Following on from Re: THE TIME HAS COME FOR ACTION BY MARRIOTT posted by our much beloved, alas currently suspended Misterchk, the one common theme was that some members were experiencing overcrowded lounges very regularly, others like me and greekbecky not at all. But it's clearly happening as it's not only featuring here but also on Flyertalk so I felt it was time to see where these overcrowded lounges are.
So what is an overcrowded lounge? It is not merely a lounge that is crowded, by very definition a crowded lounge is not overcrowded. It is a lounge where there are more people than there is capacity. I take the view that capacity is seating, since a standing lounge is an obvious oxymoron. Hence an overcrowded lounge occurs when someone is standing because theres no seats available to sit at. This isn't about not choosing to share a table with a stranger, this is where someone is standing because there are NO SEATS AVAILABLE, hence the lounge has breached its seating (ie "lounging") capacity.
So I'm asking those who have experienced an overcrowded lounge where some people, or maybe the member themselves had to stand because there were NO SEATS available. Please identify the hotel, month and time (ie Marriott Somewhere, March 2016, breakfast). This isn't a name and shame thread, overcrowding can happen simply due to freakish events, but it will for the first time ever give us an idea where it's happening and if real OVERcrowding is happening at all, or is it just a crowded lounge people are complaining about.
Let's find out folks!
And I'll kick off. None to report in my 650 nights. Once or twice I've been in a crowded Marriott lounge, but never an overcrowded one.
Ironically I have been in an overcrowded lounge once at a Loews hotel in Orlando. My family had a table but many were standing at both breakfast and evening service, though as I say, it was Loews, not Marriott!
brightlybob, the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando (a Loews property) can be very crowded. It it does serve alcohol for no extra charge which the Marriott CLs in the US don't typically do, so that might explain the attraction!
On the Marriott side of lounges - it's been a very long time, if ever, the lounge had no seats.
Now for a Hilton perspective - I have been at the Hilton Madison Terrace, WI since 01/2015 (about 200 paid nights) and the lounge is actually CLOSED to members to host "company events" when larger conventions are in town. In the last 15 months I estimate it was closed 20 times for evening gatherings. On the flip-side, the Hilton has treated me very well (I am Diamond) and will gratis a burger/fries when closed. Other members are getting 2 free drink coupons at the main bar.
Mornings are most important to me for lounge access as they serve a decent breakfast buffet, however, it has been closed at least 20 times in the morning as well. Most of the time it is closed because too many staff have called in sick or the restaurant opened up a breakfast buffet (for a company event) and guests are invited to the restaurant (versus the lounge) to grab their breakfast meal.
Although I've regularly visited this site, this is my first post!
I am a mere beginner in nights stayed, around 80 in the last 16 months. I was offered a Gold Challenge very early in my membership in late 2014, and have just completed the Platinum Challenge.
Most stays have been leisure related with my better half, and in the UK.
We have not experienced overcrowding in any lounge.
The lounges visited and very much enjoyed are:
Renaissance London Heathrow
Although having no lounge, the Glasshouse in Edinburgh provides one of the best breakfasts available.
Welcome out of your lurking and into the limelight trevfour. Another UK resident to add to our numbers
The UKs best lounges are St Pancras Ren, JW Grosvenor House, West India Quay (with due deference to Tommo781), County Hall (nod to jerrycoin), Kensington, LHR Ren, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Edinburgh. Leicester and Windsor are Ok but do the minimum really, the rest (a few London properties) I've not visited.
And yes, the cooked to order breakfast (a £5 supplement) at The Glasshouse is one of the best cooked breakfasts I've ever had the pleasure of consuming!
brightlybob, my most overcrowded CL experience with Marriott was at the Marquis San Diego which is one of those properties that people either love or hate. I actually really like the property! We haven't been there in awhile, and the last time was August 2014. A that time, the CL was also overrun with children, including my children, even though there was a sign saying 2 guest only or an additional $12 fee for extra guests, including children which nobody was paying.
I've also found Marquis NY overcrowded. I am usually there in March which is not high season in NY. So I imagine Christmastime is even worse. Marriott City Center Minneapolis is total chaos if you're there on days/nights when there is a Vikings or Twins game in town. By total chaos, I mean overcrowded and extremely rowdy guests who may or may not be honest when it comes to the honor bar
Properties that I have not found to be overcrowded: Hotel Minneapolis; TPA Airport Marriott; PIE Airport Marriott; CLT Airport Renaissance; DFW Marriott South; JW Chicago; Chicago Renaissance on Wacker; JW Essex House; Mayflower DC.
