Hilton Executive Lounges
I’m largely a loyalty program free agent, opting for redemptions across various loyalty programs aligned with my goals. But I probably lean on Hilton more than any other hotel program. I enjoy their generous footprint, excellent free night certificates, and no-fuss top tier Diamond status with the Aspire, among other aspects. Hilton also offers my favorite hotel brand. But Hilton isn’t perfect, and I’m focusing on one such annoyance today. What’s the deal with Hilton Executive Lounges?
A Recent Experience
My older one and I just finished a delightful trip to Roanoke, VA. We stayed at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, previously branded as Doubletree and now Curio. Before our trip, I noticed the property offers a lounge, but that aspect didn’t play a role in our decision to stay there. This historical property has long been on my list to visit. Regardless, I naturally wanted to check out the lounge.
After settling into our room, we decided to explore the property, including the lounge. Upon entry, we noticed we were the only ones there. The lounge offered plenty of seating, and a couple TV’s blared on each end. We noticed two fridges holding bottled water and Coke products. A truly terrible coffee machine (believe me, I tried its product multiple times) sat on the far side of the counter. Sitting atop the island next to apparently-long-unused stove burners, the following sign provided a huge clue why this lounge is more fit for tumbleweeds than people.
A lengthy message on a large sign in any lounge probably doesn’t bring good news. The Hotel Roanoke again confirmed my belief with their version:
Welcome to the Executive Lounge. The lounge is available at your leisure throughout your stay.
For guests staying on the Executive Level that have paid the upgrade fee, you should have received credit vouchers upon arrival which are good for room service and any food & beverage outlet at the hotel. This credit is the food amenity portion of your upgrade.
We thank you for choosing the hotel and look forward to serving you throughout your stay. Please stop by the front desk with any questions or concerns.
Long story short, I read this as guests with lounge access get their “lounge food” at restaurants/room service instead of in the club. While this sign is immediately directed at guests paying for Executive Level amenities, it naturally applies to certain elites, as well. Indeed, Gold and Diamond members receive a daily food and beverage credit.
At check-in, the rep mentioned that we’d receive our $30 daily food and beverage credit in addition to lounge access. Props to the Hotel Roanoke for allowing easy use of this credit – all restaurants participate, and room service is also an option. But a bigger picture issue exists, in my opinion.
Hilton Executive Lounges – What’s the Point?
I’m convinced Hilton Executive Lounges, at least ones adopting a “no food provided” policy, seem increasingly obsolete. We’re being sent the message that food and beverage credits, whether for elites or ones who pay for them via room rate (as described in the above sign), now accomplish a substantial part of what lounges previously did.
What remains for guests in this lounge? Crappy coffee, unnecessary plastic, dusty furniture, and a couple TV’s.
Meanwhile, optimistic travel planners and Hilton elites are on the receiving end of a deceptive bullet point. Conveniently for Hilton, these individuals connote idealized and increasingly erroneous definitions of Hilton Executive Lounges, perhaps based on what they previously experienced.
And they’re hardly any lounges left. Currently, Hilton offers 30 domestic Executive Lounges. Not surprisingly, Hilton doesn’t make finding all lounges very easy. One must select each country individually to then filter by hotel feature on the Executive Lounge amenity.
In my view, by continuing to offer Executive Lounges like the one at Hotel Roanoke, Hilton plays on the ignorance and/or past experiences of Hilton guests to shill higher rates with a more hollow benefit.
Like an old shopping mall left to rot with a few tenants left, the Hotel Roanoke lounge seems to receive minimal attention – from guests or workers. I suspect many clubs are trending the same way. I’ll move forward with Hilton properties largely like I have before, though. I won’t focus on those with lounges but may visit if I end up staying there for other reasons. And I’ll always set a low bar. How do you currently feel about Hilton Executive Lounges?
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