Louisiana

Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites New Orleans Airport, Kenner, LA

One perq of holding the Marriott credit card from Chase is that each year you pay the monthly fee you get a certificate good for one night at a Category 1-5 hotel. I had a certificate that was due to expire in October, when the annual fee is due, and the stay must be completed by that date, not just booked. That’s one thing I’d like to see changed with the Marriott-SPG merger – let me book the certificate within the date range, even if the stay is not completed by then.

Since the annual fee of the “regular” Marriott card is $85 (moving to $95 with the next renewal), you can sometimes get great value from using a certificate. The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Kenner is not an especially great use of this certificate as rooms are just over $100 pre-tax but since the certificate would otherwise be going to waste it just made sense to spend it here. This is also the only Marriott property in the immediate airport area and thus the only one with an airport shuttle.

After touring all day in the sticky heat and being caught in a rainstorm just 2.5 blocks from the Hyatt House, we were fairly drenched by the time we caught our Uber to the Fairfield Inn, arriving in the late afternoon.

While we didn’t spend a lot of time inspecting the exterior it looked to be in good shape and we made our way to the front desk. We were assisted by a very friendly associate who noted our status and that we were staying on an award. She filled us in about breakfast though we’d be leaving too early for the buffet. She did arrange for us to have sack breakfasts available for the next morning and got us booked on the appropriate shuttle.

The lobby looked as if it had been recently refreshed and I liked the furniture and the geometric designs on the carpet. Though the breakfast area was not in use I liked the layout and the bright colors of the seats.

A quick note that this hotel is in the flight path for the airport but flights are typically operating in the 0530-2130 timeframe so there shouldn’t be an issue with plane noise overnight.

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Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Louisiana, Marriott, North America, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Hyatt House New Orleans/Downtown

For the second consecutive year I found myself back in New Orleans just before Labor Day for an event at the Hyatt Regency. Last year I stayed at the Regency but this year a friend was coming with me and we were going to stay over for a couple of days to play tourist. As I started comparing prices, and knowing we’d need breakfast, I realized we’d be better off at the Hyatt House which is next door to the Regency but is connected by a walkway.

We stayed three nights here, using a combination of cash, the free night certificate that comes with the Chase Hyatt credit card and World of Hyatt points. I called in to make the reservation and got a fantastic agent who compared my corporate rate, member rate and the AAA rate to figure out which night was the cheapest so I could pay cash for that night and use the certificate and points for the other two night. Then she was able to put that all on one reservation for us, which was terrific. I’d hoped for a room with two beds, but none were available on points so we got a room with a king bed and a sleeper sofa.

The building housing the hotel is at the corner of Loyola Ave and Poydras Street, with the hotel occupying floors 11-17. The Hyatt House entrance is on the Poydras Street side and there’s an express elevator up to the 11th floor main lobby.

Check In

As I arrived after 10 PM there was no waiting to be checked in and the whole process was quick and efficient. Every staff interaction I had was very pleasant. My Discoverist status (a result of holding the Hyatt credit card) was recognized and I told I was being given a slightly larger room. I asked again about a room with two beds, just in case one had opened up, but none were available. I was offered a choice of two of several welcome amenities and I took the 1000 points plus a plate of fruit. I was also given a large bottle of water, and one was available each day per guest.

One large bottle of water per guest per day is complimentary

Hyatt House New Orleans/Downtown Elevator Lobby

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Lodging Review: Hyatt Regency New Orleans

A weekend convention I was attending was held in New Orleans recently. I was pleased to learn it was to be held at the Hyatt Regency since I have low-level status with them as a result of my Chase Hyatt credit card. I was even more pleased to learn that this is a category 4 hotel, which meant I could use the free night certificate that I earn each year simply by paying the annual fee on the card.

We arrived about 8:30 PM after the long drive from Memphis. Valet parking is $40 per night so we opted for the self-park around the corner that was $25 per night. Fortunately the self-park garage has direct access to the hotel so this made it quite convenient.

Though there wasn’t much of a check-in line, I still went to the elite line where I was the only person and once a staff member was freed up, she called me right over for assistance. She did thank me for my loyalty and confirmed I’d asked for an accessible room. When I said that I didn’t really need that (it was just what had been assigned to me when redeeming the certificate) she proactively decided to look for an upgrade. I was assigned a room on the 11th floor and even given club access. That was great because as a Discoverist, I don’t normally get free breakfast but because she’d assigned me a suite, I now had it!