Lawyers have a saying about lawsuits: if you don't lose a trial once and awhile, you're not trying enough cases. I think the same could be said about CLs: If you don't find an overcrowded one once and awhile, you're not traveling enough
The first time that I was chastised by my dear friend from California Chuck, was on one of many posts on over-crowded CL. I had the audacity to innocently say "I have never been in an overcrowded CL". However I stand by that, especially with brightlybob clarification on crowded v overcrowded.
I think crowding occurs, especially in in core of cities and convention hotels, but it does in the restaurants and bars too at busy times.. Having been one for many years, now that I travel for leisure, I avoid the suits. They are the worst, they travel in flocks, they let their buddies tailgate, they are loud, they have loud conversations on cell phones oblivious to others. Thankfully suit avoidance is easy. I have two rules:
While I often travel with one of my grandchildren, I counsel them before I go in. Fortunately kids are quietist when they have a plate of food in front of them.
By the way I miss @misterchk on here.
An easy way to rile up Cali-Chuck was to say something along the lines, "overcrowded lounge? Huh, aren't they like Unicorns, never seen one." Always entertaining
And it's certainly the case that just like the roads, if you can avoid rush hour, lounges can be a much more relaxed affair. Breakfast avoid 7:30-8:30, evening avoid 6:30-7:30. Youll certainly avoid the main crowds then.
brightlybob, I was reading the delightful banter between misterchk and greekbecky on the other CL thread and got a great chuckle out of it. I am not sure if greekbecky was intentionally egging him on or just blissfully ignorant of the massive amount of trauma she was inflicting. I miss that guy, despite having been on the receiving end of some of his vitriol
clebert I am sure that ghost of Christmas Past spooks these hallowed halls. I never really knew him before he completely irritated me one day, but we had it out on DM and everything was fine. We exchange e mails now and will meet up one of these days. He is a good guy and has a big heart.
Prior to his post to me, I was in no way egging him on. After his post and my reply to that post, yes, I absolutely took pleasure reinforcing other comments that disagreed with his rant knowing full well it would get his knickers in a bunch...too bad I didn't see his post 2 months earlier prior to him being banned, so I could enjoy watching him go ballistic.
Haha! Your exchange with him is hilarious. To a third party it looked something like this:
misterchk: all CLs are overcrowded all the time, thus all of you should be outraged.
greekbecky: I have never seen a crowded CL, thus no CL has ever been crowded.
misterchk: how dare you challenge my supreme authority!
greekbecky: you are clearly lying. Because I've never experienced overcrowding, it clearly does not exist!
I liked brightlybob's attempt at civility by actually asking us when and where we experienced overcrowding and by defining overcrowding. Very lawyerly of him!
LOL, no, I'm not that black or white in my thinking. I was just saying that I personally, me, myself have not experienced it. That being said, I'm sure there is crowding at certain places at certain times and that he experienced it, maybe once or twice, but not to the horrific level that he was so desperately trying to convince folks. This is a terrible thing to say, but with his superior, exaggerated sense of Platinum self, the Marriott staff must fight over who gets to drop his burger on the floor a few times before serving it to him. I apologize for that one in advance.
greekbecky, LOL! Consider yourself lucky if he didn't DM you. I got a DM when I refused to divulge my current home city I did tell him...just didn't want to broadcast it to the entire world.
For some reason, the CL at the stately and elegant Westminster Hotels Near London Eye | London Marriott Hotel County Hall is very small and has no windows! And yes, during happy hour, when the hors d'ouevres are being served and the wine is flowing, there is not a vacant seat to be had, unless you arrive right at 5:30 or after the food/bev service closes. When we're in Europe, we rarely dine before 9pm, so a 5:30pm happy hour is entirely too early. Likewise, even though the Morning Library Room is of decent size, if you arrive for breakfast after 8am and especially closer to 9am, you might have to wait to be seated.
The CL at the Hotels In Irvine CA | Irvine Marriott Hotel poses the same issue with breakfast. It too is a small CL. The obvious solution in both cases is to arrive earlier.
