Costa Mesa, CA
I’ve flown into LAX several times for work, spending weeks at a time in the LA area. This time, I was in town to visit a friend living outside of LA. As I was doing research on places to stay, I noticed there was a Tribute Portfolio hotel in the area. As I’d never stayed in one of these properties before, I was very keen on visiting a property.
When it debuted, the Tribute Portfolio was the 10th brand of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts group (they’ve since introduced the Design Hotels, bringing them up to 11). It was marketed as a group of independent 4-star hotels (one step down from the 5-star hotels that make up the Luxury Collection brand), and I was very interested in experiencing exactly what this brand had to offer.
I arrived on Friday, and the front desk associate was able to quickly set me up with my room. She was very friendly and knowledgeable about the property when I asked her some questions. She informed me that parts of the hotel were under construction, so access to the guest rooms involved going outside the hotel and walking a short distance to the building next door. As she processed my room, she let me know I had been upgraded to a junior suite, which was very much appreciated.
Despite the construction around the property, the lobby was quite nice and inviting. Though small, there was plenty of sitting space to lounge on.
I walked out of the main entrance and walked over to the next building, which had the name of the hotel restaurant prominently displayed on top of the doors. Once construction is complete, guests will be able to access the hotel rooms without leaving the building, but for now, this wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.
As I entered, I walked into a bit of a landing space. I got a bit lost finding where the guest rooms actually were. Eventually, a hotel staff member pointed me in the right direction.
After a short walk down the hallway, I eventually found my room, 543.
The door opens up to the living room which was spacious, with lots of new and modern furniture.
Walking into the bedroom, I passed a (somewhat out of place) coffee maker (what is this doing in the bedroom?) to my left and the bathroom to my right.
The bathroom was newly remodeled and was overall very clean. The bathroom was stocked with Oliva Farmacia products, which is produced by RSA Room Service Amenities, a company creates products for direct sale to hotels. I was a fan of the shower gel, but the conditioner just didn’t do it for me (good thing I always pack my own).
On to the bedroom, which, for California standards is likely considered small, this was large and roomy by New York City standards.
I liked the room a lot – it was large and comfortable. The bed was wonderfully comfortable (although I was coming from my first week stay at the Camino Real Polanco, so in fairness, a lot of things were more comfortable than my bed there) and I felt very relaxed in the space. The bathroom was new, updated, and had decent water pressure. I did feel really off about the room and I realized what it was soon enough – the room (and property) seemed to be lacking in identity. Sure, the room had up to date furniture – but it honestly looked like something straight out of a generic 26 year old’s apartment in Murray Hill. I don’t think this is a bad thing – the Tribute Portfolio is still building its brand and discovering who it is, and I think once those details are worked out, I think this brand can bring something of value to the table.
In-Room Technology & Entertainment:
The room came with two flat screen TVs, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. I’m not an avid TV-watcher when I travel, but it is nice to have the option in both rooms. I found plenty of outlets to plug into, including two on each side of the bed (as must since I am eternally attached to my phone). Wifi speeds were not notably slow (although I didn’t try streaming anything) and is free for rooms booked directly with SPG.
For the SPG Platinum breakfast amenity, most properties offer a breakfast buffet, which is typically good, though there tends to be a range in quality and variety among properties. I was told breakfast was served at the Silver Trumpet, the on-site restaurant. As I walked in, I didn’t find the standard buffet set up – instead my amenity card gave me $10 (per person) on breakfast. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place (though I was told that I was) and was brought to a table and provided a menu.
After being seated, I did see some sort of a buffet-type set up outside (though not sure if the breakfast amenity gave plats access to this), but I was farm more interested in trying out the menu at hand. I ordered the California Crab Benedict and it was fantastic! Though not your typical crab cake, it tasty and well seasoned. The hollandaise sauce was excellent, and I loved that the dish came with slices of avocado. Would order this dish again in a heartbeat.
Though the Platinum amenity only got me $10 off per person at breakfast, I really enjoyed this dish and liked having the option of having something that I liked, rather than just continental breakfast items and scrambled.
Make a Green Choice Option: Yes
Check In: 9/10 – Professional and friendly. Front desk associates were very knowledgeable about the property
Elite Recognition: 10/10 – upgraded to the next room level than booked. SPG recognition noted at check in, granted free WiFi and was able to select platinum amenity (breakfast) at check in
Room: 9/10 – Large and comfortable. Would love to see more personalization in line with the Tribute Portfolio brand
In-Room Technology & Entertainment: 9/10 – Thoughtful placement of plugs for devices, large television, free WiFi in guest rooms for direct bookings, and free WiFi in common areas.
Staff: 9/10 – Very helpful, always upbeat and cheerful
Location: 8/10 – Great location for those visiting for business (or in my case, friends), but otherwise, the area is mostly residential. The property is located about a 10 minute walk from a large mall, which is convenient
On-Site Dining: 9/10 – Great food, excellent service. Would dine at this restaurant for brunch again!
On-Site Amenities: 7/10 – Outdoor pool, gym and gift-shop on-site though not much Else. Free shuttle service to nearby SNA airport, but for a brand that prides itself on unique properties, I was hoping for more.
Hospitality Services: N/A – While the website lists concierge services, I was unable to use these during my stay as I had plans in place already.
Hotel Appearance: 7/10 – The hotel is still under construction so it’s a little difficult to say, but the newly renovated areas were nice, though having to access my room by exiting the lobby was a bit odd (a temporary set up, of course). Looking forward to seeing this hotel once all renovations are complete.
Overall Rating: 77/90 (85%) ★★★★★
I thought the hotel was great with lots of potential. The 78% rating might seem a bit low, but I think a lot of it is due to the hotel lacking a bit of identity, but I think that may be the Tribute Portfolio brand as a whole. The Sheraton brand suffers from a similar issue, where some properties are fantastic and have lots to offer, while others are completely lackluster and forgettable. While this property does not fall into the latter, the lack of “extras” made it feel a little underwhelming, especially as part of a brand that markets the independent and unique properties within its portfolio. The property had previously been a Wyndham hotel, which speaks to the bit of stuffiness in structure of the buildings, but with the renovations, I think this hotel could be something fantastic in the future. Would be interested in seeing them offer amenities that are a notch above the standard Sheraton-type amenities (currently they offer a shuttle, valet parking, business center), though based on the location, I imagine the majority of their clientele are business travelers who may not seek these. Regardless of any negatives, if I find myself in the area, I would not hesitate to stay here again – the staff was fantastic, and I loved being able to order from a brunch menu rather than shop my breakfast from a buffet.