“ Address: 1255 Jeanne-Mance / PO Box 130 / Montreal / Quebec / Canada H5B 1E5 „
After a week in Vancouver, myself and Ms Larsbaby headed east to Montreal, a city I had visited 3 times in the past due to my friends there. Through Trailfinders, we booked the downtown Hyatt Hotel. As we discovered upon check in, this was going to be a very unusual and eventful stay.
When we checked in, we were asked if we were aware of the "situation" they were having and we were not.
Apparently every 3 years, the hotel workers union gets all of it's hotel staff together and agrees to picket and strike at certain hotels, to represent everyone, and it so happened that our hotel was the one they were picketing this year. I don't know if this is just Montreal or if it affects more of Quebec. This had been going on for a month or so when we arrived. This meant that most normal services weren't getting done, and a mere 30 management and reception staff were filling in where they could. There was no maid service, so the room wasn't cleaned and every time we needed fresh towels we had to get them from reception. Breakfast was in the main restaurant instead of the normal room. The swimming pool wasn't available for use as there wasn't a lifeguard on duty.
There was an annual Francophone music festival, Les Francofolies, coinciding with our stay. When we woke up on the first morning hearing whistling we thought it was that. But as we looked out of our window we could see pickets with whistles! The picket line seemed to be more of a party, with a ghetto blaster pumping out salsa music at full tilt as people with whistles walked in circles. Luckily, there was a side entrance to the hotel, which led into the underground city, so we didn't have to confront them most of the time. The times we did go out of the main entrance they briefly looked at us but didn't say anything. I do support their right to strike, but I was finding it a bit taxing on my holiday!
Anyway, I will endeavour to report on the hotel irrespective of my bad experience.
The Hyatt Regency is on Jeanne-Mance. This is a very central location, to the east of downtown, and you are a minute away from the easterly extremes of the main shopping street, Rue St Catherine.
There is also a side door from the hotel leading directly to the underground city (see previous review for explanation of this), which would be very handy in the wintertime. This is down as escalator and you are led to a food court. Outside the hotel there are a lot of bars and restaurants, so this area is well served for amenities. Chinatown is more or less across the road, and the old town (Vieux Montreal) is about a ten minute walk away.
CHECKING IN AND OUT
Checking in was done at the reception desk and was a fairly quick process but took longer than I thought considering there weren't so many guests. We had to wait for someone in front of us as then it was our turn (to be delivered the bombshell, that is). The receptionist was very friendly and somewhat apologetic. Well, to be fair, what could she do? It wasn't her decision to exploit the guests. She was probably working 15 hours a day so the fact that she was still smiling and friendly impressed me.
Checking out was fairly quick too, also done at the reception desk.
You can use their own Hyatt Gold programme but they also accept Star Alliance membership cards for points.
THE RECEPTION AREA
To get to the reception from the front foyer, you have to take a lift up one level. One you exit the lift, the reception area is a walk across a raised, carpeted walkway onto the main floor of the reception. Near to the desk was a large open space, with an information desk opposite the reception desk. Behind the reception to the left was the hotel bar and restaurant. My friend and guide to Montreal, Monsieur Montreal, used to work here and showed us a handy little place. There is an outside terrace to the bar, and this was a seated area that gave a grandstand view of the main stage of Les Francofolies. In the evenings it was an amazing sight and this would have been a fantastic place to spend a while for a fan of the French music.
The lifts were a straight walk into the reception and left at the end, and this was quite a large, spacey area with a couple of black leather sofas and striped fabric easy chairs, together with some large low shiny tables and some small round ones. There was also a few plants dotted around the windows. I liked this area; I thought it was a great idea to have the seating away from the reception desk.
Notwithstanding the lack of service, the room itself was very nice. The bed was a kind size one, so wide it had room for 3 pillows laid across it. It was very comfortable indeed, even if we had to make it up ourselves every morning. Next to the bed, there was a wooden bedside table on each side with a black granite top and arty lamp each. One of these had a very fancy clock radio on the top of it which had an ipod docking station. The other one had a phone on top of it. Each lamp had 2 bulbs, and so it took several clicks to turn them fully on or off.
An inset shelf section against the wall had an ice bucket, 2 glasses, a couple of cups, and a coffee machine. Under this was a small metal bin. There was a quite large 2 doored wardrobe with a clothes rail some hangers, several extra pillows, a blanket, some spare loo roll and an iron.
Rather incongruously considering the other fancy fittings in the room, the TV was an old style CRT one, one top of a wooden unit. There were plenty of channels available, many of them in French but enough in English, too. Inside the unit was a computer keyboard, to use for accessing the internet from the TV. There was also an empty fridge and a safe, which I found very easy to program with a pin code and use.
To the right of this unit was a dark wooden writing desk with another phone, a table lamp and the hotel guide. There was a hard backed leather swivel chair with the desk. Near to the window was a small wooden coffee table. Near to this was a blue easy chair which was comfortable and a footstool with a cream coloured cushion. The cream wallpapered walls were decorated with some arty pictures of a streetlamp and a section of a roof. There was also a control for the air conditioning unit if you wanted to change the settings for this.
