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My Thoughts on Mattress Running To Requalify For Hyatt Diamond Status

by on December 6, 2012 · 34 comments

in Elite Status, Hyatt

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Scrambling to achieve or maintain elite status isn’t just limited to airlines. Hotel elite status can be just as important to keep, so many people (myself included) are finding themselves trying to eke out enough stays, nights or spend to retain status. As with airline status, it is important to evaluate the cost of achieving status and whether those costs are justified by the benefits you will reap with status.

My Situation
I have been on the road a lot this year spending nearly 180 nights in hotel rooms around the world. I am going to qualify for Starwood Preferred Guest’s uber-elite 100-night Platinum Status for next year without any trouble at all, and I’m looking forward to a year of earning 4 Starpoints per $1 spent at Starwood properties, the flexibility of YOUR24 check-in, 10 Suite Night Awards plus the 100-night added perk of my own personal Starwood Ambassador concierge service.

I have had Hyatt Diamond elite status for the past several years, and as the end of 2012 approaches I have just 20 stays under my belt and would need 5 more stays by the end of the year to requalify. I don’t have a lot more travel coming up where there are convenient Hyatts to stay at before the end of the year, so I’ve been considering all my options. The Hyatt Visa just added new elite status perks: 2 stays/5 nights with $20,000 in spend and an additional 3 stays/5 nights with $40,000 in spend. These thresholds are hardly as lucrative as the Hilton Citi Reserve and Surpass Amex which give Hilton Diamond top tier status with $40,000 in spend or the Starwood Amex and Business Starwood Amex that give 2 stays/5 nights with no spend, but the 5 stays would put me over the top by awarding me with credit for 5 stays as one of the card’s spending threshold perks. That’s a lot of cash to drop, though, so it will be cheaper and more effective to book some quick one-night stays wherever possible in the next few weeks.

Hyatt Diamond status includes a lot of perks – but will it be worth it to me for next year?

The thing is, I traveled a lot this year and still struggled to retain Diamond easily, so I’m wondering whether requalifying is even worth it. Is it better for me to double down on Starwood and admit that it’s become my main hotel program, or to try to maintain Hyatt Diamond status and potentially drop to a lower tier of Starwood Platinum next year?

The drawbacks to Hyatt are that its properties that I like (for example Andaz Fifth Ave in NYC) tend to be expensive across the board and its promotions this year haven’t been very lucrative- heck there is no promotion at all this December! Hyatt also doesn’t give elite qualification credit on award stays, has no cash & points redemptions, and does not have as big a footprint as the other major chains (for instance no hotels in Spain where I travel several times a year). So am I just setting myself up for another mad dash for elite qualification again next year? Especially when I’m not sure I’ll travel quite as much next year the same way as I did this year, but rather intend to stay in places longer and perhaps even do some home swaps.

That being said, maintaining Diamond status might  be a good idea because the Chase Ultimate Rewards points I earn with my cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold transfer to Hyatt. That flexibility is one of my favorite ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for top-tier Hyatt properties like the Park Hyatt Istanbul and the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, so that also increases the value of maintaining Diamond since it’s another incentive to stay with the chain and I still get perks like free breakfast/club access on award stays.

If I do decide to go for Diamond status again, I think my best strategy to requalify would be to book 5 one-night stays at the cheapest Hyatt possible, which is looking like the Hyatt Regency in Miami, which is about 15 minutes from where I live. Rates this month are around $162 per night including taxes and fees, so my five stays would cost $810. I could try to drive further away to find cheaper properties, but I also value my time and I have a lot planned this weekend in Miami (Art Basel) before I go to NYC next week, then Ireland, then Christmas with family and then back to Miami for the new year. While it is only December 5, this is a busy time for me and trying to find cheap Hyatts in NYC is like trying to find cheap first class fares to Australia- not going to happen!

The Actual Cost of Retaining Diamond
Somewhat counterintuitively, I would actually use my Amex Starwood Business card since I would get a 3% rebate through the OPEN Savings program and 1 SPG point per dollar, so my cost would actually be $785.70. I would get 1,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points per stay thanks to my current Diamond status, which I value at 2 cents each, so 5,000 bonus points is worth $100 off to me, bringing my cost down to $685.70 plus the 786 SPG points would be worth $17 at 2.2 cents each (my rough value for them). I would earn 5 Hyatt Gold Passport points per $1 as a base and a 30% bonus as a Diamond member for a total of 5,119 points. I value those at 2 cents each, giving me a value of $102. So from the $785 I’m spending, I take off $219 total for a cost of $568.

