Andaz Fifth Avenue NYC

Discussion in 'Hyatt | Gold Passport' started by gleff, Feb 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    The Andaz 5th Avenue is a bit of an enigma, I think the property is widely misunderstood and expectations were certainly high when I went about six weeks ago. It opened only late summer and many of the reviews were lukewarm or negative.

    It’s not an inexpensive property, but it’s not an expensive property by New York standards either. It not ultra-hip trying to be cool W, but it’s still sleek and fun.
    And it’s a new brand trying to get out all of the kinks, there aren’t a whole lot of Andaz properties such that they’ve figured out exactly who their customers are (as opposed to what market research tells them to expect) and how those customers’ needs actually match pre-planning.

    So lots of misses being reported at the outset: people who feel like it’s not their style, trying to be hip when they’re not.. people who expect a true luxury property at prices perhaps half of what you’d pay at the Peninsula (or even less). Families on several-night stays who like the value proposition of free soft drinks (in the library downstairs and from the minibar), free snacks (albeit just a bag of chips, granola bar, and a chocolate bar), and free internet… who find that it’s more of an adult-oriented hotel, lighting tends towards dim, and rooms without chests of drawers aren’t really geared towards long stays.

    So when folks pull up, don’t see clear signage from a hotel that’s trying to be extremely understated and walk inside to find that staff aren’t wearing uniforms.. their expectations clash with realiy, even when it’s a nice reality. And I rather assume that the ‘new concept’ meant that even the staff and management were trying to figure it out so execution wasn’t always at 100%.

    As for me I’m rather glad I waited a few months before trying out the hotel, because what I found pleased me a great deal. It isn’t Trump or the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, but it is much more modern, a much better price-value combination, and a generally all-around good hotel experience at least in my one stay so far.

    As a Hyatt Diamond I was upgraded to an “Extra Large King” with view of the New York Public Liberary front entrance. The view I could take or leave, not a real selling point, but the room was extremely large by New York standards and the bathroom exceptionally spacious. It wasn’t a suite, as I might get with status at the Intercontinental Barclay, but it more than met my needs. And it’s much bigger than anything I’ve seen at the W New York or the Grand Hyatt. It was certainly comparable to my mainstay Junior Suite at the Parker Meridien.

    The staff was friendlier, and the service across-the-board more responsive and helpful, than at any of those properties.

    The hotel provides free internet to everyone, so that Diamond benefit wasn’t useful here. They also provide free non-alcoholic minibar. And drinks are abundant throughout the property, there’s 24 hour soft drinks including quite decent coffee in the library as well as unlimited waters, there’s even a complimentary shelf full of water in the gym. I appreciate that.

    Diamond benefits are still nice, they offer a $15 food and beverage credit or entertainment credit or the standard points as welcome amenity (no big deal). But the nicest perk is breakfast — not a dollar credit to spend (as often the case at a property sans lounge), but unlimited ordering for breakfast in the restaurant or from room service.

    We checked in at 11:30am without difficulty. The place is a bit non-obvious. It has a 5th Avenue address without clear hotel signage, and the actual entrance is around the corner with no sign above the doors. The hotel staff do not wear uniforms obvious to a first time guest, but they do a good job of realizing who is walking in for the first time (that bewildered ‘did I finally find it?’ look is a dead giveaway). They also do a pretty good job of remembering names and greeting guests they see throughout their stay.

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    We were guided to the library for checkin where we were offered something to drink, well worth accepting because our concierge disappeared for several minutes with my credit card while handling our checkin.

    • [​IMG]
    Our concierge brought us upstairs to our room, we made it to the hallway and the directional signs from the elevators are subway themed (with ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown’ directions) and have murals on the walls as though in a subway.

    Or concierge showed us the elevator key cards and the doors where you don’t insert your key but hold it up to the lock (similar to what we had at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai). Upon leaving us, he gave us his card with his name and the concierge phone number printed on it and instructions to either call or text any requests.

    The view from the room was of the New York Public Library. The room itself has high ceilings. Quite thoughtfully there are plenty of electric outlets. The lights do take time to figure out, many folks have complained that the lights aren’t bright enough but I only found that to be the case in the bathroom (my wife says it would be impossible to apply makeup). There’s no dresser drawer, but there is a drawer with each nightstand. And there’s a glass closet with hangers. The set up is perfect for a night or two, and especially travling solo. It’s not really designed for nesting, unpacking a suitcase for a longer stay.





