One of the many new benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest program is that award stays count towards earning elite status on a yearly basis AND count towards lifetime status. Since I hadn’t yet re-qualified for Platinum this year and still need about 200 nights to achieve lifetime Platinum, I made the decision to burn a bunch of Starpoints this summer for award stays. There were no Cash & Point stays available (which is one of the truly best values), but I was able to find rooms at all our summer travel spots, including Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I have some family up in Nova Scotia so we try and get up that way at least once a year. This trip we were bringing my father and his girlfriend. That meant a total of 3 rooms (2 for us and the kids). The SPG Platinum desk is usually great at finding rooms to accommodate special situations, and this trip was no exception.
This property is a category 3 which normally means 7,000 points for a free night in a regular room. A harbor view is 8,000 points. However, after asking at the property, my Plat concierge was able to get a two-room suite with a partial harbor view for 8,000 points. I connected this to a standard room (which also ended up having a harbor view) for 7,000 points. No question a suite here should have cost me a bunch more points.
The hotel is located on the South side of Halifax at the end of the waterfront area. It happens to be next to the rail station, which lead me to ask the front desk about the history. See, the old Canadian National Railways built a bunch of hotels next to it’s train stations. Back when train travel was the major method of transportation, they probably raked in a ton of cash. Most of the hotels are older and well-stated. A bunch got turned into Fairmont properties that my wife and I have fond memories of. The property definitely had that old CN look when we pulled up.
The lobby was welcoming, a bit understated. The front desk staff were very accommodating and we were on our way to our room shortly thereafter. The only mistake I made here was adding my father’s name to his room. The new SPG rules state that you can get credit for up to 3 rooms in your name per stay. I didn’t think that addinghis name would cause me to lose credit for the rooms. Something I’ll need to work on with my Plat concierge this week. The bellstaff were extremely attentive and were up to the room about 90 seconds after we walked in.
It took a bit of figuring the different doors out, but shortly thereafter we had our 3-room suite worked out. Catherine decided she wanted to be in some of the room pictures.
Pretty much everything in the rooms screamed classic Westin. The beds were very comfortable and the rooms a decent size, especially considering when the hotel was built. The hotel does have a small pool and fitness area. We didn’t get the chance to use either, but they looked fine. The gym was classic Westin, brand new aerobic equipment with a few conditioning stations.
Typical of some of the other old CN hotels, the property has a bunch of shops on property that aren’t directly affiliated with the hotel. There’s a bar just off the lobby as well that never really got full during our stay.
We ate breakfast in the main dining room all 3 days of our stay and everyone chose the full buffet. There was plenty of variety to please everyone, especially as it related to fresh fruit. One of the apparent pluses turned out to be something of a negative. They have an omelet/waffle station manned by an employee. Now, when I eat breakfast at a restaurant, there’s nothing I love more than fresh eggs. The employee manning the station had two induction panels with two pans, so could prepare two egg dishes at once. Unfortunately for us, he never got around to spinning up a second pan. The normal response when we walked up was, “I’m sorry, I can’t take your order right now. Could you come back in 5 minutes or so?”
This lead to a pretty interesting waiting game. Our eggs and waffles were perfectly fine every time, just very slow. The buffet was $19 ++, which seemed reasonable except for the omelet station experience.
Upon check-out, I asked about the breakfast benefit at the property. Another change to the Platinum program is an enhanced breakfast benefit, usually a free continental breakfast if you choose this as your option (I believe the other two options are a local amenity and points). I had forgotten to ask at check-in and the agent had forgotten to explain it to me. The first agent I spoke with wasn’t 100% sure but a supervisor was by his side a few seconds later walking him through the options. He proposed an adjustment to my bill for the price of continental breakfast for me and one guest. This was exactly what SPG’s new policy called for, so I was happy to see it implemented fully. The benefit ended up knocking about $100 off our bill.
This is one of the hard cost savings that you can benefit from when you have status with a specific chain. While I probably could have found breakfast cheaper somewhere else, having a consistent, great breakfast with mostly great service without having to haul the kids around plusa discount was well worth it IMO. No question in my mind this had to be worth more than extra points or a local amenity.
Overall, I found the staff to be quite exceptional. From our breakfast servers to the valet staff, the service definitely exceeded our expectations. I had heard that the property was “okay”. If the service hadn’t been exceptional, then I could see someone saying that. But, the public space was in good shape as were our rooms, and we obviously enjoyed the staff. The only knock I could see about this property is that it’s a bit longer walk to the waterfront area. But, I think I’d take that trade-off for a quiet property that takes good care of it’s customers.