Tuesday 17th October, 2017

Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Expectations were high for this top of the line Hyatt product in "The Big Easy". The taxi rolled up to the rear of the towering, and tired looking, buildings where I unloaded my own luggage and stumbled around to find the registration desk on the ground floor. In close proximity were Concierge and Bell desks which were both well attended, but not too much interest from the personnel manning them in the activities around them. The registration desk was difficult to pinpoint as it looked like a corporate check-in for a conference. There were banners with a manufacturers name plasted over the top and down the sides. I did eventually see little 'Registrations' signs above just before getting into the elevators to find them elsewhere. The hotel I learned was fairly well booked. The hotel has 1,184 rooms so it is a fair sized property. There were three front office attendants on duty for check-ins and check-outs, and the line was small, only a few people ahead of me. Check-in was fairly quick and efficient but there were no pleasantries or welcoming assistance with information about the hotel. This was a general lacking as I was to find later.

I were eventually directed to room 924 on the 9th floor. The lift banks all seem to open on to huge attriums and the glass surrounds allowed terrific views as you ascended or descended the hotel's many floors. On the 9th floor I alighted and wound my way around to 924. On entering the room I went down a fairly generously sized hallway to open on to a horizontal, rectangular shaped room with windows stretching from one end to the other. Opening the well-appointed drapes I feasted on views of the city and the nearby bridge. The room was excellent with modern, timbered furniture, a lounge chair with foot-rest, a TV cabinet with plenty of drawer space, a free-standing safe (costs $4 a day to use) and a working desk with lamp and a second phone with modem port. The desk faced the wall whereas a simple tournaround would have it facing the view. Another very good feature of the room was the lighting. Bedside table lamps, a desk lamp, an occasional table lamp, and best of all a sliding set of 3 ceiling stage lights. This is a real plus as most hotels these days rarely have good quality lighting. On further examination I realised I had spoken too soon. The sliding ceiling lights had no switch and were inoperative. It appears, on reflection, the room I had been allocated was in fact either a board room converted for accommodation use on a busy weekend, or alternatively was formerly in use as a board room before being permanently converted.

The bathroom was an ample size with excellent shelf space, a combined bath and shower and again very good lighting over the bench area. The bath/shower area though was 'in the shade'. A disappointment came with the use of the shower on a Saturday night around 5.30pm. For a start the water flow was sparse, regulated by a fairly ancient energy saver. The restriction of flow was quite marked but worse the water, at full throttle was only luke-warm, and barely so. It may have been peak time and there may be a problem with water supply in the building, in terms of demand versus capacity, however whatever efforts the hotel has taken have not been successful. The next morning there were no problems with hot water and with that issue resolved it seemed as though the water flow, albeit restricted, appeared sufficient and more acceptable than the night before.

Anyway it was back to the concierge on the ground level to get a city map and find my way to the city's major tourist destination, The French Quarter. Three attendants busied themselves, with only one on the phone, as I approached. There was no flicker of acknowledgement, let alone recognition. At one point the person on the phone gestured meback with her hand as though I was going to interrupt her, which I wasn't.

After some time I braved myself to ask one of the other attendants who was scribbling away if I could have a city map. I was handed one and as I walked away I realised the hotel was not marked on it. As I didn't know the address I had no idea of where I was. The map was a photo-copied Convention Center map with very limited detail and no hotel locations. I went back to the counter and requested to know our location on the map. The map was marked with an 'x' and that was that. No assistance on where I was heading or any pleasantries to accompany the rather limited exchange. In any event I stumbled around the city, eventually coming across the CBD and finding my own way down to the French Quarter alongside the Riverwalk, the Mississippi River and Hurrahs Casino.

I got lost coming back and the hotel identification signs, or lack thereof, were of little assistance. Whilst the back of the building has a Hyatt sign on the roof, the front which faces the city has no identification at all.

The hotel is immediately adjacent to the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Shopping Centre. It is however on the edge of the CBD and a good 15 to 20 minute walk from the French Quarter. There are more prominently located downtown hotels on the doorsteps of the French Quarter, including Doubletree, Marriott and Sheraton and the two best located hotels, the Hilton and Wyndham Canal Place.

The hotel staff, and management, probably need a good motivation kick on customer care as it was lacking throughout the hotel. On studying the hotel compendium in the room later I found the hotel provided complimentary shuttle buses to and from the French Quarter, every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day. This would have been extremely useful information if provided at reception on check-in, or at least by Concierge. Some hotels go out of their way to assist guests. The Hyatt Regency at New Orleans, in my experience, is not one of them.

That night I ventured down to the third floor atrium level where the hotel's restaurants and bars are located.There's the Courtyard Restaurant which serves daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, le Cafe which is across from the Court yard Restaurant and a high spirited sports bar and grill, Hyttops. The whole atrium level was in subdued darkness although the outlets appeared to be operating. The Courtyard Restaurant didn't seem to have a buffet on, which was unusual for a Saturday night. I had gone to Concierge to ask about the restaurant operations in the hotel, however the Concierge had a 'Closed' sign on the desk directing guests to the front desk, which still had a line.

The only area in the atrium that seemed to have any life about it was Hyttops which I went on into. It was a huge bar area with sporting momentos littered everywhere, a full size screen, smaller large screens and TV monitors, pool tables and shuttle and soccer games. There were 10 beers on tap, I ordered a Miller Lite but before I could stop the barman he had taken the top off a bottle. On indicating I wanted a draft beer there was no problem in switching, but again it highlighted the lack of responsiveness by the hotel's staff to guests. The service following and the snacks ordered was fine, although the presentation of the food, albeit bar food, could have been better.

The following morning I took a look at the breakfast buffet in the Courtyard Restaurant and it was fine. Plenty of boxed cereals, oatmeal and biscuits and gravy, mashed potatos, chopped potatoes, many different varieties of fruits, sausagaes, bacon, muffins, juices. You name it, it was there.

I then took a tour of the outdoor areas. There was a large pool off the fifth floor which had a very large palm tree lined sun-deck, even though the poolside area was completely surrounded by high-rise buildings so it was difficult to see that the sun would be able to find its way in. The pool had a loading chair for disabled guests and I noticed a disabled entry/exit from a smaller wing of accommodation off the poolside area. This building also contained the fitness center which was extremely well decked out with plenty of running machines, weight stations and exercise equipment. They were all just about in use at the time which indicated the center may well be promoted for external as well as hotel guest use.

The hotel itself was of a good standard with the accommodation very well-appointed, although the room I had was not typical as I studied the lay-out of the floor on the back of the door. In fact the room I had was only one of that type on the 9th floor, which supports my view that it was, or is normally, a boadroom.

The location of the hotel is only fair, however it would be enhanced if the hotel's complimentary, and frequent shuttle bus services were promoted more readily. The main weakness of the hotel, at least at the time of my stay, was the in-attention to guest relations. The hotel has probably seen its best but is still an acceptable corporate and leisure hotel with a strong brand, that will need to manage its rate to compensate for the newer and better located hotels springing up around the Riverwalk and on Canal Place. The rate I accessed through Metrostar.com was $129 a night which represented good value for the stay I had.

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