Review: Park Hyatt, Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney
Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt, Sydney
Room type: Opera King
Duration: 26th > 29th August, 2016
Booked with: Ourisman Travel

Pre-sales

3 days in a city hotel did not pass my altruistic measurement of whether it was worth contacting the hotel in advance.   The only effort before arriving was to decide between the immense choice of hotels within Sydney, which limited it to either here, The Langham or sleeping on the streets.

Getting there

22 hour flight with Singapore Airlines from London Heathrow to Sydney airport.  Then a 25 minute Uber ride.  If something doesn’t take more than a day to do, it hardly seems worth it.

Reception
Reception

Setting

Over looking a so-called monument, Park Hyatt Sydney was designed for its views.  Not its views on anything like gay marriage, evolution or why we start eating crisps with such grace and then stuff our hands into the packets and devour every last crumb at the end.  No, I mean the views of the harbor and the infamous Opera House.  Apparently there’s also other things nearby, but after 22 hours of flying I was in no mood to enquire as to what they were.  This was going to be a hotel stay where even the thought of leaving the hotel would be a crime.  The purpose of the trip was not to enjoy what was on offer nearby, but to rest before heading to Laucala.

Nighttime view into the city
Nighttime view into the city

Rooms

View from bedroom
View from bedroom

For a Deluxe King, it must be said that this is the equivalent of a junior suite in most hotels.  This seems fair, as their base price is close to 3x that of other Sydney luxury hotels standard rooms.  The open plan living room and bedroom have large doors that lead onto your own balconies with views of the harbor.  It’s all rather impressive.  Even if I had intended to leave the hotel, I think I would have spent an unusually high amount of time in the room due to the views.

The modern, minimalist design is exactly the style that I would go for, but it was not without its minor faults, such as the blandness of the living area.  I rarely use hotel desks for anything other than reenacting The Godfather when no one is watching, but I was intrigued to see they opted for a dining room table instead.  If there intention was to allow you to enjoy the views during an in-room dining meal, I can confirm it worked very well.

As a city hotel’s standard room can only ever be, well, standard, I’m always interested in what their additional touches here; the small details that show something was thought out with the guest in mind.  Here it’s mostly focused on the bathroom: moushwash and all the bathroom amenities you could want; views from the shower into the harbor, but blinds available to separate you if you wish; shower controls not being directly under the shower, meaning you can turn it on without immediately running away at full speed.  It’s a shame they went to that effort, but then made the shower head so small and the pressure so weak.  With the building being owned by the Japanese, it was no coincidence to see Toto toilets, but even though I’ve grown used to them over the years at The Connaught, it still does not remove the pleasure of waking up in the middle of the night, going to the toilet and feeling that immense warmth when sitting down to do gods work.

I will reserve special praise for the blackout blinds, which are easily controlled by two buttons by the bedside table.  I do not think I’ve ever seen such effective blinds before, as when they were down the entire room was so dark that it was like the ending of Silence of the Lambs.

With a large refurb in 2013, everything still felt fresh and new.  Sometimes new means it doesn’t work as intended, but after 3 years I think “feeling new” and “being new” become different things.

  • The heating system really took some working out, as the room frequently felt cold even when it was set to 26C.  We ended up needing to set it to almost 30 in the end to get anywhere close to the right temperature.
  • There is a USB charging port, but it must be powered by sloths as it’s the weakest power I’ve ever seen – it took almost 9 hours to fully charge a 6 month old iPhone.
  • I could not decide whether it was a pro or con that the toilet was separate from the bathroom, but in the end decided it was more annoying than useful.  The strangest thing is that as it is right near the front door, it would not be that difficult to open the wrong door by mistake and give your neighbours a sudden shock.  Or pleasant surprise.  Who knows, it could make a great “how we met” story.
  • The Privacy switch exists only besides the front door, rather than having one also by the bedside.
  • I feel like I’m forever throwing towels on the floor, as there’s nowhere to put them, yet they have a policy on trying to be environmentally friendly
  • The noise from outside is overwhelming – birds, boats, people talking, yelling and probably even whispering, so bad is the soundproofing.
Bedroom + lounge
Bedroom + lounge

Amenities

Park Hyatt Sydney contains only 4 floors, with the top reserved for their high-end suites and the roof-top pool and jacuzzi.  I will forever be tempted by a hotel that offers a jacuzzi, providing it’s actually a jacuzzi and not just a warm bath with bubbles, like The Fullerton Bay.  The issue here is that the jacuzzi is very small.  Unless their target audience aren’t taller than penguins, it is the worst I’ve ever been in, as most of your body is out of the water.  As you can imagine, being here in winter meant that half of you is in euphoria and the other half is in despair.  Kinda like being married.

Elsewhere you’ll find a business center, bar, 2 restaurants and really that’s it.  It has all the feeling of being a boutique hotel, with the exception that it’s a major tourist hotspot.

Spa

Virtuoso offers a $100 (USD) spa voucher during the stay.  That didn’t get you a great deal, but they allowed it to be used as a credit against the total amount.

Pool view
Pool view
Jacuzzi
Jacuzzi
Rooftop sitting
Rooftop sitting

Activities

Sleeping.  Or trying to.

Food

After 22 hours of plane food, even Singapore Airlines First Class plane food, I think anything would have tasted nice.  And nice it was.  Not exceptional, but good enough that thoughts to go elsewhere didn’t cross my mind.  I just wish someone had told me on the first day that their Make your Own menu was far superior in quality and price than anything else.  Their breakfast buffet and a la carte offerings are plentiful, with some tasty dishes to join the abundance.

