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One of the greatest perks of loyalty programs is that you’ll earn points that you can redeem for a free stay. So, for example, a consultant spending 20 nights a month at a Hyatt House can use the points they earned from a work trip to book an incredible three-night family trip to, say, the Andaz Maui at Wailea. Except they can’t, because the Andaz Maui is currently using an inventory trick to make most shorter stays impossible. Let me explain…
As you may already know, hotel points can typically be redeemed for only the base level room type. Sometimes you can use extra points to book a higher-category room, but that isn’t an option with the Andaz Maui. For this property, you can redeem 25,000 points per night to stay in a “Garden View” room. The 297-room hotel has 9 Garden View rooms with king-size beds and 8 Garden View rooms with two queens, so at any given time there are 17 rooms available on points. (Note that award nights earned with the Hyatt Visa card also book into this category.)
But as TPG reader Jay W. pointed out, the Andaz Maui only makes these rooms available for extended stays, for cash bookings as well. For example, for a one-night stay in October, there are nine different room types available, though the lowest is a “Mountain View King,” as you can see below:
If you click to redeem Hyatt points for a stay, this is what you’ll see:
However, if you extend the stay to a total of six nights, an “ADA Queen Shower” room magically appears, which you can then book for either $433 or 25,000 points per night:
Even though those dates required “only” a six-night stay, according to a recent tweet from the hotel, you’ll need to book for at least seven nights if you’re looking to use your points:
Fortunately, I was able to find some dates where only a five-night stay is required:
And I was even able to find a few nights with awards available for just one night at a time (in June 2017):
Clearly the Andaz Maui is applying a minimum-stay requirement only to this base room type, since even the very next category can be booked for a single night. If the base room isn’t available for sale, then it can’t be booked with points. I called the hotel to confirm my findings, and a reservations agent acknowledged the policy. The agent explained that as the Andaz Maui is a “boutique hotel” (in that it has only 297 rooms, plus some villas), it’s often fully booked.
The agent explained that minimum stay requirements range from two to six nights, depending on your dates. Theoretically, the shorter requirements should apply outside of peak dates (which seem to include December through April travel), but conferences, weddings and other special events can throw a wrench in the works there. The hotel does allow you to skirt this requirement in a way by booking some nights with points and others with cash — a reservations agent will process this booking manually — but otherwise you’re stuck with the minimum-stay requirements, and exceptions are very rarely made, even for Diamond elites.
A Hyatt Gold Passport representative confirmed that the Andaz’s approach is in line with program guidelines:
At Andaz Maui, the standard guest room is the garden view room. Consistent with our policy, the length of stay requirements at this hotel for a paid room are consistent with the length of stay requirements for redemption. Award space will be available at this hotel if standard room space is available.
Unfortunately the same requirements apply to suites. The hotel’s “Pool Side Suites” are available for 40,000 points per night, but there are only three available at the property, and a minimum stay applies there as well, although there do appear to be a few dates where suites are available for stays as short as one night.
What’s a bit confusing about this policy is that Hyatt generally reimburses hotels for award redemptions. So, in theory, if the hotel is fully booked, it’ll receive the same amount of revenue from an award booking as it would when a guest pays cash, in which case the property isn’t really at a disadvantage by letting guests use points to book whenever they’d like.
Of course, a guest with hundreds of thousands of points to spare may be more willing to book a longer stay than someone paying $500 for each night, so award customers are (in theory, at least) less price sensitive. By setting these minimum-stay requirements, the hotel can sell more room nights, even if that means a frequent guest ends up “throwing away” points by booking their stay for a few extra nights, to end a day or two after they’ve already checked out.
Have you noticed a similar practice at any other properties?
Featured image courtesy of the Andaz Maui.
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