Monday, 9 April 2012

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Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill

I've come to a realization after my stay at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill....I should have been a Washington, D.C. power broker. Ignore the fact that I'm Canadian (and the fact that I don't own a suit), but after spending a few days here, I've decided that I could fit right in with all the important looking people who were constantly having meetings in the lobby of this hotel. I felt like I should have been down there in the middle of everything, lobbying for my cause, even if I'm not really sure what that cause would be (maybe a ban on stair runners at the Lincoln Memorial). The Hyatt on Capitol Hill is definitely a place where things are happening behind the scenes.

It's also a hotel in a perfect location for us Power Broker types. A mere two blocks north of the Capitol building, I could be summoned to the Senate and be there within five minutes. Should things not go well during my visit to the Capitol, two blocks in the other direction is Union Station, the major departure point for all trains and buses leaving the city. Sure us Power Broker types prefer limo's, but sometimes you need to leave a city faster than rush hour traffic will allow. There's also a large food court at Union Station, for those times when you've already maxed out your expense account.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that two blocks north of the Capitol building is also the location of the country's largest homeless shelter. It's a block behind the Hyatt, but there are constantly people walking around and depending on your comfort level, you may or may not find it intimidating. We came back to the hotel late (Well, 9pm, but apparently that's late in D.C.) the first night and found the area around the shelter to be heavily populated with people who probably just wanted to be outside for a bit instead of cooped up in their rooms. Our walk through the area was uneventful, and at no point were we bothered or asked for spare change, but it still made for a less than picturesque family outing.

That being said, us Power Brokers don't usually spend a lot of time wandering the streets. When we're not at the Capitol building, we're in our hotel trying to make things happen for our cause. The rooms at the Hyatt Regency are comfortable, even when bringing along your research assistants. The bathrooms are compact, but very nicely finished, and considering we were on one of the top floors, the water pressure in the shower was pretty good. No bathtub though. My youngest research assistant was not very happy about that.

There's a few features in the room that might be a little unusual when compared to some of the other hotels in the area. For example, the housekeeping staff seems to know when you need to be awake, and they make sure that you don't miss your early morning meeting by shouting at each other in the hallways. I didn't remember leaving a wake-up time when I checked in, but they probably noticed my Power Broker look and decided that my time was better spent changing the world than sleeping in. It's a burden of the job I guess. Another interesting feature is that when you unplug something from the wall, the entire socket comes out of the wall as well. I'm sure this is some kind of "green" initiative, although I'm not sure I understand the details. I'll have to get my research team to find that information for me.

My research team, hard at work
Of course, one of the most important things that a Power Broker needs is his internet connection. As a Hyatt Diamond member (us Power Brokers stay in a lot of Hyatts) I get free internet usage in the room, which helps me to stay in contact with the people who can help further my cause. For instance, if I need to dash off a note to a certain Senator, I can just fire up my email program and use the high speed internet connection that they advertise at the Hyatt. I'm guessing that "high speed" is a relative term though, as here are the results of the speed test I ran during our stay:

You know, the personal touch is one of those things that's kind of missing in politics these days. Maybe I'll just walk this letter down to the Senator. It's probably faster.

One of the reasons that Power Brokers love Hyatts is the Regency Club access. It's kind of like having your Mom with you on the road, as there's always drinks in the fridge and a jar full of cookies on the counter. The club at the Hyatt Capitol Hill is a small one, but it was never crowded and the cookies were fantastic! At breakfast and dinner there are larger spreads and some hot food laid out which looked pretty decent, although despite being there at both mealtimes, I can still only review the cookies for you (seriously, they were that good). I considered using my Power Broker status to take the entire jar of cookies back to my room and share them with my research staff, but decided that it might alienate some people, and you never know when you're going to need support in D.C.

Lastly, yet most importantly, comes the staff. Outside of the early-morning enthusiasm of the housekeeping staff, everybody that I came into contact with at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill was a model of hospitality, even under difficult circumstances. On our check-out morning, there was a fundraising breakfast being held in the hotel by Mitt Romney. Needless to say, this attracted quite a crowd of both supporters and opponents, and is the kind of event that can throw normal hotel operations out the window. On that morning I had occasion to speak to staff at the front desk, in the Regency club, and the concierge, all of whom made sure that I was taken care of, despite the fact that I'm sure they had extra responsibilities for the fundraiser. Considering that my Power Broker status is only evident in my own mind, I can only assume that all guests are treated this well, so while the Hyatt Capitol Hill might have some small issues, it's location and it's fantastic staff make it a hotel that I'd be happy to return to. As soon as they refill the cookie jar.