Kudos-worthy or the right thing to do?

I had a quick overnight yesterday in Singapore enroute to Koh Samui (more on that shortly). I find Singapore to be one of the most frustrating hotel markets for a variety of reasons, though am still on a quest to try out as many different properties as possible. This time around I tried the St. Regis given that they had relatively reasonable rates, and it’s one of the hotels I’ve really wanted to try.

I decided to use a suite upgrade for the stay to confirm into a St. Regis Suite, and emailed the hotel in advance to let them know I’d be arriving at around 1PM. They said they’d do their best to accommodate my early arrival.

Sure enough I arrived at around 1PM and the suite wasn’t ready. They suggested I leave my bags there and come back at around 3PM when my room would hopefully be ready. Given that I was leaving very early the following morning and didn’t care that much about the type of room I got, I asked about the possibility of downgrading to a standard room, which they said they could do, though after calling Starwood they said my suite upgrade couldn’t be redeposited.

St. Regis lobby

As an alternative the agent offered a further upgrade to a Caroline Astor Suite for 150SGD. Fair enough offer, though I was leaving early the following morning and planned on spending most of my time outside the hotel, so didn’t want to spend an extra 150SGD on my stay.

So I asked when a suite would realistically be available. She said both suites were still occupied and they both had 4PM check-out, so I’d get whichever opened up first.

Okay, check-in time is 3PM, and realistically it could have very well been 5PM before I had a room. So I asked about the possibility of getting a temporary room until the suite was ready. After checking with the duty manager the agent offered me the Caroline Astor Suite at no extra cost, which was much appreciated.

Caroline Astor Suite

Caroline Astor Suite

There’s an interesting trend I’ve noticed in both the airline and hotel industry lately — day of upsells are getting so much more common. I can totally understand airlines and hotels wanting to “preserve” their premium inventory, because the value of it is diluted somewhat when it’s given away all the time. But at the premium inventory would otherwise sit empty, the cost of assigning it to someone out of goodwill is virtually zero.

And I found this to be an interesting situation because I couldn’t and wouldn’t have been mad if they hadn’t assigned me the premium suite at no additional cost. At the same time it would’ve certainly left a bad taste in my mouth if my suite was only ready at 5PM when another (premium) suite was sitting empty the whole time, especially since I was checking out before 7AM.

So I’m curious, do yo think the hotel did exactly what they were supposed to, or did they go above and beyond?

On the whole I had a lovely stay and would definitely recommend it if the price is right. The Platinum treatment was phenomenal, and even included an evening happy hour by the pool.

Next up I have more on Koh Samui!

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest
  1. I think the Hotel went above and beyond. The standard upgrade, based on availability was the St. Regis suite valued at SGD 1200, they upgraded an upgrade to the Caroline Astor Suite (valued at SGD 1350) when they didn’t have to. In my opinion, when a hotel does something they don’t have to, it is above and beyond. Kudos to them!

  2. Neither. They wasted your time in trying to avoid giving you a suite by check-in time, and only relented when you would not.

  3. Conrad Koh Samui! I’m booked for 4 nights there in the summer as well. Looking forward to your stay report!

  4. The St. Regis Singapore is a lovely hotel–I love the spa–but it doesn’t charge typical St. Regis rates (heck, it can be cheaper than the Sheraton on certain corporate rates) and therefore they cut corners. Among those corners, upgrades. They always have an excuse not to upgrade you. Back in the day, they used to offer free Internet in lieu of upgrades, before it became free for Plats.

    I think you’ve been treated fairly, but I’m also not surprised that they were reluctant to give you a better suite even if they had one available, as it’s consistent with the way they do business.

    At the end of the day, it’s still a lovely hotel. Just not top notch.

  5. Enjoy Koh Samui. Are you staying at the Conrad? I booked four nights there specualtively in December as a result of the Hilton points devaluation.

  6. Frankly, I think you’re being too kind to the hotel. If this was a Hampton Inn, then I’d expect to see the inner workings of their facility, but it’s not. As soon as the front desk employee recognized that the suite you reserved wouldn’t be available, they should have offered you the larger suite without you even knowing the reason. If you had been less savvy, you might have paid the 150SGD, which would have been a classic bait and switch.

  7. At check-in time you are due the room type you booked. If it isn’t available at that time they should provide you a further upgrade or other compensation.

    They didn’t owe you a better room for free until checkin time.

    Not having a room for you until 5pm would be unacceptable. Giving you the better room for free early was above and beyond.

    But it’s unfortunate the situation unfolded the way it did, what would have been an awesome gesture turned out to be pulling teeth.

  8. Oh, and in terms of which suite you got, the right thing to do. Having you wait until 5 pm when check-in is 3 pm is quite unacceptable, in my opinion.

  9. You want the flexibility of late check-outs at 4PM, and you also want to have early check-ins at 1 PM. If everyone who booked a suite demanded the same thing, the hotel would have to keep the room vacant whenever a room turns over. You think that’s reasonable?

  10. But I think your offer to downgrade to a normal room and redeposit your upgrade certificate was completely reasonable — I don’t understand the hotel’s refusal.

