When You Fall Asleep in One Hotel But Wake Up in Another
On a recent trip to Washington, DC, I found myself planning the hotel arrangements for my family. This is nothing new as I tend to be the planner by nature. But what was quite the shock was the husband’s desire to stay somewhere new.
What?! But, but, but…. we’re Hilton people!
We are loyalists when it comes to our airlines (we almost always fly Southwest) and to our hotels. It’s a tip Road Warrior TravelingMom Nasreen Stump says is important for frequent travelers. We hardly stray from our normal hotel brand unless we are talking Disney hotels. It’s not because we are boring, though maybe you could make a case for that. It’s because we know what to expect as far as quality and safety are concerned, and due to my husband’s work-related travel, we always seem to have points to use.
Hilton Honors and the Holliday family go way back.
Choosing the Kimpton
Since I had free reign to branch out, I started some research. For our purposes on this trip, staying in Old Town Alexandria was going to be the best location. I reached out to my travel experts, the TravelingMoms (of course!), and heard great things about the Kimpton Hotels, a boutique hotel chain with excellent reward options.
There were two Kimpton options in Alexandria, and we ultimately picked the Old Town location. I booked the travel thinking this would be a great hotel for review purposes. I planned to cover the stay on the blog. This just goes to show you that a story can change!
Checking Into The Kimpton
First impressions: this hotel was lovely. My husband, my 13-year-old son and I arrived around 3 a.m. after a very long day of interrupted travel. Thanks, winter storm Decima, for all that -ish. We were expertly and quickly checked in, and the car snuggly parked in the underground parking garage. The staff was friendly and helpful, even at those early morning hours.
We headed off to our room where I quickly snapped some (admittedly not great) pictures for blogging purposes, took a quick shower to wash off the travels of the day, and fell into the bed for a few hours of rest.
One thing I noticed before drifting off to sleep was the highly visible branding throughout the lobby, elevator and room. The key cards, the coasters, the hallway advertisements for the downstairs restaurants, the full-size bottles of shampoo, and even the robes hanging in the closet bore the Kimpton brand. Kimpton! Kimpton! Kimpton!
We left the hotel mid morning the next day and spent a full day out and about.
Upon our return late that evening, I noticed something curious: the hotel shampoo & conditioner were missing. People, we are talking full-sized bottles, and I wasn’t taking that luxury for granted. So yes, I noticed. And then I had a slight panic attack over the idea that it would end up on my bill upon checkout. I imagined those bottles were not cheap!
As we looked around the room, a few other items seemed to be missing: the tv channel list, the room service booklet, and the Do-Not-Disturb sign, to name a few minor things.
We didn’t worry much about it at the time and figured it was a case of lazy housekeeping. Sorry to throw shade toward the housekeepers, but remember we were new to this brand. Maybe this was “typical”?
Waking Up in the Marriott
The mystery was solved the next morning when we discovered that the front desk staff had undergone something of a makeover itself. Everyone dressed in a more uniform dark business suit attire that morning, and there seemed to be a heck of a lot of new faces around the lobby and restaurant. When we inquired about the missing toiletries, they broke the news: the hotel had rebranded overnight. The toiletries had been removed since they were part of the Kimpton brand.
Welcome to The Alexandrian, Autograph Collection by Marriott.
Yes, it happened just like that. There was no advanced warning or notice.
We did get some official notification slipped under the door advising of the change later that day. The staff also informed us that we needed to stop by the front desk to update our credit card information and receive new key cards after 3 p.m. While these were inconveniences, we didn’t find the change to be that big of a deal in actuality.
We scored Mariott points for our stay that we otherwise would have missed out on (and a few extras for experiencing the change of hand). If you were staying there and planned on banking Kimpton points? Sorry, Charlie. They were not honoring that reward program.
And a small bonus: the parking garage no longer required a stop at the front desk for validation every day. We were free to come and go without making that extra stop every day.
Over the course of the next few days, we made a game out of spotting all the changes as the rebranding occurred. We stayed in the room one morning catching up on work and had interruptions by staff members who needed to pop in and “just add a sticker” to something. It seemed that the plan for rebranding included covering or removing any mention of the former hotel brand.
Fellow TravelingMom Teronya Holmes experienced a similar situation in the late 90s. She started off her stay in a Westin which became the W Buckhead overnight.
“It went from being a very corporate/business atmosphere to an ultra-trendy, hip hotel where all the young business executives came to hang out. I felt like I had been transported by spaceship to some weird galaxy overnight. The whole look of the place changed IMMEDIATELY,” Teronya told me.
The transformation to The Alexandrian wasn’t quite as dramatic for me; the feel and vibe of the hotel felt consistent. But it was still a bizarre experience to be living the change as it happened. I’ll be curious to see if the feel of the boutique atmosphere remains consistent as more time passes. I know hotels chains can merge, and ownership transfers can happen, but I had no idea it happened literally overnight!
There is one perk I wish The Alexandrian would keep from its days as the Hotel Monaco. You guessed it: the full-sized bottles of hotel shampoo and conditioner! Those were missed, Marriott. Big time!