The Traveling Steve's

Marriott Platinum Challenge Begins with a Week of Virginia Hotel Stays!

We left Roanoke on Sunday afternoon for a week exploring my home state of Virginia, before heading home to Florida. We had been staying in Roanoke the last few weeks while Mom was in hospice, and we were also working on cleaning out my parents former house. While Steve (DOS) and I will be coming back to Roanoke sometime in October, we needed a week to ourselves and to relax a bit.

We first drove three hours to Richmond, VA and stayed one night at the Westin Richmond. While I am lifetime Diamond at Hilton Hotels, and Globalist at Hyatt Hotels, I recently received a promotion from Marriott Hotels for their Platinum Challenge. To qualify, I need to stay at Marriott hotels a total of 15 nights in three months, and send them proof of my Hilton Diamond status via email, (which I’ve already done). Marriott temporarily granted me the Platinum status benefits (for use in my upcoming Marriott stays) and in turn now if I complete the 15 nights this quarter I will have Marriott Platinum status thru January 2022. “Game on – challenge accepted” DOS and I said! This Virginia week was a quick way to get half way there with 8 hotel nights at Marriott affiliated properties, so we quickly got to business with earning our nights.

The Westin was a vey nice and clean upscale hotel, although due to COVID, it did seem to be a bit understaffed with many services closed, and minimal staff for others, i.e. only one person at the Front Desk, no bell staff, restaurant closed on Sunday night, limited housekeeping during the stay, and the closed Concierge Lounge on the Club Level floor.

We had booked (at a paid Club Level rate, not expecting an upgrade) for the Club Level floor as it was advertised as having the Club Lounge with evening hors d’ourves, cash bar, morning breakfast etc. When we checked in we were told the Club Lounge had been closed for three months due to Covid! The Marriott website clearly mentioned the daily Club Hours for this Westin property and even sold this perk as a bookable hotel rate. The Westin did say some of the services may be unavailable, however they should have specified which ones, and clearly not offered a rate for a premium service that was not available. It would have been an easy thing to simply update their website to reflect that.

We did have a good night’s sleep in Westin’s “Heavenly Bed”, which is a wonderful feature of Westin Hotels. The room itself was a bit on the small side but was fine for one night. It had a nice shower head with good pressure in the bathroom, and nice toiletry items as well.

As on all of our road tips during Covid, we brought along our Hepa grade air purifier with us. The hotel was vey clean though, and even had hand sanitizer dispensers in the elevator!

The next day we went down to the lobby to enquire about breakfast options. We had not received our Platinum breakfast vouchers at checkin, and thought the temporary Marriott status had not cleared even though it showed up in my online Marriott account. Like when we checked in the previous night, there was only one person working at the front desk, but the agent verified our account and gave us the vouchers we should have gotten at check-in. We also explained that the room rate also included the conierge Lounge, and if it was indeed closed for thee months, they should really update their website, and not charge extra for a room-rate that doesn’t offer a stated benefit. The front desk agent agreed, no doubt been told this dozens of times already. We were polite about it and did not ask (nor receive) a rate adjustment, but did think management should know about this and correct it.

DOS and I then went to the restaurant, where we submitted our breakfast vouchers to the sole server in the empty dining room, but ended up being served at the Starbucks Coffee shop counter at the entrance to the restaurant. (Apparently the sole dining server works the Starbucks counter as well.) The $10 breakfast voucher we both received covered a breakfast sandwich (mine was a croissant with ham and cheese) and regular coffee. Ionically the voucher did not include any of the Starbuck’s specialty coffees. We noticed one couple way in the back of the actual restaurant and asked if we could go there instead, but were told, no they aren’t using vouchers for breakfast! (Like do you think we could apply the lousy $10 voucher to the ala-cate breakfast menu like Hilton or Hyatt does and pay any difference! Notably different, however, Hilton and Hyatt provide for a full breakfast buffet or similar at all but a handful of properties, mostly resorts, not some $10 voucher in a coffeeshop.) So feeling a bit dejected like we were on food stamps, we sat across the lobby from the Starbucks and quickly finished our sandwiches and coffee. First strike Marriott!

I guess I got spoiled with Hilton and Hyatt breakfasts, but these few things (not welcoming us as a Platinum member nor giving us our breakfast vouchers at check-in, charging a rate for the Club Floor with no Concierge Club access, making us feel cheap when going to the restaurant and told to order at Starbucks because we were using vouchers etc) was pretty lame I must say for an otherwise upscale hotel, even in these Covid times. Especially since we were the ONLY people there in the lobby/Starbucks area, and only one couple in the very back of the dining room, which is past the TV and blue sign shown below.

Anyway we quickly had our breakfast sandwich and checked out of the Westin shortly thereafter. So ends day one of our Marriott Platinum Challenge! Our next stop will be the Marriott Courtyard in VA Beach.

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