I visited Wichita for the first time last June for a family reunion/wedding shower, and I’m pleased to say I had a lovely time. People can always tell I’m not a local, and sometimes I wonder if they’re going to let me leave alive. (My pink polo shirts and Rainbows don’t help.) Fortunately, Wichita had some of the nicest people I’ve met anywhere in the U.S. — and that’s not counting my future in-laws.
One reason I was excited to visit Wichita is because it has a Hyatt Regency, and most of the family I visit in the midwest don’t have any nearby Hyatt or Starwood hotels. To make this even more exciting, the Hyatt Regency Wichita is one of the few properties that doesn’t permit using a Diamond suite upgrade. I mean, I can understand not permitting one at the Park Hyatt Maldives or a similar luxury hotel, but Wichita doesn’t seem quite so exclusive.
Maybe it’s just because they have so few suites. It’s a big hotel, one of the tallest buildings in Wichita, and yet as far as I can tell it may only have two suites. (I’m unsure if the “Bluestem Suite” is a named room or just a name for that suite category.) In any case, I’ve never stayed at a hotel that forbade suite upgrades before and was interested to see what the rest of the hotel’s service was like. I’m pleased to say I was impressed, and I will probably return here every time I visit my new extended family. Rates were about $100 a night, comparable to many other hotels of similar quality. We only stayed for one night because the second night was sold out and the rate for guaranteed availability was over $250.
Arrival at the hotel was definitely hectic given the river festival taking place that the same time, but it is easy to find after exiting the main highway. (There is a free airport shuttle, too, which surprised me because it isn’t that close.) However, the music ended relatively early and was never a disturbance.
The only issue was traffic from everyone using the hotel garage, and the desk clerk was happy to waive my parking fee when she found out I was a Diamond member. In fact, she was unusually deferential, which gave me the impression they don’t get many of us.
I was not upgraded to a suite, but I did get a larger corner room with a view of the river on one of the top floors. I’d say that’s pretty good for being there during a major event and between back-to-back conventions also being held that weekend. The room was comfortable with space for a king-sized bed, sofa, and desk.
The bathroom, however, was on the small side and seemed pretty basic as far as decor. That kind of sink “alcove” with a plastic counter and plastic faucet handles always reminds me of a budget property, like a Holiday Inn. It was fine — just not consistent with the rest of the hotel. The door the room was also lacking, with a pretty big gap around the edges. Fortunately we were at the end of the hall and didn’t have any noise complaints.
Megan arrived late, so I went back to the airport to pick her up. We had planned on getting some drinks on the outdoor patio facing the river, but it was so crowded we just drank in the bar while she had a pizza for dinner. Like I said, the place was crazy. Some kind of teachers’ convention — and with no kids around they were taking advantage of the opportunity.
The next morning we invited Megan’s family over for breakfast. Because there’s no Regency Club, my Diamond status entitled me to a complimentary hot breakfast. I figured we’d see what we could get away with, and at the least Megan’s parents wouldn’t have to pay for two of us. To those of you shaking your heads, it’s actually common in my experience for the front desk to encourage me to invite friends to breakfast and share the benefit.
“Free breakfast” is officially defined as a “hot entry or buffet plus coffee and juice” but many properties simply use a dollar limit. In this case it was $35 per person. For a menu where nothing was over $15. Jackpot! Food was good, but I would have liked a view of the river. It was disappointing that they built this restaurant but put it in the core of the building away from any exterior walls or windows.
Our group of five ate $80 worth of food, and I left a 20% tip, but none of it showed up on the final bill. I guess with a maximum capacity of four people in our room, our theoretical budget was $140. This is one reason I enjoy mattress runs at hotels without clubs. Invite your friends to breakfast like we did, and you’ll gain more in free food than you pay for the room! I have no idea why hotels allow this. Gold Passport officials sound confused, too, but say the hotels don’t complain.
Independent of breakfast, it was a pleasant stay in a nice room, and I can overlook the bathroom. Most of the newer hotels are on the far east edge of town but cost the same, so this was much more convenient for reaching family living on the west side — as well as the brand new CVS. (I taught them what a Vanilla Reload is.) Now Hyatt just needs to add a Hyatt Place in Amarillo and I’ll be all set.