I recently travelled to Tampa (from New York) on Delta Air Lines and checked out the domestic First Class product. The journey to Tampa from Singapore was a rather long one and at the end of the trip, I was just really happy to check-in to The Westin Tampa Waterside where I stayed for a week (since it was fairly close to where I needed to be for my day job). Even though I did not have top-tier Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) status, I was upgraded to a Waterview Room which was two levels up from the lead-in room category.
The Westin Tampa Waterside is located approximately 16km away from the Tampa International Airport and I actually picked up a car from the airport (driving on the wrong side of the road is quite intimidating!). The property has just completed some refurbishment works so the rooms are looking better than usual (still, nothing compared to the average standard in Asia-Pacific) and being in a Waterview Room meant that a room on the higher floors was assigned to me.
Measuring only 26sqm in size, the Waterview Room is definitely on the smaller side. In fact, apart from some accessible rooms here in the hotel, all the rooms (including club rooms) are at the same size. Even though the rooms have technically just completed a refurbishment phase, it still looks rather dated and the thing that affected me most was how strange the bed actually looks when I checked-in. It did not look like a freshly made one but instead, it looked as if housekeeping has just refreshed it (and have done a bad job at that) prior to my arrival. Do note that this photo was taken upon arrival and I did not take it the following morning so it really looked the way it did.
There is a chair and ottoman located towards the end of the room where the window is and even though you are not able to look out of the window while you are sitting down (since it is not a full-length window), being able to enjoy some natural daylight is still quite nice.
The best part about my room here at The Westin Tampa Waterside has got to be that view as well as the proximity to where I had to be for work (day job!). The room is fairly basic and the heavenly bed did not remind me of the one that I have experienced back at The Westin Singapore which was perfect. Technically the bed is supposed to come with ten different layers of comfort but something tells me that those layers were probably not met here at this property.
If you are used to the average Westin standard in Southeast Asia, coming to The Westin Tampa Waterside will come as a little bit of a shock to you. Since I was an SPG elite member, I received one bottle of water during my week-long stay (and yes, this is not replenish-able). I understand that the tap water may be potable but I do like the flexibility of being able to take some water out with me each day.
As you would expect to find in most chain hotels in America, brewed coffee (alongside a dedicated machine) can be found in your room. While I am not a fan of brewed coffee and would pick a Nespresso machine any day, I thought that it was a nifty little device to have in your room. Complimentary teabags were also provided by the side but they were not diligently replenished each day. As part of the refurbishment works that were done, a brand new LED Smart TV has been added to the rooms here at The Westin Tampa Waterside and you are also able to access a channel guide to help you find out what is showing across all channels.
The bathroom at The Westin Tampa Waterside is a little disappointing to me - there is no bathtub here (even though a colleague's room had one) and more importantly, liquid soap is not provided. I have grew very much accustomed to having at least four bottles of bath amenities in international-chain hotels - shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion - but body wash was not provided here.
Instead, what was given was a piece of signature leaf-shaped soap. Over the days, bottled shampoo was also not diligently replenished (even though I have already finished it and discarded it into the bin) and on one day, only one set of towels (instead of two) were placed in the room.
In an effort to be more environmentally-friendly (and also to pick-up some additional Starpoints), I have opted to Make a Green Choice (MAGC) by forgoing full housekeeping for three days in a row. However, despite hanging the door handle outside before 2:00AM each night (and not receiving housekeeping for those three nights), the bonus points were not automatically credited into the account. In fact, I had to raise a ticket with the SPG team after the stay before 1,500 Starpoints were manually credited by the property a few weeks after. I have been to properties that have done something similar (with regards to sustainability) and what they would typically do is to slide the door handle back under the door as a form of acknowledgement - the Rydges Auckland for instance, slides an F&B voucher back each night.
Since my room rate did not come with breakfast, I actually had most of my breakfast at Starbucks nearby but on one day, I decided to check out the buffet breakfast spread instead. Breakfast is served at the Blue Harbour Eatery and it starts from 6:30AM on weekdays (7:00AM on weekends). The only problem is this - I could not for the life of me figure out where the restaurant was. Now the Blue Harbour Bar is easy since it is located on the same level as the lobby but finding the Blue Harbour Eatery was difficult since there were no permanent signs at all located. For a moment, I thought that the Blue Harbour Bar and the Blue Harbour Eatery was the same place. After wandering around for a minute or so, I found the Club Lounge of the hotel and decided to ask about this elusive Blue Harbour Eatery. To my surprise, it was actually the same area - the Blue Harbour Eatery is the Club Lounge here at The Westin Tampa Waterside! Someone had accidentally forgotten to switch out the sign out front! Anyhow, the food at this restaurant/lounge is fairly forgettable and if you are looking for actual espresso-based coffee, I am sorry to say that you can only get one from Starbucks downstairs (and this is a sad statement to make!).
Perhaps I came with too high an expectation but The Westin Tampa Waterside certainly did not live up to the high Westin standards that I have been accustomed to. While I do understand that cultural differences may influence the choice of products and amenities that are made available in the guest rooms, failing to recognise the MAGC each night as well as to provide proper room cleaning is quite disappointing for a chain this big. A brand new JW Marriott Tampa is planned for the city of Tampa and I would personally be quite interested to see how that property measures up to the competition around.