Pushing for a Room at Checkin

Sometimes room upgrades require a little push at check-in. It would be nice if it wasn’t necessary, but sometimes it is. And sometimes, even though you’ve been upgraded, you can improve that upgrade — even beyond what you’re entitled to under the guidelines of the hotel chain’s loyalty program.

Last month I completed my tour of disfavored Westin hotels (my earlier post on the Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach is here).

I visited the Westin Rio Mar — generally disfavored because, though there are plenty of suites and it’s an oceanfront resort, the property needs some real renovation work and the beach is hardly the best in Puerto Rico. (In general, the ‘mega resort’ experience on Puerto Rico is superior at El Conquistador.) Still, I was in the area and wanted to see for myself, firsthand.

I was checking in at 3:45pm. The hotel clerk said I’d been upgraded to an oceanfront junior suite, perfectly reasonable for an award booking during their high season (sold out, with basic rooms otherwise around $475/night). But the room wasn’t ready.

The desk clerk looked for an available room, to no luck. I asked about a one-bedroom suite (‘Carribean Suite’ in their parlance), but she said they were completely sold out.

Instead, she said “why don’t you go have lunch. I’ll take your cell phone number and call you when the room has been cleaned.” She said it would be an hour or hour and a half.

I was a bit surprised, it was after all past checkin time. And I was supposed to go off and wait until 5pm. Naturally, I asked, “So you’ll be buying me lunch then, right?”

She was vexxed. She excused herself to speak with her manager. Moments later she had a room for me, upgraded to an Atlantic Suite.

It’s a large suite with wraparound balcony, living and dining room, as well as guest bathroom.

Here’s my previous post on requesting a hotel upgrade (while guestblogging at Marginal Revolution). Here’s how to request an upgrade at a hotel in Las Vegas and here are the results of that technique.

All of the suites appear with the same label outside the door


Unfortunately the hotel shows its wear and teat — even on the door to the suite.


Still, the room was pretty nice. Here’s a shot of the dining area.


The full living room.








Pool view from the balcony.


Beach view from the balcony.


Unfortunately the dining at the hotel leaves something to be desired. We ate in their fine dining Italian restaurant and the risotto was actually made with regular rice. Their Asian restaurant was decent but extremely overpriced for what it was. While room service food wasn’t impressive, I was actually shocked by the value it represented (for resort room service, that is). It was actually cheap. Service wasn’t much to speak of here, but the pools and beach are nice and the place did the trick. I couldn’t complain a whit about the room, and while it’s far from my favorite hotel it’s also not as bad as some on Flyertalk and at TripAdvisor make it out to be.

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. Great post! Thanks for sharing! Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it’s my computer but I couldn’t see any photos in this post and thought I’d let you know 🙁

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