  11. @ Voice of reason — To be clear, I wasn’t entitled to or expecting 1PM check-in. I would, however, expect 3PM check-in (as published) and not 5PM check-in.

    Let’s clarify something about chain hotels for a second. They generate a vast majority of their business from the brand they’re associated with, and the benefits that brand promises to deliver. The St. Regis couldn’t charge nearly as high rates if it weren’t associated with the St. Regis or Starwood brands. They’re charging a premium for delivering on those promises, and I think it’s reasonable to expect them to be able to honor the promises they make (like guaranteed 4PM check-out and 3PM check-in), or offer some form of compensation.

    For example, InterContinental properties offer guaranteed 8AM check-in and 4PM check-out. I fully expect them to not sell every last room the prior night if they have a Royal Ambassador checking in early the following day, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

  12. since they knew your confirmed room would not be available at check-in time of 1500, they did not go above and beyond.

  13. No they didn’t break their back to help you and if you had not persisted you probably would have been standing around until 5pm………just give the up sell a kind and firm NO…….

  14. Its the typical Singapore “does not compute” boxed thinking; I live here and experience it on an almost daily basis.

  15. Honestly, I think they failed you a bit. 3pm is check-in. Your “paid” room wouldn’t have been ready. They should have immediately offered you comp or an upgrade come 3pm. Above and beyond would have been to suggest the upgrade at 1pm, unsolicited.

  16. This is the downside of the FHR 4 p.m. guaranteed upgrade amenity… When guests take advantage of it, that forces guests checking in to wait beyond the 3 p.m. check-in time for their room.

    Don’t know if this was the case here, but it’s illustrative of the problems hotels face.

  17. Not been to Ko Samui in along tome. Will be in Krabi next month. May drop by. I don’t recall the island being much but the marine park to the north was spectacular.

  18. @DavidO Deal with hotel front desk……that’s what you are paid to do so do it or lose the business………it is just that simple……….

  19. I think the hotel treated you fairly, in the end anyway, but nothing more than that. I’m no expert on Singapore in general or the St. Regis in particular, but my limited experience has left me wondering what all the fuss is about. Yes you can find nice hotels with good service and interesting views, just like hundreds of other hotels in nearby countries. Singapore turned out to be a bit of a dud in my view. It doesn’t have the depth of Tokyo or the value of Thailand or the mystery of Myanmar. Maybe I’m just missing something other people can sense, but I don’t really see myself making much effort to return anytime soon.

  20. @Voice of reason writes, “You want the flexibility of late check-outs at 4PM, and you also want to have early check-ins at 1 PM. If everyone who booked a suite demanded the same thing, the hotel would have to keep the room vacant whenever a room turns over. You think that’s reasonable?”

    For 75 night Platinums Starwood tries to accommodate requests of this sort via their ‘Your24’ benefit … 24 hour clock on the room, check-in when you want and check out 24 hours later, and if your checkin is 9am or later you still get 4pm late checkout (‘your 31?’ :P)

    This isn’t guaranteed, has to be requested and will be denied presumably if the hotel has to turn away paid nights from other guests in order to accommodate it. But when they aren’t full, it’s a benefit for heavy stay platinums.

    No, it wouldn’t work if everyone did it. But it works when the hotel isn’t completely full and 75 night Platinums request it.

    Not the case here, I assume Ben is a 50 night Platinum (but could be wrong). Just some additional context.

  21. I think the question is whether the Astor Suite is a standard suite or a specialty suite. If it’s a standard suite, it’s just what they were supposed to do.

    If it’s a specialty suite, it’s above and beyond. All you were entitled to is a an upgrade to the best available room (excluding specialty suites) at time of check in (assuming it’s the category you booked or better).

    It’s pretty well known that if you want a suite at a Starwood, be prepared to get in the room late as it’s probably someone with a 4pm checkout there already. The math doesn’t work with guaranteed 4pm checkout and expectations of early check in.

  22. By the way, I almost never do the 75 night early checkin because I think it makes it impossible to get a suite upgrade. They can hold a room open overnight for a very early checkin but I doubt whether they would a suite.

  23. Neither!

    Should they not have known at 1pm that the occupants of the suites were checking out at 4pm?

    I think so.

    So why would they tell you to come back at 3pm knowing full well your suite wasn’t going to be available? Seems to me they weren’t entirely honest with you and tried to squeeze you for a few extra dollars.

  24. Voice of reason raises a valid point but he also doesnt seem to understand how a contract work. SPG agreed to give Lucky a suite at 3pm. If they could not perform their end of the contract they would need to pay damages. Doesnt matter if it is unreasonable that people want early check-in and late check out, SPG agreed to give Lucky a suite in exchange for his money.

  25. @ beachfan — The Caroline Astor suite is definitely a specialty suite. Keep in mind I had used a suite night award as well to confirm the St. Regis Suite. I had no expectation of early check-in, though I did have an expectation of check-in at the posted check-in time of 3PM.

  26. The hotel should have had something ready for 3pm checkin no matter status. I’ve often requested 4pm checkout as Gold and been denied or given an extra hour/two when the hotel is sold out which I understand. an upsell is definitely not what I would expect at a St. Regis- this isn’t let’s make a deal and frankly diminishes my opinion of this property.

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