I recently traveled to Dublin(the Shelbourne Hotel), London (Marriott County Fair) and Paris - I have been a Platinum or Gold Member since 2008. This year I have 62 overnights. The trip was to celebrate my 20th Anniversary. IN Neither of our three cases was a I granted a room upgrade. In fact, the host hotels seemed to 'treat you' as you were using points and not as paying customers. I used nearly 400,000 points for our stay - communicated often (with NO response) with the Gold Line and each host hotel - and recieved NO courtesy.
I strongly recommend using your points for Caribbean Travel - and enjoy yourself.
DO NOT ever stay in the Marriott Champs Elysees! You WILL regret it.
So you went to three great places, had free hotel stays and didn't enjoy yourself because you didn't get room upgrades? How about all the money you saved on hotel rooms because you had 400,000 points? I personally spend little time in the room when I am in Europe, so a great big room doesn't impress me. Saving money on rooms does, and I would rather be out spending that money in the destinations I visit!
In 2010, we booked a room on points at the Champs-Elysees. It was our second stay there. Since we needed an extra large room to accomodate 4 adults, we agreed at the time that we made the reservation (one year in advance) to pay an upgrade fee of somewhere between $400-$500 in order to get the larger room for our 5 night stay. It was worth every penny. The room was huge as was the bathroom. It worked out nicely. I will admit that when we checked in, the original room that they assigned us, while larger than the regular sized two double bed rooms, was not the size that we paid for (extra upgrade fee). We complained and advocated for ourselves, and after a couple of polite rounds of them trying to get us to take it and us gently pushing back, they finally gave us one of their largest two bed rooms that they offer (not a suite, but huge - which reminds me, while suites can be very luxurious for two people, with the living room and 1.5 bathrooms, they often do not accomodate 4 adults nicely and especially in Europe).
Both times that we've stayed at the Champs-Elysees (on points), the front desk and concierge were extremely polite and professional, but you are correct that they definitely don't go out of the way to pass out freebies. I had the same experience when I stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche (on points). At the Renaissance La Defense (cash) in 2012 however, they upgraded us to a corner junior suite on the CL level, with a great view and a welcome note and free bottle of wine waiting for us in our room. When we discovered that we still needed two rooms after all in spite of the upgrade (great suite, but we needed more than a king bed and a sofa sleeper), they gave us the second room on the CL level, again with a nice bottle of wine, but not a room upgrade in terms of size or suite (neither of which we needed). Not all upgrades in Europe are equal. Sometimes we're upgraded to a suite or a room with a view, other times we're just given a room on the concierge level or told that the two bed room is an upgrade. I will concede that it seems like we do better when we pay with cash vs. points. We have booked a room on points at London County Hall for next year, and when I booked it, I noticed that upgraded rooms cost extra, and in pounds no less. I don't know if this is a new trend or not. When I made the points reservation, I didn't pay extra for an upgrade, but I have heard that many others have been upgraded upon arrival, so we will hope for the best, but not be disappointed if it does not materialize.
I share all of this to make two points: The first being that while I definitely think that upgrades (as well as hospitality) at European hotel properties is on average overall superior to the same in the U.S., it definitely varies from hotel to hotel, country to country. If you read the discussions on here, you will see the trends in terms of which properties/countries do better than others, regardless of how much guests pay. Belgium seems treat their elite guests well, as does Greece. Germany (believe it or not - Germans can be a practical, no waste, no nonsense bunch) does an excellent job at elite hospitality as well. The second point is that at every property that I have referenced above, while upgrades have been hit and miss and/or provided but not in a spectacular way, every room without fail has been very nice and adequate in size. And as John stated, we spend so little amount of time in these rooms that the upgrade isn't of high consequence. (Now Marriott, you didn't just read that!) As long as it's a nice, fully functional, clean, updated and attractive room with a comfortable bed, no worries.
Having said all this, I know that elites want their upgrades. They're just not always available for a myriad of reasons (in the same way as jockeying for upgraded seats on flights).
Happy and safe travels.
P.S. I notice that you are a gold member. I am too, though I often travel with a platinum member. Just a friendly reminder that there are tons of platinum premieres, platinums and lifetime platinums that are in line ahead of us. To me gold means that I get free breakfasts and a few extra points and sometimes some good offers. Anything beyond that is a windfall.
Agree with Pluto77's observation. No offense, but as a Gold, you are going to be at the back of the line behind PP's, P's, and LP's as I think you would expect (I am PP and about 5 stays away from LP)..
Also, disagree on your assessment of the Marriott Champs Elysees. Exactly what will folks regret if they stay here (details of your experience please)? I found the staff to be friendly, helpful and quite accommodating for my wife and I. We even received a nice upgraded suite on the top floor with a view of the Champs Elysees below and the Eiffel Tower. This did not come without some time and effort on my part establishing a relationship with the staff ahead of my arrival but your mileage my vary. From beginning to end they were extremely helpful even offering to send a car if our train was forced to disembark (fires on some bridges, protests, etc.). No complaints at all.
