This review - in fairness - is only as a result of being asked (amazingly) by the Vanderbilt Grace to do so. There's some VERY good, but (especially at the level this hotel purports to operate, and matches with its costs) there's some unforgivable.
The back-story. Our first New Year together, we elected to stay for the night (highly recommended, and (under previous ownership) very much enjoyed by my partner). Surely a no-brainer. Then, at the hotel's suggestion, we cancelled dinner arrangements elsewhere to enjoy the "Gala Dinner". With the Muse being full, they were extending the offer to the Conservatory - same conditions, same menu, same attire (several checks were made by us as they first said "black tie", then mentioned "casual", and when we specifically asked... "black tie").
The Room. Lovely. Perfect blend of modern yet classical. Not much storage space (especially in the bathroom, where if a man struggles to find a spot for his razor and deodorant, a woman is in deep trouble!).
The Food. Perfect. Everything was of the best quality and perfectly prepared, and presented... at dinner. Breakfast was the epitome of disorganization and slowness - night and day.
The Event. Not great (both subjectively and objectively), but with sweet moments. The dinner, while delicious, was (as I mention above) served in the Conservatory. It turns out we missed the "change of attire" call... to casual. We were seated next to a family, dressed in jeans and tee-shirts, with two young kids that were so tired one of the parents had to eventually take one of them to their room. I have no issue with the family. In fact, we both felt hugely sorry for the position THEY found themselves in - they were so embarrassed. However, I'm amazed to find a hotel selling $125+ dinners on New Years Eve without hinting that those guests will be likely to share it with very young children - unfair to all. New Year came along and, while it was sweet to see that many of the hotel staff came "home" to celebrate (we actually really enjoyed hanging out with them in the main lobby - cooks, serving staff, and more - as the ball dropped), it was slightly odd to watch the bar staff fill staff glasses to the brim (repeatedly), and then carefully measure out the exact prescribed amount for the few paying guests... huh?
The Other Event. Not good. At about 3:00 am, water started streaming from the room above into the bathroom in our suite! The occupants were taking a shower, the pipe broke, the rest is obvious. Reception staff did promptly arrive, brought lots of towels, and then (pleasantly) told us to "have a nice day"... amazing. The following morning, no mention, no apology, nothing.
The Staff. Extremely pleasant/nice, but clearly without direction or purpose. There seemed to be little/no management, and the staff were drifting around being (like I say, extremely) "nice"... that's not enough.
Overall, if you want the visuals of decadence and wealth, you won't go wrong with the Vanderbilt Grace, and the staff are the most pleasant you'll find. If you want the service and overall quality-of-experience that should accompany those visuals, and from a hotel that commands top prices and claims to do so, don't bother. This place has the bricks and mortar (and, let's be clear, excellent kitchen staff), and well-meaning staff. It does not have the processes and attention to detail that is simply a prerequisite for those who spend many hundreds of dollars per night for a bed. I wish them well, if they're listening.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Thank you for providing comments on your stay at Vanderbilt Grace. Indeed we do ask our guests to post feedback as it is a great way of sharing experiences and also helps us to improve where necessary. It was a pleasure to read about the positive elements, but we are extremely disappointed to learn of the areas which fell short of our usual high standards. I am glad that we have since had a chance to make contact with you directly and offer our apologies, as this is certainly not the experience any of our guests should have at any time. We are happy to have gone some way towards resolving the matter and do hope to see you at Vanderbilt Grace again soon.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.