There’s something very exciting about staying in a boutique hotel….a hotel that can’t be found anywhere else and, typically, adds more personal guest service in a priceless location.
MY HYATT EXPERIENCES
I love Hyatt but one of their biggest weaknesses is that they have a much smaller global footprint compared to their competitors.
However, recently, Hyatt determined that they wanted to take a dip (pun intended) in the amazing infinity pools of some of the world’s best boutique hotels by establishing a partnership with another hotel group called Small Luxury Hotels (SLH).
IT GETS BETTER…
Hyatt members can earn and redeem points at participating SLH boutique properties. Additionally, if Hyatt members book SLH properties through Hyatt directly, you will enjoy the additional membership perks:
- Complimentary wifi
- Daily complimentary continental breakfast
- Room Upgrade (one category at check-in, if available)
- Early check-in (12:00PM, based on availability at check-in)
- Late check-out (2:00PM, based on availability at check-in)
SLH properties, typically (and understandably) cost $$$! Again, they are often located in unique locations where you will not find big brands so they offer a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
MY BETSY EXPERIENCE
My wife and I decided the highly awarded, prime beach-front location of The Betsy would be a good starting point. I was excited because Chase points INSTANTLY transfer to Hyatt so booking this property was seamless.
For the night I was staying, the prices were STARTING at $1389/night. Ouch! But if you have Chase (or Hyatt) points, you can simply redeem 25,000.
We would only be staying the weekend and unfortunately (or fortunately), we were only able to redeem points for Friday as The Betsy was sold out, both, Saturday and Sunday.
I knew that we would be arriving at the hotel around the early check-in time (noon), so I contacted the hotel to inquire if we could, possibly, check-in early because having a toddler in-hand and not having a timeline can spell disaster.
“Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee early check-in” they responded.
I wasn’t too worried because I understand the earlier I arrive, the more likely they are to NOT have a room available but what are the chances that they wound’t have 1 room available?
Well, we arrived at the hotel at 12:30pm and was greeted rather coldly by the front-desk attendant stating that they did “not have any rooms available but, perhaps, soon.”
He instructed us to sit on the couches in the lobby and he would assist us as soon as a room was available.
This is where it all went downhill! We sat in the lobby until nearly 3:00pm. You’re probably asking yourself “why didn’t you approach the front desk for updates? Ask if any rooms are available!” Trust me, I did! And they said “nothing was available.”
At 3:00pm, the hotel concierge (who sits at a desk in the lobby) approached us and asked if they had checked us in yet because he saw us when we initially arrived at the hotel.
“Not yet. He said nothing was available.” I replied.
The concierge approached the front desk, spoke to the attendant, and surprisingly a room was available.
I won’t speculate why I think action was (or was not) taking place but the check-in process had already set the tone for the remainder of the stay.
Despite the “unique” welcome, let’s talk about the hotel. As you enter the hotel, the lobby has a restaurant to the left, and a bar and many comfortable couches to the right…
We were upgraded to this extremely spacious room on the ground floor (more on that below)…
The bedroom was connected to the small living room by a hallway.
The bedroom also overlook one of the the hotel swimming pools…
The bathroom was large and furnished with Malin + Goetz products…
I appreciated the small, interior design details that were added to the room (e.g. the seashell bookend, countless books to read, real flowers in the room, and splashes of color throughout the room supporting the tropical theme). Additionally, there was a library on the top floor in you’re REALLY a bookworm. 🤓
So, let’s talk about the details…when the concierge returned and said he had a room available, he also mentioned that he had upgraded us to another room.
Do you remember the “benefits” that I listed at the beginning of this article? An upgrade is guaranteed (if available). Obviously the upgrade was available because we were just upgraded…but why were we not upgraded in the beginning!?
At this point, I had been entertaining / distracting a toddler for 3 hours to prevent an emotional breakdown so I wasn’t in the mood to debate with the concierge or front desk.
We spent the remainder of the evening on the beach.
The next morning, we were running a bit behind schedule (per the usual with a toddler). Again, we called to the front desk to inquire if we could request late check out (2pm) and they responded that they could “only extend it to noon.” 🙄
We were checking into another Hyatt hotel two blocks away so we decided to abandon The Betsy before it got any worse and check-in at the other Hyatt.
As we were checking out, I remembered that the Hyatt website mentioned complimentary breakfast. I approached the front desk to confirm that we received this benefit and no one could confirm if we did (or did not) receive the benefit. At this point, I showed the staff this helpful graph (below) found on Hyatt.com and they replied they would have to send an email to corporate to confirm. 🙄
Please take note of the late checkout time…2pm for everyone! 🙄
We decided to have breakfast at The Betsy anyway. The menu had a lot of options that could be modified which is important for someone like me. My wife had the Crispy Grouper Tacos and I had the Organic Oatmeal & fresh fruit for brunch. They were both delicious.
On a scale of 1-10…
- Location Score – 10 – If you want to be on South Beach, it doesn’t get much more central than this. This hotel sits in the heart of South Beach on Ocean Drive!
- Check-In Score – 5 – Did you read the story? Sorry, I can’t give it more than a 5.
- Service Score – 3 – Unfortunately, this is where the hotel was lacking. The front desk attendant was curt and cold. If anyone should be nice and inviting, it should be the front desk attendant. As we sat in the lobby for 3 hours, I could not help but notice the “vulture mentality” the staff exhibited. When staff noticed that a guest was tipping, they opened doors, insisted on delivering the bags to their room, went out of the way to summon taxi’s, took reservations for dinner, etc. There were times when 4 or 5 staff were, literally, surrounding a guest. Can you guess how many staff jumped to open the front door when a young family with a baby stroller were entering the building? 🙄R
- Vibe Score – 9 – With the all white, shuttered windowpanes, contemporary design, quiet hallways, and abundant reading material, The Betsy, genuinely, feels like you are staying at a friends beachfront home.
- Restaurant / Food Score – 8 – The hotel had a bar and restaurant in the lobby, and an associated pizza shop and a gelato stand on the premises. They also had ample seats/tables outside in the front of the hotel so guests could enjoy food from the restaurant while enjoying the weather.
- Amenities Score – 5 – Two outdoor pools, complimentary wifi, and and a library on the top floor. You could stay within the confines of this hotel and be satisfied. However, there is also a $40 resort fee. Note: The resort fee is note applied if you redeemed points for your stay.
- Check-Out Score – 3 – There was not one single person that knew if we received complimentary breakfast. I thought to myself “You (The Betsy) are more than 3 months into this partnership. I find it hard to believe that I am the first person to ask about this.”
Overall, I would give The Betsy a 6.
For the most part, I haven’t stayed at many boutique hotels. I tend to be a creature of habit and enjoy knowing EXACTLY what I’m going to receive for my money. Although, I am disappointed with my stay at The Betsy, this experience didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for SLH hotels.
Additionally, I was able to view the standard rooms and they are very small. I would’ve been beyond frustrated if I had spent ~$1300 for a studio hotel room.
Normally, I wouldn’t have considered SLH properties but this incredible new partnership and the ability to easily utilize chase points will no doubt impact the hotels where I stay in the future. Stay tuned for more SLH reviews.
Were you aware of Hyatt’s new partnership? Have you stayed in a SLH property? What was your experience?