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On a recent trip to Chile, TPG Assistant Editor Matthew Zuzolo visited Santiago for the week, and stayed at the Grand Hyatt Santiago.
Set in the Las Condes neighborhood, northeast of Santiago’s city center, the tall, cylindrical Grand Hyatt Santiago stands out amongst office buildings and small plazas. The hotel has 310 rooms and suites surrounding a marble-paved lobby that soars into open space, and though the building itself rises beside the convergence of several busy streets and a highway, I still found my standard room pretty quiet.
Because Santiago is located in a valley and the hotel is really tall, there’s good chance your room will have a view of the snow-capped Andes Mountains. (Mine, however, did not.)
The Grand Hyatt Santiago advertises its neighborhood as representative of the tourist side of the city, but I remain unconvinced. In my opinion, the hotel is quite far from anything of interest to tourists. As a first-time visitor to Santiago, I would’ve preferred a more central location so that it would be easier to take in the sights. A cab ride from the hotel to the city’s main tourist areas is at least 10 minutes and about $10 USD each way. Alternatively, it’s a 15-minute walk to the nearest metro station followed by a fairly long ride to the city center.
That said, the hotel is near a neighborhood that locals refer to as “Sanhattan” — a play on “Santiago” and “Manhattan,” due to its reputation for high-end shopping and American chain restaurants. For my first dinner, I headed here on the recommendation of the concierge, only to find my options included P.F. Chang’s and T.G.I. Friday’s — not exactly the meal I was hoping for after traveling halfway around the globe. I instead opted to get in a cab and go to one of the city’s other neighborhoods in search of a more authentic Chilean meal.
My trip to Chile came about pretty last-minute, so I had limited choices with flights and accommodations — however, I was able to find decent availability at the Grand Hyatt Santiago just a few days before my arrival. I ended up paying 150,000 Chilean Pesos (approx. $216) per night for a Grand Twin room, which seems to be one of the cheaper nightly rates you can find at the hotel. The Grand Hyatt Santiago is listed as a Category 2 property, and had I used Hyatt Gold Passport Points, it would’ve cost 8,000 points per night — quite a good value for the stay, especially if rates are high during your visit.
Paying with Hyatt Gold Passport points for my stay, I would’ve gotten a value of about 2.7 cents per point, compared with TPG’s 1.8 cent valuation for August. If you choose to stick with points for payment, know that they’ll go a long way at this property.
As Hyatt Gold Passport is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can earn several free nights at this hotel after receiving the sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is currently 40,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months. If you transfer those points to Hyatt you’ll have enough for a five-night stay.
Arrival and Check-in
After a fairly long cab ride across the city from the airport, I arrived in the late morning at the Grand Hyatt Santiago.
I was welcomed into the hotel’s huge, soaring lobby, which features several different seating areas and a pianist playing in the center of the room. The check-in process was quick and painless, and I went quickly up to my room on the fourth floor of the hotel.
The room itself was comfortable but the decor, much like the rest of the hotel, felt a bit old. It wasn’t dirty or noticeably run-down, but it could definitely use a refresh. Be aware that the hotel’s standard rooms contain two twin-size beds rather than one or two double beds; this wasn’t an issue for me as I was traveling solo, but might be a consideration for some guests.
I found my standard room much more spacious than I would have expected, including a comfortable sitting area with a couch, chair and table in front of a large window. The hotel lists this room type at 52 square meters (about 560 square feet), which gives you — and theoretically the other person sleeping on the other twin bed — a chance to stretch out and relax.
The TV in my room wasn’t a flat-screen; rather, it was an ancient-looking, standard-definition box — not a particular problem for me, but if you place more importance on in-room entertainment options, this might not work for you.
One of the worst parts of the room was the terribly slow Wi-Fi speeds. This was incredibly frustrating throughout my stay, as I had work to do throughout the entire week, and it definitely impacted my productivity. With a bit of patience and careful browsing, I was able to get some of my work done, but this definitely wouldn’t be ideal for most business travelers. You also shouldn’t expect to be watching YouTube — or doing any other Internet-intensive activity, for that matter — as the in-room Wi-Fi could barely support my email. The Wi-Fi in the lobby was slightly better, but hardly worth leaving the comfort of my own room.
Hotel Amenities and Dining
I was quite busy during my stay, so I didn’t spend a ton of time using the hotel’s amenities — including the spa, set near the lobby. The ground floor of the hotel has almost all of the services you would expect — there’s a few seating areas with wait service, currency exchange, ATM, concierge desk and more. The lobby is also home to the hotel’s restaurants and the spa. There’s also a nice pool and patio located in the back of the hotel, which was surprisingly even open and running despite it being winter (although not terribly cold the week I was there).
The hotel also has a few dining options — I chose to eat at the Mediterranean restaurant, Senso, one night after a long day spent on the coast in Valparaíso. I’m not usually one to eat in a hotel restaurant, but Senso was much more appealing than taking a round-trip cab ride and searching for a decent restaurant in one of the city’s more bustling areas. It was a perfectly passable meal — I had some sort of rigatoni bolognese dish with pork — and it was enough to satisfy me after a long day, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there.
The service at the Grand Hyatt can vary quite a bit from person to person. On one hand, the hotel’s housekeeping was prompt and reliable — I didn’t use it every day, and on days when I didn’t I was left a note informing me the service would be available at any time if I needed it. On the other days, the rooms were cleaned twice per day, although I don’t recall even seeing housekeeping around the hotel more than a couple times.
During my stay, I also realized that the power adapter I brought wasn’t working in the hotel’s outlets (the hotel has a single universal outlet if you don’t have an adapter, but it doesn’t support a three-prong plug), and the concierge was able to quickly deliver a plug adapter to my room for use during the entire stay.
While I had some good experiences with service, the staff was noticeably less helpful when it came to questions about the local area. Multiple times throughout my stay I asked for recommendations on food, activities and other things about Santiago, and I was met with little assistance. Ultimately I had to figure out how to spend my time in the city myself, without any real input from the staff.
As I’ve said, I was recommended to American chains for meals (although these recommendations came from both hotel staff and locals I spoke with during my trip) and given generic tour pamphlets for any tourism activities I asked about — rather than any meaningful advice or recommendations. Early on in my trip, I also asked about the availability of cabs in the area, and I was told that it would take an hour for me to get a cab at the hotel. This proved to be untrue, as I (or the doorman) could walk out to the main road and hail a cab within a few minutes at most. Ultimately, the concierge was generally unhelpful and unknowledgeable — not ideal for a tourist visiting Santiago.
If you can look past the dated decor, the Grand Hyatt Santiago is comfortable, clean and pleasant, but if you’re a first-time visitor to Chile, you’ll probably want to be in a more central part of the city with closer proximity to tourist attractions. There’s little reason for tourists to stay at the Grand Hyatt, even if you’re explicitly looking for a points hotel.
Fortunately, while I was wandering around Santiago, I saw a few different hotel chains that were more central than the Grand Hyatt, including a Crowne Plaza and a Four Points by Sheraton. Relatively near each other and in close proximity to the metro, there’s a Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental and the W Santiago (where TPG stayed in 2013) — so just know that if you’re not wedded to Gold Passport points, you’ll have other award-stay options for your own visit to Santiago. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.