An Open Letter To Hyatt: Your Toiletry Game Needs Work

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

Dear Hyatt,

Hope you’re doing well! I just got back from a stay at the Grand Hyatt Seattle — and I’ve got to say, fabulous job there, honestly. I’m iffy on most of your domestic Grand Hyatt properties because they tend to be cookie cutter conventioneer factories, but the Grand Hyatt in Seattle is different — it feels like one of the nicer international Grand Hyatt properties. Huge, thoughtfully laid-out rooms. Terrific views. Nice, techie touches — love the bedside shade controls.

Grand Hyatt Seattle View King room overlooking Elliott Bay
Grand Hyatt Seattle View King room overlooking Elliott Bay

Love, love, love the bathrooms. White marble. Spacious. Awesome shower pressure. An enormous soaking tub with one of those high capacity faucets that fills the tub in 2 minutes flat — it feels like a Four Seasons! I almost can’t believe I’m in a Grand Hyatt.

Luxurious bathrooms at the Grand Hyatt Seattle
Luxurious bathrooms at the Grand Hyatt Seattle
Luxurious bathrooms at the Grand Hyatt Seattle
Luxurious bathrooms at the Grand Hyatt Seattle

Dare I say, the Grand Hyatt Seattle feels unabashedly luxurious?

Except for one thing.

The toiletries. The June Jacobs Spa Collection toiletries, to be specific. Now, before I go into particulars, let’s be clear that Ms. Jacobs herself is probably a lovely person. I’ve got no beef with her personally!

June Jacobs Spa Collection toiletries
June Jacobs Spa Collection toiletries

If you read OMAAT, dear Hyatt, you may have seen Ben complain about the June Jacobs toiletries before. And that’s because, I’m very sorry to inform you, but they suck.

June Jacobs Spa Collection toiletries
June Jacobs Spa Collection toiletries

Yes, yes, we here at OMAAT are a bit toiletry-obsessed. But with good reason! Though they might seem like a relatively insignificant line-item on the guestroom budget, a mere afterthought, I can assure you toiletries are not. Rather, they are the “goodies” every traveler looks forward to using and stuffing in their Dopp kit before checking out. Good toiletries are an ambassador for the hotel brand, a measure of goodwill that pays dividends.

You guys do a pretty good job with your Park Hyatts! (Except for the Park Hyatt in Siem Reap, which inexplicably uses June Jacobs.) Andaz knocks it out of the park, too. So how come you fail so miserably with June Jacobs at the Grand Hyatts or, worse, Portico at the Regencies?

I can’t speak for Ben and Tiffany right now, but here’s what I think is wrong with June Jacobs toiletries:

  • The Green Tea scent is vaguely unnatural and not executed in an especially appealing way. I just don’t think it smells very good, to be honest.
  • I’m no dermatologist so I can’t vouch for the product’s actual effectiveness, but I don’t feel “refreshed” after using the June Jacobs products like I do with other products.
  • The packaging is, let’s face it — pretty dowdy. It’s also fairly aggressively feminine in packaging and scent, which is a turnoff for me personally.
  • Who is June Jacobs? Are we supposed to know her? Are we supposed to be impressed by this non-brand?

I know literally zero people who have stayed at Grand Hyatts and mentioned the June Jacobs toiletries in a positive way. (I know several who have made indifferent to disparaging remarks about the product line, though.)

The fix is simple: up your toiletry game, Hyatt. You don’t even necessarily need to spend more money or enter into a new partnership. You guys stock C.O. Bigelow products at several of your New York properties, for instance — that stuff’s great. And it’s fairly middle-market, too — it’s not like I’m asking you to swap out June Jacobs for Hermes or anything.

C.O. Bigelow toiletries at the Hyatt Herald Square in New York
C.O. Bigelow toiletries at the Hyatt Herald Square in New York

Look, just between us, I know you know there are some real stinkers out there sporting the Grand Hyatt label — San Diego, for example (yuck). But there are also some terrific Grand properties out there — Hong Kong, Berlin, and yes, Seattle — why should they be brought down by some third-rate toiletries you got on clearance?

Anyway, thanks for listening, Hyatt — I think C.O. Bigelow would be a terrific brand standard for the Grand Hyatt badge, but perhaps I can open this up to OMAAT readers:

What do you think of the June Jacobs brand? What toiletries would you like to see stocked at Grand Hyatts instead?

Have a great week, Hyatt, and take our advice!

Your loyal Gold Passport member,

  1. Last time we were at Siem Reap 3 months ago, they had Le Labo toiletries, which I presume you have no issue with.

  2. Love C.O. Bigelow stuff – its in the Pullman’s in Europe and I always clear out the bathroom before even getting into bed on the first night!

