The Westin Grand Cape: Great Location and Impeccable Service
Written: Jan 20, 2009 (Updated Jan 7, 2010)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Excellent location. Excellent Service. Recently refurbished hotel. Listed on Condé Nast Traveler 2009 Gold List.
Cons:Can be pricey during the high season. Off-season, look for great bargains!
The Bottom Line:
This hotel does not disappoint with newly renovated facilities, nicely appointed rooms, and a terrific location, only a few minutes from most of Cape Town's downtown attractions.
Update: December 2009 (see at end of this review)
Sitting on Lower Long Street, with Table Mountain as its backdrop and the Atlantic Ocean on the forefront, the Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays is a tall and elegant lady clearly standing out and sitting next to the Cape Town Convention Centre. It is impossible miss her as you arrive to the downtown Cape Town's Victoria & Albert Waterfront area.
The Westin Grand is the largest five-star hotel in South Africa (483 rooms) and it competes with the best South African, five-star hotels: the Cape Grace, Mount Nelson, Cellars-Hohenort and the Twelve Apostles. In 2008, the Westin Grand won the World Travel Award and was named one of the top five hotels in Africa by Conde Nast Traveler. This hotel has definitely captured the eye of the public, and we know why: it is a beautiful hotel with impeccable service!
Prior to the Westin name, the hotel was called the Arabella Sheraton, a strong five-star brand in Europe, especially in Germany, but in South Africa the hotel did not enjoy the same name recognition. As a result, in early 2008, the owners of this hotel and Starwood Properties set out to change its image and after a US$25 million name change and renovation, out went the Sweet Sleeper Beds and in rolled the Heavenly Beds!
What you've just read is something just about every employee of the hotel talks about. We heard the full story from the Food and Service Manager, and a few other versions from various employees. We have never stayed in a hotel where "pride" is so palpable... every employee whom we talked to is deeply committed to this hotel's success! The training and pay must be phenomenal!!
We booked a Deluxe Room (their standard room) through the Starwoodhotels.com website. I found my favorite promotion, "pay for three nights and get one free," and with that, the average cost per night was $146 per night. We traveled in July 2008, which is winter in South Africa so the rates are highly discounted. The same room during the high season costs about $350 a night.
We spent one week at their sister hotel, the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa in the nearby Overberg region before coming to the Westin Grand. In conversation with one of the ladies at the Western Cape, I mentioned that we had a rental car that we needed to return to the airport before coming to the Westin Grand. When we checked out, the same woman said she had arranged for a car to collect us at the airport to take us to the Westin Grand.
When we arrived at the car rental desk, there was a uniformed man from the Westin standing by with our name on a card. We were surprised to see a luxurious Mercedes Benz waiting for us outside, but our biggest surprise came when we were informed that due to my husband's Platinum level, the airport service was "complimentary"!
The limousine driver called in our arrival, and when we pulled up to the hotel's driveway, we were greeted by name and were escorted to the lobby.
The lobby is truly grand... it is huge! The décor is modern and understated. Behind the all-wood front desk stood a team of six young men wearing impeccable dark suits... they were smiling from ear-to-ear, and at least two of them greeted us warmly. Again, we were floored by the warm welcome.
When we were checking in, a message must have popped up on the screen, as the young said that I had left a DVD in our room at the other hotel and informed me that it was being sent to the Westin. That's service!
We were upgraded to a corner Executive Room on the 17th floor with a magnificent view of Table Mountain, Downtown Cape Town, and the ocean in the nearby distance. We had free access to their brand-new Spa and Fitness Centre and could use the Executive Lounge facilities throughout the day.
The bad thing about a corner room is the distance to the elevators, but with such fabulous views from our window, who cared. The room décor is sleek and modern, but too masculine for my taste, as grays and blacks dominate the room, with one wall painted in cherry red, for effect, but yet tasteful.
The large room is divided in half by a two-sided entertainment center. On one side is the living room with a couch, two arm chairs, a coffee table, and a desk with an office center. Each side of the entertainment center houses a 42" Plasma television so that you can watch TV in bed or in the living room.
Closet space is wall to wall in the bedroom, and an electronic safe box is located in one of the closets.
The bedroom portion has understated décor, with the idea that less is more when it comes to relaxation. As usual, the Heavenly Bed was heavenly, and the quality of the linens is top-notch! Two pairs of slippers were set by the bed side.
Modern and beautifully appointed, this bathroom had a large bathtub, a separate (huge) shower, and a separate toilet area. The amenities are the Westin brand, and while I've never found them to wow me, they are fine. The towels are plentiful, great quality and replenished twice a day. There were two terry robes found hanging on the bathroom door.
A mini-hair dryer is attached to the wall.
There is a tall piece of furniture in the living room housing the mini-bar, a variety of glasses, and a very cool Espresso machine. A tray with a variety of coffee flavors pods was available, free of cost.
As mentioned earlier, there are two plasma televisions in the room offering Satellite television with a good variety of channels.
On the desk there is a fax machine, cordless telephone, ISDN lines for your computer, and while wireless internet service is available in the room and throughout the hotel, it is for a fee. We did not use it.
Hotel Spa, Pool and Fitness Centre
The Spa is located on the top 19th floor, same floor as the fitness centre and pool. The Spa offers beauty treatments which are specifically designed for men and women. The ranges of massages available are from hot stone, duo massage, Shiatsu, therapeutic and Swedish massage. The spa also offers health and wellness assessments and consultations.
