Westin Diplomat Master Thread

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by gleff, Feb 5, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
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    The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa is undoubtedly the best property for Platinum treatment in the Starwood system.

    http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1402
    http://www.diplomatresort.com/

    Now, they're really two different properties which used to be sold as separate hotels but have no been 'combined' even though they're better than a mile away from each other.

    There's the 'beach location' which is what most people think of as the Westin Diplomat resort. And there's separately the 'golf location' which used to be branded as the Diplomat Country club, described as 1.5 miles from the beach. Don't confuse them when booking your room type!

    The property is huge. It's two towers. But what makes it a draw is just how well Platinums are treated here.

    * There are something like 86 suites in the upgrade pool. You won't generally get upgrades to a specialty suite like the 'Governors Suite' [though Starwood Lurker did!] but the typical upgrade is to a corner suite with a wraparound balcony, direct ocean view and depending on your tower you may also have a view of the intra-coastal. With that many suites, upgrades are nearly a gimme. Except for certain peak demand periods like the week between Christmas and New Years, Platinums have come to expect suites here.

    * Suites are such an expected upgraded that the hotel has been known to send out emails in advance to Platinums when there's a chance they won't get them. This practice was controversial as it was misunderstood, folks thought that it was the Diplomat telling them they wouldn't honor the upgrade benefit. When it was really an attempt to manage expectations. Every Platinum expects a suite here every time, and not unreasonably so. So the hotel figured they'd better tell folks in advance there was a good chance it wouldn't happen. I haven't seen these emails recently, but it was certainly innovative, to say 'hey if you really want the suite we figure we'll actually be selling out of them so you may want to buy up or spend more points'.

    * Not all suites are created equal, the Diplomat Suites don't have balconies and there are suites without the premium view, but the bulk of the offerings are those identical suites with wraparound balcony, separate living room and then a small dining area with round table, large bedroom and bathroom.

    The other thing about the property that Platinums really dig on is the club lounge.

    It's on the 33rd floor, it has lovely inside seating and two outside seating areas -- one looking out at the Atlantic ocean, and the other looking out at the intra-coastal waterway.

    Breakfast is a nice experience in the lounge, your typical cold items like cereals and yogurt plus plenty of breads and pastries and also smoked salmon. The coffee is pretty good, as are the juices.

    One thing at breakfast that can be a bit awkward is that you're presented with a $0 check to sign to your room. My sense is that it's a way of hitting you up for tips. On the other hand, they DO actually have staff assisting in the lounge and who will clear plates and sometimes bring items to you as well.

    Evening cocktails are expensive, no free alcohol in the lounge. And evening snacks aren't nearly as generous as they used to be, there's a limited amoutn and once they're gone they're gone. Families will often hit the 'buffet' at the start of evening service and clean it out. I've stopped going to the lounge in the evenings on my recent visits.

    In terms of value for dollar, it's tough to imagine a Platinum doing better than at the Diplomat, at least in the United States.
     
    Traveling Momma, doc and Chris H like this.
  2. Pizzaman
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    One of my favorite US SPG properties. To add a couple of details to Gary's post:

    The property doesn't have wireless internet deployed everywhere yet. A bit of a downer.

    They have a sushi/small plates restaurant off the lobby called Aizia. We enjoyed the food, and the prices weren't too bad by hotel standards.

    There are a couple different types of cabanas outside. Some come with cable TV, a big plus for me if I'm spending an entire day at the pool with family. The cable TV cabanas also maintain a reasonably cool temperature, a good respite from a hot day in the sun. I wouldn't suggest pre-booking cabanas. We've never been unable to get one. And, if you find the pool manager in the morning, he/she will almost always work out a deal for a significantly reduced rate.

    The food and wine pricing at the pool are pretty darn low. A number of decent bottles of wine on the list for $35 or less.

    There's a sports bar across the street on the bay that's a good place to catch a game.
     
  3. tommy777
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    One of my favorite Westin's in north America as well.

