I spent the evening of the 4th of July at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
At the start of summer I wrote about the opportunity to use a hotel resort’s facilities even when you’re not staying as a guest. Some of the more vibrant properties offer day use rates to go and use their pool, slide, and lazy river or other sports facilities, and the prices are sometimes lower than you’d expect.
I had this in mind as July 4th approached in Austin. Some fantastic views of the fireworks over the lake can be accessed from hotels like the Hyatt Regency Austin, Four Seasons, and The Line (formerly Radisson). I’ve long recommended the bar at The Line, with floor to ceiling glass right at eye level with the bottom of the Congress Bridge, as the perfect way to avoid standing outside for hours in the heat to see the bats. The river is also where you want to be for the 4th.
I decided to book a room at the Hyatt Regency Austin. They have a great pool right at the river. Many rooms have views looking right out towards the fireworks. They also turned an event space into a viewing area with appetizers and a (paid) bar to see the celebration.
As a Globalist I’d get free breakfast in the morning and confidence of a view, at least. And I’d also get free valet parking, which is otherwise $57++(!) overnight here. I’d have the perfect place to park! (This is currently a category 4 redemption property, so perfect for a category 1-4 free night certificate.)
I stayed at the property several times before moving to Austin, and I put family up here when I first lived downtown, but hadn’t been back in probably seven years. The first thing that struck me was receiving a personalized email and text in advance of the stay, asking if there was anything that I needed. And they even confirmed over text that a view room wasn’t going to be a problem (and that they didn’t expect problems with parking, even though it was available to the public – $57++ will do that to you I guess).
I arrived at the hotel around 5 p.m. There was no reason to turn up earlier since the visit was just about the evening. The Starbucks in the lobby closes at 5.
The check-in desks were certainly prepared for the Fourth:
I was given a room on the second highest floor over the water, welcomed as a Globalist and told about my breakfast benefit (buffet or ordering from the menu in the restaurant). I was offered late check-out but didn’t plan to use it.
The hotel is atrium-style, and if that feels very 1980s it is. This property was built in 1982. Still, I kind of like the aesthetic.
Our room was just off the elevator and small, the smallest I’ve had here, but perfect for our brief stay. There was a bed, couch, and desk-ish built into the wall. But it looked out over Town Lake. And the shower didn’t have cheap bulk amenities mounted to the wall.
The highlight, of course, is the view of Austin’s downtown skyline from across the lake. It’s a fantastic feature even outside of the 4th of July (and New Year’s Eve).
We went down to the pool, which was crowded but not obnoxiously so. Servers were walking around doing their best to keep up with guest requests for drinks and food. There were plenty of towels.
Now, there were a couple of things I noticed when we returned to the room.
First, though there’s a refrigerator and coffee maker in the room, the customary two free bottles of water for elites weren’t there. (Though the website and mobile app advertise that rooms have bathrobes, this one didn’t have one of those either.) I called down to the desk and they were happy to send up the water, and sent four when I asked.
Second, I was impressed that I got a welcome text from the same person or name that provided advance communication. It even asked about the cleanliness of the room. And it was clean, even the bathroom! But there are spots that don’t seem to get dusted, ever.
The sun began to set and the view took shape. It was even prettier looking out the window, and you could see clearly that guests at the Line, J.W. Marriott, and Four Seasons would all have a nice fireworks show as well. (The pool deck at the Marriott looked insane.)
We actually watched the fireworks from our room, rather than going down to one of the hotel’s set up venues, because it was late for our daughter. A 16th (top) floor room would have been best – concrete that extends from that floor’s balconies slightly over the top of our window obstructs views a little bit. But we still got a great front row seat to the show.
We actually didn’t spend the night at the hotel, but since I already had valet parking and had a free breakfast waiting in the morning it was worth returning. They have a modest buffet, but generously also honor an entree off the menu for the Globalist breakfast benefit. I signed for it and it was removed from my folio automatically.
I suppose someone might have bought a pool pass for the day, but that would have been almost as costly as a room. And they’d be on the hook for parking, too. A room night here was the perfect way to see fireworks on the 4th of July, not least of which because with status having that view was a lock and status on points covers parking too.