The Denver downtown market is an odd one for Hyatt. I’ve always said that the labels on the two properties (Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency) were reversed. The Hyatt Regency is a new cosmopolitan property where the Grand is older and definitely in need of attention. It does have some of the trappings of a Grand, but there were much more luxurious Grand options in the Hyatt system. They’ve been discussing renovations for a while, and I got the chance last year to stay in one of the new club rooms.
The hotel is in full renovation mode now, with the entire lobby shut down and a temporary check-in desk on the 3rd floor. When I arrived for a one-night stay I was told they had blocked me into one of their corner king rooms but it hadn’t been renovated yet. These are okay rooms, but nowhere near my favorite layout (especially the bathrooms). I asked if they had any renovated rooms available. They only had rooms with two queen beds (with the renovation these rooms move from 2 doubles to 2 queens). That sounded fine to me. I’m glad I asked because I am definitely more pleased with the smaller renovated room versus the older corner king. While this isn’t quite as nice as some Grand Hyatt’s I’ve stayed at, the rooms have taken a big step.
The entry features the new proximity locks, so less fumbling trying to time the key slot. New doors and a ceramic tile product that looks like wood in the entry way dress things up nicely.
There’s a desk with a very intuitive adjustable dimmer light. Two small oddities that draw the comparison between a luxury hotel and one geared towards business travelers. The chair for the desk is not adjustable in any way and there are only two plugs at the work space. The chair itself is comfortable, but I definitely feel like the work area is more form than function. I experienced the same thing recently at Grand Hyatt Seattle, so this isn’t unique to Denver.
The rooms get new flat panel TVs and continue to have refrigerators. That’s a small but important detail, IMO. Grand Hyatts don’t generally have stocked minibars in the US, so having a few things I like to drink in my fridge for the morning is a big plus that full service properties are stealing from limited service.
There’s a separate soft seating area with lighting above and a plug beside it. I actually found this area to be as good or better for working than the desk. My phone and water bottle sat on the side table and I propped my feet up while replying to e-mails and typing this blog post.
Bathrooms were another pet peeve at this property and they’ve definitely improved. First, a much more modern look. Then, you get a rain shower head. While my room had a tub, I did get confirmation from the hotel that the walk-in shower I loved on my last stay in a club room(picture below) will be expanded to over half the rooms, including:
· Corner kings
· Executive Suites
· 24th and 25th Club floor rooms
· ADA rooms
· Presidential Suites
· 26th floor kings
The rain shower plus the regular shower head made for a great shower experience, definitely the best I’ve ever had in a standard US non-suite room. There’s a balance properties like Grand Hyatt have to maintain when it comes to bathrooms especially because of their appeal with European travelers. European travelers tend to prefer having a bathtub whereas American travelers have less concern about that detail (unless you’re traveling with kids). As a business traveler I don’t use a tub much, so the significantly better shower experience is tops in my book.
The bathroom also gets motion sensor night lights. These are the examples of small touches that make a big difference in the quality of the stay.
The Grand Hyatts recently got new amenities, separate from Regency. They chose June Jacobs, which I tested last year and liked. I would have preferred body bath as opposed to a bar of soap but it’s definitely a big improvement over White Ginger. The bar of bath soap is a good size and weight.
One of the features that carries through the lighting in the room is easy to locate switches. I still have a post about innovations coming in the Hyatt Place brand, but that’s something else I see bleeding over from limited service. The fixtures themselves are still elegant, just easier to find the switches. A really good combination, IMO.
The nightstand gets two more plugs than the desk. 4 should probably be the standard at the desk, too. Familiar clock radio which works just fine for me.
They also added a small night light under the nightstand. It’s these little touches (mostly in the tech areas) that make the room much more functional while still retaining the trappings of a Grand Hyatt.
This hotel also has a unique feature you don’t find at many downtown properties. It used to have a rooftop jogging track but it bit the dust a year or so ago. There were promises of its return but I wasn’t aware of a schedule. I noticed some signs for it when I used the gym during my stay and decided to pop up to the roof to see the changes. Wow! A great track surface for runners, a full tennis court and a whole host of fitness stations for the workout crazies. The only other property I ever remember was Marriott Magnificent Mile in Chicago that had a basketball court on the roof.
So, where does that leave us? So far, really big improvements. It’s not as nice as Grand Hyatt Seattle, but it feels like a Grand now. It really didn’t before. I still lean towards the Hyatt Regency down the street, but this makes it a much more interesting discussion. The hotel has a number of two-room suites on the corner of the building. I’ll be interested to see how those come out. I’ve had my fair share of upgrades into that room type. With the right soft goods, those rooms could make this property a star.