    Actually, Aizia is the PF Chang like restaurant and it has moved from next to the lobby bar to across the street adjacent to Rival's, the sports bar.

    BarSu is the place you are thinking of and it has a quite decent happy hour menu from 530 to 730PM

    The sushi menu is not the most exciting I've seen, but it has good food and decent prices
     
  4. Chris H
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    Great review Gary. Thanks!
     
  5. This property stands out.

    We love it. Our kids love it. It is among the best in the SPG world.
     
  6. tommy777
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    I had a one night stay last week at this property, thought I'd share a quick review.

    We were planning to head to the Westin Diplomat as usual for a break from the Chicago winter. Unfortunately, we ended up at the W Fort Lauderdale due to availability at the Diplomat. We had 5 nights at the W first, then headed to the Diplomat for a 1 night stay.

    Arrived at 11AM on Thursday and our room was not ready. Self parking is 20USD and I prefer it over valet, when the hotel is busy it takes forever to get your car.

    Were handed keys to get access to the pool, we just laid there till 130PM when our room was ready. Back at the front desk, we were given a ocean front room, no suites were available. As this was a one night stay, I didn't care.
    The club was closed for refurb for a few days and we were given 3 x 20 USD food vouchers (no alcohol) that could be used at any of the Diplomats restaurants. We were also given 2x15USD vouchers for breakfast.

    The room is pretty spacious, but when you are used to the corner suites, it's quite disappointing. Great view, but a regular Westin room. The wireless internet blows and is only partially available at the property. I called to inquire and they said they don't have wireless in the rooms, but they obviously do as we were on the 30th floor and was offered it, but with a very low signal and it was not the lobby free internet, it was 12.99 (free for Plats). They told me to use the ethernet instead for better quality. If I paid 12.99 for that crap, I would have been disappointed.

    Headed to BarSu, the lobby bar Sushi and small appetizer place. Great for people watching. Lovely mix of conference participants and tourists, a comical sort of meat market. Food is good quality and the prices decent, but the sushi menu is pretty boring.

    We had a couple of drinks and got our entire meal covered by the vouchers provided.

    As we were returning to the cold the next morning, we headed to bed early and got woken up by Harry & David who were having hmmm.... session next door. Have never had any noise issues in the corner suites on previous stays, but it was ridiculously loud and not a good night sleep.

    Internet was on the bill the next morning, but quickly removed. USA Today delivered to the door along with a little resort one pager with deals going on at the property, NY Times is available in the lobby, at the club when open and delivered to your door on request.

    Love the property, but it was noisy. As a Platinum, you are pretty much guaranteed a suite, but we booked late and only one night this time.
     
  7. Thanks to gary for the great description and as someone who has become an annual guest this is my (and my better half's) favorite property. The pool. The suites. The lounge. Nuff said.
     
  8. abk
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    i just spent three nights at the W Fort Lauderdale and one day I drove down to check out the Diplomat as I have read so many nice things about it. I must say that the hotel must be great because the neighborhood did not appear to be anywhere as nice as the Lauderdale beach. In fact it seemed like night and day. I will say my room at the W was absolutely wonderful and I am not sure how the Diplomat would beat it unless you really value the lounge there.
     
  9. tommy777
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    I just stayed at the W myself. Writing a longer review of my 5 night stay at the W Fort Lauderdale

    First, I have a problem figuring out what's nice about the Ft Lauderdale beach. We found one decent restaurant in the area, the beach is pretty tacky. You can head to Las Olas, but within the same driving distance, the Diplomat has many great restaurant options.

    Anyways, I do agree that the suites at the W are pretty nice, but they are smaller than the corner suites at the Diplomat. According to the W website, the fabulous suites are supposed to be 1300 sqft. They are, but with the balcony, which is huge, almost half the size of the actual suite. To get a suite upgrade at the Diplomat as a Platinum is probably as close to guaranteed, the W, not so much.

