The Frequent Traveler Awards were held at Citi Field, but were managed out of the Sheraton LaGuardia East, which also served as host for the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit and for Frequent Traveler University over the past several days.
I have to say that for an airport property in New York, it worked surprisingly well. The rate was reasonable, I believe the conference rate was $159, and the hotel itself was just fine. The beds were comfortable Sweet Sleepers, the rooms were clean, and the space worked out just fine. There was confusion at the front desk, it isn’t the easiest place to catch a cab from (though a few blocks down at the subway cabs often congregate and you can of course take the subway!), but it has the huge advantage of being in walking distance from some amazing dumplings and pork buns…
Still, I can do a New York airport hotel for only so many nights, so after two I switched over to the Andaz 5th Avenue, what’s becoming my usual home in Manhattan (I’ve reviewed it extensively here back in December and here last month). I was happy to come out of pocket a bit more for the change of scenery. One member of the crew moved over to the Andaz Wall Street (where I have an upcoming first stay planned), and wound up walked… to the Four Seasons. Still, they were checking in the night of the Frequent Traveler Awards, after 2 a.m., and the last thing you’d want is to be moved for just one night anywhere.
For those of you who think that I get special treatment at hotels because of my ‘status’ as a ‘blogger’, my stay this weekend should help rebut that inclination.
My wife checked in ahead of me, since I was hanging out with folks at the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit. She arrived just before 2pm, we had request early check-in, and she was denied, “Check-in time isn’t until 3pm.” Hmm, I suppose it’s possible that they really couldn’t accommodate us since it’s not been a problem there in the past and always seems so de rigueur when requesting it as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member.
The next night, when standing in the lobby with Ben from the One Mile at a Time blog, we were shooed aside by the hotel staff “for security reasons” — to which I replied, “umm.. he’s waiting to check in…” (I’ll leave the story of Ben’s treatment.. and how he turned it around.. to Ben.)
And when I requested late check out, the hotel was willing to accommodate me… to 1 p.m.. I was asking for 2 p.m. Denied. I appealed, they “checked with the rooms manager” who said it just wouldn’t be possible “but I could store my bags in the library.” Greeeaaat. I checked out and sat and worked in the library for an hour before heading to the airport, I didn’t feel like spending the $50 to confirm a flight an hour earlier on my US Airways flight home.
All minor things and they didn’t much trouble me, but I clearly wasn’t the VIP in the hotel (nor should I be, no doubt). I still do choose this hotel in New York — not because it’s the greatest hotel I’ve stayed in, but because it’s such a great price-value combination in New York City. I’m generally paying under $300 a night but certainly not $400 and getting about the biggest rooms I’ve had in Manhattan, with large bathrooms and sometimes even a balcony. Internet and the non-alcoholic minibar are free for everyone. And as a Diamond, breakfast is complimentary even via room service. And it’s unllimited… they don’t even bring you a bill. Like I say, a fantastic value for New York.
My wife did wind up checking in ahead of me, and she knows to choose the points as the Diamond amenity. Still, we received the food and beverage offering as well, which has been different each time I’ve stayed.
And room service brought my beloved lemon poppyseed pancakes in the morning, so I really can’t complain about anything!
I don’t report on most of my stays, and this one didn’t otherwise rate mention — a room I’ve had before in a hotel I’ve stayed on and reported on more than once already, they all sort of blur together. But it did strike me that I wasn’t being treated better than other guests and it also reminded me that although Hyatt Gold Passport deservedly won Best Elite Program in the Americas and in the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania region at the Frequent Traveler Awards that they do have a bit of a ways to go with their late checkout benefit. Had I been staying at a Starwood property I’d have had 4 p.m. check-out by right, something that’s never been denied to me at a non-resort property in the past ten years. I’ll take the overall mix of benefits from Hyatt, given the confirmed suite upgrades and the breakfast benefits, but Starwood does beat everyone else except for Intercontinental Royal Ambassador when it comes to late check-out.