    I guess there might be some branding limitations on what they can offer where if its already in the US with Hyatt but with another chain (Accor) in Europe?

  3. @ MJC — That’s a big improvement then! They had June Jacobs last summer, even in the suites.

  4. As someone who uses Suave Daily Cleansing Shampoo and Lever 2000 soap, this post is a bit lost on me.

  5. @speedski, it obviously depends on what contracts the various hotel companies have with the amenity providers, but my sense is that rarely is there an exclusive agreement in place. Both Park Hyatts and Fairmonts offer Le Labo, for instance, and I’ve personally seen C.O. Bigelow at independent boutique hotels as well as at Hyatts. My guess is C.O. Bigelow would not have a contractual barrier to such an arrangement for Grand Hyatt in this case.

    Of course, that said, Hyatt may have some sort of contractual agreement with June Jacobs, but I would expect that it’s not an especially long term agreement and that it’s something Hyatt could get out of if it wasn’t boosting their brand.

  6. In fact Grand Hyatt is considered “luxury” due to an ADR of $200. So indeed I think Grand Hyatt guests should deserve better amenities.

  7. Not sure how the packaging is “fairly aggressively feminine”. It’s clear, yellow, and green with a normal font and no sign of florals anywhere. Maybe it’s just me, but that looks like very neutral packaging.

  8. Meh. For the most part, all hotel toiletries suck because hotel supply companies merely license the brand name and the products themselves are cheaply produced. If you look at the ingredient lists of hotel toiletries– even the supposedly better ones like CO Bigelow– you’ll see they are composed almost entirely of synthetic ingredients, with very few natural ingredients or extracts.

  9. I was in Park Hyatt Siem Reap in February and they had Cochine Saigon. They were actually nice.

  10. You know that you’ve run out of things to post about when you’re reduced to writing about soap

  11. @Beatriz: Wow, sounds like the PH Siem Reap is having a bit of an identity crisis. When I was there in 2014 they had June Jacobs but the manager said Le Labo was forthcoming but was still in development as it was a scent “unique to the hotel.” So then they got Le Labo… and then they seems to quickly pivot to Cochine Saigon (which is a great brand, btw)?

  12. I love the scent of the June Jacobs (I am feminine, though i.e. female), but I don’t feel taut the shampoo and, especially, conditioner feel effective.
    The one that gets me is the very nice Hyatts that have the KennetMD, like the Hyatt Key West. The rate was over $900/night when we were there (though it was New Years), and you still get the same toiletries as a Hyatt Place at the side of the interstate. Now, Hyatt Place is usually the best hotel at the side of the interstate, but if I’m on a special trip to a resort, I want the toiletries to be at least slightly special.

  13. Wow, I never even notice what brand of toiletries the hotels are giving away. I just reach for the bottle that says “shampoo” and squirt the contents onto my head. My beef with Hyatt is different: I just wish Hyatt would get rid of those minibar refrigerator sensors that automatically bill your account when a bottle or can is moved. This makes it very difficult to store restaurant leftovers and store bought beer. I know the minibar has beer but I have no intention of paying $9.00 for a Budweiser when I can buy a 6 pack across the street for less!

  14. People write open letters about gun laws, education issues, homelessness, child trafficking.

    And here we have an open later about….sample sized soap in hotels.

  15. I’m literally laughing out loud at some of the comments here.

    I, too, use Suave products at home – I pay $2 for my body wash – maybe $3 for the “family size”.

    To use a common airline analogy – I’m more interested in the “hard product” – that is, the bathroom facilities etc, rather than the “soft product” (what kind of shampoo they provide).

  16. C.O. Bigelow at Pullman hotels in Europe, Le Labo at Fairmont hotels, Remede at St Regis, Hermes at Sofitel in Strasbourg, Ferragamo at Waldorf Astoria hotels and Molton Brown at the small Hanover Inn in New Hampshire where among the best toiletries I ever got in hotels.

  17. @Nick: I stayed at a Park King room on the 22nd-24th Feb. I took photos of the toiletries and other stuff and posted them on Tripadvisor along with my contribution. Maybe they offer other brands in other types of rooms …

  18. I hope Hyatt has dumped that foul-smelling Portico soap they’d been using for ages at US properties. Smelled like rotting orchids! Haven’t stayed at a Hyatt for a couple of years now, other than Parks in Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing which all had premium toiletries.