    The bathroom is both stylish and large and the shower is ginormous, but the water temperature – while offering good pressure — didn’t get especially hot except at the max temperature setting (and then a bit too hot, very difficult to adjust and keep just right). I did notice the lack of storage space and feature taking priority over design, there was no ‘backup’ roll of toilet paper (was it at a W I stayed in recently where the extra roll was labeled “backup plan” ..?).

    • [​IMG]

    • [​IMG]
    The gym is downstairs, small (but in separate ‘sections’ and with mirrors appears much larger at first glance). Well equipped, no press machines but weights and treadmills and headphones to borrow.

    • [​IMG]
    Turndown service was provided, which meant that the bed was adorned with an extra pillow and the blackout shades drawn. No chocolates or bedside water (though unnecessary perhaps with both provided complimentary with the mini-bar)

    Breakfast in the morning was a real highlight. First I ordered up a pot of coffee when first getting up (5:30am or so), and then called back later for an actual breakfast order. All of the food was really quite good, certainly well above average in quality, and both orders were taken off the bill automatically without my prompting.



    The room service menu as well was interesting, with most offerings customizable — they have meats, sauces, toppings, and whether you’re ordering a salad, a sandwich, or an entrée you can mix and match ingredients and cooking styles to your liking. I didn’t test out the concept, and of course execution is what’s key, although the idea certainly appeals. The items are available anyway, why shouldn’t the hotel be able to manage to arrange them in the most appealing manner?

    On the morning of checkout I tested out the concierge texting feature, I asked for late checkout and 10 minutes later I had a reply saying that it was handled. It’s a brilliant idea, work with them whether you’re in the hotel or not and in a way that people have become increasingly used to communicating. But the execution isn’t all there yet, I asked about cable news channels as the TV guidance didn’t seem to match channel numbers. I got a reply, but this time it took 47 minutes to hear back.

    The hotel offers online checkout, but I didn’t use it because I didn’t want to chance missing out on the departure gift, at least to see what it was. I was presented with a choice of lollie pop, lip balm, or breath mints. At their strong suggestion I chose the lip balm.

    All in all I really enjoyed the property. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but the real proof in my opinion is that I've got a booking there again for next month.
     
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  2. FriendlySkies
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    FriendlySkies Gold Member

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    Reminds me of the Andaz Liverpool Street. If it was not for my iPhone and the pics that I saw on FT, I would not have known where to enter the hotel.
     
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  3. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    Departure gift? Is that a Diamond thing? An Andaz thing? I've checked out of Andaz Wall St a few times already and can't recall ever being offered anything at that point - other than whether I wanted my bill printed or emailed to me (I like the 'both' option)
     
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  4. FriendlySkies
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    FriendlySkies Gold Member

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    Now that you mention it, I did not receive a departure gift from the Andaz Liverpool St.. I got a nice envelope with the bill, but nothing else.
     
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  5. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Pretty sure it's an Andaz 5th Avenue thing, unrelated to status.
     
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  6. RichardInSF
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    Apparently the departure gift is more of a "sometime" thing. I wasn't offered one when I checked out. Nor did I find any of the staff particularly helpful. None of the front desk staff ever remembered my name. And all those free drinks -- better know how to get them on your own, because they certainly didn't offer anything to me other than at check-in.

    For that and a large number of additional reasons, I won't be back again. That's because even if service does improve, the physical plant problems won't. I can add that while the Grand Hyatt is by no means a luxury hotel, I did not experience what gleff did -- my room at the Andaz 5th Ave was smaller than ANY room the GH has ever put me in.
     
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  7. Pegasus
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    I think so as it's being an Andaz 5th thing.


    Also during our stay, we had an early flight and ordered room service breakfast and asked for the pastries items packed in a brown bag and was gracefully accommodated. We left the hotel around 5AM and our host remembered to offer our departure gift.
     
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  8. Brit
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    Brit Gold Member

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    gleff, great report. Glad you posted a picture of the hotel, as I will be attending the NYC program and I think it is here, correct?
     
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  9. doodley
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    My experience here over 5 stays is that they won't proactively upgrade Diamond members to the "best room in category." First 2 times were FFN, and I was placed in a standard King (322 sq ft). Next time I booked on a revenue rate, and was only told that I was being upgraded to an Large King after having to wait 45+ minutes during check-in at 5pm. After that, I tried applying a suite upgrade certificate, only to find that it was only confirmed into a Large Loft (versus the Splash Suite I was blocked into when booking the reservation). The most recent occasion, I was finally able to use the suite upgrade certificate for a Splash Suite after speaking to the hotel about my dissatisfaction over the previous 4 stays.

