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When the World of Hyatt recently announced some changes that took effect on Nov. 1, the results were disappointing to many. The program’s valuable Points + Cash option was severely devalued, as now you have to pay points plus 50% of the standard room rate instead of a flat rate. This essentially removed the ability to get out-sized value from Points + Cash awards when revenue rates were high.
However, there was one potentially positive change that kicked in at the same time: the addition of a new Premium Suite Award option. In today’s post, I want to take a look at how that’s been implemented and what opportunities it may create for families.
How Hyatt Premium Suite Award redemptions are supposed to work
World of Hyatt members should now be able to redeem points for premium suite award nights for double the points required for a standard room:
There’s also the option to upgrade stays to a premium suite for 9,000 points per night on top of a standard cash rate (though you need to book a deluxe room at Hyatt resorts to be eligible for this award). This rate is consistent no matter what category hotel you’re booking:
Finally, you can redeem your World of Hyatt points for an award night in a premium suite at Miraval Resorts. Currently, there are just two locations: one near Tuscon, Arizona, and a second outside of Austin, Texas (a third is slated to open in 2019 in the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts). However, the 105,000 points per night required for a premium suite is a rather monumental sum, and that’s only for a single person. A second guest will cost you another 20,000 points per night:
How Hyatt Premium Suite Award redemptions are actually working
When Hyatt announced these options, the program’s terms and conditions included the following verbiage:
“Suite Free Night Awards for Premium Suites are not valid at Hyatt Residence Club, Hyatt Ziva or Hyatt Zilara hotels and resorts or at any hotel and resort that does not have Premium Suites (even if such hotel or resort has Specialty, Premier, Presidential or Diplomatic Suite or similar suite categories). Suite Free Night Awards for Premium Suites may be booked only by contacting Hyatt’s central reservation service.”
At the time this was announced, TPG Senior Points and Miles Contributor Richard Kerr made the following observation: “This is exactly the kind of loophole Hyatt properties like to take advantage of when manipulating award space and protecting rooms from award redemptions.” This was based on the fact that there are some Hyatt properties that aggressively classify nearly all of their rooms as upgraded in some way to avoid offering them as awards.
To see if Hyatt properties were offering their available premium suites as awards, I called to check Premium Suite Award availability at three different desirable properties during times of peak demand and enlisted the help of a couple of my editors to check some additional hotels. Every one that we checked had premium suites available for sale.
Although I’d prefer do my research online, my calls to World of Hyatt were answered promptly and the representatives I spoke with were professional and friendly. In fact, they were happy to answer my requests without even asking for my World of Hyatt account number. This was a relief, since I have very few points in my account, and I didn’t want to have explain to them that I could transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my World of Hyatt account at any time.
In contrast, I’ve spoken to airline representatives who refused to discuss award availability when they saw my frequent flyer account was nearly empty and were incredulous when I explained point transfers to them.
The Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica
First, I called to ask about premium suite availability at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica. This property is notorious for classifying very few rooms as “standard” accommodations, seemingly to avoid having to make them available as awards at the otherwise very reasonable rate of 15,000 points per night.
Even though there was no standard rooms or suites available as awards online for a potential spring break trip, I was pleasantly surprised when the representative confirmed that I could redeem 30,000 points per night for the Andaz Bay View Suite. This room is listed for $1,061 a night, and $1,342 including taxes and resort fees. But since you don’t have to pay taxes or resort fees on award stays, the premium suite night option could offer you a return of 4.47 cents per point redeemed. This compares very favorably to TPG’s most recent valuations, which pegged World of Hyatt points at 1.8 cents each.
Andaz Maui at Wailea
Next, I called to ask about Premium Suite Award availability at the Andaz Maui at Wailea, also during spring break. This is also a property with a reputation for playing with award availability. The World of Hyatt representative found the Andaz Partial Ocean View Suite, which lists for $1,241 per night, including all taxes and resort fees. However, I was told this wasn’t available as a Premium Suite Award for our dates. Had it been available, it would have cost 50,000 points per night, giving you a value of 2.48 cents per point.
Hyatt Centric Times Square New York
My final subject was the Hyatt Centric Times Square New York, where I asked about a Premium Suite Award for a week after Christmas, including New Year’s Eve. A Deluxe Suite at this hotel was listed for a mere $777.71 per night, including taxes and a “Destination Fee.” Unfortunately, this Premium Suite Award wasn’t available either. If it was, it would have been 50,000 points per night, or a mere return of 1.56 cents per point.
Additional Data Points
Not necessarily satisfied with the inconsistency that I found, I enlisted the help of two of my TPG editors to try their luck at some additional properties, and sadly they encountered much of the same.
Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome
TPG Points & Miles Editor Nick Ewen first tried the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome, a property in Hyatt’s current top tier (Category 7). How would a luxurious (and often-expensive) hotel like this one handle Premium Suite Awards? Nick had experienced issues with this property gaming award inventory in the past, so he wanted to see if he encountered similar issues. Unfortunately he did. Even though there were many premium suites available for sale on the dates he searched, the phone agent couldn’t see award availability for any of them.
She even tried finding any available date with these awards, which should price at 60,000 points per night, and she even reached out to a supervisor, who indicated that the award “wasn’t loaded” into the system yet. Whether that’s the case or the property is simply blocking all premium room awards is up to you to decide.