  19. Nick – I’ll bet Hyatt listens to you… it may take 2 years, but eventually they’ll come around. Case in point: “White Ginger” – it took many, many complaints over what seemed like an eternity — but unless I’m mistaken, WG is no more. Those 2 words spawned more funny first world posts than you could imagine 🙂

  20. Dear Nick
    I think you may be hanging around Ben to much lol
    To much time on your hands examining toiletries and looking in the mirror 🙂
    Not a fan of most hotel toiletries but like the InterCons Lemon Shampoo
    The reason why you like the Grand Hyat so much itself is that Hyatt had nothing to do with
    the original design and building of it.
    Was originally commissioned to be an independent large luxury boutique hotel
    Hyatt took over management of the property sometime after it opened as an independent
    Cheers Don

  21. @Susan: Fair point, but what’s the consistent “hard product” in a hotel chain other than maybe a trademark mattress bed? Rooms and service vary widely from property to property, unlike, say, business class on Singapore where you know what hard product you’re going to get. To me, there are only two ways a hotel chain can advertise consistency to its customers: the aforementioned bed (Westin Heavenly, and its ilk) and in soft products like toiletries.

  22. Regarding DWT’s comment. I’m not particularly fond of Aloft hotels, BUT their Bliss products rock. The body butter is unbelievable and their Bliss hand soap always ends up in my husbands dopp kit.
    Hyatt take note.

  23. @Dwonderment: Are you sure? It looks like the hotel opened in 2000 as the Elliott Grand Hyatt Seattle. I’m not sure if it was built for another client and Hyatt took over before opening, but what context can you provide?

  24. @gobluetwo: I got a travel-sized Aquafresh tube in my room. It was on the lower shelf of the console, next to the hair dryer — not on the sink next to the soap, though. I love that Hyatt gives you toothpaste in the room. (And thank god it’s not June Jacobs toothpaste.)

  25. I agree June Jacobs, Portico and KennetMD are mediocre at best. I too do not like these. Park Hyatt’s, Marriott Edition hotels and Fairmont’s that use Le Labo get my vote. Thumbs up for Le Labo. Hyatt can do a much better job with selecting the right toiletries.

  26. As a frequent Hyatt guest, thanks for the post Nick. The KennetMD in most Hyatts is only slightly less offensive than the product they had before. C.O. Bigelow is great, and they should extend that outside the NYC hotels.

  27. Damn. I don’t even know enough to be a poser.

    You guys should have an article about products in hotels, wines in airlines, etc that are not to be missed.

    I don’t want to miss out on all the “not to be missed ” things. But I don’t even know what I should not be missing out on.


  28. @Nick
    Reasonably sure.
    What I remember approx 16 years ago (give or take a few years based on memory fade for us older war warrior guys) was the non Hyatt marketing for the Elliott Hotel
    I wouldn’t stay originally at the time as there was no guest program.
    It was under Leading Hotels of the World or some other similar collection at the time
    I remember being excited when it did fly under the Hyatt flag
    Was upgraded to a suite on my very first stay.I was blown away with the bay view sunsets shades and sub zero fridges,nice bathrooms
    There is debate when the rebrand occurred originally after completion or approx 8 months later
    depending who you ask

    When I stayed at what Hyatt did build in Seattle Olive 8 I felt like I was in a high end Ikea hotel
    Some love it some are in the middle as I am
    When I tried Hyatt Place Seattle ( a nicer one than average but still a ugh Hyatt Place/lousy breakfast)
    I knew after that I didn’t want to travel to Seattle unless I could stay @ the Grand Hyatt S
    My trivia buffs say that the Elliott (non Hyatt initial is still in the lobby by the couches
    As you noted the property still is a jewel all these years later
    Other than Park Hyatts,Andaz or International Grands I doubt we will see that quality in new builds with Hyatt going forward but we can hope!

  29. I can’t imagine trying to make toiletries that would work for most people. First, there’s scents, which are very individualistic, then gender, which has a big impact on preferences, and then age. Most of us over 30 or 40 need much stronger lotions and conditioner than younger people. Most hotel toiletries seem like scented water to me.

  30. Toiletries are a real thing. Luxury hotels should be expected to have quality products. Those challenging the content of this article aren’t paying money for hotels and wondering why their products are garbage. I don’t stay at Grand Hyatts to have much of an opinion. But those who say “they’re all the same”, stay at a Park Hyatt and use some Le Labo products and tell me they aren’t unbelievably luxurious. They are incredible. eBay regularly sells the same Le Labo Santal 33 products you get at Park Hyatt hotels for $75 for the set. And that’s a deal compared to what you would pay in a Le Labo store. Give it a search.

  31. It’s interesting that you should post this today, Nick, as I, too, just returned from the Grand Hyatt Seattle. I loved the hotel and the room I had was fantastic (what a view of Elliott Bay!), but, boy, those toiletries sure were disappointing. I was expecting better.

  32. Well part of the reason why Manchester Grand Hyatt in SD is a bad property is because it’s owned by the noxious Doug Manchester. He treats his employees terribly and does lots of things on the cheap so I’m not surprised. This is disregarding his antiquated views on social issues.

