Plenty of my hotel reviews have been from aspirational properties around the world that we’ve been able to enjoy as part of our family vacations.
But, in order to earn enough points to stay at those properties, there were a lot of nights in properties that weren’t located beside a tropical beach or poised in the perfect venue in a foreign city. I don’t write up my experiences at many of these properties, but I’m thinking of trying to do so.
In a lot of these cases, properties in the US look very similar across a brand due to exacting brand standards. A Sheraton hotel room in Denver likely has similar bed linens as one in Chicago, Kansas City, and Dallas.
But, these properties do differ. Service levels can vary widely across properties with the same label. Locations can be important, as can smaller things like the last time a property was renovated, or the layout of an exercise room. The hotels are likely built at different times and may offer slightly different amenities. For some travelers, they may be trying to decide between a Marriott, Sheraton or Hyatt Regency in a specific market. Though you won’t find me at a Marriott very often, I’ve probably spent a night or two at that Sheraton, Westin or Hyatt property you’re thinking about.
I don’t view any of this as groundbreaking research, but I’m hoping this info will help a few folks make decisions. I haven’t figured out how to label these types of reviews yet, but plan on categorizing them in some fashion so you can search them separately in the Hotel Review tab at the top of my site.
I recently had a trip to Kansas City, which fits that type of market that I wouldn’t classify as a flashy destination. I had a one-night stay at the Westin Crown Center. The property is located on the South side of downtown and has both valet and self parking available. There is no appreciable street parking around the property, so you’ll be paying for parking one way or the other.
The property looks like it was built some time ago, but they’ve done a good job with keeping it relevant. The lobby is spacious and well-lit with ample seating. There is a bar off the lobby as well as a Hertz rental counter. In a nod to a much earlier time, there’s also a sizable indoor garden and waterfall element with a pebble concrete finish that screams the 1970s.
As a 100-night Platinum member, I was not upgraded at this property but I’m pretty sure they were close to being sold out the night I was there. I was upgraded to a club floor room. The rooms are a cross between an older property and the classic elements of the Westin brand. There’s a lot of light blue in the finishes which is a bit of an oddity for a Westin. But, the bed, desk and bathroom all have the Westin branded items.
The desk area has the standard chair and plenty of work space. The hotel has done a good job of dealing with an older building and a lack of plugs with a well-placed power strip.
A common element of hotels built back in the day were sliding glass doors and balconies, no matter how small. For safety reasons, these have mostly gone away. This hotel has the sliding glass doors but a retrofit only allows it to open a couple inches for fresh air. I also ended up with a nice view of the World War I Museum across the street which I’d like to add to a future visit.
The bathroom is a decent size, marble finishes and a rain shower head. I actually prefer the rain shower heads to the dual shower head “Heavenly Shower” Westin used to promote.
Platinum members will get access to the club lounge, located on the 20th floor. In theory, it’s controlled by key access but the door was propped open during my entire visit. I wasn’t asked to prove my lounge access to any employees even though I came in contact with a few. The lounge itself likely seats about 20 or so folks comfortably. There was always a variety of snacks throughout the day and evening as well as breakfast foods and evening hors d’ouevres. Additionally, there’s a refrigerator that was well stocked with bottled water, juices and soda.
The fitness center sits above the waterfall and is quite sizable. It takes on the shape of the original construction with pebble concrete floors and ceilings but the equipment is all relatively new. There is a fee to use the fitness center ($5 or $10, I don’t recall), which struck me as odd for this type of property. That’s something I see at Vegas casinos and some large hotels in metropolitan properties, but it strikes me as a bit of a nitty way to generate revenue for this property. It was reasonably well outfitted, so I guess it doesn’t bother as much as if the equipment was tired.
There were plenty of elliptical machines and other aerobic equipment. Down a flight of stairs was another room of strength training with 15 or 20 different stations. And, something I hadn’t seen in a hotel in quite some time, a tanning bed. I’m not an expert on these, but it looks like slightly older technology.
The pool has something I hadn’t seen in quite some time, either. There’s a set of stairs inside the fitness center and a small opening such that you can enter the pool without being exposed to the weather outdoors. I’m likely not swimming in winter because I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to cold water but I’m sure braver folks than me would appreciate this. The pool itself was sizable with plenty of chairs. Finally, on the lower roof of the hotel, there are a few tennis courts and an outdoor jogging track. From a fitness standpoint, this hotel has plenty of resources.
The hotel is connected by overhead walkways to neighboring commercial buildings, other hotels and Union Station. There’s also a number of family friendly activities, including a Crayola exhibit, LEGOLand Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Aquarium.
For those looking to redeem Starpoints, the Westin Crown Center is a category 3 hotel, which means 7,000 points a night.
Bottom Line It For Me, Ed
One of the reasons I started booking more stays with Hyatt is because they do such a good job delivering the promised benefits, something Starwood has gotten away from. That’s why i was a bit nervous when I called downstairs to ask for a late check-out, especially knowing they were close to sold-out. The agent I spoke with asked me to hold on for just a second, then came back and recognized my Platinum status and asked if I needed a 4pm check-out (the time guaranteed by Platinum status). It was a bit of a welcome surprise and aptly sums up the polite and helpful service I received during my stay.
This hotel is an old physical plant but the management has done a solid job keeping it modern and comfortable. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.