Hyatts Playing Games: 4 Hotels That Don’t Allow You To Use Your Points For Free Nights
Hotel chains deliver loyal guests to their properties, and guests earn points that they can redeem for free nights in the process. Hotels actually get paid for those free nights, too! The chain gets compensated by hotels when points are awarded, and they pay hotels when the points are redeemed.
These free nights are usually deeply discounted when a hotel is empty. They’re getting a guest to fill an empty room, and the hotel chain’s loyalty program is the single largest buyer of rooms at most hotels.
When a hotel is fully booked, though, the property generally gets its average room rate for the night from the program. That way they aren’t losing money on a room they might have sold to someone else.
Still, some hotels don’t want award guests. They might think they can sell all of their rooms not at their average rate but at a premium, at least some nights of the year. Or they may just have a negative view of program members – they like getting paid nights from these members, but not having to host them on points.
Here are four Hyatt hotels that currently do not let members spend their points for free nights when searching the chain’s website or mobile app.
- Park Hyatt Tokyo. As of this writing, there’s only availability for tonight and tomorrow night – and nothing else at all through the entire booking window over the next year. When I asked Hyatt about the hotel’s compliance, not offering anything a year out, they pointed out that the property would be closing for renovation… a year from now. In other words, something that has nothing whatsoever to do with why there’s zero award availability at the moment.
- Hyatt Place Allentown Lehigh Valley. There’s no award redemption online, ever. I asked about this last August and was told, “The mapping of the rate plans for award redemption at this hotel is malfunctioning. Members can still secure award redemptions for any available dates [by phone] until the fix is in place on our digital channels.” Nine months later members would assume it’s just not possible to use points here.
- Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Currently offering free night awards on only 14 nights between now and the end of March 2024. They figured out a loophole and Hyatt confirmed they’re in compliance – even when the hotel is empty they just do not offer standard rooms for sale, and therefore no award nights are available (since those are tied to the standard room rate plan).
Marriott requires hotels that aren’t ‘all suites’ to offer a minimum percentage of its rooms in the standard category. Apparently the Hyatt does not, and hotels like the Park Hyatt Aviara have figured this out.
- Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach shows zero individual nights over the next year where they offer free night awards using World of Hyatt points. The hotel claims to have 20 rooms that are considered ‘standard’ and therefore eligible for redemption, which is just 9% of their inventory. But they don’t make those rooms available when searching for a single night.
First, they created their standard room category as restrictively as possible. They often charge about $5 more for a basically identical deluxe room, and $10 more for the same exact room on a ‘high floor’. But that wasn’t enough to keep Hyatt members at bay. They also impose minimum stay requirements on those ‘standard’ rooms and on no other room type. You’ll only ever see rooms for points redemption when booking longer stays. This hotel has turned off awards for guests looking for just a night in Honolulu on the way in or out of the islands.
If there’s an upside here, it’s that sometimes bad actors do reform themselves. The Andaz West Hollywood, for example, carved out a subset of rooms for awards, and imposed a 3-night minimum stay on those rooms in order to limit redemptions prior to the pandemic. Now you can redeem for the Andaz West Hollywood most of the year!
And the Andaz Maui – one of the original hotels that actively worked to keep loyal guests away, and where a manager there once called me to explain they were trying to get Hyatt to stop forcing them to give away for free what they might sell for cash – has even gotten better for award stays.
For the next six months reward night availability at the Andaz Maui appears most of the time. However there are only two nights available for standard room redemptions starting November 8 through the end of March 2023. They clearly still play games – but are generally allowing redemptions within six months of booking.
Non-compliant hotels isn’t just a Hyatt problem. It’s an issue at Marriott and Hilton, too. But it does seem a problem that Hyatt’s rules have loopholes, and some hotel properties drive a truck through them.