Some of you may have seen my extremely negative post about my experience at the Chicago Marriott Magnificent Mile (the Mile may be magnificent; the hotel is not). I have a theory since Wednesday and Thursday I went to an empty Concierge Lounge in the evening, despite their statement that there would be an hors d'oeuvres period and a dessert period.
No one was there Wednesday night. Maybe three other people. That's when I found out a glass of wine costs exactly the same as it does in the downstairs bars ($9.97); the mixed drinks were closer to $20. The whole time I stayed there, almost no one came in. Unlike the morning staff, the evening staff were not particularly helpful or pleasant. The so-called hors d'oeuvres the first night were a couple of shelves of pre-sliced typical American cheeses; and whatever else I said in my first email. It was quite forgettable. The second night, which I'll detail more thoroughly, there were dried up Bratwursts, and oh yes, the Minnesota Rice soup (that was actually the best of the appetizers) and some celery and carrot sticks. Again, there was no one else there, and it's a HUGE CL. Besides my history conference (thousands of people spread between the conference hotel), there were musicians' conferences, academic economists' conferences, and also things I saw in the elevator that included major CEOs. In other words, there were a lot of people staying at downtown hotels and the two nights I could go to the CL it was virtually empty, including Friday night.
Since no one was there, and since I was president of an organization, I asked several of my senior colleagues to join me. The staff said NO PROBLEM (there were seven of us). Trust me, we were not taking space from PP or P or G members. I bought drinks for everyone over the course of a couple of hours, which amounted to about $150.
MY THEORY: The CLs that still exist in the US IF the Chicago Marriott Downtown is representative, are starting to sell themselves like new airline fees -- anyone can use them, but you pay through the nose. They were delighted to have me bring all those non-Marriott members into their empty lounge. Moreover, after my colleagues tried some of the 'free food' they didn't go back for seconds. The dessert was slightly better, but if I hadn't been paying for everyone's drinks, I would have been embarrassed to say I was a Marriott elite member.
So my question is are more and more US Marriotts (at which thankfully I seldom stay) going to follow this route and make it open to any amount of guests of guests as long as they can make a huge profit out of it like the airlines are doing with all kinds of fees.
Fortunately, all my Delta flights were perfect. Upgrades to first class on all four legs, even if that doesn't mean too much on relatively short domestic flights. Still, the treatment you get from Delta is something Marriott needs to learn. When I handed in my ticket at boarding on all four legs (though going home through Chicago wasn't as good as the rest, but Detroit has it perfected), I was greeted by name, thanked for being a Platinum Plus Elite member, and greeted once again by the flight attendants by name, even on a regional carrier that had first class.
Marriott must get its act together. For the most part, abroad, the Marriott name means quality. It no longer does at home and I'm going to go with those folks talking about Hyatt breakfasts for the few times I stay at hotels in the US.
What a scathing review...Marriott should be ashamed of this treatment. If I got treated like you did, I would have spoke directly to the GM about my concerns, let him/her know that I would be providing a terrible review as a PP on Insiders and on other travel sights. I expect to be travelling to Chicago in 2012 and I can assure you I will not be stating at this hotel!!! These kind of reviews surely will result in some of us supposedly Marriott Warriors to not stay here...I hope the Marriott Insiders are listening here and report back to the non magnificent Chicago Marriott Magnificent mile hotel, because I would expect they will be losing a lot of the Insider's business!!!
I would have done so -- or even more strongly changed hotels -- except that I had not one moment to myself till I got on the planes today (and about 3 hrs. sleep every night, though I won't blame that on the hotel). Still, there is an expectation that must be met or we are no longer going to be Marriott members. I've been especially interested in the posts on how things have changed recently because of economic decisions by Marriott about breakfast and CL. Now those are truly scathing, and I agree wholeheartedly.
Probably why I am mostly a happy traveler is that I stay at Marriotts outside the US. That is one VERY sad commentary.
The lounge staff in the morning was very helpful to me at the AHA conference Professor. I asked for some specific items and they brought it to me at no cost. Friends of mine met me in the lounge Thursday night...... we stayed for hours because it was peaceful and quiet. Lucky for us we are coffee drinkers!!!
LOL txnroses! Yes, indeed, lucky you were being coffee drinkers. I only drink wine, which has always been free and limitless abroad but the people I brought in with me liked the hard stuff. We probably saw it each other and didn't know it Thursday night since hardly anyone else was there.
And Jerry, it clearly isn't you!
SS, that is exactly my point. I think they're calling it a privilege and making it into a huge empty meeting room with almost no tangible benefits (except the good breakfast the days it was open).
I have had mixed experiences as well. I recently stayed at the Walnut Creek Marriott, and enjoyed the CL breakfast as well as evening hors d'oeuvres. At this particular location, drinks were free in the evening lest a tip to the bartender. Staffing was good and friendly and really made me value the CL. Excited about my experience here, I booked the Salt Lake City Marriott (City Center) with the same expectations. Only notable difference was a fee for alcohol and slightly lower-quality food. I had originally attributed the "no free booze" to the whole SLC/Mormon thing, but I guess others are experiencing it in different areas. Bummer. It was really nice to enjoy an evening cocktail on Marriott.