If you're looking for a little fun in the sun and surf of northern Florida, I definitely recommend the Hyatt Place in Daytona Beach Shores. As nice as it is, however, I would stop short of calling it "upscale." If that seems like an odd way to start an article, read on to understand my reasons.

The first thing that caught my eye when I arrived at the hotel was the posted sign boasting that the Hyatt Place brand has been recognized by J.D. Power as "highest in guest satisfaction among upscale hotel chains."

While I generally have great respect for J.D. Power, this time we have to part company.

Exterior of Hyatt Place Daytona Beach Shores
Not that the property isn't very nice; it is. The rooms appear to have been recently redone and are very comfortable, with all the amenities we expect, including a safe big enough to hold our traveling electronics.

I tend to be very cautious about leaving my computer (and especially my company computer) in a room without a safe, so if I stay somewhere that doesn't have one, I'm lugging them with me. All. The. Time. This Hyatt Place makes that unnecessary.

It's right on the beach and has a nice pool and hot tub for those not inclined to play in the surf. Free Wi-Fi robust enough to enable Skype conversations, included breakfast, a small bar with snacks available 24/7, a guest laundry, a fitness center and a business center round out the property's offerings.

So why don't I consider this hotel "upscale"?


As I've said many times, excellent service can offset many negatives while poor service can detract significantly from a stay at even the finest hotel.

The service at this Hyatt Place was very good, but not excellent.

The staff, who were almost all young, were generally sharp and greeted me with a smile of recognition when I got off the elevator for my morning coffee or returned from my day's duties. They were helpful when I had items that needed to be scanned to PDFs (which had to be done in the hotel's office because the business center lacked that capability). They loaned me basic office equipment like staplers when I needed them, and all in all were quite helpful.

Hyatt Place guestroom
But even though I was there for three full weeks, only one staff member bothered to learn my name. If this were truly an upmarket hotel, staff wouldn't have taken three days to learn their guests' names.

The included breakfast buffet was good but there wasn't enough variety for someone on an extended stay. It was fine for those guests staying only three or four days, but those who had longer stays might appreciate a little more imagination from the kitchen. I know I would.

When I asked about that, suggesting that they offer something like corned beef hash as an alternative breakfast meat, they said they were "bound by corporate standards."

I understand that corporations must have such standards to ensure consistency, but I have also given Hyatt my opinion that such standards should be the minimum and not the maximum. Properties should be allowed to add little extras; ideally, something that reflects the area they're in, like a local beer or wine, clam chowder in the Northeast, a local craft beer in Portland or Seattle.

The other thing to understand -- and Hyatt has zero to do with this -- is that the area has basically two types of restaurants: chains like Red Lobster and Denny's (both across the street) or funky local joints where wearing a polo shirt and golf shorts instead of a ratty, sleeveless T-shirt and cut-offs is almost over-dressing. Of course if your focus is the beach, surf and sun, the cuisine may not make much difference.

I recommend this Hyatt Place because it has a nice physical plant, the people are pleasant and strive to be helpful and friendly, but -- despite what J.D. Power said -- I would not expect an experience that could fairly and honestly be described as "upscale."

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Photos courtesy Hyatt Hotels
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