Have you ever stayed at a hotel where you know the moment you step foot in the door you are going to have a great stay? This was the case at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires, a luxury hotel that has perfected customer service and provided me unparalleled comfort during my three-day stay in late July.
Even before I got inside the door, I was already impressed. As I approached the hotel with my duffel bag in hand, a hotel associate standing on the steps of the hotel entrance spotted me, radioed for his colleague to open the door for me, and proceeded down the stairs to greet me and ask me if I was checking in. Considering it was only 9am, I was impressed.
The hotel, situated in the Recoleta section of Buenos Aires adjacent to the Vatican Embassy, features two guest buildings: a historic manor house and a modern 8-story guest tower connected by a beautiful courtyard. The manor house was once the home of Alejandro Hume, a railway executive of English Argentine background and later home to the Duhau family, prominent Argentinean landowners.
I checked in on the historic side of the hotel. Two front desk clerks cheerfully greeted me and asked me for my name. Immediately they began addressing me by last name and made small talk while my reservation was pulled up. After presenting a credit card for incidentals, I was escorted to my room by Fernando, the associate who checked me in.
I was assigned to a room in the new tower and as we proceeded downstairs and across a passageway under the courtyard connecting the two buildings (featuring an art gallery—a staple of each Park Hyatt property), the agent explained to me about the history of the hotel, told me about the restaurants and other amenities the hotel offered, and recommended sites to see when I told him I would be exploring Buenos Aires by foot.
The seventh floor room was spacious and well-designed, with a walk-in closet, sleeping and work area, and a spacious bathroom featuring a separate toilet room and shower big enough for a small family to get in. Fernando gave me a tour of my room, explained how to adjust the thermostat, and showed me how to adjust the lighting in the room (including automatic drapes) using the rather complicated set of buttons and dials next to the bed.
He had carried my bag up to the room and I handed him a tip, which he professionally refused. Now I was really impressed. He told me he would be my “butler” during my stay and that if I had any questions, concerns, or requests I could call the front desk and speak to him.
I left the hotel to do some sightseeing and when I returned in the early evening, I found my bed turned down, classical music softly wafting from the radio, slippers and a robe (the room featured both a heavy and lightweight robe) placed near the foot of my bed, a bucket of ice on the counter, my clothes I had taken out of my bag folded in the closet, and even my toiletries neatly arranged on a towel next to the bathroom sink. The Park Hyatt offers two free shirt pressings upon arrival and complimentary shoe shining anytime, so I had sent down a shirt to be pressed and one pair of shoes to be shined earlier in the afternoon. The shirt was hanging in the closet crisply pressed and the shoes, delivered in a leather shoebox and wrapped in tissue, looked like new.
I must admit I am gym rat and enter withdrawal when I am traveling and do not have a place to workout. This was not a problem at the Park Hyatt, which offered a state-of-the-art fitness center on the basement level adjacent to the spa. A woman at the front desk of the spa walked me over to the gym area and pointed out the equipment, towels, and complimentary cold drinks (including water, Gatorade, and Vitamin Water). After handing me a towel and asking is she could be of any further assistance, she returned to her desk.
Though spacious, the gym was not as big as many hotels I have stayed in—though certainly more than adequate for my traveling needs. An ab machine and a couple additional upper-body machines or a bench press would have been appreciated, but I was still able to get a robust workout in over the next hour. The pool, a gorgeous one based on pictures that I had seen, was being renovated and not available for guest use. I was advised, though, that if I desired to swim the hotel had arranged access to an alternate pool at the hotel across the street. I did have my swimming trunks along, but did not want to deal with hassle when there was more than enough to keep me occupied in the Park Hyatt. As I left the fitness center, the woman who had earlier showed me around stated, “We’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Klint!”
After my workout, I had a craving for pizza and asked at the front desk where I could find some. Without hesitation, the attendant (there is no separate concierge desk—it seems that everyone acts as a concierge if asked) pulled out a map and recommended a pizzeria about eight blocks away. He offered to call a cab for me, but I told him I wanted to walk. After showering and changing clothes, I followed the map which took me directly to the pizzeria.
