Monday, July 21, 2014

St. Regis Grande Rome

Hotel Details
Hotel: St. Regis Grande Rome
Dates: July 20-22, 2014
Rate Paid: 20,000 SPG points/night
Regular Room Rate: $547/night
Upgrade: Used Suite Night Awards
Suite Room Rate: $1,786/night
Point Redemption Value: 2.7 cent/pt
Upgrade Award Value: $1,239/night

This could be one of the best Starwood redemptions my father has ever pulled off.  First, he booked the standard room using 20,000 SPG points before the hotel went up to 30,000 points/night. However, that in and of itself would have only been a 2.7 cent/pt redemption - not mind blowing.

But then he applied two of his Suite Night Award coupons to the reservation. And a few nights before, we were confirmed for an upgrade to a Junior Suite which was retailing for $1,786 per night! My parents had been to St. Regis properties before (Bora Bora and Bangkok), but this property in Rome was a clear standout for its luxury amenities and service.

Unfortunately, we had our bags with us. So while we could have walked 25 minutes from the Intercontinental De La Ville to the St. Regis, we opted to hail a taxi given much of the walk would have been uphill. The taxi driver made a snide comment about it being close enough to walk (my father interpreted that as him not making much money on the fare), but we arrived in about 5 minutes where the attentive St. Regis doormen rushed to help us unload the car.

They took our bags while my parents and I entered the main lobby. Unlike the small uninspiring entrance of the Intercontinental, the St. Regis Rome made a powerful first impression when you walked inside. Easily the most awe-inspiring hotel I've been to in my 2.5 years of life.

We were guided to the right where the check in area was. At 2:30PM on a Sunday, there was no line to check in though they did have the SPG Platinum & Gold check in area for Starwood elites.

My father had actually booked two separate one-night stays back to back. Both bookings had cleared the suite upgrade award, so we were going to be in a Junior Suite for both nights. Though when we mentioned it to the front desk, their system put us in different suites each night.

Our original room for the first night was actually ready, but when we frowned a bit upon hearing we'd have to switch rooms the next day, they proactively scrambled to get us into a suite where we could stay for both nights. It really wasn't a big deal at all to my family to have to switch rooms each night (if you didn't know, we're pretty well-traveled), but we were happy to wait for the outcome.

Caught a bit off-guard, they asked us if we'd be willing to wait in the lobby lounge and have a coffee while we waited a bit for the new room to be cleaned. My father wasn't entirely sure if that was an offer for a complimentary coffee or if it was just a way for us to wait in the lobby, but when the staff saw my father's confused expression, she assured him it was complimentary. Free coffee in a stunning European room fit for royalty? Sure thing!

The Italian coffee came with a small assortment of biscotti and small sweets. Believe it or not, I didn't really care for the sweets, and instead wanted to jump on the couches. My parents clearly didn't agree with my preferences.

Before my mother even finished her first cup, the front desk staff came by and informed us our room was now ready. She escorted us to the main elevators as she informed my father about the breakfast area in the morning (off to the far end of the main lobby room). My father asked how SPG Platinums breakfast amenities were handled here (the terms say "complimentary continental breakfast" but they had a full hot buffet each morning). The woman seemed a bit surprised to hear we were Platinum elites given it "wasn't on the booking." Knowing his status would be easily confirmed soon enough, my father didn't worry about it. Plus he had already researched on Flyertalk's forum that the Platinum breakfast amenity was indeed the full hot breakfast at the St. Regis Rome.

We arrived to our room 270 and was amazed at how wonderfully regal the suite looked. In classic European taste, it was truly the most elegant hotel room I've ever seen. The kind of Old Money bedrooms you only hear about in my fairy tale books.

The suite was a long railroad style room. The main living room had a full couch and a set of chairs as well as a small desk along the side wall.

Then you enter through a smaller room/hallway where you find a classic vanity table for my mother as you head towards the bedroom with its oversized king bed. Seriously, how'd they manage to get that large of a mattress in here?

The large marble bathroom was also quite impressive. With the dual sinks, full bathtub and separate shower, it was about as large as our full NYC apartment. Of course, the St. Regis Rome had their standard Remede bath products, but this time, the containers were twice as large. More for our collection at home!

And as a nice welcome gift, we were also given a massive bowl of delicious fruit along with a nice note from the general manager. Not too shabby for a free points award stay, though I'm sure it helped my father had SPG Platinum status.

But the best part of getting the upgrade at the St. Regis was that we then had access to the Suite Butler.

The St. Regis butler service is pretty well known among traveler circles. Sort of like a more personalized concierge/room service, the butlers are available to help you unpack/pack your clothes, coordinate with the concierge to arrange reservations or errands, bring you coffee/water/ice and any other small tasks that you'd want help with. 

The butler service is complimentary, though it's best practice to leave him a gratuity commensurate with your level of usage. I'm sure you can google some stories of crazy things that guests have requested of their St. Regis butlers, but we stuck to the simple tasks.

Here's a list of items that are "standard" requests, including shoe shining, light ironing, pillow type selection, and complimentary tea or coffee each day.

We didn't have much need for any special services, though my mother did take advantage of the complimentary coffee each afternoon during our stay.

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