Courtyard Ottawa East = Decent Rooms but Overpriced

1   Not Recommended

King Guest Room
October 19, 2018 by
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King Guest Room

Liked:
Location
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Food
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Room

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King Guest Room

Interest in a hotel review of some random Courtyard in North America is probably limited, but I thought some comments about the Platinum breakfast might be useful, plus my outsider’s view of the Courtyard brand. I come from the Starwood side although I have been ramping up my Marriott stays recently now that my Starwood status is recognized on the Marriott side.  I booked a 5-night stay at Courtyard Ottawa East with points for a rock-bottom 10k pts per night before August, and with 5thnight free it brought the net cost down to 8k pts per night.  This property went up to 17.5k pts per night in August.  I had been to that hotel before but I was interested to see what the breakfast benefit would be post August with the merger.  

 

Location

The location of the hotel can be good or bad, depending on one’s purpose for being in Ottawa.  You have to pay a premium for the convenience of hotels near the airport, you have to pay a premium for the convenience of hotels downtown, but this hotel is neither of those locations.  It is about a 45-min walk to downtown and a 25-min drive from the airport.  The location is only favorable if you attend an event at the convention center, which is attached to the hotel so you don’t have to step foot outside to go to meetings which can be great in the winter. The convention center is also interestingly attached to a Hampton Inn hotel (both hotels have the same owner) so the Courtyard – Hampton Inn combo makes for a good mattress run option between the Marriott and Hilton brands, if needed.  Cash rates at the Courtyard are not particularly cheap because they host lots of guests going to the convention center.  I would guess these folks get special corporate rates, unlike rates which can be found on Marriott.com which someone like myself would have to pay. So unless you have an event there, you will most likely overpay because you’ll have the convenience of something you do not need.  At the very least, since the hotel is not centrally located, you get free parking on site.  

Room

The rooms are actually quite decent since this hotel is not very old (2010 construction).  Rooms are clean, in good shape, spacious, and I like having a microwave and mini-fridge. In the bathroom I appreciate having a separate shower from the bathtub.  The bedroom has a sofa-bed which can be useful if you stay there with children.  I also think the rolling table gives good working space in addition to the fixed table. One of the few negatives about the room is that the bed was not particularly comfortable compared to other Marriott options such as the Sheraton Ottawa and Westin Ottawa hotels downtown where I always sleep well.  The other negative about the Courtyard if you are Platinum: they don’t give upgrades as far as I know.  I never got one here, although it was always on points redemptions.  I would note that I never asked about a suite either because it was never important to me at this hotel.  Perhaps post August, paying guests can get suites, but at least based on my limited experience we can forget about upgrades here.  Some of the suites are “boardrooms” with a big table and many chairs so I suspect those rooms are kept for guests who are part of large groups rather than for Platinum travelers on their own.  

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Dining

Before August, at this hotel you could choose between a Starbucks coffee, a snack item, or welcome points.  It was only one coffee/snack per stay, which was very stingy. Now it has improved because it’s $10 credit per night so for my stay I got $50.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to complain about something which is clearly better than before, but my opinion is that it remains short of the competition. First off, the hotel cheapened out by providing 10 CAD credit (exchange rate 1.30 so less than 8 USD) while I thought Marriott announced that the Courtyard brand would give 10 USD credit for breakfast.  The other issue is that they do not allow for partial redemptions of a $10 voucher during the stay, so if you order something that costs $16, either you “lose” $4 off your second voucher and cannot keep the difference for the next day, or you pay $6 out of pocket with only one voucher despite having other vouchers available.  Breakfast items are somewhat overpriced at The Bistro, so they make a decent profit if you decide to spend that $6 out of pocket: a small yogurt with a tiny bit of fruits and granola was $9 and a small mixed fruit bowl was also $9.  If we compare to the adjoining Hampton Inn, guests get free breakfast so if I want fruits, yogurt, and a coffee, The Bistro price tag would be something like $25 including tax (so $15 out of pocket) with small portions, whereas at Hampton Inn you can get free refills as desired, not even counting that there are some hot food choices such as pancakes and omelettes.  So bottom line while $10 breakfast voucher is nice, not only it should be $13 CAD but in addition you might not get 10 dollars’ worth because they do not carry your credit over to the next day.  Last but not least, on my first morning I ordered a fruit bowl, went up to my room, only to discover that some strawberries had mold on them.  I returned the fruits to Bistro and was refunded with apology from the manager.  They handled it well, but my takeaway was not very positive nonetheless – overpriced, rigid voucher rules, and spoiled food.  

Overall

All in all, this hotel was fine for a cheap points redemption and they correctly allowed me late check-out, but at 17.5k pts per night it no longer makes sense.  Cash rates are not particularly attractive so unless someone attends a meeting at the convention center on a corporate rate, I would not recommend this hotel because of price, the lack of Platinum suite upgrades, and the Platinum breakfast benefit which is improved but still leaves to be desired.  Depending on dates I can pay a bit more money and stay downtown at Sheraton which has a Club Lounge, or Westin which gives suite upgrades based on availability and a good breakfast, or my favorite option the Andaz which has a great Globalist breakfast and suite upgrades more generous than the Westin and only moderately more expensive than Courtyard (once again, depending on dates). If I ever want to have a cheap 1-night stay at the convention center, I am more likely to stay at Hampton Inn than Courtyard because Hilton has more frequent stay-based promotions than Marriott, which can make the net price of a 1-night stay relatively attractive.  Also Hampton Inn has free breakfast unlike Courtyard; not that the Hampton Inn breakfast is luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but given Courtyard’s breakfast price level I would need to pay more on top of an overpriced room if I wanted a comparable breakfast to Hampton Inn. 

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