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Nov 03

Hyatt Andaz Wall Street Review (And What It Says About Luxury Hotels)

I had a one-night stay at the Hyatt Andaz Wall Street in downtown New York which, more than anything else, reminded me why large chains should probably just stay out of the luxury business. The environment was trying for “W Hotels” but ended up being a somewhat black & white version in a world of color.

A Quick Review

andaz

The Andaz is the Hyatt luxury brand, one based around “the culture that surrounds it.” The problem, of course, is that anytime a large corporation attempts to do individuality, the result is something along the lines of, well, a large corporation attempting to do individuality, and they come up with taglines like, “Express your Andaz.”

Truthfully, the whole experience felt like a hotel playing “dress-up.” They took an old building, put in some funky furniture and hoped for the best.

But they missed in a lot of areas. The guy who checked me in was virtually robotic. They bragged about the free mini-bar (ex-alcohol), but the mini-bar was “stocked” with a soda, a bottle of water, a bottle of juice and a granola bar. The room itself was comfortable, but the thermostat wasn’t working. Turned out that there was two-pipe air conditioning, meaning that there was no way to cool the room because the system had already been switched to heat (I opened a window, an effective but noisy solution.). Etc.

andaz

Modern, but cold

A Standard Hotel in Luxury Clothing

My stay certainly wasn’t a bad one, but it wasn’t reflective of a luxury experience, either.

The problem that these hotels have is cultural. Hotel chains fill a valuable niche, offering a different product to people along the pricing scale. But luxury is less about price and more about environment. The most successful luxury properties are ones that take the attitude of “take care of the guests and the rest will follow.”

It’s also why the best luxury properties are developed independently of other brands. True, Marriott owns Ritz-Carlton, but they acquired it about 20 years ago, instead of building it themselves. On the other hand, Hilton and Starwood have never been able to make Conrad and St. Regis work. When you have publicly traded companies creating the brands instead of buying them, it’s hard to develop a customer-centric culture.

The chains are very good at many things, but should probably leave the top end of the market to somebody else.

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