Friday, April 27, 2012

SAN ANTONIO: Omni Hotel at the Colonnade

It had literally been years since I stayed at an Omni hotel, yet I was welcomed like a frequent and valued guest. Such was the excellent treatment I received at the Omni at the Colonnade.

When last I stayed at an Omni – the Omni Shoreham in the Adams-Morgan area of Washington, D.C. in 2006 - I signed up for the Select Guest program, which may have played a part in the treatment I received.

Even before I arrived, I received a personal e-mail from the hotel’s “loyalty ambassador” – not an auto-generated marketing piece – asking if there was any information I needed or if there was anything she could do in advance of my arrival to make my stay more enjoyable.

When I arrived at the Omni at the Colonnade, I was upgraded to a suite with a separate living/working space. At 410 square feet, it was a very nice space to call “home” for the three days that would follow.

While there were a few minor shortcomings, it was nicely appointed with a workstation, sofa and flat-screen TV in the living room, and a comfortable bed and flat-screen TV in the bedroom. Rooms at the Omni have the usual amenities, including a safe large enough for laptop computers, in-room coffee, iron and ironing board. In addition, the Omni has placed a small bottle of spray starch in each guest room. There is a charge of $2.95 if you use it, but if you need that dress shirt or blouse to look crisp, it’s $3 well-spent.

The rooms also include minibars, which are rapidly disappearing from most hotels, and wireless Internet access that is free for Select Guest members. Benefits of being a Select Guest go beyond free Wi-Fi. The most delightful treat was the option to have a complimentary morning beverage delivered to my door at the time of my choosing, along with a morning newspaper.

Select Guests can choose up to two complimentary beverages per guest in the room. Fresh coffee - always much better than the packaged, make-it-yourself-in-your-room coffee - is offered along with tea, juice, hot chocolate, milk, bottled water, soft drinks, or Red Bull.

For a modest additional charge, guests can also get an English muffin, toasted bagel, croissant, muffin, fresh fruit, or Greek yogurt. Prices range from $1.25 for the fruit to $3.50 for the yogurt. Everything else was $2.25, plus tax but without a delivery charge. Very modest indeed when compared to room service.

Service was excellent. Staff members at the Omni were uniformly helpful and courteous, with everyone offering a “Good morning!” or “Good evening!” whether at the front door, in the lobby, or in the hall. One gentleman even pulled his cart out of the elevator and offered it to me, saying, “You’re my guest!” even though I would have been happy to share it with him.

The hotel also has a well-equipped fitness center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and spa services available at an additional charge.

I noticed a few shortcomings during my stay. One was the lack of outlets to plug in the various electronics with which most of us travel. The workspace was fine, but the nearest plug (just one) was six feet away, so I plugged my laptop into that outlet and my cell phone charger in the bathroom. A colleague said his room had outlets at the workstation, so it appears some rooms may need a bit of an update.

The second hiccup involved the use of the complimentary shuttle, which runs to and from the airport at the top of the hour, but only when needed. Guests must make reservations to use the shuttle, and that requirement isn’t made as clear as it should be. In these days of high fuel prices, it makes sense not to drive more than necessary, but it’s important to know that reservations – both from and to the airport – are a necessity.

The largest drawback is that the Omni at the Colonnade is a $30 cab ride from San Antonio’s famous Paseo del Rio, or River Walk. However, if you don’t have to – or don’t WANT to – stay on the River Walk, I highly recommend the Omni at the Colonnade.  

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
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