So in the end, what is that $668 worth? Here are the key benefits of Diamond status:

  • Achieve rewards even faster with a 30% point bonus when choosing points: This means that I earn 6.5 points per dollar I spend plus using OPEN savings I get a 5% discount per year starting in 2013 plus 1 Starpoint per $1 when I use my Starwood Business Amex.
  • Enjoy the best room available upon arrival, excluding suites.
  • Receive exclusive access to the Regency Club or Grand Club lounge featuring complimentary continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy daily complimentary full breakfast in hotels without a club lounge
  • Treat yourself to a suite upgrade at the time of reservation four times annually on paid room nights
  • Receive a special welcome point bonus or food and beverage amenity during each stay
  • Receive a nightly room refresh
  • Receive the confirmed bed type at check-in
  • Stay connected with complimentary in-room Internet access
  • Expedite check-in at a dedicated area for elite members
  • Ensure a room is always available with our 48-hour guarantee
  • Extend your stay until 4:00 p.m. with a late check out request
  • Book reservations through an exclusive Diamond line

However, remember that since I have the Hyatt Visa, I automatically get Gold Passport Platinum status, which gives a 15% base point bonus, free internet, rooms upgrades, 2pm late checkout and extra bonus points after every third stay.

So if I spend the $686, the additional benefits I would receive end up being 15% bonus points on eligible spend, the four suite upgrades, access to Regency Club or free breakfast, 4pm late checkout and a 1,000-point welcome amenity on stays. Is this all worth $686?

Access to club lounges like the one at the Grand Hyatt Seoul can go for over $100 per day.

Though hard to peg an exact value on them, the suite upgrades are nice to have. For me, the most concrete example of their value would be that I travel to LA a lot and stay at the Andaz West Hollywood where I can book a standard room for reasonable rates usually around $200 a night and get upgraded to a one-bedroom suite, which is a lot more spacious with a large living room, sitting area and separate bedroom. My LA stays average 2-3 nights each, so if you multiply that by four, I’m already looking at between $800-$1,200 in face value.

I also really enjoy the club access/free breakfast amenity. Club rooms can easily go for $100 more per night than standard rooms, and club-level guests can enjoy light meals throughout the day in the lounge, while at the Park Hyatts where I enjoy staying most but at which there aren’t club lounges, I get free breakfast every day (sometimes even via room service) of my stay that’s almost definitely worth over $30 per day.

Free breakfast at hotels like the Andaz Fifth Avenue in New York are a valuable perk of Diamond status worth upwards of $30 per day.

After much consideration, I have decided that I am indeed going to to go for Diamond status again since I am so close and the potential value of all those perks can far outweigh the remaining cash layout that will be involved and I am going to continue to monitor rates in the hopes of bringing down the overall hotel rate I’ll have to pay.  I think everyone should do the same and evaluate whether the perks of elite status outweigh the out-of-pocket costs just like we do with airline mileage.

What are your end-of-the-year nights/stays tallies? Are you gunning for the next level of status, or content to drop in status, and why? Share your thoughts below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • LPR

    TPG,

    IMO, maintaining Hyatt Diamond is worth it. Even if you “fell” to SPG Platinum or Platinum 50, that’d be ok.

    On another note, how do you have over 150 PAID nights at hotels this year? I mean, why are you paying for these stays? After all, you are “the points guy”.

    I assume your point balances for SPG and Hyatt are very high, so to me it doesn’t justify you spending money at these hotels.

    Am I missing something??

  • Chris

    I’m just 2 nights from Hilton Diamond for next year, so even though I don’t have any travel planned for the rest of the year I’m guessing I’ll find 2 nights in the next 25 days to reach that next level, especially since I have a fair amount of travel planned for next year, so I think the extra perks should make it worth while.

  • Michael

    The Park Hyatt in DC has some pretty cheap rates right now. Around 215 a night. If you have some reason to go to the capital it might be worth it since its s Park Hyatt.

  • MarkJ

    I did the Hyatt Diamond Challenge this year. I had completed nine of the necessary twelve nights and I was leaving for Spain where there are no Hyatts. I went to the manager of the Hyatt Place I was staying at and he made me a deal at $50/night for three nights more after I left. I was not there to use the rooms during the three nights but paying the $150 + tax was worth it to me to get Diamond status.

  • JohnnieD

    Just a thought….When my wife and I stayed at the Hyatt Vendome in Paris last winter, diamond status got us breakfast and Internet for the three days we were there (award nights). Seeing as how breakfast buffet was 48 euros each and Internet was 25 euros a day, this saved about $475! Not that I would ever pay $125 for breakfast for two, but just an example of the value of Diamond status……….

