Video Hotel Review: The St. Regis New York & SPG Upgrade Shenanigans

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Last week while I was in New York City I decided to stay at the St. Regis for a night to see if the historic hotel that launched an entire brand lived up to the hype.

The exterior of the St. Regis New York located on Fifth Avenue.

Known for its elegance and refined atmosphere, the St. Regis originally opened on September 4, 1904. Now there are 31 properties in the St. Regis portfolio, with over a dozen more slated to open in the next few years.

The flagship original property in New York at the corner of 55th Street and 5th Avenue has 164 guest rooms and 65 suites. I had the option of booking a standard room, referred to as a Superior Room, for 30,000 Starpoints or paying an advance rate of about $550. Normally, the lowest standard rate for a Superior Room is $995. Although $550 is pricey for one night, I chose to save my points for a different stay since I would be getting less than 2 cents per point in value and I usually like to leverage my points for much better deals like Cash & Points and lower-tier properties.

As I was on my way to the hotel I took a look at the SPG app to see if there were any better rooms available. The app showed several openings including Deluxe and Grand Luxe rooms and even some suites. I’m an 80 night Platinum member, so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem to be upgraded from the standard room – little did I know how much haggling it would take.

Upon checking in, the agent simply noted my status and handed me my keys. When I asked if an upgrade was possible and she immediately  replied that they were fully committed for the night and there was no chance of an upgrade. She also hadn’t asked me for my amenity choice, so something led me to believe she was new or was not well versed in the SPG program. Once I showed her the SPG app that showed multiple room types for sale, she  “checked the system again” and miraculously there was a Deluxe Room available for me immediately.

I asked her about a Grand Luxe room and she once again found availability, but said I’d have to wait to check in because the room was being cleaned. Needing to take a conference call and sick of negotiating, I opted to just take the Deluxe room for the night, but the entire experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It really drives me crazy that hotels like the St. Regis New York choose to participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest program, but don’t want to honor the benefits to members. Loyalty is supposed to go both ways – I spend a lot of nights in Starwood hotels and have both the personal and business credit card and Lifetime Gold Status (trucking towards Platinum). Obviously a Deluxe Room was clean and available at the time I checked in, but they thought I wouldn’t call them out on their bluff. I did Tweet the hotel and SPG and did get a direct message apology from @SPG, where they said that they were happy the situation was resolved. I never actually heard from anyone at the hotel, so there wasn’t much resolution locally and I encouraged SPG to reach out to the hotel to train their front desk agents on the SPG elite program.

In contrast, I stayed at the Andaz Fifth Avenue the next evening and was upgraded to a huge Splash Suite without prompting, and suite upgrades aren’t an official perk of the Hyatt Diamond program (beyond the suite certificates you get each year, but I didn’t apply one on my one night stay). No hotel program is perfect, but as an “uber” Platinum, the St. Regis should have treated me better.

A Deluxe Room at the St. Regis similar to the one I stayed in.

Although I had an annoying check-in experience, I did enjoy the property. It’s traditionally decorated, though I have to say the bed was phenomenally comfortable and the room was spacious, at least by New York standards.  It also came with some of the brand’s signature amenities like 24-hour butler service (who came minutes after I got to the room), free water and fresh fruit, shoe shining, in-room coffee/tea service, and the ability to have two shirts pressed per stay. Note: they generally need at least two hours to press, so if you are a procrastinator like me, give the butler your shirts when they first greet you in the room. The bathroom was spacious, though the shower was a bit cramped and the water pressure mediocre.

Although I had to be out and about in New York, if I stay here again, I plan to take advantage of some of the hotel’s other facilities including a gorgeous Alain Ducasse restaurant Adour, the Remede Spa and the iconic King Cole Bar, which I recognized from a bunch of movies.

The hotel’s iconic King Cole Bar.

To be honest though, with standard rates at $995 and up, I don’t think this hotel is worth the price (unless someone else is footing the bill!). If you do really want to stay here and prices are crazy, try redeeming 1,000 points for an SPG50, which will get you 50% off the rack rate, which could bring room rates into more reasonable territory. Cash and points isn’t a great deal here since the cash outlay is $275 and 15,000 points – you’re essentially paying 1.8 cents per Starpoint to save the 15,000 extra points versus redeeming the full 30,000 points a night through regular award nights. Not nearly the value proposition of lower category properties.

Watch the video below to get a tour of my Deluxe Room, including fancy motorized plasma TV!


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