Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Starwood Hopping - Part 3 - Westin Crown Center

Hotel Details
Hotel: Westin Crown Center
Dates: May 25-26, 2015
Rate Paid: 3,500 points + $66 /night 
Regular Cost: $199 per night 
Redemption: 3.8 cents/SPG point
Upgrade: Garden Suite ($363)

Since my father needs either (a) 50 nights or (b) 25 stays to re-qualify for Starwood Platinum status for 2016, we kept booking different one-night stays around Kansas City. Either way, it would be 3 nights, but this way, we'd get 3 stays instead of just 1.

Luckily, my mother wasn't the type to get fussed about living out of our suitcase and packing up each day. Of course, getting club lounge access (free snacks and drinks) and late 4PM checkouts don't hurt. But the real benefit of earning (and using) Starwood Platinum status is the high chance of a room upgrade to a suite. And since we were often staying just a single night, there were more chances of an empty suite being available for our "entire stay."

This time around, we checked into the Westin Crown Center which received some quite harsh reviews on Flyertalk, including these:
"Stayed Saturday Night Feb 19. Property in need of renovations. Club Lounge really poor. Service low, food low, smelled bad. Hotel room got so hot thought I was in a Sauna. Controls did not work, called guest services, response was no air in winter. Maint was dispatched to room. Fixed, cool air came on, then stopped. Fixed again by making sure heat would not come on again. Room freezing two hours later, no heat to offset... " - MinnFlyBoy, February 2011
"Just stayed at both properties. The Sheraton Crown Center is far superior in every way. I got a suite upgrade at the westin as a plat and just a club room at the sheraton, but it is far superior. The westin is a dump. The club lounge is terrible. The Sheraton club lounge is exceptional in every way. Great service, amazing view and decent snacks in the evening." - Superdrew, September 2014
Of course, my family just spent a night at the Sheraton Crown Center two days prior and we thought it was pretty good (4.5 stars for its price range). However, we did want to see what the Westin had to offer since my parents prefer Westin over Sheraton in general.

Spoiler Alert - we loved the Westin and would pick this property over the others should we return to Kansas City.

1. First, the lounge was quite stunning - spacious and well appointed with enough seats for a full wedding party. Plus the check in process was very easy. They had a dedicated SPG Elite line but we were the only ones there, so no need to wait at all. It didn't hurt that the Front Desk agent, Darren, recognized we could use a bit of extra space and found us a great room upgrade.

2. We went from a standard room (450 sf) to a Garden Suite (1500 sf). My family was given Rooms #1617 and 1618. As described by another reviewer, this Garden Suite is a large entertaining room (1618) with enough space to hold 25-30 people (including a wet bar), connected to a large bedroom (1617) with its own small juliette balcony. If we needed a second bedroom, there was another connecting door on the other end of the living room that opened into Room 1619 (a double bed room).

3. The views were stunning. We had full length and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the World War I Museum.

4. They had a heated outdoor pool. Though to be fair, the pool area felt very Eastern European concrete and was clearly made for adults taller than 5' because it got pretty deep (7 feet) pretty quick after you walk down the stairs. Nevertheless, my father and I had some good quality Daddy-Daughter time swimming on Memorial Day afternoon before our dinner at Q39.

5. The Westin was connected by the Link (aerial walkways) to the Sheraton, the Crown Center shopping mall and Union Station. So you could walk through these glass walkways, above the traffic, and stay in dry, air conditioned comfort.

6. A well stocked Club Lounge. They had plenty of coffee and snack foods for my mother and me. My father had some beer/wine options (though there was a charge for alcoholic drinks). But most importantly, they had some pretty delicious coconut shrimp at 5:30PM for their evening hors d'oeuvres.

In the mornings, they had hot options including scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. And it was 100% empty!

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