The Grand Hyatt Tampa was host to last month’s Frequent Traveler University. I’ve written about some of the sessions there, like the session on putting award booking ‘theory’ into practice, with a live call to Delta to book business class awards to India.
This was probably the nicest venue for a frequent flyer educational gathering yet. Nice and convenient only minutes from the airport, with free parking, and within a few miles of multiple CVS stores that stocked scores and scores of Vanilla Reload cards — plenty of people were taking field trips off-site in order to stock up on frequent flyer miles. (There were even Reload cards up at the cash register.)
Since I wasn’t going to spend much time in my room, I didn’t try to compete with the 60+ Hyatt Diamond members out of the 400-some odd frequent flyers in attendance at the event for a suite upgrade by trying to confirm one. I booked a standard king room at the group rate of $119+, and at check-in was upgraded to a Bay View king which was lovely and well-suited to my needs.
There were folks of course with big suites in the main hotel, and with Casita Suites that I’m sure were lovely but a good 5-10 minute walk from the main building where all events were held. I was glad not to have either, believe it or not. I wanted to be close to the action, but I also didn’t want a room that would become a gathering place — spending most of my time from sun up to long past sundown talking miles and points, and since I’m terribly introverted in person, having a room to myself was a necessary respite.
I checked into the hotel about 15 minutes prior to the end of evening appetizers in the club lounge. I’m always of mixed feelings about club lounges — on the one hand I tend to prefer a restaurant breakfast if the restaurant does a good job (not the average buffet at an airport Hyatt Regency, but something along the lines of Hyatt Olive 8) or even room service. And I find I usually don’t take advantage of evening offerings. But I also really like having a place to go to grab a bottle of water, I drink a lot of water and not having to go in search of water is a huge plus for me.
But I was hungry, and wanted to check out the offerings, and found this to be a pretty good one.
For breakfast the hotel — recognizing that there were so many Diamond members present — while the hotel’s lounge is usually only open Sunday evening through Friday morning, they decided to keep open their club lounge and offer breakfast in the restaurant.
The best of both worlds! I suspect they knew the club lounge wasn’t big enough to fit everyone, plus they wouldn’t have wanted to compensate each Diamond members with 2500 points for having the club closed during the stay while also offering breakfast. That’s one of the great benefits of Hyatt — a hotel that has a lounge but where the lounge is closed has to give up points for it.
I used the club lounge for breakfast throughout my stay because I was busy, and it was both quick (self-serve) and an easy place to work while I ate and had some coffee, and grab more coffee to go.
There was a nice variety of cold items, including smoked salmon.
They had a hot item that I steered away from, a different strange egg dish each morning.
Another Diamond benefit is the check-in amenity. I thought Starwood was brilliant when they introduced their (continental) breakfast benefit for Platinum members — they made it a choice in lieu of bonus points as a check-in amenity. That’s both a cost savings (since if they give breakfast, there’s no cost for the points) and feeds Starwood’s narrative of customization, giving you the benefits you value most.
Hyatt though has the best breakfast benefit, offering full breakfast for up to 4 registered guests in the room if there’s no club lounge available. And it’s not a choice, you get a check-in amenity also. I pretty universally always take the 1000 Gold Passport points. This time was an exception.
It’s rare that I really want the food and beverage amenity, or that I’ll view it as being worth more than the value of the points (at a minimum $15). Plus if I’m getting to a hotel late I don’t really want to wait for something to be delivered, I usually want to go to bed. Or to the club lounge and be done with it.
But I knew that I would be exhausted and hungry at the end of Frequent Traveler University events, and the hotel was happy to deliver the amenity any time rather than just immediately when I arrived. So I had them send up their Cuban sandwich for when I expected to be done with events on Friday evening. I went back to my room and found the sandwich and some great fried plantains.
Food generally was pretty good on property, and not just the plantains. Before things got underway on Friday I had lunch with Pizza in Motion down at the hotel’s restaurant by the water Oystercatchers. It’s a walk, down towards the Casitas, which have their own pool. The tuna was good.
Up by the hotel was a the main, lovely pool area, although my favorite feature isn’t pictured — the bar there that was a great place to hang out between and after weekend events. The pool is beside a small lake and lovely lush grass as well.
All in all it was a great venue and a lovely property that I hadn’t been to before. If I had any complaint it was with the bath amenities. I’m not a huge fan of June Jacobs that they use at Grand Hyatts, though many people are. But it was the inconsistency in amenities that somewhat vexed me — no bath gel, the lotion bottle wasn’t new (a bit was missing) when I checked in which was fine since I wasn’t going to use it anyway, and only on the last day of my stay was I given additional amenities (mouth wash, toothpaste). I didn’t expect the toothpaste since it seems to no longer be offered automatically rather than on request at Hyatts, but it just seemed strange to be given it one day at the end of the stay.
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