The brand new St. Regis Chicago wasn’t offering Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members breakfast as they’re required to. They claimed that their restaurant was operated by a third party, and this got them out of the obligation. It didn’t, and once there was a flurry of attention they were forced to follow the rules of Marriott’s loyalty program. This all was addressed quickly, in just a couple of days.
In the meantime, however, there were a flood of consumer reviews of the property on TripAdvisor – most of which were very bad (and likely fake). In fact, the vast majority of reviews for this new property (15 in total) were about the hotel’s handling of elite breakfast.
Most of those reviews surely come from people who did not actually stay at the hotel. That’s not fair, but it’s a common online vigilante response, to try to ‘cancel’ a hotel that the mob deems to be a bad actor. In each case the hotel responded with a cut-and-paste apology.
The hotel also appears to me to have responded with their own fake five star review as well. For instance, here’s the first review ever this person has posted on TripAdvisor, and it’s about the St. Regis Chicago:
We were here for just a one night stay for my hustand’s birthday. Amazing staff, location and atmosphere. Rooms are clean and comfortable. I asked for an upgrade to a higher floor and it was no problem.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a professional front desk attendant “Tanya?.” After telling her about the birthday celebration, we had an amazing treat delivered to our room.
Bed was very comfortable and we were able to walk to the adjacent park and to all of the restaurants along the river. Breakfast at Miru that was included due our status was perfect, although we were suprised at first that it was a Japanese restaurant. However their menu has a full slate of traditional breakfast fare, i.e. Croissants, oatmeal, etc.
Let’s dissect this for a moment. New reviewer shows up to write positively about this hotel, and they offer:
- They are a Bonvoy elite and received their complimentary breakfast
- They asked for an upgrade to a high floor, and that was granted. This reveals that elite benefits still reflect the hotel’s thinking: they aren’t proactively upgrading (the guest had to ask!) and a mere ‘high floor’ is considered an upgrade the member should be happy with.
- They were only there for one night yet managed to walk “to all of the restaurants along the river.” How many restaurants did they dine at that night? Oops.
Not every five star review of the property comes from the hotel, however. This one appears to be trolling – but from a frequent traveler, rather than the property, given their history of writing TripAdvisor reviews (their account wasn’t created for this purpose):
Excellent for paying customers; Sorry points bros
This hotel seems – appropriately – focused on customers who are paying. It’s a reasonable four star property.
You can review the comments to see an uproar from the points crowd gnashing teeth about stingy policies towards freebies.
For those not accustomed to the points crowd, these are well meaning folks who are typically consigned to mid-tier hotels by regional airports, etc., for business or hyper focused on churning credit cards… all in the name of points. Rather than focus on making enough money to be rich, they focus their time on collecting points to act rich occasionally on a free stay at a “premium” property.
There is a reason you won’t find points at Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Aman, Rosewood, etc. They don’t want to points crowd – who does not pay for hotel services.
Ask any concierge, front desk person, etc about “but I’m a diamond member or titanium platinum or extra special gold elite whatever.” “Great pal, I’m glad you spend 50 nights in a Staybridge Suites by the Grand Forks airport or the True in Topeka, Kansas.
They don’t tip well, they don’t pay for spa appoints, they don’t pay for laundry or room service. But… Marriott and Hilton love to dangle the prospects of luxury stays to keep the folks coming to the Hilton Garden Inn or the Courtyard by Marriott.
Sadly, this keeps Waldorf Astoria, Ritz Carlton, St Regis, etc. from ever being true luxury hotels. You can’t be a luxury hotel when you are filled with guest complaining about paying for breakfast.
If you’re and a true luxury hotel, skip any that accept points. If you need something better than a Sheraton, this will do.
Meanwhile another five star review criticized reviewers who complained about the hotel’s refusal to honor elite benefits, saying “This is a St Regis not La Quinta.”
We’ll see what the reviews look like moving forward, since one person reports that the hotel is trying to get written into the Bonvoy terms as an exception, where they’re not obliged to offer breakfast to Platinum members and above.