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I’ve always been a Starwood fan and have spent many years staying in properties from its different brands — I’m even a Lifetime Platinum member. The St. Regis is luxury (almost) perfected, and I always enjoy a solid Westin or Le Meridien stay. Even Sheraton has surprised me recently — Starwood seems to be upgrading the chain by refreshing its clubs and improving service. I’ve also stayed many times at W properties, enjoying the trendiness and youthful vibe of the hotels.
In fact, I spent the year of 2009-2010 staying at the W Montreal almost every week — I knew most of the employees by name and they always made me feel welcome there.
A recent trip to the W Bali, though, made me realize that I think I’ve outgrown the brand. While the stay itself was fine, I couldn’t help but realize that I’m slowly starting to favor a stay at almost any other Starwood hotel brand over a stay at the W.
1. There’s Too Much of a Scene
I get it, one of the highlights of the W hotels is a trendy bar scene. Most Ws have bars where locals and guests are often drinking until the wee hours of the night.
Perhaps I sound whiny, but the crotchety old grandpa must be heard: when I arrive at a hotel exhausted and jet-lagged, I just want to sleep. While I love a lively party, I’d rather grab an Uber to one if I’m feeling up to it than having one outside the door to my room.
More often than not, loud partygoers have disturbed my sleep at a W property, which recently happened to my parents at the W Bali and another TPG contributor at the W Bogotá. If a hotel can’t promise you a decent night’s sleep, then what, are you even staying there for?
2. Darkness Is No Longer Chic to Me
There’s no doubt about it: The W brand is sexy and sleek, but it’s mostly because of its dim lighting scheme. Dark hallways, dark lobbies, dark elevators and dark rooms put a whole different spin on things.
A spin that, frankly, I’m just too old for. After tripping over my own feet in the hallways, being blinded by pink and blue lighting, pushing the wrong numbers in the elevator because it’s too dark, and using my phone as a reading light in bed, the verdict is in: I’m older, blinder and need a properly lit hotel!
3. I’m Over Wet, Away and Fit
I understand that sometimes it’s all about branding, but sometimes I feel the W is just trying a little bit too hard — it calls the pool “Wet,” the fitness center “Fit” and the spa “Away.” It’s true — the pools may be slightly edgier than other hotels, but, really, just call it the pool. Being jetlagged (which I almost always am at any given time) and trying to decipher it all is just too much.
4. Tell Me the Real Size of My Room, Please
There have been two situations recently, one at the W Koh Samui and one at the W Bali, where the outdoor space has been counted in the square footage of my villa. I’ve expected a 3,500-square-foot villa and instead gotten a smaller room and a larger outdoor area with tropical foliage. This could be something that just happens in Asia and isn’t unique to the W (after all, it’s happened to fellow TPG employee Adam Kotkin recently at the Ritz-Carlton Koh Samui) — have any TPG readers had a similar experience? It’s lovely to have a bit of the jungle, but I can’t have guests over for drinks in my palm trees, so please report the square footage accurately, W!
Though I’m still youthful in some ways (when it comes to technology, I’m definitely a millennial), in others the permanent jet lag is starting to kick in, making me crave the comforts of home when I’m on the road — like a quiet room that’s well-lit. I’m officially too old and tired for stays at the W.
I don’t hate W hotels by any means, and I’ve certainly had many wonderful and memorable stays at Ws in the past — I just don’t predict having as many in the future, that’s all.
Images courtesy of the author and TPG team.
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