The Best Hyatt Category 4 Hotels for Family Vacations

Jun 7, 2019

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For many, Hyatt’s Category 4 properties serve as the “sweet spot” for awards redemptions. Not only do they price out at just 15,000 World of Hyatt points a night, but they are also the highest tier you can book with your World of Hyatt free night certificates. These free night certificates are extremely valuable and, fortunately, aren’t very hard to earn.

On an annual basis, you can earn World of Hyatt Category 1–4 free night certificates three different ways:

  • On your card member anniversary for World of Hyatt Credit Card members
  • When you spend $15,000 during an anniversary year, on your World of Hyatt Credit Card for a second award night
  • By staying 30 nights or earning 50,000 base points at Hyatt properties

Then, as a one-time only method, you can earn up to another four World of Hyatt Category 1–4 free night certificates:

Not only could you earn bonus points with the Hyatt credit card, but the 60,000 point sign-up bonus (after $4,000 spent in the first three months) from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card could be transferred to Hyatt in order to book four award nights at these category 4 properties.

Although there are well over 100 properties at this coveted Category 4 level, there are a select few that stand out for families and are destinations to pay attention to when planning your next vacation.

Historic or Waterfront? You Choose in San Diego

If San Diego is on your radar, there are two high-end properties in the Category 4 bucket. You can pick from the Andaz San Diego or the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. The Andaz is a small boutique hotel in the historic district, where you’ll receive complimentary snacks and beverages from the minibar. The Grand Hyatt, on the other hand, is a much larger complex closer to the waterfront. While you won’t have a free-for-all with the minibar, you’ll have access to a pretty great concierge floor if you have World of Hyatt Globalist status or if you redeem a Club Lounge award.

You’ll notice that the Grand Hyatt offers rooms with two queen beds where the Andaz only offers rooms with two double beds. For many families, this can be a deal breaker, so it is something to consider. For the kids, both hotels have pools, both are also close to the San Diego Zoo and both are only a short ride away from SeaWorld.

Andaz San Diego Rooftop Pool
(Photo courtesy of Andaz San Diego)

Pit Stop Along the Pacific Coast Highway

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is always a great family vacation and a stop in the Monterey and Carmel area is definitely a must do. During your drive, stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course to enjoy the sites as well as a resort style property. Less than one mile away you have the Monterey Country Fairgrounds which hosts many family-friendly festivals, concerts and events. Nearby you also have the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Pinos Lighthouse and the Monterey Zoo.

Observation deck, Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Photo by kristisan via Flickr)
Observation deck, Monterey Bay Aquarium. (Photo by kristisan / Flickr)

Here you have access to two outdoor pools, many biking trails, tennis courts and nightly relaxation around the fire pits. For golf families, you also have access to Del Monte Golf Course.

Visit New York City — Sleep in Jersey

New York City is never cheap — even when you use points. Up until recently, Hyatt charged 20,000 to 30,000 points a night to stay in NYC, depending on your desired property. Now, with the integration of Thompson Hotels, you can stay at Gild Hall in New York City for just 15,000 World of Hyatt points a night. The main problem with this property is that the rooms available on points only offer 1 King Bed or 1 Queen bed. For most families, this unfortunately is not a viable option. This then brings us back to spending 20k+ points for a NYC hotel which is a ton of points to spend on a small hotel room where most of your time is spent away from the property exploring the city.

Fortunately though, there are two options not too far away — both the Hyatt House Jersey City and the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson only cost 15,000 points for a free night stay. Yes, these two properties are in New Jersey, but do not let that scare you. In just a few minutes, you can be in downtown Manhattan at the World Trade Center via the PATH train under the Hudson River. (The PATH train is currently closed every weekend between 12:01am on Saturdays and 5:00am on Mondays.)

The Hyatt Regency is next door to Exchange Place, where the PATH is located. If you choose the Hyatt House, you are just a few minutes’ walk away. All in all, it is a short door-to-door commute that can save you points and score you a larger room than you would get in Manhattan. Plus, at the Hyatt House breakfast is free.

Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

If you want to take a break from exploring New York City for the day, you can check out Liberty Science Center, right in Jersey City. This is a great center, with an aquarium, a 3-D theater and, best of all, the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.

And as an added bonus, from Jersey you’ll actually get some of the best views of New York City.

Relax on the Chesapeake Bay

There are not many Hyatt resort properties on the East Coast and most are pretty far south. However, there is an exception: the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland. This is a true resort on 342 acres of land that is a Hyatt Category 4 property.

Although the property recently dropped from a Category 5 to a 4, it didn’t get any less desirable. In fact, it recently went through a massive renovation and even updated the guest rooms from two double beds to two queen beds.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
(Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina)

This property is along the bay where you’ll find a marina, golf course and a small beach area (although most months you’ll find jellyfish in the water). It also boasts an indoor pool, two outdoor pools (with a waterslide) and a hot tub. The pool areas are incredibly kid-friendly with floats, basketball hoops and even large chess games on the pool deck.

There are also many family-friendly activities — everything from arts and crafts to Popsicles at the pool to cooking classes to “dive-in” nightly movies. For the entire family, there’s the Family Iron Chef competition, nature walks and mini-golf. And we’d be remiss not to mention the enormous fire pit the hotel lights each night for s’mores.

