The best Hyatt Category 4 hotels for family vacations (Hint: Book some by March 22)
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World of Hyatt Category 4 properties serve as a sweet spot for awards redemptions for many travelers. Not only do they price out at just 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, but they are also the highest tier you can book with your World of Hyatt reward-night certificates. These certificates are extremely valuable and aren’t very hard to earn.
On an annual basis, you can earn World of Hyatt Category 1–4 free-night certificates three ways:
- On your cardmember anniversary for The World of Hyatt Credit Card
- When you spend $15,000 during an anniversary year, on your World of Hyatt credit card for a second award-night certificate
- By staying 30 nights or earning 50,000 base points at Hyatt properties
Another way you can earn World of Hyatt Category 1–4 free-night certificates is with the Hyatt Brand Explorer perk — one free night after completing eligible stays at five different Hyatt brands.
With category changes slated for March 22, 2020, it’s important to book your hotel now with your certificates. Currently, there are approximately 150 properties at this coveted Category 4 level with 21 of them moving to a Category 5 when the changes go into effect. If you book your hotel prior to the changes, you’ll be locked into the lower rate as long as you redeem your reward night with your already-earned certificate.
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With so many properties at this level, specific destinations stand out for families. Some of our top Category 4 properties are moving up a tier, while others are staying put. Here are our favorites:
Book these resorts before March 22
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
There are not many Hyatt resort properties on the East Coast but the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland, is a true resort on 342 acres. It is currently listed as a Hyatt Category 4 property and is one of the more desirable properties that will be bumped up to a Category 5 later this month.
This property on the Chesapeake Bay has a marina, golf course and a small beach (although most months you’ll find jellyfish in the water). There is also 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, cooking classes and “dive-in” nightly movies. There’s also a Family Iron Chef competition, nature walks and minigolf. And we’d be remiss not to mention the enormous fire pit the hotel lights each night for s’mores.
Most (although not all) of the activities are included in the resort fee that is waived when you use World of Hyatt points or a free-night certificate. There is also a Camp Hyatt for a nominal fee.
This hotel is about two hours from Washington, D.C., so while it is probably not a fly-in destination, if you are spending extended time in the D.C. area, this might be the perfect resort for a few days out of the city. For those living in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia areas, it is a fantastic destination for a long weekend. If you book now, it is just 15,000 points per night for Category 1–4 awards.
Hyatt Place Ocean City/Oceanfront
For those on the East Coast looking for a summer beach vacation, the Hyatt Place Ocean City/Oceanfront in Ocean City, Maryland, is less than three hours away from both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. This is the perfect destination for your family with a ton of family-friendly activities.
Currently it is a Category 4 property but it is one of the 21 properties which will move up to a Category 5 in just a few weeks. If Ocean City is part of your summer vacation plans, book now.
At this oceanfront location, you can spend your day at the beach or enjoy the hotel’s indoor or outdoor pools. There is also a nearby water park and an amusement park.
When you book this property with points or a free-night certificate, you’ll receive a room with two queen beds and a sofa sleeper — perfect for a large family or for a family with kids who prefer separate beds. Families who book directly with Hyatt also receive complimentary breakfast. Although this hotel is inexpensive during the winter months, this is the perfect opportunity to use a free-night certificate for your summer beach vacation. You could easily save $400 a night.
Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port
For a visit to New England, the Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port in Portland, Maine, is right in the city and within walking distance of many attractions, restaurants and the waterfront. You can sail on Casco Bay, take a train ride along the promenade or a ferry to Peaks Island.
This is not a fancy resort but as a Hyatt Place property, standard rooms are large enough to sleep up to six — 2 queen beds and a pull out sofa. There is a small indoor pool and complimentary breakfast if you book directly with Hyatt. Don’t miss out on getting one of the best donuts you’ve ever tried at The Holy Donut — get there first thing in the morning before the lines get long.