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Front Desk

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Lobby

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Grand Staircase

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Seating Area – one of many found throughout the first couple of floors, which are the convention areas

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Boarding Pass Print Area
This is located to the side of the front desk

Getting to the elevators from the front desk is a little bit of a trek because this is a convention hotel so while the front desk was on the ground floor, it was actually necessary to take escalators up to the third floor to be able to reach a point where we could get on the elevators.

The elevators in themselves are a bit tricky but fortunately there was a staff member on hand to assist, as there was both evenings were there while lots of folks were checking in.  (Smart move, Hyatt.) We weren’t the only ones learning how to make them work! There are two banks of elevators: A/B/C/D and E/F/G/H. Both sets go to level 3 (the main level) and level 5 (pool) but A-D are for the lower sets of floors while E-H go to the higher sets. And only F and G go to the 32nd floor where the club and gym are found.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Elevator Keypad
Scan the room key underneath for access

To access a floor, you scan your room key underneath the keypad. It will automatically light up your floor but if you want to go to a different one (like the club) then you select that button instead. Once it knows which floor you want, it will assign you to one of the elevator cars. This usually worked pretty well. The only time things were really crowded was when we were all heading downstairs to the convention at once.

The hotel is shaped a bit like an X but the “legs” of the X curve a bit more than the ones of the letter do. I followed the signs toward my quarter of the X. The entire atrium is open and you can look right down on one of the restaurants. I kept walking almost to the end of the hallway before coming to my room, 1124.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Exit the elevators and turn left down this hall

Hyatt Regency New Orleans The atrium is open from bottom to top

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Follow the hallway as it curves to the right

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Room 1124 is on the right, just beside the stairwell

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Room 1124 in the upper left quadrant of the X

Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Atrium Restaurant as viewed from the elevator

The door opened into a hallway with the closet immediately to the left, followed by the bathroom.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Hallway

At the end of the hall was the living area that featured a sectional sofa (not a sleeper, however) with a desk and a wall-mounted TV. Mine was a connecting room so to the far left, beside the desk, was the connecting door.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Sofa and Desk

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Living Area TV and Sofa

To the right was a wall with an open doorway into the bedroom. I had a king bed with two built-in side tables. Against the wall between the living area and the bedroom was a tall chest upon which the TV sat. The chest contained the mini-fridge (with 2 liter-size bottles of water – complimentary thanks to my Discoverist status) and the safe.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite King Bed

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite TV and Stand

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Fridge, Safe and Shelves

On one bedside table I found this note.  I think this is a great idea, even though I did not use either product.  This hotel is right beside some venues that could be used for concerts and noise could be an issue at times.  The hotel has implemented a quiet period in its hallways after 9 PM but we all know that can be ignored if there are intoxicated folks around.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Earplugs

You’ll notice that I did not describe any sort of chest with drawers and that’s because there wasn’t one. There was no luggage stand either, though there were a couple of stools/footrests in the living area that could have served the purpose. I’ve heard that some properties are skipping chests with drawers because people tend to leave more things behind in drawers.

There were a couple of shelves below the safe in the bedroom and inside the closet were several shelves on one side and there was the overhead shelf that ran the length of the closet. There was also a laundry hamper in the closet, not something I believe I’ve ever seen before in a hotel. The whole arrangement just struck me as strange but since I was only there for two nights it didn’t bother me too much.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Closet

The bathroom had the vanity and sink on one side (I liked the stainless features), the toilet in the center and the walk-in shower on the other side. My first complaint about the bathroom was the lighting. It was extremely dim and yellow. Yes there was a lighted makeup mirror which helped up close,  but the wall lights gave the whole bathroom a sickly glow. My other complaint is the water pressure. I thought perhaps it was a fluke on Saturday morning when there wasn’t much pressure but I had the same issue on Sunday. I like a very strong shower pulse and this just didn’t get it done, especially since the water at this hotel is EXTREMELY soft, which meant it was quite difficult to get the soap off your hands and body whether taking a shower or just washing your hands. The shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and bar of soap already occupied the shelf in the shower. It’s nice that the shelf is big enough to accommodate all that at once. But that still left me nowhere to put my razor and shave gel except on the floor. An additional shelf would be a good step up as would some sort of low shelf to prop my leg while shaving.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Bathroom Vanity