  • Mike

    I was wondering the same thing ;)

  • Julia

    I accumulate points (and miles) so I have large quantities for big redemptions. For example I just booked a First Class ticket to Africa for next year using 100,000 miles. I imagine that’s a similar strategy TPG uses. And I’d rather spend 100,000 SPG points on a 5* resort somewhere that typically costs $1000/night than whittle away at my points balance for a few hundred savings here and there.

  • Jess

    I am approx 5 stays from keeping my Hilton Honors Diamond. I am going to let it drop to gold not because I couldn’t find a cheap Hampton Inn or Homewood Suites, but because my focus next year is going to be keeping my diamond Hyatt and earning platinum Starwood. I have a few stays for this year left (work) but beyond that I am done for the year unless a SPG propoerty in Houston becomes matress run worthy.

  • C75K

    TPG’s readers are paying for his hotel stays and travels via credit card referrals…

  • Vik

    Think your math is off a little. I make the cost to be about $566.7 (3% rebate, 10,119 Hyatt points + 786 SPG points).

  • thepointsguy

    Many of those nights were SPG redemptions (still paid, but using points) because they count award stays, including cash and points, towards elite staus. Starwood also lets you accrue elite nights when you pay for rooms for other people, so its not that hard to do (and thats why so many of my nights are with Starwood- wish Hyatt had the same rules)

  • thepointsguy

    You are correct that this is my fulltime job and that I do make advertising and referral money (which is disclosed).

  • thepointsguy

    I love the Park Hyatt DC! Sadly no trips planned and I’m trying to find cheaper ways to requalify.. but the thought of Blue Duck Tavern has me rethinking that strategy!

  • thepointsguy

    I love the PH Vendome breakfasts! I was getting room service for 2 which is almost 100 euros… so yea, I guess I should keep Diamond!

  • Ken Jones

    Starwood: 57 nights (13 stays). Content to have qualified for Platinum. Actually, the first time I’ve qualified for Platinum in the past few years. I decided to concentrate on SPG again because they improved their benefits and introduced lifetime status. I’m already lifetime Gold, and need 4 more years at Platinum for lifetime Platinum.

    Hilton: 45 nights (15 stays, ~50K base points) including travel through the rest of the year. I’ve been Diamond the past few years, but I’m still struggling with my strategy for this program. Most of my Hilton stays are at HGIs in the US, where the differences between Gold and Diamond are practically irrelevant. Perhaps one trip a year is at an international Hilton, where Diamond status can get me a nicer room and lounge access. And once every year or two, my husband and I go to London, where we like to stay at the Waldorf Hilton on Aldwych; Diamond status has gotten us Executive Floor rooms and lounge access, which is nice. I’ve pretty much reconciled myself to dropping to Gold. I’ll see next year whether I can get a Diamond challenge. If not, I’ll probably pick up the Citi HHonors Reserve card, maintain Gold status with that, and not worry about how often I stay at Hilton properties.

    Marriott: 29 nights. I’ve been Platinum the past few years, but my travel this past year has frequently taken me places where either there are no Marriott properties or else my client has a negotiated rate with a non-Marriott property. I’ll let me status lapse for now. For 2013, I’ll see what changes they roll out for their lifetime status program. Assuming they don’t gut it, I’ll probably arrange some inexpensive events to pick up status for 2013-2014, as I’m getting close to qualifying for lifetime status under their current program.

    Carlson: 28 nights (7 stays). I’ve been Silver the past couple of years. Not worth it to mattress run for Gold. I’ll probably pick up one of the new Carlson credit cards for Gold status.

    Priority Club: 5 nights (27,031 points). I’m currently Platinum Ambassador. I was going to let my Priority Club status drop to Gold, as status has been basically meaningless in this program aside from the extra bonus points. But with their recent (non-)announcement of changes to status qualification, I’m considering buying the points I need to qualify for Platinum. It wouldn’t cost too much, and I could use the points for Points Saver redemptions. I think I might wait until later in the month to make up my mind to see if they announce tangible improvements to Platinum status to accompany the more stringent qualification requirements.

    Hyatt: 0 nights. Historically, Hyatt’s program has never really worked for me. Before the introduction of the Hyatt Place brand, there were just far too few Hyatt properties. Even now, the cost of most Hyatt properties in locations I need to stay is appreciably more than other brands I consider, and I need to keep the costs of my trips within my company’s travel allowance. Also, many of Hyatt’s promotions like FFN historically have been based on stays, not nights. As most of my stays tend to be 4-6 nights (and I can’t justify hotel-hopping on my business trips), the promotions have not been as lucrative for me. Based on the glowing reviews I’ve heard from members of the Gold Rewards program, I continued to be tempted. But I just don’t know if I can get the program to work for my travel needs.