The lounge at the JW Marriott in Washington DC was very chaotic last week while I was there. It was often packed with lines of people waiting for food and there was sometimes no place to sit in a clean area. The staff was unable to keep up with the crowd despite obviously working very hard to do so. They would run out of food and it would take some time to replace things, especially desserts later in the evening. On occasion a manager at the door suggested that people come back because the lounge was overcrowded. Other times it was just overcrowded.
One manager I spoke with suggested that the problem occurred whenever there were lots of families visiting DC. On some mornings management did open a substitute lounge off the lobby that had much more room so that worked far better.
One guest I happened talk to told me he had been staying regularly at another Marriott property in DC and decided to try the JW because the lounge at the other property was usually crowded. He was quite surprised that a JW Marriott would have such a chaotic, packed lounge. So was I. The experience was one I wouldn't expect even at Marriott's cheapest brands. I am guessing that Marriott has devalued the program by making more guests gold and platinum and has failed to keep up with the surge in numbers.
The JW lounge is small and needs to be enlarged or moved to a new space, IMO. If this is a recurring problem, someone needs to find a solution.
Good insight, I was there last year for school march break with a grandchild, it is a bit small and is a good candidate for an M lounge. I was able to work around the busy times. A lot of families do descend on DC at march school break as it is the most educational place in the US and it is largely free.
Large families should not be a problem if hotels enforce rules that limit entry to 2 persons per room! If Marriott dooes not enforce its rules, (and many hotels don't do so!) thenthat is the problem.
Also, we who are entitled to CL access should be somewhat careful about letting strangers piggy back upon our entry. We have earned (or pay for) this access why would we we allow others to just take it?
So what we have heard is some CLs are busy at certains times of the day and others at certain times of the year ( ex spring break) and maybe a few many times like some in DC , NYC and San fran but most are not so crowded that yoicant get a seat. It is tough to assume those that are crowded only at certain times of the day or year should increase their capacity. I have been to a couple recently remodeled CL have fewer four person tables and have been replaced by a long center table which can seat more people. I have noticed that people tend not to sit at a table with people they dont know
Just returned home this week from DC and a stay at the JW. Had business in the area and had the family meet me to play tourist for a while over the weekend and and a few days this week. When we checked in the desk told us that the CL had been moved to a meeting area off the lobby for the mornings only Due to the large numbers of families visiting during spring breaks and the peak cherry blossom event. We only went one time during the week, and it certainly was crowded. Food was fine, but a bit chaotic. However I think it was good for the JW to recognize the issue and make accommodations for their gold/platininum members and their families. Good PR. The evenings were back in the CL. Usually mornings in the CL are not overly crowded. Think this was the result of the spring break crowds.
A lot of people complain about not getting their upgrades, but we scored a great one for this trip. As I have mentioned, I usually don't care when I am on business, but occasionally I will request something prior to the trip if I have family or some other reason. I did email and say I would appreciate something due to the family being with me. I received a response and said they would make sure I was accommodated. And was I! Corner room that was oversize with a view to the SW from the corner of 14th & Pennsylvania towards the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin. We were fortunate that were there for the peak bloom day on Friday. Only downside was it was overcast and breezy. Thought about returning on Saturday when it was sunny but didn't after seeing the hoards of people. Will try to post a couple of pictures on a separate post.
eclektech & I experienced some overcrowding in the Concierge Lounge during our most recent stay at the Burbank Marriott. We had a 3 night stay which included two weekend days in early March 2016. I was happy to learn the CL was open on the weekends but disappointed in the overcrowding. Due to a conference at the hotel they were near full capacity and apparently many attendees had access to the lounge. One morning there was no place to sit in the lounge and one of the Lounge attendants then opened up a small conference room across from the lounge so people would have a place to sit and eat their breakfast.
There seemed to be a lot of abuse at this lounge where entire families were ignoring the plus one rule and kids were running around everywhere. Once when I was exiting the lounge a guy who was in the hallway started running to catch the door before it closed so he could get inside. I'm guessing he was not suppose to have access and it really annoyed me that he got in because I had exited the lounge. I'm a big fan of this property but disappointed they allowed such overcrowding and did not enforce the plus one rule.