The restaurant was small and crowded so I elected to take the pizza back to my room to eat. I returned through the palace side of the hotel where hotel security mistook me for a delivery boy and demanded in Spanish to know where I was going. I explained that I was a guest and we all had a good laugh. I suppose I could complain that the security personnel should have treated me better initially, but I’m not going to hold it against them—they apologized and they were just doing their job.
I slept very soundly in the plush king-sized bed. It was cold outside—perfect weather for pulling up the covers. Because my trip to Uruguay did not leave till noon, I slept in the next morning and sauntered downstairs to the Gioia restaurant at 10:30. Again, I was warmly greeted by a smiling hostess who took me to a table and offered me an English newspaper. The breakfast menu was extensive, but I chose the buffet option, giving me access to a wide range of continental choices plus the option of having anything I wanted off the menu. For about U$D25, it was a great buy and left me well satisfied till late that evening. The French Toast in particular was remarkable, and even more remarkable was the courtyard view and the warmth of the three ladies working in the restaurant that morning. Not only were they perfectly (not too much, not too little) attentive, they seemed to love their jobs. I watched as the ladies dealt with a particularly demanding German family (who decided to take out a plate of pastries and a cup of coffee and glass of orange juice with them after breakfast) and they struck me as patient and cheerful even to a self-entitled family that clearly looked down on them based upon their curt demands and lack of common courtesy or gratitude when served.
Upon returning from my trip to Uruguay, I worked out again where the same attendant greeted me by name and asked how my day went. Restaurants don’t open till late by American standards and I did not sit down to dinner until 9:30p that evening, again at the Gioia. I thought about going to the Duhau Restaurant & Vinoteca, the hotel’s main restaurant, but the rack of lamb caught my eye on the menu at Gioia.
Not only were prices very reasonable (my total bill for everything below was about $55 after leaving a 20% tip): the service was again phenomenal and so was the food.
The small carpaccio appetizer pictured below was compliments of the chef: I ordered an Argentinean Malbec and Acaqua Panna to drink, tomato soup, rack of lamb, and a chocolate nougat with ice cream inside, covered in espresso for dessert. Again, everything was flavorful and served at the perfect pace.
After dinner, I retired early. While I may have missed out on some of the highly acclaimed Tango dancing in Argentinean nightclubs, I was able to catch up on sleep during my trip and especially during my stay at the Park Hyatt: always a goal when I take a vacation.
The following morning was a repeat of the previous morning. After sleeping in and again being awed by the service at Gioia (and yes, the hostess greeted me by name as I walked in), I was back outside sightseeing again.
My flight back to Washington was not until about 10pm, but I wanted to take the city bus back to the airport (remember, two pesos is better than 120 pesos that a taxi charges). I returned to the hotel at 5pm to collect my bags and asked Fernando about where I could catch a bus to the airport. The question seemed to surprise him: after all, who stays at a five-star hotel and takes a city bus to the airport? He tried to discourage me, stating that the busses were not safe, but I told him that I would be fine. He asked me to take a seat and consulted with a few colleagues. A few minutes later, he came up to me and stated that there were no stops within a four kilometer radius to get me to the airport and any bus I got on in the city would require at least one connection. As an alternative, he proposed I take a non-stop shuttle from Manuel Tienda León for 45 pesos. The shuttle departed near the Sheraton hotel a couple kilometers away. I agreed.
After retrieving my luggage and checking out, he and another associate walked me outside, hailed a cab for me, and instructed the cab where to take me. After loading in my bags, they thanked me again for staying at the Hyatt, shook my hand, and wished me a pleasant trip home. A perfect ending to a wonderful stay.
My stay at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires was near flawless. While I highly recommend the luxurious amenities, comfortable and spacious room, and delicious restaurants the hotels offers, what I enjoyed most was the impeccable service. You can usually tell when someone is treating you nice merely because they are paid to do it. I did not sense that here with anyone on staff. Maybe the security guards, but again, I’ll cut them some slack: how often does a kid with a pizza box come strolling into who’s actually a hotel guest?
If your travels ever take you to Buenos Aires, look no further than the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau. I appreciated the Park Hyatt so much because they treated me better than I deserved to be treated—it’s just nice to be spoiled once in a while. When I return to Argentina, I will not even consider staying anywhere else.