In a few words, the Spa is stunningly beautiful and the staff appeared to be quite indulgent. We received a tour of the facility, but did not use their services. Prices, compared to the U.S prices, are very reasonable.
The pool was not finished during our stay but we were told it was an infinity-type pool that overlooks Table Mountain.
The WestinWORKOUT® Gym is open 24 hours daily and it offers the latest equipment; very nicely appointed. The fitness centre is roomy, airy and conducive to a great workout!
Hotel Amenities (to name a few)
~ A complimentary shuttle (every half hour) is available to the Clock Tower precinct of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. We used this service quite a bit, even though the hotel is only about a 10-minute walk from the V&A.
~ the hotel offers a fully-equipped business centre, to include the services of a secretary if you should need one.
~ In the lobby you will find a full-time travel center, offering tours, activities, excursions to all of the attractions around Cape Town and the Western Cape.
~ There is a beautiful boutique found in the lobby offering South African souvenirs and the most exquisite selection of Diamond and Tanzanite jewelry. If you don't find the gem or style you're looking for, they will arrange transportation by limousine to their main showroom, nearby.
~ Every evening, the hotel offers an evening ritual called Unwind. This is where guests are encouraged to enjoy complimentary samples of food and drink every evening. Each evening is themed. For example, one evening was Japanese, and they served Sake and Sushi. Obviously, this is only to taste and not to have a full meal!
~ In a secluded section of the Lobby, one finds an area with 6 computer terminals offering free Internet access to all guests. A password must be obtained from the Front Desk and it is good for 30 minutes.
~ Free Internet service is found at the Executive Lounge, for the exclusive use of Executive Floors guests.
I define great service as "meeting a client's needs whenever possible." Our return flight to Angola required us to leave the hotel at 06:00 am, and the hotel's Thirty7 restaurant (where a magnificent breakfast buffet is served) and the Executive Lounge do not open until 06:00 am. The restaurant manager invited us to come down to Thirty7 at 5:30 am and offered to prepare whatever we wanted to eat. He advised us that at that hour there was a big commotion getting the restaurant ready for breakfast and if we didn't mind...! It was terrific; the place was practically ready to go when we arrived!
~ The Westin Executive Club offers magnificent views of Cape Town's Table Mountain, the ocean, and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. If you are staying in an Executive Floor, you are entitled to complimentary breakfast and complimentary beverages all day long, to include a happy hour from 5:00pm to 7:00 pm.
For breakfast, fresh oysters and Champagne were served daily, and I must have consumed dozens of oysters during our stay! South African oysters are known to be "the best" in the world, so good, they "can make a Norman cry" (Normandy reputedly also produces the best oysters in the world).
Breakfast was lovely every morning, and the service unsurpassed. I swore we had our own private butler discreetly nearby as whenever I stood up to get something, he was right there asking what I needed! The décor is modern but very soothing!
Dinner is also served in the Executive Club, and due to the views, I can imagine it is an outstanding place to have dinner. We perused the wine list, and it is quite impressive!
~ Thirty7 offers a striking show kitchen offering fine brasserie-style fare, and on a separate area, there is a Sushi Bar, where we had an outstanding Japanese meal.
~ Raleigh's is a cigar lounge offering an extensive range of local imported whiskies, cognacs, and cigars.
~ Louis B's is bars lounge offering an array of local and international cocktails and light variety menu. The atmosphere was friendly.
Public Functions Facilities
The hotel is well-equipped with banquet facilities and meeting rooms. During our stay we saw various functions taking place, but because the facilities are in the lower level, the hotel never appears crowded.
Near to the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (offering excellent shopping, vibrant city nightlife, and a plethora of award-winning restaurants), Cape Town's historical monuments, museums, and other city highlights, this hotel enjoys a terrific location!
The complimentary shuttle to the V&A Waterfront is definitely a plus, as you can come and go throughout the day. For Platinum Starwood members, a complimentary, luxury limousine service to/ from the airport, can't be beat. In fact, as Platinum members for several years, this was the first time we have received such complimentary service!
We will have to say that the hotel's employees are its greatest assets, providing impeccable service to guests. We were greeted by name, every time by the lobby staff, and there wasn't a thing they couldn't do for us. We had a wonderful stay, and we were sorry to stay only four nights.
With great confidence I will say that you will enjoy your stay at this hotel! Always remember to check their Starwoodhotels.com website for special offers that can save you money, as the hotel tends to be pricey.
"Baie Dankie" (thank you in Afrikaans) to Chris for setting up this hotel!
We stayed at this hotel from November 30 - December 3, 2009. As a Starwood member, we paid two nights ($150 per night), and redeemed points for two free nights.
We were upgraded to a lovely corner suite, and it was truly well-appointed.
Breakfast at the Executive Club was wonderful, as was the first time we stayed here. The service is truly faultless, those ladies and gentlemen that work there are happy to wait on guests!
During this stay I indulged in a manicure and pedicure at their Spa. The experience itself was very pleasant, the quality of materials used, such as nail polishes, was inferior quality. By the next day I had to request a redo on the manicure, as the paint was chipping. They obliged me, after all, the cost per item was R495 or R1110 with the gratuity; that's about $120, which is more than a mani/pedi would cost in a posh spa in NYC!! Needless to say, the second manicure lasted 2 days, and then I gave up and removed the nail polish.
Save your money... go to a nail salon and have both done for $50!
Other than the Spa experience, the rest was very nice!
We will return to the Westin Grand.
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