Porto Vista Hotel San Diego: A Brand that Claims To Be a Boutique Concept

Last week, I stayed in Porto Vista Hotel San Diego for the SHRM Conference. This property was marketed as a boutique-style hotel in its official website and other online travel agents such as Hotels.com. However, my experience informed me that Porto Vista is just another hotel that claims to be “boutique” and “chic.” This hotel is not comparable to any boutique hotels I stayed before or the boutique concept I discussed in this blog.

I booked this hotel through Travelocity.com. Travelocity used “Porto Vista, an Ascend Collection Hotel” as the property name. Ascend Collection is a “historic, boutique, and unique” hotel concept introduced by Choice Hotels International. Before I wrote this discussion, I tried to find Porto Vista in Ascend Collection’s official website. It appeared to me that Porto Vista is not affiliated with the Ascend Collection --- maybe it was before; maybe it was Travelocity’s mistake.

I reserved a standard room with two queen beds. It is reasonable that a standard room does not have ocean view. My room was in front of the parking garage --- my friend asked me if we were staying a motel instead. The room’s location was very “convenient” though if I needed a towel or something because it was right next to the laundry room and the Housekeeping pantry, where the door was open 24/7. Inside the guestroom, I could not see any “unique” and “chic” d├ęcors. Like it or not, the wall-size picture might be the only “uniqueness” of this guestroom (1st picture 1). The TV was small and looked 10 years old (2nd picture). The painting on the desk had air bubbles (3rd picture). The bathroom was small (last two pictures). I was very unsatisfied with the “blue-ish” white bath towels and the dusted make-up mirror. To make it even worst, I found a note from another guest during her previous stay on the floor right next to the bed stand.

The guestroom is one thing. Its “employee-friendly” service is another.

When I checked in at about 6:30pm, I was given the room keys in a timely manner. Yet, nobody did any up-selling or cross-selling. On my way to dinner, I asked a Front Desk agent if the hotel served breakfast, I was then told my room came with complimentary breakfast for two, but I was not able to get the “coupons” because the hotel had used up all breakfast vouchers for the day and the Front Desk had to print more. Furthermore, only after I asked where the breakfast was served, I was then informed that there was actually a restaurant called Glass Door on the 4th Floor, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The hotel “provides” complimentary shuttle service. Interestingly, the shuttle only runs from 8:00am till 4:30pm. I don’t think I was the only guest who stayed there for the SHRM Conference. The conference hosted concurrent sessions from 7am till 5:15pm every day. How well would the hotel shuttle serve the guests attending the SHRM Conference? Another example, my flight left at 9:55am from San Diego Airport, which was within several miles or 10 minutes drive from the hotel. The hotel stated that it would provide complimentary airport transportation at Hotels.com --- Of course, it does not mention the hours of operations in the website. I asked a Front Desk agent if I could reserve a shuttle at 8:00am to the airport. I was advised to take a cab because the shuttle would be “extremely busy” at 8:00am due to the high demand from the guests attending the SHRM Conference. Surely, I took the agent’s advice and did not bother to use the shuttle service.

The Glass Door Restaurant has a magnificent view, but it was also very “employee-friendly.” It serves breakfast from 7am till about 10am every day. I don’t think anyone who wanted to attend 7am workshops would be able to have breakfast in the hotel. On the last day when I left San Diego, I ordered breakfast to-go. The hot food was put in the plastic containers which were supposed to be used for salad or dissert only. Not surprisingly, the plastic melt at the time when I was ready to eat my breakfast.

Porto Vista has a great location, right in the Little Italy neighborhood. It also offered free Yoga classes, cooking classes, and complimentary Wi-Fi to promote Porto Vista’s “life-style” and “boutique” brand. In my opinions, however, if this hotel is truly interested in making Porto Vista a boutique brand, I suggest them to re-evaluate the needs of every service provided. For example, if most guests don’t think complimentary airport transportation is important, then it is better not to provide this service at all. A shuttle service runs from 8am to 4:30pm does not mean much to a hotel guest.

What suggestions will you make to Porto Vista? What does a “boutique hotel” mean to you?

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