Old Jan 20, 10, 12:48 pm
  #94  
mikeef
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Finally back in Boston after escaping from New York
Posts: 13,529
Recent stay: Overall, I'd give it a "B."

Just completed a stay with my wife and one-year old twins, 1/14-1/19. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly.

We arrived on Thursday night and got a very friendly Westin driver (We had pre-reserved.) named Ricky. We kept trying to put our bags in our car and he told us that we weren't allowed to, since we were on vacation. The ride to the hotel was about 15 minutes and there were bellmen waiting and no line to check in. Since we had the kids, we had booked a suite and got room 702, which had a gorgeous view of the pool and sea. Everyone was extremely friendly and cribs were actually waiting for us in the room, which is rare for our Starwood stays (Normally, we have to call the front desk and remind them that we had requested cribs.). The bathroom was the size of a New York co-op and had the rainfall shower and oversized bathtub.


The amenities at the hotel included a decent pool, several restaurants (average, but not terrible, food) and a lousy casino (Don't know what I was expecting, but it clearly ain't Vegas. Hell, it's not even Laughlin.). As had been previously mentioned, all the restaurants, including the buffet, add a 17% service charge, which we didn't mind paying, considering the mess our kids made at the buffet. We didn't eat at the nicer restaurants but ate a couple meals at The Terrace and tried the Benihana-style dinner at Blossoms. Both were fine. For those of you with young people, there is a small kids club but we never saw anyone using it.

Note for non-smokers: The entire hotel inside is non-smoking but the entire outside allows smoking. If cigarette smoke bothers you, you may have to move around a bit. But it was pretty gross that there were people smoking in the pool and the drain area around the pool was covered in cigarette butts. Eww.


The good:


Service from everyone who worked inside the hotel and at the restaurants was generally excellent (There are some exceptions that I'll hit later.). People were friendly and seemed happy.

The suite was gorgeous (although you should note that if you are over the pool, it gets very noisy on the nights they have music or parties).

The hotel seemed to have plenty of activities and we were particularly impressed with the Monday night reception where they held a raffle with some excellent prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of the restaurants, a massage and three free nights at the hotel.

Service recovery, when needed, was excellent.


The bad:


Everyone who worked outside seemed miserable. I don't know where they found these people but, other than the one good employee we found at the pool hut, they ranged from apathetic to downright rude. The bartenders were pretty nasty. According to the website, "Our pool concierge is happy to deliver the finest luxuries." I'm still waiting to find the pool concierge, never mind the finest luxuries.

The palapas/pool huts were disappointing. We prefer the pool to the beach, so we pre-reserved a pool hut. When we got there, we discovered it wasn't much of a hut but more of a pole with an oversized umbrella made of palm. It really wasn't big enough to provide shade for two lounge chairs. We were there about five minutes before we unreserved. Since none of the pool huts were ever used anyway, there would have been no problem using them for free if we had wanted to.

The elevators were a disaster. We frequently waited >5 minutes for one and couldn't take the stairs with strollers. Often, two or three full elevators would pass us by before a half-empty one came. One of them was broken for most of the time we were there, but it didn't seem to matter when it got fixed.

The Ugly

While service recovery was excellent, there should have been no need for it in most cases. For example, if you are an SPG member, you are supposed to be given a restaurant "passport" that gets you discounts at some of the restaurants. We weren't, and when we asked after learning about it two days later, we were told that they were out of them. After some back and forth, the desk person told us that she would just adjust our bill when we left. They ended up giving us a $50 credit, which was probably more than we would have gotten if they had just given us the booklet up front.

Example two: Our bathroom kept filling up with puddles. We just put towels down, but the people below us complained so they came into our room to fix the problem. They ended up leaving a bottle of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries for us and cookies & milk for the kids as an apology. ^ Unfortunately for the babies, we felt they were too young to eat cookies and chocolate milk and finished the snacks on their behalf.

Final example: The day after they fixed the bathroom problem, the puddles started again. Maintenance came to the room and told us it was condensation from the air conditioning. As soon as he fixed the A/C, cigarette smoke came pouring in through vents into our living room, which is where the kids were supposed to sleep. We went back and forth for almost an hour trying to get the problem solved and eventually they sent someone up to air out the living room, moving the kids into the main bedroom. What really annoyed me, however, is that nobody uttered the words, "I'm sorry." We got excuses, explanations, transferred to several different people, etc., but no one even gave us the standard, "I apologize for the inconvenience." Eventually, we got a manager on the phone, expressed our feelings and he ended up giving us 10K points, which was more than generous. But if somebody had apologized up front, we would never have gotten started with him.

Overall, the hotel was quite nice and we had a good time, despite a few issues along the way.

Mike
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