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Bathroom Toilet

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Bathroom Shower

Toiletries were KenetMD brand which I have typically associated with Hyatt Place and Hyatt House.  I liked that there was a choice of a bath bar and bath gel.  The shampoo and conditioner weren’t great but got the job done.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Toiletries

I only sat on the sofa for a little bit but in looking at it later it seems to have been well-used during its life and refreshing the seat cushions wouldn’t hurt.

The bed was quite firm but was still very comfortable. I loved that there were two easily-accessible plugs on either side of the bed!

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Bedside Outlets

The desk also had easy-to-reach plugs on its side. Kudos for that!

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Desk Sign

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Suite Desk Side Outlets

The thermostat was easy to operate and thankfully could be set below 68F. I like to sleep in a cold room and that made it much easier. I was a little amused/frustrated that in the mornings when I’d turn the thermostat up, that I had to bump it up just a few degrees at a time. If I tried to jump straight from 66F to 72F, it would turn on the heat instead of just allowing the room to gradually warm.

I was thankful for the upgrade but I do think there are a few small things that could be done to improve the experience.

Pool

The pool is located on the 5th floor and you must use your keycard to gain access. From there it’s down a flight of stairs so I don’t know if it’s totally handicap accessible though there may be an entrance from a different direction. The pool deck is fairly large and from 8-10 on Saturday mornings there is some sort of free exercise class there. The deck is right amid a number of tall buildings so I don’t know how much sunlight it actually gets. But the famous New Orleans humidity was in full force, even at 8 AM.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Pool

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Pool Deck Seating

Gym

The gym is on the 32rd floor, across from the Regency Club. The room follows the curve of the building and offers views of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (home of the NFL’s Saints) and the Smoothie King Center (home of the NBA’s Pelicans). There were a number of treadmills, some elliptical machines, a few bikes, a reasonable selection of weight machines as well as hand weights and other assorted accessories. I got there just before closing time and it was empty on Friday night but each of the next two mornings there were several folks making use of it while I ate breakfast.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Gym Ellipticals

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Treadmills

Hyatt Regency New Orleans More Treadmills

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Weight Machines

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Fitness Equipment

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Hand Weights

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Gym Beverage Station

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Gym Towel Sttation

Regency Club

The Regency Club is also on the 32nd floor and offers city views in the opposite direction from the gym. I was disappointed in the selection as there was not much in the way of hot food at all. Oatmeal and grits were the only hot foods. There were about 5 kinds of cereal and a good selection of fruit, both bite-sized and whole, and a small selection of pastries and breads. Several types of juices were available as were coffee and tea, but that was it.  Breakfast is offered 5:30-9:30 AM Monday-Friday and 7:00-10:00 AM on the weekends.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Beverage Service

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Milk and Cereal

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Fresh Fruit

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Whole Fruit

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Yogurts and Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Grits and Oatmeal

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Bread Station and Grits Toppings

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Oatmeal Toppings

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club More Oatmeal Toppings

They offer mid-day snacks 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM and hors d’oeuvres 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM daily but I did not visit during either of these times.  I should have gone been there during our convention’s one long break as it wasn’t long enough for a proper lunch and all the grab ‘n go places had huge lines.  Wish I’d remembered this was open!

Hyatt Regency New Orleans Regency Club Beer and Wine
(the liquor cabinet was above but the photo came out blurry)

Location

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans is on Loyola Avenue and is super-convenient to the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center. However there’s not a huge selection of restaurants in the area (or so I was told) and that surprised me. For the one night I had dinner, we ate at the in-house seafood restaurant, which was quite good and fairly reasonably priced (that is to say, a little more than I’d spend if I was just going out by myself for dinner here at home).

View of the Smoothie King Center and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome from the gym

If our convention selects NOLA as its site for next year, that will be fine with me and I would be happy to stay here again.

Categories: Hotel, Hyatt, Lodging Review, Louisiana, North America, United States | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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