  33. @ Jon W
    While tha name Manchester lives on at the Grand Hyatt in San Diego the hotel was sold
    to Host Hotels back around 2011 to 2012 to my sources after the past issues you share.
    It has since gone on to a fair/nice enough multi million dollar renovation and has an inspired team in what we come to respect about Hyatt
    While there were some unfortunate actions on the part of Mr Manchester in the past
    with his personal agenda as well as treating housekeepers unfairly with unreasonable workloads I believe that is all in the past to the very best of my knowledge
    We have been advised that the hotel is once again a nice place to stay again and have heard great reports from Diamond and other Hyatt Gold Passport members
    Best Regards
    Gold Passport Hyatt Ambassador

  34. There’s no diappointment quite like going to the montage in park city and realizing the toiletries aren’t verbena like at their flagship Laguna hotel and are verbena and tree bark or something. Instead of smelling amazing, it smells like hippies and sadness. The verbena was just fine all on it own, montage.

  35. Seems an obvious question: would anyone refuse to stay at a Hotel/Chain because of the quality of the toiletries?

  36. Sometimes, hotel toiletries are a deal-breaker for me whether I return or not. When a really great hotel uses a very uninspiring brand or a dismal scent (citrus/ lemon), it’s like discovering that a really attractive looking person has b.o (ok ok maybe not, but uses cheap perfume). I love seeing REN and Molton Brown. You can’t go wrong with those two!

  37. I stayed in the recently opened Hyatt Regency creek heights in Dubai, and I actually mentioned in their survey that their toiletries are really poor and smell like fairy or other dish detergent cleaner!

  38. What?! I LOVE the June Jacobs toiletries. I go out of my way to see if there is a Grand Hyatt in whatever city I’m going to just for the June Jacobs toiletries! I can maybe see how they are more geared towards women, however, as I do think they leave one with a bit of a floral perfume-y smell (light floral clean smell, though).

    I’m with everyone on the White Ginger fiasco, but have to greatly disagree with you on the June Jacobs line. My favorite smelling toiletries out there. Shocked to see all the June Jacobs hate here.

  39. Cochine Saigon and Le Labo are both luxury brands. Anytime I see those I’m thrilled, because I also use them at home. Whoever posted that the products available as hotel toiletries are different formulas is incorrect. They are the exact same formulas, in regard to the upmarket brands I’m referring to anyway. Malin+Goetz is both gender-neutral and of good quality. I was actually disappointed when the Soho Grand started stocking Kiehl’s instead of Malin+Goetz.

    Le Labo and Cochine Saigon are exclusive brands. For example, Cochine Saigon is sold exclusively at Barneys (outside of smaller, boutique stores). While Le Labo was recently acquired by Estée Lauder, the products are still of superior quality.

  40. I love love love June Jacobs products. They are top of the line in my book. First introduced to them during stays at the MGM Signature. You are wise to use them. Thank you!

  41. Nick, I feel compelled to add my comments on the issue of toiletries at the Grand Hyatt and other hotels. I for one prefer all natural products which is why June Jacobs’ products are so great. They are all natural and contain no synthetic ingredients. Why would one choose to lather up or use moisturizer containing artificial ingredients when there is an alternative? That makes no sense at all. June Jacobs’ products were in my room at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and I was so grateful to have them there in the bathroom. Definitely an amenity I can appreciate. Not too long ago, I was at the Pebble Beach resort where I first learned of June Jacobs’ brand and had to look up the company because I was so impressed with the natural scents and ingredients. It was amazing to have those products after playing 18 holes on the most magnificent golf course I have ever been too. My husband loved the light natural aromas of the toiletries too and he is a difficult audience to please.

  42. Although this letter is rather dated, I am grateful I have discovered it. I’d been wondering how to go about offering my perspective to Hyatt and other hotel chains on the toiletries provided to their guests and just how significantly life-threatening they can be. I have systemic lupus and most all of these products (and even some of the natural ones) contain ingredients that significantly break down the immune system. After years of these products being used the scents/oils get trapped in the air vents, filtration systems, furniture, carpet, floors and toilet/sink/shower walls and if the cleaning products being used don’t remove those oils/scents a hotel room can become a death trap. Even more so if the hotel utilizes air deodarizers. I am a licensed barber and have found there is only one specific hair shampoo I can use and even it contains some ingredients I have sensitivity to so I have to immediately wash down the shower walls and curtain and cover the drain. I truly wish the product lines they chose did not contain so many oils and ingredients/toxic ingredients . The fewer number of ingredients the absolute best. I literally have developed blood clots in the duration of a stay witch makes the stay practically unbearable.

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