Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Incheon

For the long Qing Ming weekend, I’ve come to Seoul. My friend and I arrived at 9:15 pm and I figured it would take an hour to get through immigration (which turned out to take much longer) so we opted for a the Grand Hyatt Incheon which promised a 24 hour shuttle and was just a short distance from the airport.

The problem was the lines in immigration were so long and we didn’t get through till about 11:30pm. The lack of signage at Incheon airport caused a short delay in finding where the Hyatt shuttle stop was. At the Information Desk we were told that the shuttle stopped at 11 so we should use the free airport shuttle. Once we found that stop we saw that the next shuttle would be at 12:12. Ugh!

Had I known, I’d have done something different. We considered getting a cab, but were tired and the idea of changing money and sorting through the touts and cheats seemed too much.

The bus appeared on time and several of us got on board. A few minutes later we were dropped a few blocks, yes a few blocks away from the hotel. The driver who spoke little English just pointed in the distance. We got out and searched for a hotel sign. It was dark and desolated. Not what we wanted upon arrival. We eventually saw what looked like might be our Hyatt. Then the bus approached and the driver, who’d just been waiting for his next run, pointed across the street. That’s the Hyatt.

We crossed and entered a building that had a dark sign that you couldn’t read from the sidewalk. Inside we determined we were in the back of the hotel amidst the restaurants. Eventually, we found the lobby without the aid of a sign.

The receptionist was graceful and apologetic but offered little  to make our unpleasant feelings dissipate. She told us we could have called them and we’d have been picked up. Well, then instruct the staff at the airport Information Desk to tell your guests that. We just did what made sense — asked Information and followed their directions.

We had expected that since our booking was done by a friend with Diamond status that we’d get access to breakfast in the lounge. That’s what happened in the past. The receptionist said we didn’t and that he didn’t have Diamond status, which I know is wrong. In the end we got newer room, but it was a long unpleasant experience. It was really odd that a staff member offered to assist us with our bags and then took us to the elevator put our bags on it and left saying goodbye.

Now I do feel guilty for whinging about “First World problems” but we did pay for this hotel room and chose it based on the 24 hour shuttle promise on the website. Just change the website to state what actually is offered. 6am to 11pm is not 24 hours. Every 15 minutes is not twice an hour.

June Staycation

Dragon Boat Zongzi

Dragon Boat Zongzi

Since Friday the 26th is our last day of class and I’d given two tests and they needed to be graded, going out of town for the long Dragon Boat Festival weekend seemed foolish. So my colleague and I came to Jinan’s Hyatt hotel where we frequently enjoy their Thursday Ladies’ Night music and cocktails.

We booked the executive floor, which perfect for “staycationers,” who can go to local restaurants anytime. The breakfast and cocktail hour were more than enough to delight and nourish. The cocktail hour offered salad or cold vegetables, breads, cheeses, hot appetizers, drinks and desserts. What more do you need?

How creative the chefs here are! Top notch! I particularly liked the mango pudding, scones, little cakes, fresh juices, and cheeses.

Congee and its accouterments

Congee and its accouterments

Grading was a breeze, if not a joy in this setting. I could take exercise breaks, had BBC, CNN or Channel News Asia to divert my attention, got three free English newspapers, and didn’t have to make my bed or tidy up. My time was so focused.

Sunday after breakfast a friend and I walked to Five Dragons Pond where we could take in nature and the art gallery.

The Hyatt staff speaks English well and are so eager to please. They strike the perfect balance of friendliness and professionalism.

The Hyatt’s right near a night market and Wanda shopping center so bargain hunters can find new goodies to take home. (I was able to avoid temptation in this area.)

High Tea at the Hyatt Jinan

watermelon, apple tart, mango cheese cake

watermelon, apple tart, mango cheese cake

mango pudding and macaroons

mango pudding and macaroons

Saturday I went with a friend to high tea at the Hyatt in Jinan. The offerings had changed with the season, which is the mark of quality. I ordered darjeeling tea and my friend got a double espresso. It is nice that they let you order coffee.

While we waited for our high tea, smoke wafted through the room ruining the atmosphere. Smoking in restaurants has recently been banned in China, but enforcement is weak. My friend told the waitress the smoking bothered her, but this waitress had poor English. Soon we spoke with the manager. I’m surprised how the English skill of the Hyatt staff has gone down. Usually international hotels get staff with good English.

Clearly, the staff were uneasy, but the manager did ask the smokers to move. At first they moved closer to us, then they realized they made a mistake and moved away. It was rather confusing for a time. The manager gave us mango pudding and some macaroons on the house to make up for the smoking.

Our tea set arrived. We got a plate of fresh fruit, savories including seafood bruschetta, Parma ham and melon and tomato with goat cheese and oil oil. The pastries included a mini-pannacota, a small apple tart, a mango cheese cake bite and some macaroons. I did hope they’d include scones, which seem like a pillar of high tea, and some tea sandwiches. The seafood bruschetta I gave to my friend since I don’t like seafood. The Hyatt bakery sells scones so they can make them. A couple small scones would be lovely.

Last time we got small roast beef sandwiches but the bread was really hard. They did make new sandwiches. I think there’s a tendency to prepare the food hours in advance and let it sit, which isn’t the best route.

After a while another guest started smoking and Melissa opened a door to a courtyard. This man realized his smoke was bothersome so he went outside to finish his cigarette. From the way he dressed, he seemed a little more international and probably had some experience with non-smoking rules.

All in all, tea was good, and the Hyatt apologized and gave us a discount for the smoky environment. I would go back, maybe not on a weekend, to avoid the smokers.