Encountering Possibly The Weirdest Hotel Policy Ever

by Zac George

For the last week, I was in New York for the Freddie Awards. The rates for the host hotel (Hyatt Regency, Jersey City) were obscene and I love staying in Manhattan so wanted to stay in the city, despite the awful traffic. Anyway, I was staying at the Hyatt Centric Times Square with a friend and the rate was pretty fantastic, the location is good and It was my first stay at a Centric property.

The property has a fantastic rooftop bar overlooking the city and we decided to check it out one afternoon. I just wanted to sit outside and blog but I was stopped. I was denied as the staff member said I was too young but what we were told was a whole lot different.

Hyatt Centric Times Square New York Bar (Image – Hyatt)

The property is quite nice but the service was hit and miss. As my friend was Globalist we were entitled to water and that was missing, they also didn’t understand breakfast is free but that’s not the point of the story.

We ended up having a few other things go wrong so we ended up sending the general manager a quick email. He mentioned the bar and the policy behind not allowing under 21’s in and the reasoning is quite possibly the strangest thing I’ve heard of in a hotel.

the reason the policy doesn’t allow under 21’s, is because they thought the bar would be busy especially during peak season, and wanted to encourage high-dollar alcohol purchases. They didn’t want an under 21 coming in to get a glass of coke, preventing someone over 21 from coming to the table and buying a $20 martini.

Ok then…

So I get the drinking age in the United States is very serious but this policy is just bizarre. It’s not like the bar is just a ‘bar’ with only alcohol either, they do serve food up there so apparently I can enter a premise that serves alcohol and food but I’m just not allowed to sit at the bar itself. Is that the correct law?

Yes, the website does say 21’s and over but is this policy really to police underage drinking or to make a bigger profit?

What do you think, good policy or just plain strange?

Featured Image – Hyatt

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Boraxo May 4, 2017 - 10:22 am

Unlike the rest of the world many iS bars have a policy “no one under 21 admitted” in order to ensure they don’t violate the law by serving alcohol to a minor. Some bars even require minimum purchase. Deal with it

Naomi J Thompson May 4, 2017 - 10:24 am

Yeah. I’ve been told at several places that my kids are not allowed to sit at the bar if they’re under age. In fact, the bar/restaurant down the street from where we live says that kids are welcome until 4pm and then it’s serious drinkers only. I think it depends on the establishment. Plus, I think there’s a danger in letting under age people mixing with the over 21s – much harder to control who’s drinking what. They’re looking out for their liquor license. I totally get that.

A May 4, 2017 - 10:27 am

+1 deal with it. It’s the general policy in the US. Every country has quirks.

I’d focus on not getting free breakfast or water, not a commonly accepted and very normal practice. Typically if you are under 21 you can’t rent a car, stay in most hotels, or get a hotel room in most of the US.

Ben May 4, 2017 - 10:44 am

You got the blunt honest truth from the manager – while underage alcohol serving is a huge reason many bars don’t allow minors (the bar can get their liquor license revoked for serving them alcohol), the other big reason is profit per customer, especially when full. As a minor, you can’t buy a $20 martini made for $3 (alcohol, ice, etc), netting about $17 to put towards fixed costs (labor, rent, etc.) and profit. You’d buy a $4 coke which cost them $1 to make, netting them $3, or less than 20% of the money per drink.

Christian May 4, 2017 - 11:06 am

While legal, since they can set whatever policies they like, this seems super weird. I can understand if they have such a policy for non guests, but for guests it’s pretty insulting to be told that you’re not likely enough to spend sufficient money to be worth their while. I say this as a bar owner.

jody May 4, 2017 - 12:42 pm
xtfer May 4, 2017 - 4:29 pm

Not letting you in because its a bar and you aren’t legal is one thing, not letting a paying hotel customer in because you want to sell higher priced drinks is crazy talk. They will lose customers if they persist with that sort of rubbish.

JoeMart May 6, 2017 - 2:56 am

Did you ask this manager – who must have graduated from Harvard or Wharton – why not just establish a minimum spend requirement?

Philip Stamm May 6, 2017 - 4:37 am

Dear Zac,

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. I also appreciated discussing the matter directly with your colleague the other day. Particularly as a member of our World of Hyatt family, I wanted to ensure that you both know how much I appreciated your time and feedback. Thus, my gesture of extending a complimentary night stay for each of you in return for your patience and time. Most importantly, I wanted to express how hearing the feedback has played into our internal discussions and policies moving forward. As a result of your recent stay, we revisited the subject at length and have decided it is in the properties and our guests’ best interests (both registered guest and Bar only patrons) that the policy remains. We believe that having Bar54 for legal drinking age only clientele is a major contributor to our strong reputation, the popularity of our Food and Beverage offerings, our noteworthy guest satisfaction scores, social media standing and TripAdvisor rankings.

Understanding the desire of families and under 21 guests who stay with us to enjoy the amazing NYC vantage spot we have; led us to introduce our “view from the roof, private tours” for registered guests. Individuals and families alike can enjoy personal tours, local expertise and incredible photo opportunities during the day. This can be easily arranged with our colleagues. Further, our team can share their local favorites, NYC hidden gems and places to visit for all occasions and age appropriate activities.

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to apologize for the missed water and confusion related to the benefits of our loyalty program. We cherish our World of Hyatt family and have every intention of providing the very well deserved benefits, including breakfast as appropriate. Complimentary bottled water in every guest room, is a standard at Hyatt Centric Times Square. Thus, we are truly disappointed that we missed that upon your arrival. I trust I have appropriately responded, as mentioned above, in this regard.

My sincere appreciation for your candor. I look forward to personally welcoming you back to NYC, Times Square, and our property.


Philip Stamm
General Manager

gary May 7, 2017 - 10:19 pm

I am sure many places have this same policy. They just do not say it to anyone. There is a good reason they do not say it to the public. Your article shows why.

Yes, it may not be an official policy, but it is part of their business plan. So, they just say you must be of legal drinking age and never, ever tell you or anyone else they want higher spend customers.

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