TPG Contributor Jason Steele continues his series on family travel options in major hotel loyalty programs. Up this week: Hyatt Gold Passport.
Previously, we looked at family friendly hotel options within the Starwood brands, and readers commented that they wanted to compare that perspective to other brands. For starters, we’ll look at the Hyatt Gold Passport program to evaluate how it works for families.
Family friendly features
The Gold Passport program is already one of the leading hotel loyalty programs thanks to its reasonable award chart and the ability to redeem points for any available standard room. Here are some of the benefits of this program that specifically cater to families:
1. Rooms that sleep four. Nearly all of Hyatt’s domestic properties offer rooms that sleep four. In most cases this means a king sized bed and a sleeper sofa, or two queen beds, but I occasionally found rooms with a king bed that list a maximum occupancy of four and offer rollaways. On the other hand, many properties overseas are not listed as accommodating four people in a standard room.
2. Extra bedding for free. One of the problems I found with many Starwood properties is that they charge excessively for rollaway beds and cribs. What’s excessive? How about $70 per night just for a rollaway at the Sheraton Milan Malpensa airport! In contrast, all the Hyatt properties I looked at offered cribs and/or rollaways at no extra charge.
3. Reasonably priced suite awards. Once you accept that many overseas hotels simply weren’t constructed with standard rooms that sleep four, families with small children need access to larger rooms, since it’s expensive and inconvenient to split the family into two rooms. Unfortunately, the Starwood program charges double the points for suite awards. Hyatt usually prices their suite night awards at 60% higher than their standard rooms, although Category 2 properties charge 63% more and Category 3 properties charge 67% more.
4. Elite benefits that extend to the whole family. The real standout benefit of Diamond status in Hyatt’s Gold Passport program is the free breakfast option, which extends to up to four people staying in the same room. Platinum members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program are offered breakfast, but only for themselves and a single guest.
5. Children’s amenities. Hyatt offers its Camp Hyatt program at 17 different properties in the United States and Aruba. For younger children, Hyatt has partnered with Babies Travel Lite to let parents order supplies to be delivered directly to their rooms.
Other ways families can maximize their use of Hyatt Gold Passport points
Hyatt Ziva all-inclusives
Hyatt recently opened its Ziva all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and all of its standard rooms feature bedding for four. The problem is that while the rooms cost 20,000 points per night, you’ll need to spend an additional 10,000 points for each child age 3 and up, even if you reserve a suite for 32,000 points.
A partial way around this is to use the free night awards offered as a sign-up bonus with the Chase Hyatt Visa card (not the annual free night). These awards include all four guests in the same room. The Hyatt Zilara in Cancun is an adults only resort, while there’s another Hyatt Ziva family resort opening in Jamaica later this year.
Hyatt Vacation Club Resorts
Hyatt vacation club resorts are 16 high-end properties in the United States that are offered as timeshares. These properties offer an exceptional value for award bookings with two bedrooms for 23,000 points per night and three bedrooms for 30,000 points. Unlike standard properties, awards are capacity controlled, so you’ll want to book your vacations in advance, and you may have to avoid peak seasons.
Sometimes it makes more sense to pay for a room rather than use your points. For example, when traveling outside the peak seasons, rates are often so low that you aren’t getting the best value per point spent. In those cases, you can upgrade to a suite for just 6,000 points per night. Diamond elite members also receive four confirmed suite upgrades each year, which are only valid for paid stays.
Hyatt is primarily seen as a business hotel brand, but it seems to be going out of its way to appeal to families at many properties. Hyatt Gold Passport points are also especially easy to acquire, since Hyatt is a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Hyatt’s domestic properties are a great family option since they usually sleep four to begin with, and the availability of free extra bedding at properties elsewhere makes the Hyatt program a good option internationally as well.
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