On the flip side, my upgrade experience was not as fruitful in the Caribbean. Stayed a week in St. Thomas at the Ritz Carlton (I won't even go into the status issues at RC's) and a week at an awesome new property in the BVI, Scrub Island. Had to pay for an upgrade at SI but have to say it was well worth it. Win some, lose some.
Again, your mileage may very dependent on many things including the travel season and your status.
The upgrade to the Top Floor ( I'll bet the ONLY floor with any view over the top of the buildings ) would have a positive impact on any guest. What basic amenities did the hotel offer?
I am glad if you received good customer service. It was not our experience.
Perhaps I was jaded by the London County Fair or the Shelbourne in Dublin but - the hotel entrance off the Champs Elysees is a store front basically, walking into a stair and escalator. If you encountered helpful or even friendly staff at this entrance then we are happy for you. Dining at any time was suitable? Evening drinks at the "bar".........was that a positive experience? I understand the Rewards system and I am not PP, LP or whatever other acronyms you'd like to add - but with months of communication with the hotel, staff and GM of the US Hotels I frequent and the notice of our 20th Anniversary I thought our stay would come with some "white glove" Marriott treatment. It did not.
Now the GM of the hotel just made an excuse for every issue - including the smoke smell in the room and hallways. Evidently, many of their guests come from countries where smoking in the hotel is allowed and they "fine" these guests 180 Euros but the halls and rooms will still smell of smoke.
Then he tried to defend Room 515 as one of their "good" rooms. The room was SMALL even by European standards and faced a wall and a small courtyard.
No Concierge Lounge and where did you score water when wanted?
I thank you in any regards for the posting and understand that my comments reflect only my experience and point of view.
I really agree with you. I'm a gold member and am treated like royality in the Caribbean. Even the Ritz in Grand Cayman was very nice and saw to it that we had a room with two dbl beds as we were traveling with teenage grandchildren and a room with a king and a rollaway was out of the question. The view was of the pool and not the garden. They reminded me that they did upgrade me and I appreciated it. I went to London and stayed at the Marriott Park Lane last year which was also on points. They front dest lady started out with the two twin bed room on the bottom floor. There were three of us. I refused and ask what else do you have. After describing a few more rooms I and my guests settled for the last mention room with a view and higher up so we wouldn't get the street noise. It's kind of hard to go through that after that long flight but it was worth it. As long as nicely asked and not demanded I will try to get the upgrade out of them. I agree that the breakfast is a real plus when you consider how much everything is abroad. I am in contact now with the chief concierge at County Hall which is where I'll be staying in November. I'm hoping for the best but we'll see. I contacted them due to wanting to stay a extra day which wasn't planned in the beginning. Still waiting to hear about the price for the extra day.
I thank you!
Ask for a 4th or 5th floor room on the Thames - with the view of Parliament and Big Ben - if you get the 5th floor upgrade with that view then EXCELLENT.
The Concierge Staff was surprisingly not as helpful as the Shelbourne in Dublin - they were friendly and best used for directions (which you get with GPS and maps anyway). Reservations and Recommendations were less forthcoming.
Gilroys in the evening was excellent as is breakfast in the Library for Gold and Platinum Members.
I found it best to ask the Marriott GM's at the hotels in the US where I stay to communicate with their counterpart in my hotel of choice in Europe - I followed that up with an introduction and my request.
In Dublin and London this worked. We received NOTHING in Paris.
Good advice windowdaddy and thanks for the heads up on the good rooms at the CH. I suspected the better rooms would be on the higher floors and a view of the Thames would be nice. I'll keep at it and see if I can get that upgrade. What also helps me (I think) is that I'm traveling at an off peak month and maybe that helps me as well. I just know that a five days free at the County Hall is awesome.
First, a nitpick. It's County Hall, not County Fair.
Just curious - since it was your 20th anniversary & you wanted an upgrade, did you contact any of the properties in advance to see what they could do for you? Mention it was your 20th anniversary at check-in & ask if you could get a nice upgrade to celebrate the special event? Ask the Gold line to note the anniversary in the comment section of the reservation? Make the note yourself in the comments section? Most of the elites I know, when it comes to special occasions, are usually pro-active (including me). I know you mentioned asking GMs in the US to contact the GMs of the properties you're staying at int'ly, but I'm not sure I'd rely on them remembering to do so.
I've stayed often at int'l properties on points & do usually get an upgrade/never felt like I was less than a paying customer.
The other part that might have affected your lack of upgrade (unfortunately) is that you picked 3 popular cities in the height of the summer vacation timeframe it sounds like, which means other elites are also redeeming points or paying for stays so you would fall farther down on the upgrade list.
Hopefully the trip was a nice one, even if the upgrade didn't come through. Happy anniversary!