Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Phoenician Resort - Part 1

Hotel Stay Details
Hotel: The Phoenician 
Dates: October 25-30, 2013
Rate Paid: 6,240 SPG Points/night 
Regular Room Rate: $503/night 
Total $ Benefit: $2,515 
Point Redemption Value: 8.1 cents/pt

The Phoenician is a Starwood Hotel property under their Luxury Collection Resorts brand. Located just 9 miles away from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), my parents and I were looking forward to spending a relaxing 5 sunny days by the pool in 85 degree desert heat before the cold Northeast weather took its chilly grip over Manhattan in November.

We landed in Phoenix at 7:30PM, but by the time we collected our checked bags, took the shuttle to the offsite car rental facility, stopped at the Safeway grocery on the way, we didn't arrive to the hotel until around 10PM Arizona time, which is 1AM Eastern.

Despite the late hour, we were pretty awake as we drove up the long property driveway. Along the way, we were stopped at the security desk and asked the name on our reservation. He then alerted the main building that we were on our way. Thirty seconds later, we pulled up to the front of the resort where eager valet parking attendants rushed to assist us. My father felt a little embarrassed as he declined the $29/night valet service and asked where the free self-parking lot was located, but it's hard to justify paying $145 for 5 nights of valet parking when it only cost $191 to rent the car itself (not that it would be any less painful to pay for valet even if his rental were more expensive).

So we asked to just keep the car on the side as we unloaded our bags and went inside to check in.

Check In
After entering the grandiose lobby, we quickly realized we underpacked (too many casual t-shirts and shorts). But we ignored that for the moment and turned left to the Front Desk where they were ready for our arrival. First, we were thanked for being Starwood Platinum members and while they were not able to upgrade us to a suite, they did mention that they put us in a top floor (6th floor) room facing Camelback Mountain (a much better view than the driveway or valet parking lot).

Without having to ask, the Fronk Desk informed my father of the various resort benefits (in room wifi, unlimited domestic calls, tennis court and equipment rental, etc.) that you receive for the $29/day in resorts fees. However, he immediately followed up that SPG Platinum members get the resort fee waived during their stay. Obviously, it would have been easier not to mention the resort fee at all to us, but we understood it helped with the Front Desk showmanship.

Finally, we were given the choice of our Platinum welcome amenity: (a) 500 SPG points, (b) a local gift or (c) free continental breakfast for each registered guest in the room. Normally for our short 1 night stays, we'll choose the 500 SPG points, especially when the continental breakfast option offered is mediocre.

But when my father confirmed the free breakfast was (1) for each morning of their 5 day stay and (2) could take the form of a $14/person credit on our daily breakfast bill, we of course went with that! We were given 5 small cards with our name and room number on them to provide to the breakfast server at Il Terrazzo restaurant each morning. Including tax and tip, that was a $33 credit each morning for breakfast, so $165 over 5 days. Much better than 500 SPG points (worth ~$15 to us).

All said and done, this was one of the best check in processes we've had. They genuinely seemed to want us to have a great stay as opposed to giving us the bare minimum of what they were required to.

The Room
While nothing in the room was amazed us, my parents both agreed right away that this resort was one of the better ones we have been to in terms of property atmosphere and customer service. We had a regular King bed room, though it was on the 6th floor and facing the mountain. Despite it being a "standard" room, it was very large for the three of us. While many hotel rooms barely fit a crib along the king bed, this room had plenty of extra space.


In addition to the spacious room, we also had a nice little balcony/terrace to enjoy the outdoor weather. There was both a small table with two chairs as well as a lounger on the other end. We'd look right onto the tees of one of the golf course holes, but we never felt that our privacy was violated.

The bathroom was also quite massive with a separate bathtub and shower as well as a closet area for the toilet and double sinks. I was pretty excited about using the bathtub as a swimming pool, but my parents assured me that I'd have plenty of opportunity to swim in the real outdoor pools this week. Similar to the St. Regis hotels in the Starwood family, we were given Remede brand bath amenities which are always a favorite of my mother.


The rest of the room was very well stocked. In addition to the large flat screen TV, we also had a DVD player. Unfortunately, we didn't know about that in advance or my father would have brought some of our Netflix DVD's from home. The room also came with two separate closets, a mini fridge (stocked with soft drinks as well as liquor bottles) and a fancy coffee maker.



We didn't take any of the $6.50 Fiji waters available for purchase, because we were given two bottles of Nestle water (and two small chocolates) every evening during the nightly turn-down service. Of the 5 nights, we only had housekeeping remake our bed one night, but it was nice to have the option.

It's been our general hotel experience that the higher end hotels do a much better job catering to families with children. The Phoenician was no exception. The housekeeping staff had already left a great baby amenity kit, including baby powder, lotion, shampoo, rash cream, etc. Obviously, my anal parents came prepared with their own supplies for me, but it was a nice surprise from the hotel, nonetheless.

Next Installment: The Resort Property & Amenities...

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