New Westin Grand Central Opens

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by Jimgotkp, Oct 15, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jimgotkp
    Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,834
    Likes Received:
    80,011
    Status Points:
    16,495
    [​IMG]

    On Friday, we posted a photo from a hotel that's just completed a $75 million renovation, though as the empty bookcase suggests, there's still a bit of work to be done re-furnishing the place. Nevertheless, a discerning reader correctly identified the hotel as the Westin Grand Central, formerly the New York Helmsley.

    Westin officially took over the property back in January, though the official opening didn't take place until Friday, when Mayor Bloomberg showed up for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Now, construction is basically over (aside from the lobby restaurant and those empty bookshelves), andthe new Westin is ready for guests.

    The room count remains the same from the Helmsley days (774 rooms), though the good news is that Helmsley rooms always benefitted from being slightly larger than your average New York City hotel room (which is still small compared to other places, but it's all relative). So while size was never an issue, other factors like carpeting, furniture, curtains, etc all definitely were.

    All of the rooms have that trademark Westin 'cool, calm, collected' feel with off-white walls, neutral carpeting, dark furniture, a tan armchair, and sleek, dark wooden headboards. Nothing is meant to pop out or make a splash, and that's kind of the point of Westin. The whole look is very clean and uncluttered. It's a significant improvement on the Helmsley's outdated style, which we remember including some gnarly green carpeting and gold-ish yellow curtains. Yeesh.

    Of course, one of the hotel's best assets—the view—is something Westin didn't even need to touch. If you end up staying here, be sure to ask for a high-up floor, as you can get an interesting perspective on the midtown skyline, plus up-close views of the Chrysler building, as well as ships drifting up and down the East River.

    As for bathrooms, there is some slight wear and tear (obviously, this wasn't a total 100% refurbishment), but still, for the size of the room and the cleanliness, the Westin Grand Central is a huge, huge improvement. We're not sure if you'll necessarily feel "healthier" after staying here, but you'll definitely appreciate the space.

    Rates at the new Westin Grand Central start at $269/night, though the hotel is offering 10% off the best available rate plus free in-room breakfast thru March 31, 2013 as a grand opening special.

    Information from: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2012/10/14/22155/494/hotels/Westin_Grand_Central_Fills_Out_The_Old_New_York_Helmsley
     
  2. tebfunk

    tebfunk Silver Member

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    25
    Status Points:
    130
    I stayed here on Friday night and would generally agree with your assessment. The views are stunning, and the size of the room was nice.

    There were, unfortunately, a lot of missed details for "opening night": 100% of the lampshades were askew, the window was open, the "new" cover plates in the bathroom hadn't been aligned or sealed (the shower plate is just a plastic cover, and was at a 45 degree slant), there was no printed media in the room other than a letter from the management informing us that renovations were still "ongoing", etc.

    The staff was making a valiant effort, but we observed some struggles with processes (ie, check-in was rough, and about 2 minutes after we entered our room the mini-bar attendant came by). Surprisingly, there was zero elite recognition. To be fair, I don't know if they officially switched computer systems as of Friday - that would definitely make things more difficult.

    Small details, and not the end of the world. Just a missed opportunity for a "new" hotel to create some positive buzz - we left feeling very "meh" rather than "wow".
     
    jbcarioca, NYBanker and Jimgotkp like this.
  3. Jimgotkp
    Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,834
    Likes Received:
    80,011
    Status Points:
    16,495
    These weren't my assessments instead they came straight from HotelChatter.com :)
     
    jbcarioca and tebfunk like this.
  4. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Nice to have an SPG property so close to GCT.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  5. Sandy
    Original Member

    Sandy Silver Member

    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    117
    Status Points:
    345
    I'm staying there next week. Will report back.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  6. Sandy
    Original Member

    Sandy Silver Member

    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    117
    Status Points:
    345
    Stayed there for one night over Thanksgiving. Room was a good size and clean. I was assigned a high floor, but not one with the fabulous views I've heard about. Staff seemed a bit overwhelmed, as the hotel was busy, but everyone was very nice. Took a long time at the desk, even in the elite line.

    For me, this location doesn't seem as convenient as others, considering where I tend to be in the city. However, it is a steal for 12K points, considering the other hotels around are mostly category 6.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  7. SFOPeter
    Original Member

    SFOPeter Silver Member

    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    108
    Status Points:
    395
    Stayed there for a night last week. As an SPG Plat they "upgraded" me to a corner room on the 8th floor with no view. According to the exit map on the door the room was the same size as every other room. Fail.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  8. jbcarioca
    Original Member

    jbcarioca Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,507
    Likes Received:
    57,455
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I stayed in this hotel for about three months when it was a Helmsley. I cannot speak to the Westin, but I will say it is not my favorite location. Despite that it is close to everything and the Westin prices so far are less extortionate than are most others in similar status in NYC. I shall try it.
     
  9. joanek
    Original Member

    joanek Silver Member

    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    208
    Status Points:
    445
    I stayed there for 3 nights in October. As I posted on that other site....
    "I'm in the middle of a three night stay---and may not return to this hotel. And my issue may sound trivial to someone who doesn't have allergies to down, but it's a major problem to me.

