The Park Hyatt Saigon

Park Hyatt Saigon by bloompy
Park Hyatt Saigon, a photo by bloompy on Flickr.

The Park Hyatt Saigon opened just this past July 2005. I checked in four months later, staying in 3 different rooms (2 standard and 1 suite). The prime location in District 1 (considered most desirable in Ho Chi Minh City [or HCMC], the city formerly known as Saigon) makes most of the landmarks available within walking distance. The hotel is next to the Opera House, close to the “Hotel de Ville” (French for “City Hall”), and not too terribly far away from the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Independence Palace. In addition, the upper-end shopping malls are located in this area as well. Most taxi drivers do not know where Park Hyatt Saigon is because it is quite new, but because of its close proximity to the well-known Caravelle Hotel, the latter became a convenient point of reference.

The standard room was quite small. In the first room that I occupied, there were crumbs inside the folder of the hotel information; and no clock (alarm clock). When we came in, there was no welcome bowl of fruits. They were to come much later. Even the Grand Hyatt Jakarta sent one staff member to bring the welcome bowl of fruits immediately after I settled down. The Hyatt Regency Surabaya already had fruits waiting in one’s room upon check-in.

The second room, another standard room, had an alarm clock (which made me realize that the first room was missing one). These standard rooms are not the most perfect for a two-person occupancy, unless one devices a schedule for bathroom use (there was only one basin). Even a standard room at Ritz Carlton would have two basins.

The suite definitely worked better, with ample amount of space, a walk-in closet, a writing desk that doubled as a vanity table (right before the bathroom). The suite I had was at the end of the hall. Because the hotel had a curved outer wall, the suite occupied a rather odd space. As a result, the living room area did not look as pleasing as it could be. Alarm clock was again missing from this room. The hotel needs to work on consistency.

Check-in was done in the room, but there was no offer for an express check-out, and I forgot to ask about such service.

Room Service was excellent: I was rather picky in how I wanted my Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) served, but when it arrived, it was exactly as I had instructed it to be served. Other services such as turn-down and shoeshine were very satisfactory and timely.

For some reasons, I was always placed in the 7th floor (there are a total of 9 floors). Standard rooms are rather small but cozy. Noise from the streets in front of the hotel is carried all the way up to my rooms, day and night. At night, it is common for the electricity to fail. The explanation that came from the hotel was that the electricity was supplied by the State, but at night, the State switched it off and therefore the hotel had to turn on its own generator. They apologized the first time it happened and promised that it would not happen again; that it was not a usual thing. Well, luckily I was not born yesterday and knew better. Every night there was a black-out, sometimes more than once. If they knew that the State was going to turn it off every night, the hotel should anticipate it by getting the generator already going to provide a seamless transition from one power supplier to another.

Both the spa and the gym were very nice, clean, and well-attended (in the late afternoon until late night). Both the steam room and the jacuzzi were big. The pool was great for lap swimming. Third-floor guests with pool view actually had a small patio area between their rooms and the pool area. They had French windows so they could step out and go to the pool directly from their rooms. I tried the spa on the first night: ample amount of space for a Thai massage. There was a shower stall inside the treatment room. I took a shower but was surprised that they did not change the bath/shower mat between treatments. Apparently, someone had previously showered there, and no one had bothered to change the mat for a new client.

There was a lot of miscommunication:
– Before I left Saigon for Nha Trang, I informed the staff that I would return to the city quite early one day and asked if I could do an early check-in. I was assured that there were plenty of rooms for that day and that one room was confirmed for my checking-in early. When the time came, I was told that there was no room for early check-in. A group of people had just come and had used all the rooms. I had to wait for more than an hour to have a room ready. When finally it was ready, a staff took me to a 3rd floor-room, which was not my preference. So, she moved me back to the 7th floor. While chatting with her, I found out that occupancy that day was only 45%. So, why was it that they said there was no room available?

– I re-checked in to a standard room on a Thursday, but would move to a suite on Friday, and depart on Saturday. I made sure that the limo reservation was for Saturday, and to remind them of the room change. On Friday, I was told that my limo was ready. I had to explain to them that it was not until Saturday that I would need it. By instinct, I checked back on Friday night, and right enough, no limo was reserved for me for Saturday. So, I re-reserved the limo for the departure date. It was confirmed. Much later at night, I got a call, asking if I would need a limo for Saturday, and I told them that I had indeed reserved one earlier. The next day, on departure date, the staff was surprised to find out that I had booked a limo. There was none in the system that noted that.

– The staff charged me double for the first stay, not taking into account that I had prepaid for the hotel via the Internet (the hotel knew very well that I had prepaid because there was a credit on top of the folio). While both sides (the hotel and I) caught the mistake, there was no courtesy call to let me know about it. I had to go down with my laptop to show all the paperwork, and the assistant manager came up with a receipt for a credit already done that very same day (but did not tell me about it.) This was an honest mistake, perhaps the staff members were not yet used to the system.

– Postscript (and take this as a Caveat Emptor): never did a perfect job. Something was always missing, and this time it was no exception. They did not calculate Platinum points correctly, including omitting the prepayment in the calculation of the points. However, upon notifying the customer service, the problem was corrected. This blew my mind because usually I would get a courtesy acknowledgment e-mail, followed by the actual correction few days later. This time, it happened within minutes!

There were two things that in my mind I had allowed all this to pass:
1. The hotel was relatively new, only 4-5 months old.
2. Although they made several mistakes, the staff members were extremely friendly and accommodating.

If and when I return to Saigon, I would not hesitate in staying at the Park Hyatt again. While in the city, I visited different hotels to compare the common areas, the interior design and the atmosphere. At least for now, the Park Hyatt has elegance and tranquility that elude the other hotels; but then again, I would be comparing apples and oranges. Park Hyatt, after all, is at the top tier of the Hyatt group, above the Grand Hyatt, the Regency Hyatt, and the Hyatt.

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