The agent who gave me my bill didn’t offer me anything, and I asked whether they still have departure amenities. They do, they opened the box and the choices were lip balm, hand sanitizer, or a lollipop. I chose the lip balm.
The agent checking me out asked whether I needed a cab, I did as I was headed to the airport. He pushed for me to take a car instead, which I wasn’t all that keen on. A cab is ~ $35, a quick ride, no reason to pay more.
He was ultra-insistent, assured me that the car was right there and that he’d “try” to find a cab. He named the price for the BMW at $55, and I figured I’d just take it.
Smooth ride into the airport, the driver ran my credit card and emailed me the receipt — for $69.95! I sorted it out with the driver over email who said the difference was “taxes and tolls.” Uh, yeah. He offered to split the difference, I declined, and he’s refunded me the $14.95.
All in all the Andaz remains the best value in the city for a Diamond Gold Passport member, even for folks who have top tier status with other chains as well I think. This weekend they had room rates under $300, and to have a confirmed suite with balcony (or even just a really spacious room, no upgrade cert required) and room service breakfast plus complimentary beverages and internet, it’s such a steal for Manhattan.
And it is a nice hotel, I love the bathrooms in particular and found everything about it perfectly comfortable — my only kvetches on my last stay weren’t issues on this one. So I’ll definitely be back.
Update: Someone at the Andaz must read my blog, or more likely the post triggered a Google Alert for them, because this afternoon I received an email with the recipe for the lemon poppy seed pancakes.