Westin Ottawa = Stingy Breakfast, Poor Platinum Upgrades, Dismissive Service

1   Not Recommended

Parliament View Room
January 4, 2019 by
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Parliament View Room

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Parliament View Room

I have never been a fan of Westin Ottawa due to subpar value for the money, but it had been a while since I stayed so I came back for a 2-night stay to see how things had changed.  I can confirm that my opinion should remain as is, in fact if anything it’s worse than before so like last time my takeaway is that I probably won’t return soon.  

Westin Ottawa usually has quite high rates for most of the year, in fact more often than not rates are higher than at their most direct competitor the Andaz hotel which is less than 1 km away.  The Fairmont and Hilton are also in a similar price range as Westin.  Fairmont is in the same location as Westin but it’s a hotel of a different style (Fairmont is more historic and charming, but rooms are smaller and older).  The Hilton is across the river in Gatineau so less of a competitor for people who want to stay in downtown Ottawa.  Westin is usually priced over 250 CAD throughout the year and sometimes a lot higher than that in peak periods, but in the last week of December occupancy is relatively low in Ottawa so I got a rate of 170 CAD which was modestly above Andaz, Sheraton, Marriott, and considerably more than Delta where I could have paid less than 100 CAD for my dates.  I thought it was the best time of the year to give Westin another shot because rarely is the hotel priced above others by only 20-30 CAD.  

It is usually difficult to get a Platinum-Ambassador suite upgrade at Westin in most months, but I thought that maybe late December could be different because of low occupancy, which is also a reason I decided to stay there.  When I booked only 4 days before my arrival date, I saw suites were still available online with little time left for them to be sold.  I arrived at the hotel at 7:30pm so I was not asking for an early check-in, and it was late enough that they probably knew they were unlikely to sell the suites.  Despite this, I got an upgrade to a view room on a higher floor, that’s it.  That room type sells for a whopping 10 CAD more than the entry level room.  For a quick 2-night stay I did not mind much about the lack of suite, but I asked about their normal policy for upgrades mostly out of interest and to steer my decisions for future stays in Ottawa.  I was told that they normally upgrade Plats to junior suites or corner rooms but that they did not have any that night.  I pulled out my phone and I answered back that I could see both junior suites and corner rooms online so why did they say they were unavailable? I got a BS answer and the lady at front desk did not even bother to check anything on her screen; she had no intention whatsoever to look at anything or ask anybody about my room assignment.  Because my purpose was mostly to see how they handle upgrades (rather than caring a lot about the upgrade), I did not argue any further but I note that they seem to handle upgrades less generously than in the past so my opinion of Westin is downgraded.  The rate being below 200 CAD is a decent indication that the hotel was far from full (confirmed by several room types available online), plus the fact that it is unlikely that the hotel is filled with Platinums at this time of year.  By comparison, when I go to Andaz I have about 70% success rate on suite upgrades as Hyatt Globalist without ever having to ask because they always upgrade proactively.  In addition I have never been upgraded to anything less than a corner room at Andaz.  At Hilton I also get good success on suite upgrades, and at Delta less than one month ago I got a large suite too.  Sheraton has no suites but they have a lounge so it makes for better value for Plats than Westin which does not have a lounge.

Room

At the very least, I can state that the basic room at Westin is nice, in fact if you must stay within Marriott/Starwood and if you have no status and won’t get an upgrade in any event, then I believe this is the best room you can get in Ottawa if money is no object.  There is a stand-alone shower with good water pressure, which I prefer to the shower in a bathtub that you can find in older hotels such as Delta and Sheraton.  The room is of a good size and it is in good shape.  The entry level room is the strongest point of Westin (compared to the entry level room at other hotels); you will be comfortable even if not upgraded. It’s just that you’re most likely going to have to pay too much of a price premium relative to other Marriott/Starwood choices in my opinion, at least based on what I value.

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Poor Elevators

The Westin still has its irritating elevator system where you enter your floor on the keypad and it tells you which elevator you must take.  The problem is that several people enter their floor number several times because they get impatient when the elevator is not coming for sometimes more than 5 minutes, and it can call a different elevator when you type the same floor a second time, so once an elevator arrives for you and you get in, it stops on several needless floors of people who typed in a floor twice or more.  This is happening both on the way up and on the way down. 

 

Dining

Platinums get the choice of points or breakfast, and even if you pick breakfast it’s continental only so no hot food.  In addition cappuccinos are only available if you pay extra.  Andaz’s Globalist breakfast leaves Westin in the dust: at Andaz you have a-la-carte breakfast fresh out of the kitchen with several unique options on the menu (non-boring and non-traditional), and you can order whatever you want and as many items as you want and pay nothing at all.  It’s night and day compared to Westin which feels a bit stingy.  At Delta the choice at the breakfast buffet is not as wide and not as high quality as Westin, but at least you get hot food there. That said, I did enjoy the healthy salad with fruits at Westin however. 

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Location

The location of Westin is excellent – it is centrally located and the main advantage in the winter is that it’s attached to a shopping mall so you don’t need to step foot outside to go shopping or go to the food court.  For this reason alone, personally I think it’s the single best location of all hotels in the city even though several others are very close and within walking distance, but the mall access is a nice plus in the winter.  

Overall

It was worth trying Westin again after a long hiatus to make sure I continue to peg this hotel correctly relative to others in Ottawa.  Now it’s clear that for this stay I paid a premium for Westin instead of going to Andaz but I would have been better off at Andaz (better room, better breakfast) and I would have saved money too.  Also in any hotel worldwide I do not appreciate staff giving me BS about room upgrades without even looking at room availability like they did at Westin for this stay.  To make matters worse, I got a feedback request e-mail from the Director of Operations of the hotel after I checked out, I sent constructive feedback, and I waited a few days to give them an opportunity to respond before posting my review.  To this day I have not heard back anything (several days later).  Not that I was asking questions that needed an answer, but it feels like I wasted my time giving them feedback if I am not even getting an acknowledgment.  

If staying within Marriott/Starwood, I continue to prefer Sheraton over Westin.  They have renovated their rooms recently so they are not as aging as they used to be. Granted, they clearly remain a notch below Westin, but at Sheraton you get a Club Lounge and the price tag is more moderate so in my opinion Sheraton is better value.  At Delta you have decent odds of suite upgrades, unlike at Sheraton and Westin.  I can understand that some people would not want to stay at Sheraton or Delta because they are 1970s style hotels and Westin is more modern; heck Westin Ottawa was even quoted twice in the thread “Best Westin in the world” so clearly opinions differ.  However if I am looking for something more modern at a higher price than Sheraton/Delta, then I will go at Andaz which does almost everything better than Westin except location, so if a hotel cannot even be the best in its city then it cannot be remotely close to being best in the world as far as I am concerned.  

Perhaps my review feels quite harsh.  In my book Westin is a hotel having nice entry level rooms in the best location but it is overpriced, has significantly subpar elite benefits relative to others, and my interaction with staff at reception or post check-out was not stellar to say the least.  No lounge, stingy breakfast, lack of Platinum upgrades, and high sticker price.  Westin is only a decent choice for people who are price-insensitive, who highly value a specific prime location, and people who need Marriott/Starwood night credits and who do not want to stay in the older hotels that Marriott has to offer in the city.

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