Best of all, most (although not all) of the activities are included in the resort fee that is waived when you use points or a free night certificate. There is also a Camp Hyatt for a nominal fee.

This hotel is less than two hours from Washington, DC, so while it is probably not a fly-in destination, if you are spending extended time in the DC area, this might be the perfect resort for a few days out of the city. Or for those living in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia area, it is a fantastic long weekend destination for just 15k points per night or Category 1–4 awards.

Ski for Free at the Hyatt Place Keystone

While not a true ski-in/ski-out hotel, the Hyatt Place Keystone in Colorado is a great place to stay for families. The absolute best perk of staying at this property is that you receive a free lift ticket for kids 12 and under. This can be a savings of up to $92 per day per kid, which is a fabulous deal. Technically, this is for stays of at least two nights, but in recent years, Mommy Points has had this offer honored on one-night stays. All guests staying at this property also receive free night skiing (4pm to 8pm) on the day of arrival.

(Photo courtesy of Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
(Photo courtesy of Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

At only 1/3 of a mile from the base of the mountain, many hot tubs available for post-skiing relaxation and complimentary buffet (for those who book direct with Hyatt), this is a great place to redeem your free night certificate.

Stay Oceanfront in Ocean City

For those on the East Coast looking for a summer beach vacation, the Hyatt Place Ocean City / Oceanfront has you covered. Less than 3 hours away from both Washington, DC and Baltimore, this is the perfect destination for your family with a ton of family-friendly activities.

The beach at Ocean City, Maryland. (Photo by Randy Tarr Photography / Shutterstock)

With this oceanfront location, you can spend your day at the beach or enjoying the hotel’s outdoor pool. Fortunately, there is also an indoor pool for those colder days or in the unfortunate event of a rainstorm. Or, in two miles in either direction you’ll enjoy a water park and an amusement park.

At this property, when you book with points or a free night certificate, you’ll receive a room with two queen beds and a sofa-sleeper. This is perfect for a large family or for a family with kids who prefer separate beds. Families who book direct with Hyatt will also receive complimentary breakfast which is a huge cost saving while on vacation. While this hotel is pretty inexpensive during the winter months, if you are looking to hit the beach over the summer, this is the perfect opportunity to use a free night certificate — you could easily save over $400 a night.

Visit South Florida

For those looking to get out of the cold over the winter months, South Florida is a great escape for many families. Although the Hyatt Place Delray Beach is not an oceanfront property, you are less than a mile away from the public beach. Within walking distance, you’ll also find many restaurants, shops and art galleries. Your family can spend the day at the beach or enjoy many other outside activities. You can start the day playing mini golf, then challenge one another to a tennis match and finish off with a picnic at a nearby park. Or, a nearby visit to Boomers is always a favorite among kids of all ages. Here you can experience bumper cars, bumper boats and even go carts. For a rainy day, you can spend the day inside with arcade games and laser tag.

Delray Beach Boca Raton Florida Sunset Tower
Delray Beach, Florida. (Photo by dosecreative / Getty Images)

Museums, Monuments and More

Being able to stay in a major city on a free night certificate is rare, but fortunately that can be done at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Located just a few blocks from the White House and many other museums and monuments, there are a ton of educational and fun activities.

Jefferson Memorial framed by Cherry Blossoms on Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. (Photo by: Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
Jefferson Memorial framed by Cherry Blossoms on Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. (Photo by Visions of America/UIG / Getty Images)

Another good category 4 option in DC is the Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House. This property could be good for you if you don’t have Hyatt status as all members who book direct with Hyatt receive free breakfast. Large families also benefit from rooms that have both two queens and a sofa bed. The location is a bit more business-oriented, but it’s walking distance from the White House and right next to a metro only two stops away from the Smithsonian museums.

More tips to help you plan your Washington, DC Vacation:

Enjoy a 5-Acre Water Park

The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa might just be one of the best properties in the Category 4 list. With a 950 foot lazy river, a 22 foot waterslide, many pools and beach area, this is a true resort that your family will absolutely love. Other amenities around the resort include bikes, playground, s’mores and outdoor movies.

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa)
(Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa)

Bottom Line

While there are many more Category 4 properties, these are some of the best for that next family-friendly vacation. So go ahead and accrue as many World of Hyatt free night certificates as possible, and then enjoy your truly free night! Just remember, you can only book rooms one at a time, so if you have multiple free nights, you’ll have to make multiple back-to-back reservations.

One other thing to know is that you cannot apply suite upgrade certificates when redeeming a free night certificate. If you have a multi-night stay and you are looking to apply a suite upgrade, I suggest using the free night certificate for your last night of the reservation and then call the hotel to ask them to link the reservation. This should ensure that the free night certificate stay keeps you in the same room.

Where will your family be staying with your free night certificate(s)?

Featured photo courtesy of Art Wager / Getty Images

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total within 6 months of account opening.
  • Free nights start at 5,000 points
  • Receive 1 free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel or resort after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Earn an extra free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel if you spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year
  • Get automatic World of Hyatt Elite status and 5 qualifying night credits every year as long as your account is open
  • Earn 2 qualifying night credits towards tier status everytime you spend $5,000 on your card
  • Earn 9 points total for Hyatt stays - 4 Bonus Points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member
  • Earn 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airlines tickets purchased directly from the airlines, on local transit and commuting and on fitness club and gym memberships
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