    The rooms are wonderful and spacious by NYC standards, but the consistently stingy upgrade experience for Diamond members has left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth. Attached: standalone tub in the Splash Suite with a view of the Empire State Building.

    Andaz Fifth Avenue Splash Suite - Tub and Empire State Building.JPG
     
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  10. sealiz
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    sealiz Silver Member

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    Is this post a duplicate of a previous one on your blog gleff? I feel like I read this before or is this from this past weekend? I didn't have high expectations, but this place was one of the worst Hyatt properties I have ever experienced. Everything that the staff could do wrong they did. It has nothing to do with being "new;" rather, being totally clueless. Even after 3 months I never had a return message from the GM at that property.
     
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  11. yyzgigi
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    Staying here right now and so far I'm pretty happy with the property. The greeting was warm and the welcome glass of wine was appreciated. In the "quiet" back tower in a nice sized king room. The bathroom was reminiscent of a Park Hyatt with top notch amenities. The gym is also very well appointed.

    The Diamond offers of points, free movies, free TV Internet or $15 dining credit were pretty good, when you consider that you've got free wine in the lobby. I'm also looking forward to the breakfast. The lounge at the GH is nice, but the hotel is just too big for my liking. I think this is my new go to NYC property.
     
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  12. ma91pmh
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    ma91pmh Silver Member

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    I have stayed at this one three times now, including an FFN night on what I think was either the first or second night the place was open. I really love the place and would stay here more often except I am too much of a tight-ass and can usually get the W Lex for at least $100 if not more less per night. Anyway the last stay we had here was a weekend just before Christmas where I used an upgrade certificate to get my family (me, Mrs MA and master and miss MA) into a suite. Think we paid around $345 a night. It was the most incredible value I think I've ever had in New York. At the time I did have to do some jigging to get us into the suite. HGP desk was saying upgrade confirms into Loft (which is actually bigger) but not a "real" suite with separate bedroom. The GM has been active on various social media so I emailed him directly and he was able to confirm the "proper" suite.

    To start with the suite was perfect, good size three room (lounge, bed, bath) overlooking Library Way but with a few onto 5th and the Library (so we got the view not the noise). The lounge had a sofa bed, big flat screen, and a table and chairs which was essentially an "extended" version of the desk and chair you get in the standard room, plus a kitchenette with Nespresso machine (love it - we've been Nespresso users for about 6 years now). All good size and spacious. Main bedroom was pretty basic but everything as one would hope. The bathroom was beautiful, but only a shower. Fine for us but just FYI. So, so far we have a great sized suite at $345 a night - last time we were in town we paid $479 for a much smaller junior suite at Parker Meridien so feeling ahead so far.

    The real value comes with the Diamond breakfast. You can get whatever you want and even have it room serviced and it's all in. So every morning we would have a fantastic spread delivered to the room for all four of us and it did not cost a dime. I am thinking this saved us maybe $100-150 a day!

    We really liked the relaxed lobby concept and after ambling around during the day would enjoy having a glass of wine while the kids played on the computers and had some snacks. We also ate at the restaurant for dinner couple of times... all local organic products and while generally very simple plates they were all very enjoyable. We were then on the weekend but had one day spillover into the working week and it was fascinating that on the weekend we had the place virtually to ourselves but for lunch on our last day (working week) we had to wait 20 minutes just to get a seat! Place is clearly popular with the midtown working mob!

    It is also perfectly located right on 5th close to everything. Grand Central is steps away, Bryant Park just behind the library is beautiful, and the shops on 5th are right there.

    This is definitely our go-to place now for family visits to New York. In fact my daughter loved it so much she wrote a letter saying "Thank you Andaz" and handed it to the host on our check out. The host was really quite taken aback! But they really did treat us very well and it's good to say thanks when that happens! As I say I am too tight on my usual business travel where really I am just looking for cleanest cheapest room (so end up staying a lot at places like Element, Four Points or sometimes Andaz WS) but whenever we visit as a family this will be the no-brainer first choice for me.
     
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  13. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Does anyone know if this property ever accepts Hyatt Stay Certificates? Entered some mid-December dates and all it said was no available. Thanks.
     
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  14. AnthroFlyer
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    The breakfast here is definitely a high point, best breakfast I've had at any Hyatt properties
     
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  15. theskyflyer
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    Yes, both Andaz WS and 5th Avenue accept ELITE and INSPIRE stay certificates. Can't help with availability, though...