This Category 4 property will also moving up to a Category 5 later this month. Although there are many other hotels in Portland, Maine, this is a great one to lock in now for this summer or the fall leaf-peeping season.
Historic or waterfront? You choose in San Diego
If San Diego is on your radar, there are two high-end properties at the Category 4 level: 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 is a much larger complex closer to the waterfront, which offers access to a great concierge floor if you have World of Hyatt Globalist status or if you redeem a Club Lounge award.
Related: Planning a family trip to San Diego
The Grand Hyatt has rooms with two queen beds; the Andaz only offers rooms with two double beds. For many families, this can be a deal-breaker. For the kids, both hotels have pools, both are also close to the San Diego Zoo and both are only a short ride from SeaWorld.
Pit stop along the Pacific Coast Highway
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway is great for a family vacation and stopping in the Monterey and Carmel area is definitely a must-do. 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. The resort is less than one mile from 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.
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 New Jersey
New York City is never cheap — even when you use points. With Hyatt’s integration of Thompson Hotels, you can actually stay right in New York City at Gild Hall for just 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, but there is a problem for families: Rooms on points only offer one king bed or one queen bed. For most families, this is not a viable option.
There are two options just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. Both the Hyatt House Jersey City and the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson cost 15,000 points for a free-night stay. In just a few minutes, you can be in downtown Manhattan at the World Trade Center via the PATH train under the Hudson River. (On weekends, the PATH train from Jersey City to the World Trade Center is currently closed from 12:01 a.m. on Saturdays and 5 a.m. on Mondays. You can still get into Manhattan from Jersey City’s Grove Street train stop via the PATH train.)
The Hyatt Regency is next door to Exchange Place, where the PATH is located. If you choose the Hyatt House, you are only a few minutes’ walk from the PATH train. It’s 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.
If you want to take a break from exploring New York City for the day, you can check out Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. This is a great center, with an aquarium, a 3-D theater and 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.
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 $98 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 (4 p.m. — 8 p.m.) on the day of arrival.
About a third of a mile from the base of the mountain, there are many hot tubs available for post-skiing relaxation and there is a complimentary buffet (for those who book directly with Hyatt). This is a great place to redeem your reward-night certificate.
Related: Best credit card to use on ski trips
Visit South Florida
South Florida is a great winter escape for many families. Although the Hyatt Place Delray Beach is not an oceanfront property, you are less than a mile from the public beach and within walking distance of many restaurants, shops and art galleries. You can play minigolf or tennis and then finish the day with a picnic at a nearby park. You can also visit Boomers!, a favorite for kids of all ages. Here you can ride bumper cars, bumper boats and even go-carts. On a rainy day, you can spend the day inside with arcade games and laser tag.
Related: The best beaches in Florida
Museums, monuments and more
Being able to stay in a major city on a free-night certificate is rare, but it can be done at the Grand Hyatt Washington, which is a few blocks from the White House, museums and monuments in the U.S. capital.
Another good Category 4 option is the Hyatt Place Washington, D.C./White House. This property is good if you don’t have Hyatt status because all members who book direct with Hyatt receive free breakfast. Large families also benefit from rooms that have both two queen beds 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 D.C. metro — only two stops from the Smithsonian museums. (You can also stay at the Category 3 Hyatt House Washington, D.C./The Wharf for only 12,000 points per night, but it is moving up to a Category 4 property as part of the changes.)
Related: Best Smithsonian exhibits for kids
Enjoy a 5-acre waterpark
The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas, might be one of the best properties on the Category 4 list. With a 950-foot lazy river, a 22-foot waterslide, many pools and a beach area, this is a true resort that your family will absolutely love. Other amenities include bikes, playground, s’mores and outdoor movies.
Although there are many Category 4 properties, these are some of the best for that next family-friendly vacation, where you can use those World of Hyatt reward-night certificates. Just make sure you book these hotels by March 22, 2020.
Related: World of Hyatt credit card review
Another 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 wish to apply a suite upgrade, use the free-night certificate for the last night of your 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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