Two weeks ago, I bought tickets to the San Francisco 49’ers game against the Green Bay Packers and I used 9,000 Avios to book the roundtrip flight. The million dollar question I ask myself was, “Where do I stay?”. Since I am only loyal to Starwood Preferred Guest and I’m a Platinum member, I only look ar Starwood Hotels first. I wanted to stay near the airport since Candlestick Park is nearby and I found a low AAA price of $109/night + taxes for the Aloft SFO Airport hotel which I consider bargain. I have never stayed at an Aloft hotel before because there are so few of them around the world. Last year when I went to San Francisco, I stayed at the Westin SFO Airport hotel and passed by the Aloft SFO several times when it was under construction. The Aloft SFO is a recently new property that was converted from a Clarion hotel.
Having checked out the property on spg.com and knowing beforehand that overnight hotel parking was $20/night, I began to look for alternatives. Thankfully, my stay was on a weekend and there is a nearby BART station in Millbrae that doesn’t charge for parking on Saturday and Sundays. The Millbrae BART station is a 10-15 minute walk to the hotel which is basically located on the same street on Millbrae Ave. It’s tricky to cross the bridge since there is an on-ramp for the 101 freeway that cars basically speed to get on even though there is a marked crosswalk. So, be careful and look for oncoming cars before crossing since there are no signal lights.
I was astounded on how the Aloft SFO hotel looked from its exteriors because it looked so futuristic. The Aloft hotel is the red headed stepchild of the W Hotels and I say that because the Aloft brand is a W Hotels concept brand. The Aloft tries to be hip like the W Hotel Starwood brand with a trendy lobby, bar, and hotel rooms. As I approach the Aloft SFO, I hear top 40 music blasting from the exterior speakers. That’s a pretty cool way to approach the lobby since the music sets you up in a good mood.
The lobby has a cool, unique, and hip feel to it with upscale modern decor. The lobby also has a “Living Room” area where you can watch TV, lounge around, and relax. In addition, there is a little market adjacent to the front desk check-in area called “re:fuel” where you can purchase snacks and drinks.
You will also find the wxyz bar in the lobby where you can mingle during the night with friends and perhaps meet new people. I checked in during noon and the bar was closed during that time, but the wxyz bar was a happening place during the late evenings.
As I checked in, I was recognized as a Platinum member by a young lady and was able to check-in early at noon since standard rooms were available. There are no suites at the Aloft SFO, hence there is no possibly of a suite upgrade for Platinum members. I chose 250 Starpoints as a Welcome Amenity for Platinum members.
During check-in, I was presented with a voucher for a free drinks which the coupon says that apparently Gold members can receive as well. Although the voucher says “enjoy a free hot sip on us”, you can choose any kind of drink from the “re:fuel” refrigerator. I chose to keep my voucher to redeem for the morning after, which I redeemed for a Naked juice.
As I entered the room, I was encountered with a large working desk and a large King sized bed. It’s a no frills airport hotel with IKEA-like modern furniture in the rooms. The standard room does its job if you just need a place to crash for an early flight in the morning. This hotel also includes free wi-fi to all guests regardless of Starwood elite status.
There were two bottles of water in the room by the cool looking blue clock and I also found two more bottles of water in the closet area along with a coffee maker.
The best thing about the room are the Bliss amenities which can be found in the bathroom. You can find a mini blue bar of soap and a body lotion in the sink area. The shower had a built in Bliss shampoo and conditioner, dispenser which is awesome since you don’t have to limit yourself to the small little bottles.
I basically stayed in the hotel room for one hour before leaving Candlestick Park festivities. After the San Francisco 49’ers victory against the Green Bay Packers, I arrived back to the hotel around midnight. Earlier when I checked in, there was a letter in the room indicating that there was going to be overnight maintenance on the water pipe infrustruture from 12am-3am. I slept for a few hours before waking up at 4:30am and I noticed that the water looked contaminated as I turned the sink on. I couldn’t be bothered since I had a 6am flight so I didn’t get to take a hot shower as I need to pack and get on the shuttle to SFO airport.
I checked out at 5am and told the front desk lady that the water was still contaminated looking even after running the faucet continuously for 10 minutes. She didn’t seem to care, and it angered me because what about the other guests that might have this problem when they wake up. I tweeted out my frustrations to @AloftSFO and @spg and was instantaneously tweeted back by @spg apologizing for the situation.
Aside from the water problems, the Aloft is a great property with genuinely friendly staff. The hotel shuttle is shared between the nearby Westin and the Aloft which runs every 15 minutes 24-hours a day. It’s only a 5 minute shuttle ride to the airport and the service is very friendly.
In the end, I heard back a few days later via e-mail and a voicemail from the GM of the Aloft SFO. I replied back to the e-mail and the GM apologized profusely. He invited me back to the hotel the next time I am in town and deposited 3,000 Starpoints as a gesture of goodwill. In addition, @spg from twitter deposited 1,000 Goodwill Starpoints to my account. I value the 4,000 Starpoints at 3 cents each, which brings the future rebate redemption value at $120. I feel like I received a free stay because of the water inconvenience and because my one tweet to @AloftSFO & @spg made a huge difference. That’s the power of social media and elite status, so use it to your advantage.