Where Park Hyatt Sydney falls down is in their flexibility to be a truly luxury hotel.  I found this in several other areas, such as I’ll go into detail below, but the one that stood out for me as a bizarre policy was their refusal to allow us to look at the kids menu, as we were not hungry and wanted something smaller.  Apparently unless you’re younger than 12, you cannot have it.  Does that mean children can also not eat from the adults menu?  If you cannot get a table in their Dining room, like we could not, you are limited to either the bar or their main restaurant, but both serve the same menu as you will find in your room, which is not something I would expect to see at a hotel charging these prices.

Dining room
Dining room
Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet
In-room breakfast
In-room breakfast

Service

Boy oh boy, where to begin on this?  This is the first hotel where I’ve complained directly to the GM.  In the end, I publicly expressed by grievances on FlyerTalk to get anywhere that came close to a resolution.  First let’s just look at some of the things they did well.

  • The check-in process was very smooth, as we were whisked to our room immediately and provided some really useful and helpful information on how to get the best from the hotel.
  • There are some staff here who are clearly friendly and care about their job and the customers.  The reception team were particularly good, as were the restaurant staff.
  • Whilst lounging by the roof top pool, a member of staff just walked past and put some bottled water down for me.
  • We had a bottle of wine waiting for us, but as we do not drink we asked them and they kindly agreed to replace it with something else.  Admittedly the drinks took almost an hour to arrive.
  • The fruit was not replenished, so we enquired as to why and were told that it was a welcome gift only.  They clearly took the hint, as along came some replacement fruit a little later.

Now the terrible.

Having flown from London to Sydney, you may have assumed we were rather tired.  If you thought this, you probably are capable of thinking of others and fail the psychopath test.  Good for you.  During the pleasant check-in experience, we mentioned how tired we were and the purpose of our stay – staying for 3 nights purely to attempt to get over the jetlag before heading to Laucala. As expected, we ended up suffering severe jetlag, woke up at 2am, went down for breakfast just after 6:30am and then went back to the room, turned the Privacy button on and went to sleep. At 11am the room room phone rang with an enquiry from the hotel. When I’m woken up, I’m fully awake and cannot get back to sleep, so having had around 4 hours sleeping in nearly 30 hours, I was now completely awake.

At this point I’m not happy and decide to complain. This is where it effectively gets worse. I leave my room to go downstairs and talk to reception about this, when I’m greeted by an employee outside of the door, who has just serviced the room next door. I explain the situation to him and ask for someone from management to come speak to me. 20 minutes later and no one arrives, so I call down to reception. A few minutes later and the same person who checked us in comes to talk to me and it turns out he was the one who made the call, which makes it even worse, as they knew how tired we would be. Now this was the first mistake, as there is no way I should be complaining to the person who was responsible for it – someone else from management should have come along.

What then takes place is nothing that would even resemble an apology and merely an attempt to justify why he called (I still don’t know what he called for). Their excuse was that even though Privacy was on, this is not connected to the phone system, like somehow I was supposed to know this and it’s my fault that they phoned us.

I asked for nothing and he offered nothing, which included not offering an apology. In the end, he just asked if I needed a key to get back into my room and that was it. The conversation was just so bizarre that I left and only about 10 seconds later did it click in my tired brain that it was one of the most unprofessional conversations I’ve ever had with a hotel employee.  I was politely being told to fuck off.  I understand that mistakes happen.  A simple sorry would have sufficed, but instead the response is just so surreal that it was like I was his boss talking to him, rather than a hotel guest.  There is a time and place just to take it, apologise and move on, rather than trying to justify that you were right.

The GM was not available over the weekend, so with no resolution, I went onto FlyerTalk and posted most of the above to get any feedback I could.  People responded and gave me the GMs email, so I emailed him and he phoned me almost immediately.  It turns out that the member of management I spoke to was head of customer service!  Yikes.  He also said he had won employee of the year for the last 2 years, so he was even more surprised.  He did however agree that he shouldn’t have called and that the reaction wasn’t acceptable. The GM was very considerate out of it all, with understanding that ultimately I understand mistakes happen and wouldn’t have bothered him if the actual response wasn’t so bad; it was not the issue, but the response that bothered me.  It was the feeling of impotence, as there was no way of progressing it further.

The issue ended up ruining our stay, as between the event on Saturday morning and speaking to the GM on Sunday evening, I was left to create a cocoon of misery which I surrounded myself.

Worth Knowing

If you intend to face the Opera House, you should also be prepared to see a significant number of photographers every single day.  Most of them right outside of your room.

Entrance to Dining room
Entrance to Dining room

The Good

  • Modern, minimalist rooms with ample space.

The Bad

  • The service.

The Luxurious

  • Location, location, location.

Conclusion

For a city hotel, Park Hyatt Sydney is not cheap.  In terms of the room size, the value starts to come through, but really you’re paying here for the views.  If you took the hotel by itself and moved it to another part of town, I do not think they could justify even half the price.  The food and service were good, all without being outstanding.  Yet then that phone call took place.  I finished the phone call with the GM on Sunday night and received an email from him on Monday morning explaining the compensation, which I duefully accepted.  We were offered a free night stay at any Park Hyatt worldwide and a free chaffeur service back to the airport.  My mistake was in wanting to speak to him on the phone afterwards to explain that if we did return I had no ill feelings to the member of staff and did not want anything to be awkward.  The way I saw it, the issue was over and we moved it. It was at this point I was starting to feel that the GM had not taken my side, but tried to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.  It is easy to offer something for free, but truly difficult to give a genuine apology.  Just like a movie that should have ended, but demands to give us an additional 5 minutes that somehow ruin the entire movie, I should have just accepted the end and moved on.

Sunset view

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