Friday, September 13, 2013

Staycation - Andaz Wall Street

Hotel Stay Details 
Hotel: Andaz Wall Street 
Dates: September 12-13, 2013 
Rate Paid: 22,000 Hyatt Points/night 
Suite Upgrade: Complimentary 
Regular Room Rate: $524/night 
Regular Suite Rate: $581/night 
Total $ Benefit: $581 
Point Redemption Value: 2.6 cents/pt

The past week was bittersweet. For the last 10 days, nothing bad has happened in Israel (where my grandparents live), but that also means we could have been able to visit them. But we tried to focus on the positive and we tried to be productive for our extra time in New York. And by "productive," I mean that my parents made it to Level 55 in Candy Crush.

However, given we anticipated being away for a few week, my father had already made arrangements for a colleague to stay at our Manhattan apartment starting September 12th. We could have told them we had to cancel, but took it as a prompting to use some of our extra hotel points for a 1 night Staycation before heading to New Jersey to stay with my other grandparents for a week.

As the two longtime LCD readers know, my father had scored top tier Hyatt Diamond Status through Feb 2014 by completing a 12 night challenge in 60 days earlier this year. But earning Diamond status is worthless unless you actually stay at their hotels after earning status. So we decided to burn a few of our Hyatt points for a night in the Andaz Wall Street, the new luxury boutique brand in the Hyatt Hotel family.

Andaz Hotels
If you're not familiar with Andaz, you're probably not alone. There's currently only 9 total Andaz properties in the world and only a small handful outside of NY and CA.
  • Andaz Wall Street (Downtown NYC)
  • Andaz 5th Avenue (Midtown NYC)
  • Andaz West Hollywood
  • Andaz San Diego
  • Andaz Napa
  • Andaz Maui
  • Andaz Savannah (huh?)
In my 22 month old opinion, I feel like Andaz is the Hyatt answer to Starwood's W Hotel brand. Both are high-end hotels that lean fashion forward and younger (as opposed to the opulent upper class luxury of the Park Hyatt and St. Regis brands).

But unlike Starwood's W Hotel brand, the modern Andaz style is more subtle and welcoming. As I wrote before (here and here), the trendiness of the W Hotel can come across as "over the top" and "overwhelming" especially when you're just an adorable toddler, and not a fashion runway model. But the Andaz style is much more like something you'd find at a tasteful family's home. Or as some of you Asian Tiger Moms would say, "Andaz : W :: West Elm : Ikea."

New York City hotels are like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you're trying to book a night during the work week, you'll pay up for it because you're competing for rooms with the infinite number of business travelers.

However, most of these travelers want to go back home for the weekend, so rates at the same Manhattan hotels drop precipitously for Fri, Sat and Sun night stays. This dynamic is especially true for Andaz Wall Street.

Armed with his AAA Membership (though most hotels rarely check if you have your AAA card), he was able to book Thursday night at the Andaz for about $411 cash (inclusive of all taxes) for a Standard King (345 sq ft, seen here). Without the AAA rate, you could get the same room for $457. Or if you wanted some more space, you could pay $524 for a Large King (450 sq ft).

Thursday Night Rate
Standard King - $411 AAA vs. $457 regular
Large King - $467 AAA vs. $524 regular

However, those same rooms for Friday night would be up to 43% lower:

Friday Night Rate
Standard King - $236 AAA vs. $262 regular
Large King - $293 AAA vs. $319 regular

Of course, he would never pay so much for a Staycation and opted to use 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points instead. And the best part is, that for the same 22,000 Hyatt points, you can book either the Standard King or the Large King (seen here). Um, Large King, please!

Check In
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we never had a chance to actually see the Large King room that we booked, because the Andaz was kind enough to upgrade my Diamond Status father to the Standard Suite (610 sq ft loft-style corner room) which was going for $581/night.

Given the hotel is right in the heart of the Financial District, it likely caters to a high end business traveler crowd more than its sister Andaz 5th Avenue (near Bryant Park) which has a more attractive location to NYC tourists.

As such, we were expecting and received excellent service as soon as our taxi pulled up in front. A well dressed bellman came over to the taxi and started loading up our bags with a smile as my mother and I made our way out of the humid sweltering heat and into the perfectly air conditioned hotel lobby.

When my father walked in, a receptionist walked over to my father and brought him to the check-in area which was a long table of Macbooks and iPads instead of the usual "Front Desk" format.

She mentioned to my father that he must really like Hyatt hotels after seeing his Diamond status to which my father smirked. She offered the standard options for welcome amenities (1,000 Hyatt points or a local gift) but also said they offered a new option - a $10 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project (a charity supporting injured military veterans) on my father's behalf.

Interestingly enough, she really spoke poorly of the local gift saying it's really not worth selecting. While I appreciated her honesty, it was best described as a sneaky toddler on the playground trying to downplay the toy she secretly wanted for herself so that you'd pick something else. My father (flush with Hyatt points) picked the donation option.

The keys were thinner and more flexible than usual plastic hotel key cards. I'd say the material was more like a firm business card rather than a credit card.

And instead of having the Andaz logo, they had an image of what looked to be an element from the periodic table. I don't know if they have others, but we were given "Am" for "Ambitious."

And finally, while most cards had a magnetic strip, the Andaz room key operated by wanding the card over the reader. A subtle, but novel little difference.

As we approached our suite (Room 1525), we really had no idea what to expect. Unlike other vacations where my father does pretty extensive research on the hotel and the room options, this stay was booked a bit more on the fly, so for the first time in quite some time, my father was excited about what was behind the stylish door.

But at this point, I was just happy to have a comfortable place to rest and relax after frantically readying our apartment for our guest earlier that morning. In fact, since my parents wanted to have it 100% clean before her arrival, we packed up all our bags and left them at our church's offices nearby.

Upon wanding the card over the lock, we opened the door and entered the sleek looking livingroom area. I'm a simple girl, so I like the clean look of the sharp edges. As you can see from the photos below, the Andaz room (left) was much more calm than the W Hotel rooms we were used to (right).


Unlike other hotel suites we've been in, the Andaz suite was more of a very large single room with a half-wall partition separating the livingroom area from the bedroom area. The partition was a livingroom TV on one side and a bedroom closet on the other. Clever. Odd, but clever.

But this partition actually made the room a lot better for my family because they could constantly keep an eye on me no matter which part of the suite I was playing in.

The bathroom was also very unique. While most hotels use a clean white tile to show you how sterile it is. But of course, the Andaz does it differently and uses a high contrast black tile. Further, they have glass doors separating the sink area from the toilet and the spa-like bathtub and rain shower.

But my personal favorite feature of the Andaz stay was that WiFi and non-alcoholic drinks/snacks in the mini-bar were complimentary.

Instead of nickle and diming (or quartering!) for every little thing, the Andaz just wants you to enjoy your stay and not worry about extra charges.

So while we usually just drink the free bottles of water at most hotels, now we could have a cold Coke or orange juice or green tea. In addition to the soft drinks, they had a few granola bars, artisan chocolate bar and spicy dill pickle flavored potato chips for free as well. Andaz sure knows how to win over a soon to be 2 year old (and her 34 year old father)!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to write my grandmother a Happy Birthday card.

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