Yesterday I wrote about my stay at the Parc 55 in San Francisco that was pretty poor. For the rest of my stay I moved to the JW Marriott a couple of blocks away.
Apart from Ritz-Carlton, the “JW Marriott” is Marriott’s top brand, along with St. Regis that came across from the Starwood merger.
I’ve not stayed at a R-C before, but I have at a couple of St. Regis properties and also at other high end hotels so was very much looking forwards to my stay.
In addition, I’d used points to book the stay, so had arranged with the hotel beforehand to pay a small supplement ($50) a night, to confirm a suite upgrade. Given I was staying for five nights, I felt the extra space would be worth it for that length of stay.
I walked up with my bags from the Parc 55 where I had been staying and checked in. The person at the desk was very friendly and confirmed that I’d spoken with reservations beforehand about my room type. He also explained that the hotel was undergoing refurbishment and that I’d be getting a new room.
He also explained that at weekends the Club Lounge would be closed and that I’d be getting 1,000 points per night for the inconvenience. Oh, really? I asked if I could use 1,000 points to buy breakfast and he explained it was available for purchase in the cafe. Given my experience at the Parc 55, I felt another scam coming on. I pushed the point, and he said that he would ask the manager and get back to me, so I left it at that.
The room itself was quite nice, but not what I’d actually describe as a proper suite, as the sitting area itself was part of the room.
There was a open closet which lead to a sink outside the main bathroom and then the bathroom itself which only had a shower. I’m personally fine with that, indeed prefer it, however find it odd for a suite not to have both available. The products themselves were all Aromatherapy Associates, a brand that I quite like and are the same as British Airways have in their first class cabin.
Additionally, in the room itself there was another chair next to the bed, however there was no separate desk for working at, simply a circular high table, again, an odd choice. Had I been in the room for business I’m not sure that would have been functional enough.
There was a lovely espresso machine in the room too, however they only every supplied one regular capsule and one decaf capsule a day – not really enough if there are two of you in the room.
In addition, there was a very odd air filtration machine that simply seemed to me to be a white noise generating machine. No idea what it actually did, but I just left it.
The bed itself was very, very comfortable – the single most important thing in the room they had got spot on.
Oddly, there was no turn-down service, which I would have expected from a property at this level.
So after a great night’s sleep, I went back down to the reception to ask about breakfast as there had been no follow-up from my previous request. I explained the situation to the person at the front desk and got the same response that I’m given 1,000 points per night for the inconvenience.
Again, I asked how could I use 1,000 points to buy breakfast, which is a defined benefit of gold status and after a few minutes tapping on the computer in almost total silence, he then went into the back. After a good five minutes he came back and then wrote out on two business cards, again in total silence, “vouchers” to have breakfast in the lobby restaurant over the weekend. It was done with such bad grace it was as if I had asked for his first born to be given in sacrifice to the gods.
After that, I had as little interaction as possible with the staff. I wouldn’t say they were surly, just not friendly or approachable.
In terms of additional facilities, there was a business centre that had two iMacs and multi-functional scanner device and another printer. However the charges were extortionate to both scan or print, I simply waited till I got home.
The bell staff were always fairly friendly, however again, they didn’t seem to actually be terribly responsive to guests actual needs. They day I was leaving was quite warm, so left my bags and jacket with them before heading to the airport and I asked if they could hang my jacket for me. The answer came back that as the bag room was pretty full so they couldn’t really, but would try and keep it aside. I didn’t bother arguing.
It was all of these little interactions that left me with the impression that this was anything but a luxury property. If it had been branded as a regular Marriott, or indeed a Sheraton or a Hilton, then all of these items would have been understandable. However the JW brand in Marriott’s own marketing material is described as “classic luxury”. To me, that means service. Quite simply this hotel didn’t deliver. Of my recent trip in the US, the Westin in Seattle was by far the best property that I stayed at.