Excellent description, brightlybob . This is probably the most relevant comment on this thread, since you have clearly stated the problem and given some context. I have not stayed at any hotels that fit in category b and I usually seek discount rates, which assures that heavily booked hotels won't give me a reservation at the requested discounts.
vaboywnder, I think you've summarized things really well. Our overcrowding experiences at the San Diego Marquis seemed to be the result of people (myself included) bringing their kids along which they were not supposed to do without paying an extra $12 per person. Also, I noticed at this particular property that people (mostly groups of 2-4 teenagers or younger adults) were hanging out in the hallway waiting for someone with a key card to access the CL, then they were slipping in behind. I think this is one reason why the front desk and signage is sometimes discreet about the location of the CL and why some properties won't even let people on the CL floor without a special card. Also, the NY Marquis (another overcrowding offender, at least in my experience) has a doorman and a special key card that you have to show him to gain entrance, so I think that's a pretty good indicator that the property recognizes overcrowding is or has been a problem. Similarly, really large properties with multiple towers (i.e. San Diego Marquis) really should have a larger CL or a CL in each tower!
But most properties most of the time are not overcrowded, or overcrowding can be avoided if you have flexibility in your schedule to avoid the crowds. Also, I'm going on record to say I'd rather have access to an overcrowded CL than no CL at all!
I think a lot of this could be alleviated by having a doorman at the CLs like the airline clubs do, but I understand that would increase costs, etc. And even that wouldn't be a guarantee against overcrowding but it might help. I used to have a United Club pass but switched to Admirals Club last year. I was refused entry once at a United Club in O'Hare during a blizzard when UA had a ground hold because the club was already at capacity. I was told that additional guests would violate the fire code which was likely true, and I was directed to a different United Club which was no problem. I've also seen people sneak into one of the Admirals Club at DFW when there were long lines....have no idea if they actually had passes or not. Seems like a design flaw at that particular club because most of those clubs are designed so you can't really get past the front desk without being noticed.
Excellent points clebert ! I do think that those of us who enter the CL legally, should try to be vigilant about preventing piggy backers from coming in behind us.
Also, when lounges are crowded, the hotel should make certain that only people who belong use the CL. It doesn't happen that often and it would not be a burden on those hotels.
I agree phctourist. I was actually very happy about something that happened at West India Quay, London last time we were there. We opened the lounge door using our key card, but noticed someone hanging about near us. So we firmly shut the door once we were in. His key card did not then open the door. The lounge hostess, who we know well from our regular visits, saw us and came over to have a word. In doing so she also saw the guy outside, who indicated to her to open the door. She did so and asked what room he was in. He told her, she looked it up on her screen, and informed him he couldn't use the lounge facilities as he was a Silver Elite, not Gold or Platinum. He protested that he was allowed in lounges elsewhere (who knows the truth of that) but she simply stated very politely that the hotel was very strict and only Golds, Platinums, and those who were staying in a qualifying room were allowed access to the lounge. That gave me an even higher opinion of the hotel.
Awww, Tommo781, your faith in WIQ makes me think I should give it another chance after you keep plugging it so much. For me its either been a view of the DLR or the gravelled interior on the lowest inside facing room in the tower. Repeatedly. Every time.
Apparently the gravel view on the lowest interior room is their idea of an upgrade. It's not mine, hence I stopped staying for my London visits a few years ago.
Even so, the lounge is very good and the views especially so!
Well brightlybob I can only speak as I find. Know what, we have only ever had a quayside view (lounge side at the front of the curve, nowhere near the DLR - you will understand), so the view from the room is as great as the lounge view. But I can understand that a DLR or interior room is not great. I would probably feel the same as you had I ever had one.
But glad you concur about the lounge. As I have said before, it a real draw as far as we are concerned.
phctourist, the thing that bothers me most about the freeloaders is that many CL properties do offer the option of purchasing a room on the CL level if you can't get into the CL by status. Those rooms seem to often be about $50 a night more, so if people who can't get in by status want in, it seems pretty clear that Marriott intends to charge for CL access!
I am not sure how to read your post clebert. Maybe I have got it wrong, but are you saying that people who pay extra for a room with lounge access are freeloaders? I am not being contentious, I really don't know if that is what you mean.
I have to say that I have had paid for a room with lounge access in the past when I couldn't get in by status. But I paid for a suite, which automatically had lounge access. I have also had the same room type in the same hotel when I have been Gold.