    Oh, and check in was a mess. I'm a platinum, arrived at 1pm and was told to go stand in front of the Plat/Gold desk--lines were 3 people long at the two open check-ins. When a 3rd line opened, I was waved over to it by the person who appeared to be a manager of some sort...though the actual associate gave in to a guy in the general line who complained he'd been waiting longer than I had. I received an apology from the manager-type, but still ended up waiting about 20 minutes to check in. I'd hate to see it at 3pm.

    The only real issue I had was in trying to get two non-feather pillows in the room, due to allergies to down. I called housekeeping, and 90 minutes later two more feather pillows arrived. The guy carrying them insisted they were foam, even when I showed him the tag that said feathers. Said he'd bring replacements. Another hour passes, and two more feather pillows come up. We go through the same charade. At that point, I call down and ask to speak to a manager. She was appalled and apologized profusely and offered 1k points. She also said she'd call the housekeeping manager and get it straightened out---offering to call me right back after she did. I explained I was going out, but would be happy to just find the other pillows on the bed when I returned.

    I came back after midnight and found (you guessed it) 2 more feather pillows.

    At this point, I was more annoyed at the inept service than anything else. I called downstairs again, reached another manager who listened patiently and told me he'd make sure the general manager heard about this one---and offered me 9k points.
    I told him I'd do without a pillow that night---but to get it straightened out the next day.
    I was out of the hotel from 10am to midnight the next night---returned to still no pillows, but after a call downstairs someone who looked like the head of housekeeping at that time of night showed up with two foam pillows and more apologies.

    I'm very tolerant of the small stuff, but if it takes this much effort to get two non-feather pillows, I'd hate to see what it would take to fix a problem with the AC unit."

    They also don't have bathtubs in any of the refurbished rooms--and they're out of many of the standard king rooms, too. I think it's crazy that a guest has to be downgraded at what is supposed to be a full service hotel in order to get a bathtub. As is taking them out of an entire class of rooms AND to remove them from standard rooms with king beds in many locations.
    All I want is the choice to soak if I want to (and my non-feather pillows, of course). And my conversations with managers at Hyatt, SPG, and Marriott hotels show I'm not alone. I doubt we'll see a change back, but it's nice to know others are complaining, too.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  10. mdtravel

    mdtravel Silver Member

    Messages:
    136
    Likes Received:
    106
    Status Points:
    420
    Well that whole experience stinks...but did you get upgraded to the SPG floor?! :)

    Seriously, how frustrating on something so easy. Send an ee out to buy foam pillows and be done with it already seems like a good management decision for the hotel to have made.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  11. LauraPDX

    LauraPDX Silver Member

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    201
    Status Points:
    395
    Has anyone stayed here lately? we have 5 nights booked over thanksgiving for my husband and I plus 2 students joining us from their various schools for the stay (booked a double-double on points and hoping it will suffice as we plan to be out much of the time).
     
    jbcarioca and canucklehead like this.
  12. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    I was there in June. Anything specific you would like to know?
     
    jbcarioca and LauraPDX like this.
  13. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

    Messages:
    4,516
    Likes Received:
    8,754
    Status Points:
    7,270
    I've stayed there twice in the past 60 days. The rooms are nicely appointed and sizable by NYC standards. Mixture of good and indifferent service and a lack of clarity on upgrades. Based on the category, a decent redemption price.
     
    jbcarioca and LauraPDX like this.
  14. LauraPDX

    LauraPDX Silver Member

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    201
    Status Points:
    395
    I did choose it for the redemption value, as I more or less depleted my stash of points for this stay (as well as the relatively central location in case the various flights are delayed/canceled and the young folks have to make their own way to the hotel. Glad to note there is an express bus from EWR in case we can't meet in the airport as planned to share an Uber car).
    I have the spg gold via my amex card and was hoping that might count for something, but won't hold my breath.
    With 4 of us in a room, I was wondering if they ever upgraded gold members to larger rooms (or even suites) when booked on points?
    Also any good breakfast places etc nearby?
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  15. canucklehead
    Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    Messages:
    5,895
    Likes Received:
    22,059
    Status Points:
    11,070
    Express bus leaves/drops off close by. It starts from the GCT area, stops at Bryant Park and then Port Authority (which is where they collect the remaining folks.) Please note, the bus stop is at 41st st between Lex and Park.

    I was a Platinum and Lifetime Gold and in my 2 stays, I received a slightly larger Deluxe room and a King Corner (no 2 doubles in the corners). Both of these may be upgrade options as the King Corner has a pullout sofa (no idea how comfortable they are - recommend adding the blanket in the closet as extra cushion, just in case!) The King corner was a much quieter room than the Deluxe I received. The second stay was a C+P. I had made a specific request for room in a quieter part directly to the hotel prior to my arrival.

    Overall, the service and staff is average but impersonal (including Management), so I was not wowed. Lobby area is small, so if there are a few folks waiting to check-in, it can take a while. Nevertheless, it is cheaper than the other SPGs in the area because it is a little more walk from tourist sites. A lot of business folks when I was there.

    The in-hotel restaurant LCL is a bit overpriced, though the selection was nice enough. There are local breakfast diners near GCT, as well as small chain takeout places like Pret a Manger on the block. A few diners dot Lexington south of 42nd. Pershing Sq cafe is across from GCT and has a nice breakfast, though can be busy. Overall, the food fare is decent in the area. There is a Five Guys nearby if you have a hankering for burgers! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
    LauraPDX and jbcarioca like this.

Share This Page