A useful topic but I don't want to get drawn into this other 'points' debate ... so, here is my feedback on the original question ...
We recently spent nearly 4 weeks travelling around the Eastern USA ... GA, SC, NC, VA, TN ... and were upgraded in many of the hotels ... some were MVCI resorts, so they don't qualify for comment. Of the Fairfield Inns that we stayed at, most upgraded us to their version of a Suite ... a sitting area with a TV screened off from the bedroom area with another TV ... very pleasant and much appreciated upgrades but not to the spec of mainstream Marriotts. We also stayed at the Glenn Hotel in Atlanta at the end of our vacation ... one of the Autograph Collection. This hotel was more of what we expect in a niche hotel ... quite small, very personal, modern but tasteful decor. Yes, we were upgraded to a corner suite ... very nice. Unfortunately, they didn't have a Concierge Lounge ... but they did have a very nice Sky Lounge and the bar team made great cocktails.
Our last stay was at the Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel and Spa in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. When I asked about the availability of an upgrade, we were offered a family suite. We decided that we did not need that much room and were very satisfied with our standard room.
P.S. I don't really see how this question could have a "correct answer". It seems to me that every answer would actually be a correct response!
Hi jasper, one of the reasons we turned down the upgrade was that it was on the 16th floor and our original room was on the 20th floor. We really thought the view would be better the higher we were. Plus we really didn't need all the beds that were in that suite. I do agree that it should have been offered, rather than me having to ask. If they had offered me the Presidential Suite on the 23rd floor, right next to the concierge lounge, my answer would have been different...HA!
I know this question was directed at paulp but throught I'd throw in some points as I've stayed at the Blackstone a number of times.
The Blackstone is a historic Chicago hotel and was fully renovated and reopened in 2007. The rooms have a 'boutique' feel to them (well appointed but not extremely large) and the rooms at the front of the hotel have great views overlooking Grant Park and the Chicago Skyline). The top three floors (20 - 23) are club level and are very similar to lower floors but have a few extras - Bose Wave radios, TVs in the bathroom mirrors and in some cases better furnishings.
In terms of location, this could be a bit of a drawback pending on your reason for visiting Chicago. The hotel is a fair bit south which makes it a bit of a walk to the Loop (for business) and shopping (Magnificent Mile). On the other hand, it is very close to the Museum Campus (Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Alder Planetarium), Grant Park, Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
One of my favorite parts of this Hotel is the restaurant - Mercat. This is a Spanish restaurant that has great food, a lively atmosphere and has received a number of strong reviews.
Well, I am beginning to realise that, although I am missing out on Premier status etc., I have done pretty well with suite upgrades! A couple of years ago I spent long periods at the Preston Marriott and the Sprowston Manor Country Club (Norwich) - both in the UK - and was upgraded to a suite virtually every week ... excellent rooms and excellent service ... I didn't have to ask, it was automatic. Both times that we stayed at the JW in Washington DC, we were upgraded automatically ... interestingly, to the same suite both times ... great views over the city. We also got an upgrade at the Fallsview hotel in Niagara ... we took it ... it had a jacuzzi and a screen opened between the bathroom and bedroom that gave views across to the Falls whilst sitting in the tub ... that's probably 'nuff said!
On our annual USA visit, we seem to be very lucky with upgrades ... when the family (4 more adults) came with us for Jazz Fest in New Orleans, the year after Katrina ... they upgraded all three rooms to suites on the concierge floor ... that certainly impressed us! Perhaps it's the USA Marriott Team taking pity on the poor old Brits! ...
I am in Jacksonville FL this week. The Courtyard Butler Blvd specifically. My first trip down, I picked the full service Marriott across the road. I got the "concierge" level "upgrade" there but hmm, yeah that's not an upgrade that's simply where top level elites should be IMHO. I changed to the Courtyard as it was cheaper and I figured the rooms would really be close (they are nicer actually). I have been here 3 weeks now and 2 of the 3 weeks I've been given a 1bd suite upgrade. I have had to ask at the desk if any were available but its worked out. I actually enjoy it as I put my 8hrs in at this client and then grab a bite to eat and head back to work on some other client work. Having the two rooms makes it nicer, I dont feel like I'm working from the bed all night and can actually "retire" to the bed and leave work (and the laptop/phone) in the other room.
The Renaissance Arboretum in Austin Tx is my favorite when I'm in that part of the world. They almost always upgrade me to a fantastic corner suite.
The Marriott in Costa Mesa upgraded me a few weeks of my 4months I was there, sadly though they "sold" their two larger suites to airlines for "club" rooms. The property is all suites anyway so it was nice to have the room but, and this might sound petty, the larger suites are the only rooms where the sofa faces the tv, instead of being perpendicular to it. I just don't like having to sit sideways to watch TV on the sofa.
I'm sure there are others but these are the more memorable of the recent stays I will add though, of these 4 properties, ONLY the Renaissance in Austin ever upgraded me prior to arrival AND they send their virtual concierge emails every time. Its a property that IMHO does everything right, hence the reason I will stay there anytime I'm in Austin, regardless of where in Austin I need to travel to for work.