    The pool area is tiny at the W, the pool itself is about the size of an airport hotels. It also gets shade very early in the day (around 230PM) The Diplomat has multiple pools and the area is huge. The Diplomat also has a private beach, the W does not.

    The service at the W blows. We ordered room service 3 times, once we were promised 35 minutes delivery time. The food arrived after 1:15 and was cold. Lame. Room service at the Diplomat is quick and good.

    Valet is the only parking available at the W and is sloooooow. It's 31.50 per day. The Diplomat has convenient self parking at 20 bucks a day.

    Of course, the lounge with great breakfast is a huge plus at the Diplomat. Awesome balcony up there to enjoy it on.

    The W has hundreds of rooms and gets 5 (!!) NY times daily, so good luck getting one. No gift shop to buy stuff like that in, only the hipster duffus W shop. The Diplomat has plenty.

    Conclusion: If you are looking for some R&R by the pool and in the sun, the Diplomat is your best choice by far. If you are hitting the party scene, the W is a good option

    Going to try to post the review of the W soon
     
  10. Flews
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    I totally agree. The Dip is best in class. Great Plat treatment. But it was my observation the Dip also provides oustanding service for no-Plats as well.

    I will always remember the first time I drove up to the front entrance, to be swarmed by at least half a dozen valet, porters and door-people (they have someone pretty well holding the doors open all day long) literally RUNNING to do their jobs.

    They have set a high standard, even for themselves. Hopefully they can continue to meet it!

    Cheers,

    Flews
     
  11. Chris H
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    Thanks for the review and the following comparison between the 2 properties. Very helpful. I'll look forward to reading your complete review of the W.
     
  12. Mozzarella
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    I can share a story about the Diplomat. Over the last three years, it has definitely has become my favorite hotel (especially for a long weekend getaway). As a plat, I've consistently received a corner suite.

    Last year I booked the second weekend in July - arriving Thursday and leaving Sunday. I was pleased to have a corner suite confirmed even before I got there. I checked in and was (somewhat) disappointed to only get the 8th floor.

    The next morning, I went downstairs to the lobby and couldn't understand why their were so many young women in bathrobes and high heels walking around the lobby area and going out to the pool. I then saw the sign indicating that it was the 2010 Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant! My wife immediately turned to me and (with a smile) said "You knew this was going to happen...didn't you??!!!" I 100% honestly did not....although I'm not sure she believed me.[​IMG]

    The long and short of it was that it was a great weekend. To top it off, Budweiser was a sponsor of the entire event and had a poolside cabana reserved where they were dishing out free beer from Friday to Sunday!

    That, combined with the regular outstanding service, great lounge and fantastic weather made it a weekend to remember!
     
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  13. jeff3380
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    its a fabulous property, but i'll stress what Gary did - on the week between xmas and new years better to stay away. its the only time that i've ever stayed there, but you need to fight for everything. there's a guard on duty checking names at the lounge. there's guards blocking pool access without wristbands. never received an upgrade - not even my uncle who stays about 125 plus nights at starwoods annually. past year didnt have even a room with a balcony - faced the lovely apartments next door.

    so.... stick to the less busy times, and i think everyone else is right. xmas? beware.
     
  14. flyingdawg
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    Are you available to plan a few of my upcoming itineraies? Corner suite, free beer all weekend, and Hooters girls! Let me guess it rained gumdrops and you discovered the fountian of youth too? [​IMG] Some guys get all the breaks.
     
  15. monitor
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    :D :D Every hotel down here is under great strain that week and you are likely to be pleased only in very few of them. That is especially true of the resorts where tourist families soak up all of the services and cause most of the crowding and confusion. We generally try to leave town that week.

    I have stayed once at the Dip and do agree that it is one of the premier Westins. I do not have much to add to the above comments other than, since I used to live across the street from it, I know a few excellent restaurants not far up, on the Hollywood Broadwalk, that are worth a visit.

