IC Willard no longer great for RA award stays

Discussion in 'IHG | Rewards Club/Ambassador' started by KLA, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. KLA
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    KLA Silver Member

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    We recently booked an award night at the Intercontinental Willard in DC for New Year’s Eve, after hearing about their amazing treatment of RA’s on paid and award stays. Apparently they have a new GM and new policies, and booking on points makes you a second class citizen.

    At check in the clerk was pleasant and thanked us for being an RA and staying with them on NYE. Couldn't find the reservation at first because it had already been pulled. After that was resolved, we asked if we had been upgrade to a suite. We were told our rate wasn’t eligible for an upgrade, so we asked if our room had a view. Apparently only rooms on Penn Ave have views, and are all suites, so off limits to us.

    At the end of the check in process we were given the typical RA welcome letter that describes all the amenities. The clerk noted the line saying we’d be upgraded based on availability did not apply (because of our room rate).

    Our room wound up being the basic level room, decent size but standard for nice DC properties and with no view to speak of. The usual fruit plate had bananas, plums, apples, etc. There was a box with 4 gourmet chocolates and a small 175ml bottle of “Pop” sparkling wine with one champagne flute. A special feature we discovered later, was when several people sat on the edge of bed the whole thing tilted up several feet in the air.

    The bathroom counter had been renovated, but the shower/bath had older tile. Everything was very clean.

    After trying to call the guest services number mentioned in our letter, we went back down to the front desk to see if they had anything slightly larger or with a better view.

    After some searching the clerk announced "We do have a Willard room on the 3rd floor, but I think the room you have is better. The Willard room is nothing special, just has extra seating and your current room has been refurbished. And, if you want the Willard room there will be an additional charge."

    Even as an RA? Really?

    "Yes, that's our policy. Because you booked on points"

    I then asked when the policy had been changed, and she said that had always been the policy. I then pointed out that many of my RA friends in the past had booked normal rooms on points and been upgraded to suites, and she said it was based on availability. (but she had just told us that a) a better room was available b) there would be an upcharge if we wanted it).

    At this point, the point of the evening had changed from a magical evening at the Willard that I'd long desired to experience, to just wanting to have a nice NYE at any hotel. My bf went out to secure ice to chill our bottle of Dom and after much searching, found the ice machine on our floor. Which didn't work. Fortunately he found one a floor down that did.

    When we returned from dinner, we called guest services to confirm that minibar was complimentary as stated in the welcome letter. After confirming, they called back immediately to negate because we’d booked on points. When we pressed them as to what in our welcome letter was accurate, since upgrades and complimentary bar weren’t, they said they’d call back.

    A few minutes later a different person called to tell us as a show of good faith they would honor the minibar and movie privileges.

    The next morning the TV checkout function didn’t work, but were able to checkout via the phone in a few minutes. Mercifully none of the minibar charges appeared on the bill.

    The Willard is a beautiful property, but I remain a staunch fan of the Park Hyatt in DC, which does an excellent job of recognizing elite status on award and free night stays.
    Wanaflyforless, gleff and CJN like this.
  2. Zinzan
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    Zinzan Active Member

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    Thanks for the report, KLA. That's a shame to hear of their (change in) policy, because I'd planned on booking an award stay there soon. [​IMG]
  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Lame excuse to say just because you used points to book the room, we are now going to devalue your stay. The whole point of loyalty programs is to be able to experience the flight/stay as if it were paid. Would an airline make you stand during you flight because you used miles to book it?
  4. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Apparently a new GM of the hotel and a new policy there. While this USED TO BE a great RA hotel, and I'm not sure how they treat RAs on revenue stays, appears to be quite the unfortunate place for RAs to use points. Especially since Priority Club doesn't even offer the ability to redeem additional points for upgraded rooms as a feature of the program (as Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt all do).
  5. TheBeerHunter
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    TheBeerHunter Silver Member

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    I certainly hope Priority Club will match the competitors and allow upgrading rooms with additional points. That would be a wonderful program addition.

    It's too bad to read about the changes the new GM has brought to the Willard. I would be interested to hear if treatment of RAs on paid stays has also diminished as a result of the staffing change?
  6. Noelene
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    Noelene Silver Member

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    I was at The Willard recently.I booked usin an old BOGO, last weekend in January, cheapest room available, Best Flex w/breakfast for $269 , the 2nd night the rate jumped to over $400, as most will know, using the old BOGO, means you don't have to declare that in advance as with the new booking at the BOGO rate means they can limit u/g. Anyway noticed the u/g was to a newly renovated Willard room, very nice but no view.They did trot out their Australian Guest Relations Manager, which as our stay progressed, was useful.
    She showed us one of her "favourite" rooms which was a corner room with great views and we voluntarily downgraded to it. Bottle of red- Jacobs Creek, and a poor fruit platter.I did mention at check in I might extend our stay another night, thinking the $400+ rate was good use of a Suite Dilemma night.
    Breakfast was pleasant, bed comfy, basically it was an OK stay marred with some problems with the bill, an amount in excess of$4000 was blocked on my CC, took forever to drop off, and the actual bill was double charged!

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