The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.
Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore
In 2015, SPG added a new brand to its portfolio– Tribute Hotels. The idea was to create a collection of independent 3/4 Star hotels which complimented the (usually 5 Star) Luxury Collection hotel brand. I wonder why they couldn’t simply fold this hotels acquired under the Tribute brand into the Design Hotel brand, but I think the acquisition of Design Hotels happened too close to allow for reflagging.
In any case, SPG is actively trying to encourage guests to try out the Design Hotels and Tribute brands. They’re offering a 11,000 Starpoint bonus to anyone who stays in all 11 Starwood brands by 31 Dec 2016
This is easier said than done, though, given that Tribute hotels are few and far between. There are currently 9 Tribute Hotels in the world-
- Great Northern Hotel, London, UK
- Royal Palm South Beach, Miami, USA
- The Riveria Palm Springs, USA
- The Kiroro, Hokkaido, Japan
- Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa, USA
- SLS Las Vegas, USA
- The Hermitage, Jakarta, Indonesia
- Le Dokhan’s, Paris, France
- Le Metropolitan, Paris, France
The majority of them are in the USA, 2 are in France, 1 in Japan, 1 in the UK and 1 in Indonesia. So if your travels don’t take you there anytime soon, well you’re SOL.
Fortunately my RTW journey took me to Los Angeles, and Costa Mesa was only slightly more than an hour away. I’d willingly take the detour to check another brand off my 11 brand checklist.
That brought me to the Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, where I now file this report
The Avenue of the Arts Hotel was opened in April 2016 after a refurbishment following its purchase by Starwood. There are 238 rooms in this property, and the art deco inspired architecture was done by interior design firm Dianna Wong.
Check-in was straightforward and I was informed of my upgrade to a junior suite. While they processed the formalities I took a quick look around the lobby
The front desk proactively offered me 4pm late checkout and a choice of 500 points or a local gift. I took the 500 points so quickly I forgot to ask what the local gift was.
Keys in hand, I made my way to the 5th floor (the total building is 6 floors)
Although I’d been upgraded (which is rare for US-based SPG properties), I didn’t have high hopes for the room. In American parlance a suite is simply a room with a separate sleeping and sitting area.
I will say that the room was slightly larger than I expected. The main door opened to a separate living room area with a TV and small work desk.
Two small bottles of water were on the table
And the bedroom was perfectly adequate. The bed was one of the most comfortable I ever slept on. My bedroom overlooked an inner park of some sort with a large fountain and duck pond, but noise was never a problem even for this light sleeper.
I was pleased to note that this property also participates in the MAGC program, which fortunately in the USA is still 500 points (versus 250 in Asia and Latin America). For those of you who don’t mind 3 consecutive nights of rolling in your own filth (I sure don’t!), you can use MAGCs to really rack up the points on long stays. 1,500 bonus points per 3 night stint (on the 4th night you must get housekeeping) over a long enough period is going to be some extra reward night stays.
The toilet was small, but they somehow managed to fit a bathtub inside too. It was more decorative than anything as it was way too small for anything other than a tight fit. Or maybe I’ve just put on weight.
There were Baronessa Cali branded toiletries in the toilet. I’m not going to pretend I ever heard of that brand, but a quick google search shows that they’re perfectly respectable.
Rounding out the room was a capsule coffee machine. It’s actually quite an atas branded machine, Keurig. The coffee machine with DRM. No, seriously.
And a closet with bathrobes, an iron, a hairdryer and the safe.
One very annoying trend that’s popping up in a lot of hotels is restricting access to the minibar. I thought it was bad enough in Las Vegas hotels where each item has a sensor and if you remove any item for any reason, even if it’s to store some personal stuff, that item is automatically billed to your account. But some hotels go one step further and lock up the entire minibar.
Breakfast was served at The Silver Trumpet restaurant. This is a sit-down restaurant with no buffet option. Although it’s not ideal for a grab-and-go breakfast, a sit-down restaurant generally comes up with better, freshly-prepared food.
On the first day I went they were serving both breakfast and brunch, so I got to choose from both menus
I wasn’t disappointed with my choice of the California Crab Benedict on the first day (bacon on the side)
Or the Silver Trumpet Classic on the second day.
Outside the Silver Trumpet there is a small gift store with your usual overpriced hotel amenities.
Elsewhere on the property there was a business centre where you could print boarding passes for free.
There was also a gym and a pool, but I didn’t manage to take photos of them due to time constraints.
The overall location of the hotel isn’t great if you want to go to downtown LA, given how notoriously bad LA’s traffic is. I found the 45 minute ride often stretched to double that.
A final note: I had several Amazon packages sent to the hotel. Although 2 arrived just fine, another 2 were misplaced. The hotel manager was apologetic and agreed to cover the replacement cost + 1 day shipping, so I’d get my packages in time before I left for Mexico. So no harm done overall, but it was still an inconvenience.
I didn’t spend an awful lot of time in the hotel but at the end of the day the only reason I stayed was to check off the Tribute brand from my list. When Monday came it was time to relocate to a much more business-focused, less glamorous destination…