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I stayed at the St. Regis Chicago last weekend. My full review can be found here. It’s a brand new property and I had been excited about staying there since I first heard it announced a few years ago. The stay was rather unmemorable with the exception of my frustration with the hotel not honoring the brand’s required breakfast amenity (since it is part of Marriott Bonvoy® and should be a choice for Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador Elite members).
Everyone from One Mile at a Time to View from the Wing to Live and Let’s Fly and even The Points Guy picked up the story and within a few days, the hotel reversed course and started offering breakfast. Well, readers of this blog and the others listed above have taken it upon themselves to slam the hotel with fake reviews to lower its rating on TripAdvisor and Google as punishment for the game being played with benefits.
Here are some snippets from the reviews:
Luxury without Hospitality . This very expensive hotel manages to surprise you (in a bad way) but not delight you. If you’re an elite Marriott member don’t expect breakfast or an upgrade. Pay as much as you can to stay here — otherwise you’ll be disappointed.”
Beautiful property; not worth the price. Seems not well enough staffed yet and an absurd joke not to offer elite perks. No breakfast for elites, just a BS 1000pts. St. Regis Chicago got Bonvoyed to the nth degree. Stay somewhere that recognizes loyalty this is already not worth the heavy price.”
New property so the rooms, furnishings, hardware is all very nice. However, it is the only St. Regis in the world not to reward loyal Bonvoy members by offering elite breakfast (for the member plus one guest). Instead you can only choose 1000 points (worth $7) as ‘welcome amenity’. Poor decision by management to choose to do so. Excuse is restaurant is operated by a third party — however there are many other St. Regis properties with similar operations that offer this benefit both domestically and internationally. Such a shame.”
My goal was not to pan the hotel, nor was it to call others to arms to bash it. I just wanted the St. Regis Chicago to honor the benefits that are afforded to elite members and to not play games with this welcome amenity. Program rules state that St. Regis properties are to offer either 1,000 points or complimentary breakfast for up to two guests. It’s clear to me that these folks who wrote reviews above have not stayed at the hotel, but latched onto my observations and penned negative reviews.
I emailed the hotel’s general manager, Oliver Gibbons, on Sunday and he quickly replied with the following:
You are 100% correct, you should have absolutely been offered the option of either points or breakfast, and I am so sorry that this was not the case, as we were experiencing some systems teething pains in those first few days, and as you noted, as soon as this was flagged it was rectified. We are now in the process of reaching out to our valid Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite Luminaries to make this right.”
I commend the hotel and its manager for the quick reply and rectifying this wrong, but still question that if not for someone with a platform (this blog) and the amplification provided by the others above how quickly this would have been changed. There are teething issues with any new property and issues will arise. There is clearly something here with the hotel not owning the restaurant and a choice being made to cut costs. This backfired and the negative content is certainly not wanted for a new hotel.
Anthony’s Take: It’s good to see that the hotel reversed course on breakfast and that Marriott Bonvoy® elites will get what they’re entitled to receive. I’m sure that hotel management never expected this response. Time will taper all of this press, but other hoteliers should take heed that people will call them out when they try to cut corners and save a buck.
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So they reached out to you and made it right? What did they offer?
Anyone going to call out the JW Marriott Union Square San Francisco on similar techniques ? No lounge and similar skimping elites.