Sunday, April 20, 2014

W New Orleans (now Le Meridien New Orleans)

Hotel Stay Details
Hotel: W New Orleans (now Le Meridien)
Dates: April 19-20, 2014
Rate Paid: $175/night (including taxes) 
Suite Upgrade: Used 1 Suite Night Award
Suite Rate: $430/night
Benefit: $255

After having spent most of 2014 in Westin Hotels, we returned to the stylish W Hotel for our second and final night in New Orleans.

NOLA actually has two different W hotels. One being located in the French Quarter and the other a few blocks west on Poydras Street. We were staying at the latter, which I understand is going to be rebranded into a Le Meridien property under the Starwood later this year.

In his research, my father had heard that this W was in some pretty dire need of renovation after all the heavy wear and tear from its guests. Lots of the photos from Tripadvisor were complaints of rusty bathroom faucets, dirty carpets, worn furniture. That's why my father used up one of his Suite Night Awards to request a confirmation into a suite up to 5 days before check in. At least if the rooms were in bad shape, we'd get some extra space to stretch out.

This upgrade instrument takes out any Front Desk risk from the upgrade equation, because Starwood Corporate automatically scans suite inventory and processes the room upgrade independently of the front desk staff. We had used this Suite Night Award before at the Westin Memphis Beale Street and the W Vieques in Puerto Rico.

Fortunately, a few days before our scheduled arrival, my father was notified by email that our Suite Night Award was accepted and that we'd be enjoying our Marvelous Suite for our 1 night stay. Pretty exciting!

So after checking out of the Westin at 4PM (Platinum members get late checkout) we walked our suitcases over to the W on Poydras. Aside from crossing the busy street of Canal, it was a very easy 5 minute walk, even for a 2.5 year old.

Check in was easy and our room was ready for us. My father asked about the Platinum breakfast option and the front desk woman said it was "just for the continental offering" which was the pastries on the menu. She did say, however, that (a) we could take it in room service and (b) we could upgrade to anything we wanted on the menu and just pay the difference. My father's eyes lit up and we were off to our room to check out the room service menu!

The suite (Room 1722) was a corner room on the floor. From the fire exit floor map, we could see that there were 4 of these suites on each floor of the tower. As you can see, the suite was oddly arranged with the front door leading you into an angled hallway where you could take a right to the bedroom or a left to the living room.

First, the bedroom because I love to jump on freshly made beds. Now there was nothing remarkable about this room. It had the standard artwork above the bed, the strong contrasting paint on the wall and the desk with the flat screen television. They did, however, have a nice chaise lounge which my mother fell in love with.

Second, we checked out the livingroom area down the other hallway. There we found a striking velvet couch facing a small mounted flat screen and a Bose stereo. I thought they could have tried a bit harder to furnish the room above what a 25 year old investment banker would do, but I'm not complaining.

The key feature of the living room was the wet bar area with a small mini-fridge and a microwave. Now, I'm not an expert in the target demographic for W hotels, but people using microwaves probably didn't come up high on that list, but I digress.

We had 1.5 bathrooms, one for my father to "read" in and the other for my bathtub swimming pool. Upon close inspection, you could see that the bathroom fixtures (faucets and handles) were definitely showing some wear and tear. Some were just loose while others had hints of rust surviving after housekeeping's daily sweep through. Nothing to complain about, but definitely something that should be fixed.

Note: The concierge on staff was exceptionally helpful. When we went downstairs for dinner, we told him we were going to Pesce (a new fish restaurant in the NOLA Warehouse district - the opposite way from the French Quarter) and he said we must absolutely try the shrimp toasts and the shrimp roll. Both were spot on!

Later that evening, we tried to go swimming in the pool since it had been a while since I had the chance, but when we got outside, we realized a few things. First, the pool was unheated and it was too chilly at 8PM in April to swim. Second the pool there was definitely more of a social fountain to congregate around and drink, rather than an actual pool for people to swim in. My father and I came running out in our swim trunks to find a lot of "cool 20-30 somethings" socializing, drinking cocktails and lounging in the reclining chairs. Clearly, we were under-dressed. So we just went back to the room and hung out in our massive suite.

The next morning, we opted to order room service for breakfast. Despite the high in room service charge, we assumed that it would be taken off the bill at check out. So we ordered a pastry basket ($9) plus a Southern style crab eggs benedict ($19). I asked my father to order a glass of orange juice for me. The way the Front Desk explained the SPG Platinum breakfast benefit, we just assumed we'd be paying the $10 upcharge + tip for the breakfast.

When the server came and presented the bill to my father, his eyes bugged out a bit. With all the fees and taxes, it came out to $47. Then my father threw an additional delivery tip on top assuming it would be reduced at check out.

But of course, at check out later that morning, the full amount was on the bill. He explained to the Front Desk (a different staff member) that he was told the Platinum benefit meant the breakfast charge would be removed, so she accommodated him immediately. She actually took off the entire charge even though my father thought it was supposed to just be $18 off (the cost of two pastry baskets). I suppose they just wanted to have happy returning customers.

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