Why Would A Hotel Offer A Benefit That Doesn’t Exist?

Sharon and I recently stayed at the Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. We decided that we were going to visit the Florida Keys shortly after seeing the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Too many people stay away from cities hit by disasters because they’re afraid the area hasn’t “recovered”. Resolving not to do that, we booked a long weekend with the two free weekend night stay certificates Sharon earned as a sign up bonus for the, now extinct, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card.

Photo Apr 20, 10 04 27 PM
The hotel lobby and public areas were beautifully designed an a style I’m going call “Old Money’s Concept Of A Tropical Resort” vibe.

The hotel was nice enough to extend my Hilton Gold status to our reservation, even though the reservation was made under Sharon’s account. While I had to go through a bit of a back and forth, I finally received our letter with the Gold Benefits.

Casa Marina Gold Benefits

We didn’t plan on using most of these benefits, like the discount massages or watersports. I asked about upgrading our room ahead of time and I was told they hotel was almost fully booked. The only things we would use on the list were the two bottles of water (which they even replenished after the first night and never charged us for them) and the Complimentary Continental Breakfast for Two. We usually don’t eat breakfast at the hotel but “our” Starbucks was on the other side of the island so the idea of sitting outside and having a coffee, juice and a muffin didn’t sound that bad.

The Casa Marina’s breakfast restaurant is called Sun Sun and is located just behind the lobby.

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I walked up to the host stand and said we were Gold Members and would like to have the continental breakfast. She asked for my vouchers. Vouchers? I never got vouchers.

“You need to go back to the front desk and have them give you vouchers.”

So back to the front desk. They look up our room and tell me that we’re not Gold Members. I show my letter from the day before. Oh, sorry. Here’s your vouchers. They’re worth $15 for each person.

Back to the restaurant and look at the menu.

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I explain that we’d only want to get a continental breakfast for our $15 voucher as we were not in the mood for a $30 buffet. I was told they don’t offer that. It’s either the buffet and pay the extra $15 over the voucher, or you can order a la carte and get a $15 credit. If I wanted to get a “continental breakfast,” I could go to the coffee bar in the lobby.

So off we went to Flaglers Cafe, the lobby coffee shop,

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For our $15 vouchers, we were able to get a breakfast sandwich (heated up in a toaster oven) and a brewed coffee. We had enough credit left to buy one bottle of water.

Not the restful breakfast that I was expecting when staying at the Waldorf Astoria.
egg bacon cheese bagel

ON the following morning we considered paying the extra and going to the buffet. Instead, we cashed in our vouchers for two slices of banana bread and a bottle of water, which we saved for the car ride home, and headed to our “go to” breakfast in Key West, Sarabeth’s.

Sarabeth's

For a total of $40, Sharon and I had a wonderful breakfast of omelets, toast with amazing jams and jellies and a huge cup of coffee.

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We did pay a little more for this than the “subsidized” breakfast we could have received  at the Waldorf Astoria, but it was worth it to eat at one of our favorite places.

Final Thoughts

I still can’t get over the Casa Marina offering an amenity of a complimentary continental breakfast for two on their welcome package when such a product is not even offered at the hotel. Why not just say the truth – you’ll receive a $15 voucher per person that can be used during breakfast at the Sun Sun restaurant or Flaglers Cafe. Probably because that sounds cheap, which it is. Why not just let Gold members go to sit outside at breakfast and get coffee, juice and a basket of pastries. Would that many people go to the buffet anyway? Even so, how much money would they lose? Instead of that, I cashed out my $15 credit and felt like Hilton values Gold Members about as much as a reheated breakfast sandwich and a coffee to go.

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Cover Photo Credit: William J Sisti on Flickr

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