Laziness or ultimate customization at Andaz?

While I do think Andaz hotels are a bit of an acquired taste, I’m a huge fan of them at this point. Initially they had some service issues, though in the meantime I think most of the service issues have been ironed out. One of the unique aspects of the Andaz experience is that there’s no front desk, but rather there are “hosts” that check you in using tablets to create a bit more of a personalized experience. This usually means the hosts are more talkative, since the environment is more conducive to having a conversation.

Anyway, I checked into the Andaz Wall Street this afternoon for a one-night stay, which I booked yesterday. And for the record I had no contact with the hotel in advance, didn’t tell them I was coming, etc.

At check-in I handed the host my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Gold Passport Diamond card, and he simply said “I want one of those cards,” and I chuckled. He walked away and returned two minutes later with my key and said “here you go.”

I was a bit surprised, since usually I find the Andaz hosts share too much information, and not too little. Usually they welcome you back, ask if you need a recap of what’s included at Andaz hotels (minibar, internet, happy hour, etc.), ask if you want a recap of the Diamond benefits at the hotel, etc. But this guy said… nothing.

But then I got into the elevator and looked at my key card, only to find that I had been upgraded to a junior suite on the top floor, and waiting in the room was a chocolate cake with a piece of paper that read “Happy Birthday Ben.”

Of course I was blown away by the cake, which I wasn’t expecting in a million years since I hadn’t told them it was my birthday. But I’m not sure what to think about the host. Did he sense I was tired and didn’t want to talk, or was he just that lazy? And how the hell did the hotel know it was my birthday?!

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt
  1. I think the host knew the surprise you had coming & wanted it to be ever-more extravagante and truly unexpected. So he let you go without saying anything to give it more umph.

  2. Several years my coworker and I checked into the Marriott in Kuwait City. It was his birthday, and I guess they saw that on the passport.

    Less than an hour later they brought us a large birthday cake, full sheet size, could have fed 50+ people. We ate some of it, then left it at the lounge for the other guests to enjoy.

  3. I think it’s awesome, the host knew, and wanted you to be surprised. What i find stranger is all of the hearts on the drawing! Maybe you just have a secret admirer there!

  4. I don’t think he was being lazy. Perhaps he could sense that you were well aware of everything and didn’t want to get into one of those “fake” (and pretty awkward, IMO) conversations.

    As for the birthday cake, I find that pretty funny (and awesome). My bet is they knew who you were. Is “Ben” how you have your name on your Hyatt account?

    And lastly, happy Birthday 🙂

  5. Ben, I had a somewhat similar experience at the GH Hong Kong on my birthday. Cake, but not an upgrade.

    Of course, I had to show my passport at check in, and he commented on it then. I don’t know of it was that or a note on the reservation via my Diamond Concierge

  6. The folks at an NYC Marriott noted my birthday on my driver’s license at checkin a few years back, and the GM sent me a nice wine and cheese plate. A classy move (I was a Marriott gold, at best, at the time), all the more appreciated because MrsLincoln was in Japan at the time and thus unavailable for a birthday dinner!

  7. Is it just me, or is that a fax imprint across the top left of the birthday note? If so, it would lead me to believe someone you know faxed it over and asked them to bring you cake.

  8. What a spectacular service touch! I am really impressed. Oh BTW, alles Gute zum Gebertstag 🙂

  9. Could of been a family member of friend letting them know u were coming and too surprise you.

  10. Coins, Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, these folks (Hyatt/Starwood/Marriott/AA etc) all read the blog. I’ll go out on a limb and say that they’ve flagged your name.Just to prove my point, the AA folks on twitter practically kiss your you know what.
    I wouldn’t get that excited about this. Just as all of us game the system, the same can be said for airlines and hotels.
    What Hyatt did was very nice, but the cynic in me says they played you.

    If you’re keeping score, Hyatt 1 Ben 1. You both win this round.

    Happy birthday!

  11. happy bday lucky! I love the Andaz Wall Street, buy favorite has to be the Andaz West Hollywood.. who can forget the PLASTIC ORANGE DOG in the suites?

  12. just shut the hell up and eat your cake. who cares if he didn’t sweet talk you. you 1 percenters are why hotel employees are so miserable

  13. Wow, Chuck, I think you’ve misread the tone of the post completely. And why is someone staying at a hotel a 1%’er (whatever that really is)?

  14. Happy birthday Ben! I live in NYC. If you’re around today, I’d like to take you out for a birthday drink or meal! 🙂

  15. Glad you liked the cake. Did you get the present I asked the secret service to send up as well? 🙂

  16. How the hell did the hotel know it was my birthday?! Umm…err…because you are a travel blogger and are flagged in their system perhaps? Just guessing….

  17. If any of you GOOGLE it there are plenty of businesses that will give you something on your birthday. Ben could have then, for example, walked into any Starbucks and gotten a nice coffee to go with that cake as his free birthday gift from “my Starbucks rewards”.

  18. Hey Mr. S,

    My first thought was that Ryan is right… I think he likes you 😉

    Second, Happy Birthday and hope to see you in LA soon!


  19. #Bloggerperks, Ben.

    Hotel chains ask you to moderate comments and you think they don’t know your birthday?

  20. Just to defend Ben and Hyatt , I got the same thing at the andaz in San on my birthday. I’m not a blogger, only platinum in Hyatt and still got a great bday cake and hand written card. And no my boyfriend didn’t let them know ahead of time.

  21. I just spent my birthday (on Friday) at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires and they presented me with a similar cake and a handwritten note and an upgrade to a suite. The upper end Hyatts seem to do pretty well on birthdays…

    Of course, we told them about the birthday in advance hoping for exactly this outcome, but Hyatt deserves some credit for managing these details.

  22. I KNEW IT! Those new chip-and-pin credit cards do have GPS tracking capability!

    Either that, or the marketing folk at Diet Coke…

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