The Andaz Maui Responds to My Poor Review: Should Gold Passport Reduce Diamond Benefits for Andaz?

A week and a half ago I wrote about the Andaz Maui not living up to the really high standards it set on my first visit.

There was stained furniture in the room and a terrible shrieking noise that emanated for the door. The phones in the room didn’t work. Room service delivered and then re-delivered used condiments. One of the elevators smelled like pot, something other commenters had noticed at the property in the past.

And the hotel was simply busy, a far cry form the peaceful enclave I experienced on my first visit and closer to the ‘resort factory’ (e.g. 20 minute wait to be seated for the breakfast buffet) I prefer to avoid.

That said, on cash and points the stay was still a good value for money. I did get my money’s worth, especially since I wound up in an ocean view room ultimately and with free Diamond breakfast.

A social media manager, and then the hotel’s Director of Operations, responded in the comments.

I spoke with the Director of Operations by phone on Wednesday who shared the hotel’s increase in occupancy from 2014 of 54% to 77% expected this year — and that they’re running at 88% for the first 4 months of the year. They’re learning what that means in terms of staffing, and also the cycle for taking rooms out of service for maintenance. Wear in the rooms is greater than they’d have expected at this point given their heavy turnover.

They also have get a disproportionate number of elites at the property, which means high demand for upgrades (and free breakfast). And with their heavy occupancy they’re selling their rooms, which leaves many disappointed elites who may not get their preferred (ocean) view or even bed type (if they reserved two beds and prefer one, or vice versa).

The hotel would love to set expectations appropriately about upgrades and are looking at finding a way to let customers know when upgrades are least likely — and also when they can guarantee better suites than the handful of ‘pool suites’ they assign for Diamond Suite Upgrades (and points upgrades).

That said the emphasis was very much that Diamonds aren’t going to get for free what they might sell (which is eminently reasonable) and also whether they might be able to reduce the expectations of the Gold Passport program for what they are expected to deliver since they have a smaller room inventory to work with than many hotels (ugh).

The Director of Operations mentioned this as an Andaz-wide conversation, though I responded that of course many Andaz properties have plenty of suites and upgraded rooms and little problem meeting Diamond expectations. I certainly wouldn’t want to see changes to the Gold Passport benefits. (I reached out to Gold Passport for comment yesterday morning. I will share any reply.)

People earn their points on business stays throughout the year and the Andaz Maui is one of the prime places they’re going to want to use those points. Gold Passport redemptions are prevalent in much the same way at the Park Hyatt Maldives, where on my last stay 5 different couples introduced themselves to me — and that hotel has only 50 rooms.

To my mind it’s simply important to attenuate expectations.

18 months ago my experience on the property was of a boutique hotel. This time the experience was more of a resort factory.

The Director of Operations talked about year three being when they’re figuring out what they want to be. And I think that’s right, it’s why I offered my review as a counterpoint to my earlier one, because the hotel is currently much busier than they were and I don’t think they’ve caught up yet with how to handle the increased business.

Since cash and points is a strong value there in my opinion, for a hotel with a fantastic vantage point for watching the sunset, I may return and I look forward to seeing how things evolve there. Although I no longer view the property as the only place I actually want to stay on the Island given value and price.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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