Unlike my usual plan-ahead strategy for hotels, I needed to book a one-night stay in Los Angeles in the same way that Wandering Aramean often does – the day prior to arrival. After looking at pricing for hotels in the area I settled on The Concourse Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport, which is in the process of becoming a Hyatt Regency. The rate was right at $100, plus it would count as a stay towards Elite re qualification. Once I arrived at LAX Airport I crossed over to the center island and stood under a red lit-up sign signifying hotel shuttles. I have a strong dislike for hotel shuttles. Never do they seem to arrive quickly, but I was in luck. Less than a 5 minute wait and the grape colored shuttle arrived with plenty of room to take on more passengers. This was a great way to start the stay.
After a short drive the shuttle pulled into a large parking garage and stopped without fanfare. Were we there? Some people looked unsure and stayed seated but others got off and I followed suit. Up ahead I could see the hotel so I made my way there. Once I was just outside the doors, I saw a car swing around in the drop off circle and wondered why the shuttle hadn’t just stopped in front of the hotel.
There were two check-in lanes and I quickly got in the one for Platinum & Diamond guests. There was just one person behind the check-in desk with one guy in front of me in line but several in the regular check-in line. The host properly gestured for me to come over next after he had finished with the guy in front of me, and greeted me warmly albeit fast due to the line. After getting payment handled, I asked what sort of room I have been assigned as he gave me a key and gestured towards the elevators. He replied that it was a standard room, as there were no Deluxe rooms or Suites available. I was fine with that and as nothing else was said he moved on to the next guest and I went to the elevator to zip up to the room on the 10th floor.
Getting off the elevator, I looked at the floor wondered if they were going to change the carpeting when it officially became a Hyatt Regency. The carpet was old and worn, and the pattern was more “Vegas” than “Airport Hotel”.
Looking at the map on the back of the door, I saw just what the host had meant – every single room looked identical. I snickered at the fact that the sign on the door called the room a suite, as it was clearly a standard room. The carpeting was thin and worn in the room too, and made me want to keep my shoes on.
I went to go check out the view, and turned on a few lights along the way. The tall lamp nearest the window had a switch that had been broken off so even if the bulb had been in working order, there was no way to turn it on. This made that corner of the room darker than I would have liked since it was already late in the evening. The old bedside table nearest the window didn’t have a lamp either.
The view was cool enough for someone who enjoys airports, as it looked out over the lit LAX sign and a runway in the distance.
The room was quite hot so I set my bag down and went to go turn on some air. It had been off, but the temperature controls looked brand new and it was easy to adjust to a lower set point.
The closet was well-sized, but I decided to open up my suitcase on the floor near the bed and unpack. I paused, and tilted my ear upwards. The “air conditioning” now seemed to be pumping out hot air, and it was making a light noise. One of the ceiling tiles looked as if it had been moved recently and there was a discolored area from a previous water leak.
I stood up to go check the thermostat but as I did so, the noise coming from the vent started to make a terrible racket. I went over to the desk phone and pressed the button for front desk. It rang…..and rang…..and rang.
I started counting the rings after about 6, and got all the way to 17 before I hung up. I called guest services, and got 22 rings before deciding it wasn’t worth the wait. It was late at night, I was tired, and I didn’t feel like calling a third time. I went back and turned off the a/c completely. Thankfully I wasn’t there during a heat wave so the room soon settled down to a reasonable temperature.
I went back to unpacking, and looked around for wall outlets to plug in my laptop, phone, etc. There were none on the wall near the bed, and since there was only one bedside lamp I didn’t really want to use that outlet.
In fact, I had difficulty finding one and resorted to using the one on the base of the desk lamp near the window. There was a small fridge so I opened it to keep a juice cold that I’d brought with me. It was warm inside the fridge, so I adjusted the temperature. It soon started making noise so I changed my mind and unplugged the fridge instead. One positive note is that it looked as though the TV was newer.
All set for the night I got into bed and turned out the light. Thanks to the “double-pained” windows (from their website) the noise from the airport was minimal.
The people in the room next to me were a bit loud, having just arrived but they settled down soon and I was able to sleep comfortably enough. The website mentioned pillow-top mattresses but the bed was very soft and the springs seemed old, so I surmised that the hotel would be changing them out soon.
In the morning I woke up warm, since the a/c had been off all night. I went to go take a shower and there was a shower/tub combo with shower curtain and an old shower head that had a few of the spray streams going in wacky positions so if the curtain hadn’t been in place one of the streams would have gone straight out. The water flow was good enough though, and the temperature didn’t fluctuate.
A note on the wall said the shower had a scald guard. Supposedly, if you turned the water temperature too hot it would turn the water flow to a trickle. I couldn’t help trying it out. I twirled the knob all the way to the left (which looked more like a sink handle than a shower lever) and waited. The water heated up, steam rose, and….no change. No trickle, no reduced water flow. Ah well, it was only a test anyhow.
The bathroom had some toiletries laid out nicely, but I could see some things that would need a little fixing up before becoming a proper Hyatt. Rust on the door hinges and peeling wallpaper were just a few items.
There was also a lot of moisture in the bathroom. There was what seemed to be an exhaust fan and a rocker switch to operate it. However, the switch didn’t work at all. I tried tapping both sides pretty hard in case it was just stuck, but to no avail. The exhaust fan remained silent.
I realized that I hadn’t asked about the breakfast option for Diamonds at check-in, and I had only been given a key and no coupons so I tentatively picked up the phone and dialed reception to ask.
Again, 25 rings and I hung up. I finally tried security which thankfully answered and then I had them transfer me over. I was glad to hear that I’d get complimentary breakfast in the restaurant; all I needed to do was stop by the front desk so they could get me set up. I got my belongings together, went downstairs, in the elevator I saw an ad about the hotel’s restaurant, and was looking forward to getting something to eat.
There was just one person behind the desk again and they were taking an exceptionally long time with a guest who was having some sort of issue. I’m a patient person, but after waiting for a long time without a glance in my direction I looked at my watch and realized that between the time I’d spent waiting for someone to pick up the phone and then waiting here at the front desk it just wasn’t worth it. I decided to pass on breakfast and get something at the airport. I walked over to the parking garage and was greeted with a smile by the shuttle driver. Only one other person was aboard, and we pulled out shortly after I got on. My kind of shuttle!
This is without a doubt the only hotel stay I have ever had where I thought that the shuttle was the best part of the stay.
I had thought that the property was already a Hyatt since it earned points and qualified as a stay. In actuality though, the hotel is currently a Hyatt affiliate and will become a Hyatt Regency in 2016.
One thing that will be crucial to their success is improving customer service. Repeatedly not picking up the phone after 20+ rings is not ok, nor is only having one person consistently staff the front desk. Obviously they’ll be changing out the furniture in the rooms, hopefully the carpets and fix the air/electrical. They have the good location going for them and the surprisingly quick shuttle but obviously have some work to do, and I won’t be staying here again until it has been reintroduced as a Hyatt Regency. They are reportedly putting $57 Million into the renovation so when it is rebranded in 2016 the property is expected to be much different.