Ah! I suddenly think I have got it. You mean that the people who try to freeload by tailgating at the door could have legitimate lounge access if they just paid the extra! Oh, well, sorry I was so dim. I could just delete this post, but as I've typed it, I may as well post it.
clebert I don't see those who pay for access as free loaders. I actually discovered the CL when I was Silver and I sometimes spent money to upgrade. I definitely do not see that as freeloading. A freeloader is someone who gets something that they are not entitled to without paying for it.
phctourist, I agree with you and Tommo781. Anyone with gold or platinum status OR those who pay for CL level rooms should be able to get in with their room keys and should be entitled to CL access. In those cases, there would be no need to sneak in behind someone else. The people who are sneaking in should be using their own room keys if they are truly entitled to access. Or if their room keys don't work and are supposed to work, then they should contact the front desk to fix the problem rather than just sneaking in behind someone else. I have had a couple of instances where my room key actually did not work when it was supposed to, so I realize those types of things happen.
Thanks so much to all those that have contributed so far. It's really good to get actual properties and instances of overcrowding. It would seem that overcrowding is no unicorn, but it's quite possible to spend hundreds of nights at FS Marriotts without experiencing it. Broadly where it does occur tends to be in 2 types of instances:
a) Where the lounge really is too small for the hotel, London's County Hall and NYC Marquis seem to be 2 prime examples of this; or
b) During certain conference type events bringing an unusual concentration of Gold and Plat road warriors to the same hotel and CL on the same day.
Although those hotels falling in category A do try to restrict entry to the elite plus one rule, those in the second category don't seem to which only exacerbates the problem...
The London Marriott Park Lane had a very small CL. It was located just inside the main entrance. I almost wonder if the regular lounge was under refurb..but if not, this teenie weenie lounge was at capacity during my stay. I'm an early bird and can only guess that it would be bulging at the seams during normal breakfast hours.
Domestically, the Melville Marriott (Long Island, NY) gets overcrowded.
After having 4 consecutive stays at Marriott properties during the month of March in which the concierge lounges either offered free alcohol or an honor bar. I'm surprised Marriott does not have an over 21 rule for the lounges. I witnessed many lounge attendants who were under the drinking age. I didn't see anyone of them drinking but I'm surprised minors are allowed into lounges where patrons can serve themselves. This seems like a liability issue to me.
I witnessed a group of teenagers, which appeared to be unsupervised, sitting together in a group one evening at one of the lounges. I'm sure none of them would have Gold/Plat status but perhaps one of their parents did..which made me wonder why Marriott doesn't have an over 21 rule since the same lounge had a honor bar.
You found a lounge that was serving free booze in USA?
I have seen adults steal beer from the honour bar, but not younger people. I would not agree with an under 21 age limit in a Cl anymore than the main restaurant. There already is a guardian must accompany rule in the ToC's as you will not find any Gold/Plat people under the age of majority as they can not rent a room in the USA. I think that there is a very low probability that a minor could sneak a drink, in a CL as my experience is the staff watch the honour bar pretty closely.
Now the RI mix may be a different story.
peymanagement, JW Chicago used to have complimentary beer and wine, but I'm not sure that is true anymore. Or perhaps they were bringing it to me, and I was supposed to be paying them but I was too dense to understand and they were too polite to say anything
I've yet to encounter a crowded lounge, to say nothing of overcrowded. I tend to be one of the first in line for breakfast. On occasion, I've had to grab breakfast at Waffle House because I left before the CL opened.
Frequently the evening fare hasn't been all that enticing, so I often grab dinner and stop back to see if any of the desserts are appealing. I'm sure some lounges do get overcrowded. I've just never seen it. Of course, I've never seen Bigfoot either.
Hmmmmm, bejacob, I certainly think your "up and out" by 6am travel habit might be the reason why you're not seeing much lounge overcrowding, I suspect there's not that much highway overcrowding at that time too
Most likely. I prefer to avoid crowds and traffic.
On our trip in south Texas, I don't expect to encounter either, so getting out the door before sunrise won't be necessary. When on my own, I often plan 8, 9, or even 10 hours of driving. For us, even the longest day (Corpus Christi to Harlingen) is under 7 hours allowing for a later start and time to explore. We'll still cover a lot of territory, but at a pace that I think will please you. From Harlingen to San Antonio, I'm looking at 5 1/2 hours on the road meaning we'll have time to see the sights and stop for a beer. Seems to me that ought to trigger a reply of "Mmmmm beer."
I'm planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains this summer and I found quite a few hotels that are cat 5 or under under. I realize that this is not NYC, LA, sf or Boston, but there are quite a few locations where these certificates are usable. Most people do not travel only to major cities.
That being said, I still wish that the certificates could be made upgradable for cash or points.