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Nick then tried his luck at another one of his favorite properties in the program: the Park Hyatt Mallorca. On the dates he checked, the phone agent was able to find awards for standard rooms, standard suites and premium suites. Here were the full award options for those rooms:
- Standard room: Both standard king and twin bed rooms were available at 20,000 points per night. The paid rate for these rooms were €266 per night, or ~$303, so this redemption value would be 1.5 cents per point.
- Standard suite: This award booked into the Park Suite room and would set you back 32,000 points per night. With paid rates of €508 (or ~$578), your redemption value jumps to 1.8 cents apiece.
- Premium suite: The newest award option booked into the Park Suite Garden, a room with a similar size as the standard Park Suite but with a garden area, including daybeds. If you paid for this room on the dates in question, it would set you back €660 (~$751), so redeeming 40,000 points would give you a value of 1.88 cents per point.
It’s also worth noting that Nick took the opportunity to inquire about upgrades using World of Hyatt points at this property, and while the standard suite priced at the expected amount (standard rate for a deluxe room + 6,000 points), the premium suite upgrade came in at an absurd €620 + 9,000 points. Both the phone agent and a supervisor claimed that upgrades to premium suites require a percentage of the paid rate for the room, so it’s unclear whether there was an error in the system or whether they were confusing an upgrade with the new Points + Cash option.
Grand Hyatt Kauai
TPG Family Editor Summer Hull tried her hand with testing premium suite availability and pricing at the family-favorite, Grand Hyatt Kauai. Calling the Hyatt Globalist line, she was quickly provided with the price of $1,079 + 9,000 Hyatt points per night to book the property’s premium suite, listed as the Pool Suite. This is better than the listed selling price of $1,500+ per night for the suite on those dates, but not exactly an amazing deal for most families. When she pressed for options to secure the suite on a pure points award, she was placed on hold and eventually told that the availability using points for suites had not been fully loaded (a statement that closely mirrored what Nick was told).
In fact, she was told that the hotel was now showing as a Category 7 on Hyatt’s end (it should be listed as a Category 6). In other words, there was lots of confusion and no real ability to book suites on points at this time.
Not giving up that easily, Summer emailed her Globalist Concierge who said that on their sample June dates there was indeed a Standard Suite available at the Grand Hyatt Kauai for 40,000 Hyatt points per night and a Pool or Deluxe Suite bookable for 50,000 points per night.
It’s quite clear that these Premium Suite Awards are not available as consistently as I would’ve hoped. However, we don’t yet know whether this is due to system issues, phone agents not yet knowing how to pull the inventory or individual properties putting significant restrictions on these awards. It’s always nice to have additional options for using your hard-earned points and miles, but when it’s implemented with a complete lack of consistency, the utility of these awards drops significantly.
Now to be fair, Hyatt never promised that that their Premium Suite Awards would be available whenever the corresponding rooms are available for sale, as they do with their sometimes elusive “standard rooms.” One could thus argue that any Premium Suite award availability now is better than before, when there was no published way to book these upgraded accommodations using points. However, if the program is giving individual properties the ability to restrict these awards as they want, that’s an unfortunate development that doesn’t engender loyalty (and certainly doesn’t make up for the Points + Cash devaluation).
As for the value of these Premium Suite Award, they can be all over the place. In just the three examples I tested, I’ve shown them ranging from 4.47 cents per point all the way down to 1.56 cents per point (if they had been available to book on those dates). My advice? Place your own value on these premium suites to determine whether it’s worth the hefty point requirements; don’t just consider the retail price if you wouldn’t have paid that much with cash.
So how can you tell what room is likely eligible for a Premium Suite Award? If you look closely at Hyatt properties’ descriptions of their rooms, they indicate if a room is a standard or a premium suite. When there were multiple premium suites offered for sale, the Premium Suite Award appears to always land you in the least expensive one with the premium suite designation. Of course, it’s possible those with elite status in the World of Hyatt program might be upgraded to a higher level suite, but for the purposes of these awards, I’d try to look for the lowest-priced premium suite.
If you can find availability, these new Premium Suite Awards can be very useful for families with small children. With young children, it’s not practical to book two rooms, unless they have connecting rooms as an option. With a premium suite, you are more likely to get a room that will have multiple beds (or at least a pull-out couch), or that can accommodate multiple rollaways. A Premium Suite Award can also be a way to work around availability issues when a property is sold out of “standard rooms.” This was the case with the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica during spring break.
If you are short on Hyatt points, you could always apply for The World of Hyatt Credit Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 points. You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, and you’ll earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first six months of account opening. And you also have the ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card directly to your World of Hyatt account to unlock your next award stay.
It would be difficult to say that these Premium Suite Awards make up for the massive devaluation of the Points + Cash option, but they can be a valuable option under the right circumstances. It’s also nice that the booking process appears to be relatively painless, though it’s disappointing to see that properties are being a bit restrictive with availability. Nevertheless, by taking a few minutes to call and book a Premium Suite Award, you might be able to use your points where you couldn’t before and fit your whole family into a large suite with fantastic views on your next vacation.
Featured image of the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, courtesy of the hotel.
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