Believe it or not, this past weekend was my very first stay at a Hyatt in the United States. Yep, I’ve only ever stayed at Hyatt in Korea and Thailand. As a Platinum member of Hyatt’s reward program, my expectations had been set based on my experiences overseas. Perhaps I should have gone in with no expectations because I left quite disappointed.
I arrived at Tampa International Airport after traveling 36 from Bangkok. With luggage in hand, I called for the hotel shuttle. It arrived very quickly (within 5 minutes) and when the doors opened I wheeled my bags over. I was struggling to get my bags on the bus as they were heavy and my hands were full. I expected that the bus driver would offer assistance, but that offer never came. The bus driver just sat there looking at me. Finally another guest who had walked up behind me offered to help me. I was very relieved. A short ride and we arrived at the hotel, again, the driver made no effort to help with anyone’s bags. The man who helped me earlier also helped me with my big bag. I told him I should probably tip him and he laughed.
There were no bellman or any staff members at the doors to greet guests so I wandered into the hotel to find reception. Someone vacuuming the floors finally pointed me in the right direction. Reception wouldn’t have been that hard to find except it was tucked around a corner that you don’t see when you first enter the hotel.
I was exhausted when I had arrived and just wanted to get to my room. The agent greeted me and asked for ID and a credit card. She told me they had me in a room with two double beds. I mentioned that I had received an email confirming an upgrade and she said that unfortunately the hotel was full and there was nothing she could do that night. Even after mentioning that I had gotten an email confirming an upgrade, there was absolutely no mention of any Platinum Benefits. In fact, I wasn’t even recognized as a member of their rewards program. Since I felt like a zombie at that point, I just took the keys and headed up to the room.
The room had two double beds, a chair, a chaise lounge, and a desk. The lighting in the room was good, which I do appreciate and there were plenty of outlets near the bed. I was starving at that point, so I decided to order a quick meal. It was delivered very quickly and the man who delivered it was very helpful. The food was good, not outstanding or great, but good for room service. And I actually didn’t think it was outrageously expensive.
As I ate I called down to the front desk to ask about benefits. I was told that with my corporate rate I had access to the Grand Club, but that it was closed on the weekend. I asked about internet and she confirmed that it was free with my platinum status. I asked about breakfast or any other benefits and she said there were none for Platinum members.
The bathroom was clean, but had a bathtub shower combination and I tend to prefer a stand-alone shower. There are June Jacobs amenities in the bathroom which were nice.
I got a good night sleep and when I woke up the next day, I called the front desk to confirm that the rooms my family had booked would be exactly what they had booked and that they’d be ready at three. The front desk manager, Sheala, confirmed that my family would have two adjoining rooms and they would be ready by 3pm. I had no car, and couldn’t really go anywhere, so I decided to eat at the hotel bar. The service was very good and the food was okay. After lunch I swung by the front desk to double check the status of the rooms and they confirmed that they’d be ready at 3pm.
Why was 3pm check-in so important? We were there for a wedding and those of us who were in the wedding party had to be dressed and ready at 4pm for photos in the hotel. At 3:10 when my family arrived at check-in they learned that only 1 room was ready – even though I had been told twice that both would be ready at 3pm. So my family went up to the clean one to start getting ready. About 15-20 minutes later the second room was ready and someone brought the key to the room.
That evening we all went to the wedding in the hotel’s grand ballroom. The wedding was beautiful and the room looked amazing. Having worked in the Tampa Bay area for many many years I was very familiar with the Hyatt’s catering and banquet facilities. Throughout the night, the service from the banquet team really lacked. Servers were rude, it was hard to find anyone to get a refill on water, they cleared plates before even asking if the guest was done with meal and were very, very slow. There were only two bright spots in the service – a supervisor got me two plastic cups for the children at the table (the glasses were too heavy for them) and later in the evening, a hotel concierge got me a ton of safety pins because one member of the wedding party had split his tuxedo pants!! Other than those two helpful moments I really felt like we were at a 3 star hotel vs the five star hotel the Grand Hyatt Tampa claims to be.
I can live with no upgrade – I understand that the hotel was quite busy (there were two weddings and a convention at the hotel) but I really don’t understand how the overall service could be so bad. From the front desk team, to the bus driver, to the banquet servers, no one seemed to want to provide service with a smile or even just do their jobs well. If there wasn’t a huge sign that said Hyatt, I could have easily said I was at a Holiday Inn or Hilton Garden Inn vs a Grand Hyatt. One blogger said “If it’s not a Park Hyatt or Andaz don’t expect anything special
My first impression at a Hyatt in the United States left me wishing I had stayed across the street at the Westin hotel. When I tweeted with @HyattPR and some other travel bloggers about Hyatt benefits everyone confirmed that Platinum really gets you nothing. Hyatt tweeted that “the more you stay the better the benefits.
There’s only 1 level above Platinum, and in my personal experiences, most chains treat their second to top tier members a little bit better than Hyatt!
At Hilton’s mid-tier status, gold, you get free internet access, space available upgrades to better rooms and even club rooms with access to the club lounge.If a club room is not available, you get complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
Marriott offers free internet for Gold members worldwide. As a Gold member you get a space available upgrade to the best available room. You are guaranteed access to the club lounge and if the club lounge is closed or the hotel doesn’t have a club lounge, you get complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel.
Starwood gives gold members a 4PM late check-out option and space available room upgrades. Gold members also earn three points per dollar spent, as opposed to the normal earning rate of two points per dollar. Gold members also have the option to select one check-in amenity which can be breakfast, free wifi or points and you also get a complimentary drink.
Kimpton In Touch members get free wifi, space available upgrades, $30 In-Room Spa Credit (where available), and Raid the Mini Bar ($10 of free mini-bar goodies, $15 in NYC).
Personally, I’m not sure that Hyatt is the best backup program – other than it’s the easiest to requalify for. I’d prefer a backup hotel chain that offers its mid-tier members better benefits. Judging Hyatt by my first stay in the US, I’m not impressed. I will likely choose another backup brand the next time there are no Starwood hotels in the area.