  • Vicky

    I have run the numbers re the status thing and have come to the conclusion that it is not really needed. The money that is spent achieving status to get the free breakfast would easily cover the purchase of breakfast when you need it. Suite upgrades etc are nice, but is it the end of the world if you don’t get one? The truth is once you get status you find yourself focusing on how to maintain it. I decided to let all status go with hotel programs and just stay where I want to.

  • Greg

    Brian, I am in a very similar boat. I have opposing feelings / and experiences to you with SPG Plat, and have decided to let it go this year (even though SPG added the free continental breakfast benefit for up to 2) I usually travel with 4, so the breakfast benefit alone at Hyatt is worth say $40 x 25 = $1000.

    However, Hyatt has clearly marked a change in their promotions. I am finding I am paying MORE to be loyal (as sometimes I have found competitor hotels to be MUCH cheaper but I pay more as I want to secure my status – case in point I booked Hyatt Olive 8 for $200 this weekend to secure diamond, but the Fairmont Seattle was $139 or $159 for a suite. For Christmas break I booked the Ritz Maui for $300 night this Christmas – Hyatt Maui $550, Westing Maui $650 per night at the time I was trying to book in June) paying $250 or $350 to get my “free breakfast” benefit just is not worth it.

    I am finding that using Priceline / Fine Hotels and Resorts / Corportate discount codes can often get you better benefits or better prices so you can spend your CASH on the things you want.

  • John K

    Hey, you can book the rooms at andaz west hollydwood… ill check in and stay for you =D

  • miffSC

    The Hyatt Place rate at the airport is $139 for Park/Fly. That might save you a bit.

  • Michael

    I love my diamond status and just had a good experience at the Andaz Wall Street where rooms were originally $455 but by the time I checked in, they had dropped to $198 (using Kayak search) and the BRG matched and then beat the price by 20 percent, bringing the rate down to $160. Then I got upgraded and had a $80 breakfast that was comped. Why not try to book a Hyatt using Kayak in NYC? I am seeing some low rates this month.

  • Michael

    It’s the best breakfast in the F-ing world! Everything is so fresh and they source only the best of everything.

  • dale m

    on what planet can breakfast be have a realistic value of $ 80 ?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexkgtu Alexander Onishchenko

    BRG. I did quite a few stays near FLL area this year for under $70. Once I even got lucky to book HP FLL for $39/night via best rate guarantee. look around, after all, hyatt’s BRG is the most customer friendly.

  • Poptarts

    I LOVE hyatt diamond but sounds like you may not even requalify in 2013 so might as well cut the cord sooner than later. For $686, you can upgrade to suite(s) and buy breakfast several times over. Plus, you can upgrade to a suite using points and save the $686 for other travel.

  • Al

    You may want to use an impersonator to check in and out for you in a less expensive city. I know some Hyatt Place hotels in Atlanta area have rates around $50 on weekends and holidays. Most of them also have machines in the lobby for you to check in and check out. No human interaction, hence no ID check.

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  • Michael

    Dale — 2 diners — and it was delicious.

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  • Mike

    I was able to requalify for Diamond status for next year. I did this by staying in different Hyatt hotels in the same city, checking in/out each day, sometimes going to the same hotel every other day. This allowed me to qualify using stays (25) instead of nights (50). An added benefit was the Diamond amenity of 1000 pts for Regency/Grand and 500 points for other. It’s kind of a hassle to move each day but I get used to the routine and find it worthwhile. One other trick is I book reservations under my name for friends and put them as an added guest on the room. That way, I get the credit even though they pay and they get the room upgrade/regency club benefits. It’s a win/win.

  • Alexis

    Mike,
    How do you add a friend or relative as an added guest to a room reservation? I would like to add my husband as a guest when I book a Hyatt hotel, but I haven’t been able to online. Do you need to call the Hyatt customer service line to add a guest? Thanks!

  • Mike

    Alexis,
    I explain it in the comments section of the reservation, but to be safe, I always call the hotel directly. It’s humorous because they sometimes offer to change the room to a double (since we are two guys), but I just say “no, we’re fine”. My friend has never had a problem, just explains that I’m due on a later flight. We could probably use the web checkin also, but I haven’t needed to try that. GL

  • http://twitter.com/robertw477 berg@robert weisberg

    I am wondering if I can get them to status match Diamond to SPG Plat and then use my Chase credit card for the 40K, 10 night bonus credit. I wonder then if two mire paid nights will get me the 12 needed in the 60 day period of the status match?

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  • moshe

    Hey TPG,

    I have a bit of a dilemma. I have an upcoming hyatt stay using GP points and i am a platinum member. However, my friend is a diamond member. Is it possible to move my points into his account and then make a reservation using those points in my name under his account in order to get the benefits that come with being a Diamond member?

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