Sheraton Saint-Hyacinthe = Growing Pains Due to Lounge/Restaurant Situation

100   Recommended

Junior Suite
January 30, 2019 by
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Junior Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
Food
Amenities
Room

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Room
Junior Suite

I have returned to Sheraton St-Hyacinthe for the first time since staying there on the hotel’s opening date in June 2018.  This time the hotel was fully operational so I thought I would provide an update.

Room

I booked two rooms: a junior suite and a 2-queen room. I asked in advance via my ambassador to get connecting rooms.  I got the rooms as booked, connecting as requested, but no upgrade.  Higher categories of suites have connecting rooms as well (premium suite, executive suite) so it would have been possible to give us an upgrade but they did not.  Anyway I was satisfied with the setup so I did not ask for Platinum-Amb upgrades but it should be noted that they might not upgrade Plats proactively depending on circumstances.  The two rooms I got are the same as in my previous stay and as before I would say it’s one of the best hardware of any Sheraton in North America.  

Location

The hotel’s underground parking is now open.  Even though the hotel is next to a large shopping mall, the (free) underground parking is exclusively for Sheraton guests – accessible with the room key.  It is temperature controlled so on cold snowy days it is very convenient.  I suspect not many guests are even aware so they just park outside because the indoor parking was almost empty during my stay.  The hotel bridge link between the hotel and the shopping mall is now open (unlike in June 2018).  I found it useful to have access to the mall without needing to step foot outside.  The mall has 140 shops, a food court, and a very large grocery store.  That’s on top of the hotel being connected to the conference center.  It makes the location of the hotel ideal if you need to be in this area.  

Dining

Last time I stayed, the Club Lounge was not open but this time it was.  The décor is very attractive and the lounge was hardly used most times we went there so we had a private place to relax in the morning or evening.  Food & beverage is the main weak point of this hotel and they still have growing pains in this area.  The main problem comes from the fact that the hotel does not have its own restaurant: the Zibo restaurant is operated by a third party but they work in collaboration with the hotel as they are in the same building. The restaurant staff is responsible for in-room dining and is responsible for the food in the Club Lounge. The result is that Club guests and Platinum guests are important to the hotel, but not as important to the restaurant. There was no staff in the lounge most of the time and nobody coming to check if something ran out.  On one morning there were no more plates so we could not eat; I went back to reception to inform them and they called the restaurant to have someone go there.  One evening during happy hour they quickly ran out of food and we asked them to bring more. The second evening was even worse. Happy hour is 5:30pm-7:30pm but as of 6pm they only had small cubes of cheese left.  I saw one man come in the lounge at 6pm and by the time he left at 7pm no staff came to the lounge for the entire hour, so the entire time he was in the lounge he barely had anything.  If I was him, I would not be too pleased.  The next morning we arrived and once again no plates were available. I went to reception to ask for more plates, and someone from the restaurant came with more plates but the guy did not bother checking what was left on the buffet: there were no more fruits and someone was trying to use the coffee machine but the discard tray was full so the machine was out of order.  The restaurant staff just left the lounge after bringing plates despite seeing a guest trying to (unsucessfully) use the coffee machine.  I went back to reception again to inform them that we were out of food and coffee.  One other guest in the lounge briefly mentioned to me sarcastically “great service here, isn’t it?”.  

Every time I interacted with hotel staff regarding the lounge, they were very helpful, transparent about the reasons for the current situation, and apologetic. They also gave an ear full to the restaurant staff which did not do their job properly.  They explained to me that they are still learning at what times the lounge is busier than others, because sometimes even during the week there is nobody at all going to the lounge for happy hour so no need for staff. Personally I think the set-up of having an alliance with the restaurant is not ideal and they need better training and better incentives for the restaurant staff to serve hotel guests with more care.  But at the very least because hotel staff seem to genuinely take the hiccups seriously, I can be confident that the problems will not be swept under the rug and that they will try to find solutions.  That’s the main reason I am willing to give them a chance and return later to see improvements.

Food available in the lounge (although limited) was of excellent quality: dumplings, edamame salad, black bean paste, etc. One evening they replenished the pizza once on request, the second evening dumplings were not refilled even after a request.  Unless you are there at exactly 5:30pm it’s slim pickings for the moment but quality is there – it’s not exclusively junk food like some other Sheraton lounges in North America.  For breakfast one morning they had a burrito wrap which was excellent, other mornings was more traditional breakfast items such as scrambled eggs, potatoes, etc.

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As a last comment regarding the unfortunate lounge situation is that breakfast ends at 9am in the lounge.  This is unusually early, particularly on weekends where many hotels extend breakfast until 11am.  This should be an easy fix.

Overall

Overall despite the lounge situation, I still recommend this hotel and I will be back.  The willingness to make things better is clearly there, unlike some other management teams in other hotels who do not care much.  That is not the issue here.  They just need to figure out how to make things work better between them and the restaurant.  In the mean time, I would simply recommend to non-Platinum guests that it is not worth paying extra money for a Club room until things have improved.  

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