I Should Really Be More Appreciative Of Upgrades, At This Hotel Not So Much

I had a bit of fear over trying to push through with my three year old after flying for 11 hours Paris – Houston, so instead of continuing to Austin decided to spend the night near Houston Intercontinental airport. It was the weekend anyway, I didn’t need to be in a rush home. Rates were low at the Hyatt Regency near the airport, and a single night’s confirmed upgrade with points easily bookable. That’s always nice because it meant my wife and I would have a separate room from the one our daughter would sleep in.

Instead of the junior suite we’d booked, the agent at check-in let me know they’d upgraded us to… the Presidential Suite for our one night stay. She acknowledged my Globalist status, though of course upgrades beyond a standard suite aren’t required by the program.

Usually when I check into a Hyatt I’m told “we were able to upgrade you” and that just means they were assigning me the room I’d booked (because I confirmed a suite at booking, the best benefit the program has to offer). But the words ‘presidential suite’ have an incredible ring to them. There’s something truly aspirational about a ‘presidential suite’ although at some hotels that’s not even the top suite.

At an airport Hyatt Regency my expectations were limited. Still, my pulse quickened for a moment. Who doesn’t love a great and unexpected upgrade?

We headed to the 8th (top) floor and walked into the room. It featured a large combined living room and dining room, a separate bedroom, and two bathrooms. The windows looked out over the hotel’s atrium rather than the outside.

Dated, scuffed and chipped decor aside, this upgrade turned out to be something of a downgrade:

  • Clogged toilet in the guest bathroom
  • Leaking sink onto the floor in the other bath
  • Non-working phone beside the bed

A ‘presidential suite’ should have a larger bathroom, not two extra small ones. The master bath had a pedestal sink with no room for personal items or toiletries. And, I think, it should offer a better view than the entrance to the hotel’s restaurant.

Perhaps the room just isn’t used very much and doesn’t get a lot of attention. Or perhaps they only assign it as an upgrade on one night stays, and it’s rarely paid for (or hasn’t been in a long time), and so on one night stays no one bothers to complain – they’re leaving anyway. So without guests letting the hotel know about maintenance issues, those issues don’t get addressed.

I fell victim to this myself – I didn’t stop at the desk on the way out, so didn’t complain about the condition of the room. (Plus, there’s part of me that feels just a little bit ridiculous complaining about the Presidential Suite, even if I were doing it 100% purely to be helpful.)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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  1. This is also a Hyatt Regency that cheats globalists by charging them for the tip at breakfast, even though tips are supposed to be included.

  2. The first thing I noticed in the pictures were the drink rings on the table. And I know what you mean, complaining about the room from this upgrade sounds really snobby. Haha
    It makes me wonder, what did the basic rooms look like?

  3. @ Gary — On our last overnight pre-international departure, we skipped this POS and stayed in a huge, new suite at the IC Houston Medical Center. It appears the extra $80 or so for the round-trip uber ride was money well spent.

  4. @gene We love the IHG Houston MedCentr. Stay there every time we have to visit MD Anderson. Haven’t yet been upgraded to a suite, even though Platinum. Sigh.

  5. @ bzv — For our one-night stay, a suite wasn’t much more than a regular room. We were further upgraded to a huge suite due to our RA status. Hope your visits to MD Anderson were successful ones!

  6. @Gary – Did you let the hotel know about the shortcomings so they can be addressed?

  7. @Christian: Did you actually read the post? “I didn’t stop at the desk on the way out, so didn’t complain about the condition of the room.”

  8. @Gary: Thank you for your comprehensive hotel report. As a valued Globalist status customer, when upgraded to the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency Houston Intercontinental Airport, I recommend that guests clarify with the front desk if they are getting the genuine Presidential Suite or the “Exiled from a third world country Presidential Suite.”

    The Hyatt Regency Houston Intercontinental Airport is proud of its continued tradition of offering guests dilapidated rooms featuring dated, scuffed, and chipped decor with the added inconvenience of a clogged toilet in the guest bathroom, a leaking bathroom sink, and a non-working phone beside the bed.

    To increase hotel occupancy, this Hyatt Regency should use your photos in your article to advertise their presidential suite with the caption, “Wish you were here!”

  9. Frankly, I find it disappointing that you could not take the time to point out the suite’s problems with the hotel GM or other representative but can find the time to make it the subject of a blog post.

  10. @Fred – There’s this new invention called electronic mail, that allows you to communicate without paper. There are also surveys.

  11. @Christian: Gary expressly stated that he did not complain. He didn’t send a carrier pigeon. He didn’t send any smoke signals. He explicitly wrote that he “didn’t complain about the condition of the room.”

    Did you not read that?

  12. It reminds me of the time I was upgraded to a large suite in Las Vegas. I arrived at nearly 1am and needed to leave by 7:30am, so really I just wanted to sleep. It took me >15 minutes to turn off all of the lights and televisions and close all of the curtains.

  13. Gary, tho sis funny as I was just over there last week also for a one night stay.
    I too got upgraded to a prez suite , but it was a mirror opposite of yours in layout (#815). So seems they have a few of these!
    I was there for a few hours due to a mis connect.
    Overall , hotel seems short on staff and I felt like It! Was an old Crowne Plaza, rather than Hyatt R

  14. Post reeks on entitlement and first world problems. You could have always asked for another room if the issues were too much to handle for ONE night.

  15. I’m always amazed by people visiting this site and complaining about issues raise by Gary as being “first world problems”. This is a freakin’ points-and-miles travel blog — what do you expect?

    Some of us are actually interested in leveraging points and miles in order to visit places we may not otherwise see at a level we may not otherwise afford. There are plenty of other sites where one can virtue signal to their hearts content.

  16. While the gesture was appreciated Im sure
    you did stay in an old dated tired hotel
    I don’t imagine the rooms are much better there?
    One always needs to do their research before staying anywhere
    At the end of the day despite the property being not up to standard perhaps some small
    goodwill gesture is in order from the hotel for the inconveniences
    My rule of thumb is I look at how it impacted my stay before actually complaining
    and were there other pleasurable moments that might of made up for it
    With 2 bathrooms it’s not really an issue IMO unless something made it uncomfortable
    No heating AC unacceptable bed dirty smelly etc

  17. Hi Gary,

    We got the same room in early April on our one night layover flying to Cozumel! Got it late, (about midnight) and the front desk agent was very nice and at the end of checkin (right before handing us keys to another room), stopped and looked at her computer and told us we’d been upgraded to the Presidential Suite! Woo-boy were we excited…….it was a pretty tired and worn out room. We didn’t use the guest bath or sink but the room sure looked like it was out of the 80’s. I did really appreciate the gesture by the agent, but if I stay here again, I would decline the upgrade.

    And like FNT Delta Diamond, we were charged for our tip at breakfast.

  18. Actual Presidential Suites that host actual dignitaries often don’t have actual views (hotel courtyard, brick wall) — this is for security reasons.

    I briefly interned for an architecture firm that (among other things) designed hotels. This was one of my favorite oddball factoids from that experience.

  19. I think you should have addressed the complaints to the hotel rather than publicize them without giving the hotel an opportunity to rectify these conditions.

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