    Try the French-Caribbean Sugar Reef or Las Brisas, an Argentinian churrascaria both at the Broadwalk and New York. Give yourself some cachet at the former by first stopping on Johnson and Broadwalk to pick up a copy of Le Journal de Montreal but be aware, if you are carrying that paper (and frequently even if you are not , to be prepared for most restaurant checks to come with tips included.
     
  16. bsdstone
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    Couldn't agree more...sad we're going to miss it this year! :-(
     
  17. Wurm
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    One additional factor re: xmas/new years is that the Diplomat usually serves as the host hotel for one of the college teams playing in the Orange Bowl. Some of the pool of suites is most likely blocked off for the university's president, AD, and head coach, league officials, etc.

    Per the country club, apparently the plans to tear down the existing hotel and construct a new hotel and residences is on hold. Given the economic times, it's not unexpected, however, they had started the (complicated) process of getting zoning and other land use proposals, and AFAIK even that process is in abeyance.
     
  18. thegrailer
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    I had a recent stay here and while the hotel itself was great, the service was at best poor [plus there was no upgrade at what appeared to be a non-busy time in early Dec]. In fact, I am still waiting for a someone to tell contact me about the issues during my stay - anyone have the GMs email addy so that I can pursue this?

    The concierge provided inaccurate info. The pool/outdoor area bouncer selectively harassed certain guests for their room card while ignoring others. I watched her behavior for a bit after I was nastily yelped at for my room card and was amazed at her rude attitude towards many of the guests. The kicker for me, however, was on my day of departure, I requested a 4:30 AM wake up call - some of us have to catch a flight and go to work sometimes :(. At approximately midnight, I get a call from a hotel representative looking to confirm my wake up call in 4.5 hours. Needless to say, my day then started at midnight and the lack of sleep made for an extremely difficult day at work. My concerns were relayed to the desk clerk at check out and I was told that someone would look into it and then contact me. Nothing so far. I probably won't be going back to the Diplomat.

    Cheers
     
  19. heakja

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    Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have PM'ed you the e-mail address to the reservation manager.
     
  20. miketown
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    Heading here next week. As a platinum, I'm anxious to see how things will pan out.

    I do think it's interesting how gary's post stats with...
    "The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa is undoubtedly the best property for Platinum treatment in the Starwood system."

    And ends with...
    "In terms of value for dollar, it's tough to imagine a Platinum doing better than at the Diplomat, at least in the United States."

    After a stay at the Westin Chaoyang in Beijing, I think it's tough for a property to beat their upgrades and lounge.
     
  21. monitor
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    It's the off-season. Do you think that they won't be happy to see you? :rolleyes:
     
  22. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Just FYI, I'm about to post a separate thread on this, but the Westin Fort Lauderdale has REALLY stepped up their game in terms of service. Having never stayed at the Diplomat, I can't compare, but the Westin is my absolute, hands-down choice over the W ANY day in FLL.
     
  23. Traveling Momma

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    I'll be staying at the Dip over 12/22 - 12/27 on award nights. We're in a superior room but my parents are on the Club Floor on a revenue booking. Given that there is not likely an upgrade I'm being told I can "buy" Club Access for $75/night when I arrive. Anyone else ever do this? We'll need it because we're going to celebrate Xmas in the Lounge on 12/25 with my folks and our 5 year old. Santa must have a place to put the presents you know.
     
  24. monitor
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    I've only bought club access in Europe and Asia when the status was insufficient or not honored. The Club at the Diplomat is a truly lovely facility and I can understand celebrating an event there. However, do not expect a whole lot of extraordinary F&B offerings there as you might find in clubs at overseas hotels. My impulse would be only to buy access for the one evening's celebration.
     
  25. Pizzaman
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    I have a friend that did exactly this at the Diplomat. If they're only charging you $75 for the group of you that's probably a decent value since they serve a reasonably bountiful breakfast. How many in your party? If it's 4 or more that are getting the lounge for $75 I'd say that was worth it.
     

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