     
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  16. doc
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    Great report, thanks.
    And yes there are better choices/prices in the area I think.
     
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  17. choth21

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    I've never stayed here because I live in NYC. But I love the Bar Downstairs. It's a great wine bar (although the selection of wines could be a bit wider) with great spanish tapas food. It's a bit expensive, but worth a splurge once in a while
     
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  18. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    For those of us who are lowly Plats (or worse, "dirt" level Gold Passport members), how much does the breakfast buffet run?
     
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  19. doodley
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    doodley Active Member

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    No buffet at the 5th avenue location. The Andaz Wall Street does have a buffet that runs $22 for the cold buffet (which includes all communal dishes) or $26 for the cold + hot buffet, which includes the cold plus one hot a la carte entree. Great value and excellent food for the money.
     
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  20. IDGflygirl
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    Looks liked I lucked out with a reservation for April 20th. Booked it last mth @ $295/nt (wanted to use expiring suite upgrade) & it's now showing as $795 for that night!:eek:
     
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  21. Wurm
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    Thanks for confirming that. The hotel's website has a link for the breakfast menu, however, only the dinner menu is displayed, I did find a summary of the menu on the menupages site:

    http://menupages.com/restaurants/the-shop/menu
     
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  22. Wurm
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    I finished my stay over the weekend and was very pleased with the functional aspects: Excellent, stylish room in the north wing with very comfortable bed; good range of channels on the television; thermostat that quickly responded to changes; bathrobes that actually fit a well-fed person :) The staff was friendly - no attitude whatsoever, so unlike the bimbo/himbo manques that afflict certain North American locations of that single letter chain. ;)

    My only real complaint was that the temperature regulation for the rainforest shower head didn't work properly - the water temp ranged from scalding hot to arctic icy, changing intermittently and without warning. I abandoned the rainforest for the wand, which did not suffer from the temperature swings as much as the rainforest head (the foot bath was a nice touch).

    I ended up not having time to try the breakfast menu at the Shop; however, the black Angus burger from room service was outstanding - perfectly cooked, with the roasted tomato garnish a perfect touch, as was the artisanal bun.

    On checkout, the host recommended the hand sanitizer, but he smiled and allowed me to also take the lollipop, commenting "no one ever takes that one"!

    The location is great for those like me who prefer the airport bus (NYAS) to either the hassles of the subway/AirTrain combo or the expense of taxis or car services: a three block walk to the bus stop, $15 each way to JFK (I think it is $12 to LGA), with your luggage handled and carried in the lower cargo compartment.

    I had a good rate, and will be back whenever pricing allows.

    Edit to add: I was fearful that free Internet would mean slow bandwidth speeds, but such was not the case - I forgot to do a Speedtest.net test, but response rate was very decent.
     
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  23. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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  24. ma91pmh
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    ma91pmh Silver Member

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    Had maybe my 6th or 7th stay or so here last week. Booked under the THRILLIST rate and was not thrilled to learn the rate did not earn stay or point credit. So the 10 other bookings I have under the same rate will now likely be canceled as without it I can get vastly superior pricing at the W Lex. Anyway, no Diamond recognition on check in, no upgrade, given basic room on low (5th) floor. Still like the place, but think I prefer Wall Street for visit when it is just me. I like going down for the glass of wine in the library area, but it's a bit small and closed off compared to the large open reception area at Wall St. Also same finicky problems remain - still can't use the light switches properly, still too dark to shave, still not enough room to hang up a few days worth of clothes.

    The Diamond breakfast is a really strong perk here, though service at the Shop in the morning is pretty slow.

    This place really could be out of the ballpark, but seems content to do just enough, maybe a little less, and let the location and larger than average rooms sell themselves.
     
  25. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Here at the Andaz again, no it isn't the perfect place.
    • Pillows could be better
    • Need more light in the bathrooms
    • Desk chairs aren't comfortable
    • Housekeeping got rid of my box of cookies. :(
    But for the price, in NYC,they have large rooms and a really great value proposition. Even without status, free internet and free nonalcoholic beverages, nice toileteries and nice bathrooms, generally good service at least for New York. Add in Diamond breakfast which can be taken as unlimited room service. And you've got a pretty winning combination for the price when you're paying less than many many other much lesser hotels. It isn't the Plaza but it isn't priced like the Plaza...
     
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