We had a fantastic view of the picket line from our room on one of the upper floors, but could also see many of the city's skyscrapers. We were asked if we wanted a room with a view of Les Francofolies, but rather ironically we turned this down as we thought that might be a tad noisy.
One thing you really need to know is that one of the controllers near to the door that ostensibly controlled the lights also controlled power to the TV. I scratched my head for a while trying to work out why I couldn't turn the TV on but eventually figured this out.
The bathroom was quite swish looking, with a black sink with a white basin. The shower was OK and was an attachment in the bath. It was one of those that you have to divert the water from the bath with a lever, and the pressure was fine, although it did make a noise like a tortured cat every minute or so. There was a little square weaved basket containing shower gel, shampoo, some soap and a hand towel.
We had 3 vouchers each for breakfast and didn't use any of them. We never really woke up early enough, and in any case we decided that we could do without a hotel breakfast and instead sample the many delights on offer nearby. In any case it was actually served in the restaurant rather than the normal breakfast area, and with the strike ongoing we weren't sure what to expect.
Seeing as we were given 6 complimentary bar vouchers (1 each for each night of our stay) we thought we'd use them up. The bar was a pleasant area with several leather couches to sit on. It was quite empty on our visits, with most people choosing to watch the music outside, but I liked this peaceful environment. I tried a couple of the beers on tap and they were pretty nice.
We decided to tip our bartender; seeing as she was prepared to work we thought it was the least we could do, which goes to prove there is no such thing as a freebee in Canada.
Again, we didn't use this at all; there were many places to eat nearby that represented much better value for money. However at Le Café Fleuri, the menu offers a buffet at lunch and apparently isn't open for dinner.
You can actually email the concierge through the website to book activities ahead, which could be useful if you have activities you need help with to book in advance.
An interesting service is provided, where a scheme called Babies Travel Lite means that if you order at least seven days ahead, baby supplies from over 1000 brand names can be supplied, which might be handy if you want to travel light.
Wireless internet is available in the rooms, but since I didn't use it it's unclear if it costs extra and the website doesn't specify.
Services offered at the spa include massage services such as Swedish, anticellulite, lymphatic drainage, reflexology, hot stone massage and Facial Electrostimulation.
GENERAL BUSINESS FACILITIES
They have a Business Centre next to the lobby. Services include a computer workstation, laser printer and phone. Fax and photocopying services are available through the concierge.
There are different valet rates from $6 for 30 minutes to £26 daily.
£354 for 3 nights between us wouldn't be bad under normal circumstances.
As you can see, this is a very unusual hotel review!
I would commend the staff in getting on with it and trying to run the hotel to the best of their ability. They were probably getting through at least twice their normal workload. I would totally blame the management, who exploited the situation to make money out of those not knowing the situation in advance, of which they definitely should have informed everyone. The fact that they almost certainly knew it was going to happen, and that it had been going on for a month already, shows their disregard for their customers. When we checked in, the receptionist told us that once they knew there was going to be a strike, they didn't take any further bookings, although it didn't seem to have occurred to them to warm anyone already booked; indeed they were quite happy to take our money (already paid via Trailfinders) for the impaired service we received.
In recompense for the lack of maid service and other facilities, when checking in, the receptionist gave us 6 free vouchers for the hotel bar (2 for each night of our stay). This isn't really much to make up for absolutely no room service. I can handle 3 days of not having a room cleaned, but that's not really the point is it? We'd paid top whack for certain services and we weren't getting them. I asked if I could register my Star Alliance membership card for points, as I saw on the website they were in that scheme, but the receptionist refused as the booking was through Trailfinders and thus not the standard rate. I wasn't impressed by this considering what else I'd missed out on.
It seems a shame as it certainly looked like a fine hotel with nice rooms and good service when relations with the staff are normalised. I certainly don't blame the strikers as I'm sure their cause was just and their pay poor, with the hotel coining it in at their expense.
Based purely on my experience, the exact circumstances of which would not be repeated for at least another 3 years, I really can't recommend this hotel. The fact that they took my money shows what disregard they have for their customers. It doesn't bode well for any other problems customers might have on their stay. It's true though that this is a very nice hotel with nice rooms and decent facilities.
Hyatt Regency Montreal
PO Box 130,
Tel: +1 514 982
Fax: +1 514 285 1243
Ms Larsbaby informed Trailfinders of our trials and tribulations and they were pretty shocked. Apparently the hotel had phoned them to tell them we had arrived, and that there was a strike on. Trailfinders had no knowledge of the situation previous to this call. Trailfinders say that they would have changed our hotel before we arrived had they known this. I'm not sure if we'll get anything off them but I'll keep trying!
The hotel has direct underground access to the Montreal Convention Centre, Place des Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art.