This is a great reader participation exercise, because I’m very interested to hear what others would do in this situation. I had thought that our one-night stop at the St. Regis San Francisco would be a quick post, but it turns out to be a bit more detailed than that.
First, some quick background. This was a one-night stay on points (20,000 points a night) and I had redeemed a suite night upgrade. Suite night upgrades are a new benefit Starwood Preferred Guest awards members who stay at least 50 nights a year. I hit 100 nights last year on the nose, so I asked my Ambassador to request a suite. I was confirmed into an Astor Suite, which appeared to be a comfortable 2-room suite. All seemed well for our arrival. This was a short weekend trip for a close friend in Northern California. But, since our daughter had never been to San Francisco, we thought this was a great opportunity to squeeze in some time showing her the sights.
We landed at approximately 7pm and were at the St. Regis by 8, at which time we were told that all of the guest rooms were without power. They weren’t sure when power would be restored. They said it could be an hour or a few hours, but they were very confident it would be on by morning, if not sooner.
They offered to upgrade us to a bigger suite at the St. Regis or move us to a regular room at the W. We looked at the suite which was quite nice (more on this in a separate post), but our daughter was a bit scared by the fact there were no lights other than some flashlights and battery operated candles the hotel gave us. So, back down to the lobby.
I was told that the hotel had secured me a preferential rate at the W. I replied that since I was staying on points that, respectfully, I thought the St. Regis should cover my rooming expenses if I needed to be moved from the property. It seemed like the hotel did not have much experience moving guests to other hotels. While handling everything very politely and with a ton of customer service, the process was a bit disjointed trying to get a comparable room. Since there were 3 of us, a hotel room with one bed and no room for a rollaway wasn’t what I planned for. Had the suite night upgrade not been confirmed early I would have just booked two connecting rooms.
After some work, the hotel managed to find a suite at the W but they weren’t sure a rollaway would fit. The W seemed to think they could accommodate but it wasn’t a sure thing. I asked them to call some of the other SPG properties around. To their credit, they even offered to call the Four Seasons, which I think would have been an excellent comparable choice. Not that the W brand isn’t nice, but it’s just different than St. Regis. Around this time, though, a very tired little girl and my wife who weren’t feeling well decided that they just wanted to go upstairs and sleep. We figured we would wake up in the morning and take showers and all would be fine. We finally managed to get everyone asleep sometime between 10 and 11.
Sleeping turned out to be something of a challenge. First, the room got quite cold. Second, there was noise in the hallway off and on throughout the evening. Unclear whether it was workers. I don’t think it was. We were all wide awake by 4am and it was clear nobody was going to be able to go back to sleep. A call downstairs around 5am yielded a new estimated time of 6am for power. Alas, by the time we checked out at 8:30, un-showered and tired, there was still no power.
This leads to my question of what is appropriate compensation in a situation like this, but just a bit more context first.
The hotel did pay for a snack from room service late that evening when we arrived. And, they did offer to move us. While the process was clunky, they ultimately found a room that probably would have worked.
Had I been traveling on my own I probably change hotels, but the girls were definitely beyond worn out.
And, when we arrived in Sacramento the next day at a different Starwood property, the St. Regis had arranged for a bottle of wine and some fruit and cookies to be delivered to our room as another apology.
There was also an offer during the commotion of getting settled the night we arrived at the St. Regis that they would refund our 20,000 points.
And, during the entire time we were there, the staff was exceedingly polite, just unable to solve the core issue (hey, who turned out the lights?).
So,with all that, what’s appropriate compensation?
I’m not trying to negotiate against myself, but I feel like there’s a legitimate argument that we did choose to stay at the hotel given the situation at hand. The hotel has also made a few meaningful gestures (offering to refund 20,000 points, paying for a snack and sending the amenity to our next hotel).
Are those gestures compensation enough?
Would you ask for more? Do we hold a St. Regis to a higher standard during a situation like this because of what the brand stands for?
Is that too much compensation considering we were ultimately given a choice to switch properties into a lesser quality but probably still reasonable room replacement?