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Big World of Hyatt changes: Peak and off-peak pricing start date, award category shifts and more

Feb. 12, 2020
10 min read
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Editor's Note

/strong> In light of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coronavirus pandemic</a>, the World of Hyatt program has <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">postponed the implementation of peak and off-peak pricing</a> until at least July 2021.

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Editor's note: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the World of Hyatt program has postponed the implementation of peak and off-peak pricing until at least July 2021.

World of Hyatt announced several significant changes to its loyalty program and award chart today, Feb. 12, in addition to adding new properties under its umbrella.

Hyatt has long been a fan favorite among award travelers — and TPG — thanks to reasonably low award rates and an unrivaled focus on the guest experience, especially for World of Hyatt elite members. Some of the changes are positive, but you're going to want to be mindful of negative changes before you book your next redemption.

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Here's what the changes mean for you.

Peak and off-peak dates announced

Hyatt stunned the loyalty world when it announced in December that it would be introducing standard, peak and off-peak pricing beginning in March 2020. We now have a date when those changes will take effect: March 22, 2020. While this new pricing scheme is much more predictable than the dynamic award pricing we see from hotels like Hilton or airlines like Delta and United, it still represents a devaluation for some customers.

Related: Big changes coming to World of Hyatt: Peak and off-peak pricing added in March 2020

Many of Hyatt's Category 1 properties are Hyatt Place properties, but there are a few Hyatt Regency hotels. Taking advantage of Hyatt's previously generous Category 1 award chart meant that you could get a steal on one of Hyatt’s upscale brands.

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As TPG's Ethan Steinberg previously reported, Category 1 hotels will see the largest pricing change with a 30% increase on peak dates. That means properties such as the luxury Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty in India or The Studios at Alila Seminyak in Bali will jump from 5,000 points for standard night to 6,500 points for a peak night.

There is one silver lining: World of Hyatt members who have existing award bookings for a night after Sunday, March 22 that changes to off-peak or at any hotels moving to a lower award category will receive an automatic, one-time refund on the point difference. Hyatt says this process will begin on March 23.

Award chart changes

Hyatt also announced category changes at 217 hotels. 117 hotels will shift to a higher award category and 100 will shift to a lower award category. Most notably, all of the new Category 8 properties belong to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World family — so Hyatt continues to make good on its promise to keep Hyatt-branded locations out of this top-tier category. You can find the list of affected hotels here.

Here's a break-down of the changes by category:

  • Category 1: 11 moving up
  • Category 2: 18 moving up, 25 moving down
  • Category 3: 22 moving up, 24 moving down
  • Category 4: 21 moving up, 14 moving down
  • Category 5: 13 moving up, 14 moving down
  • Category 6: 19 moving up, 17 moving down
  • Category 7: 13 moving up, 6 moving down
  • Category 8: No changes to existing lists

All in all, this represents a fairly balanced shift, one that stands in sharp contrast to Marriott's forthcoming category changes (which will take effect on Mar. 4, 2020).

Notable changes

That being said, there are a handful of important changes to note. The Park Hyatt Seoul is dropping a category, from 6 to 5, as is the Parker New York. That means award nights will cost just 17,000 points on off-peak dates, 20,000 points on standard dates or 23,000 points on peak dates.

A TPG favorite is, unfortunately, increasing categories. The Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City is increasing to Category 7 from Category 6. Previously you could book a room at the hotel for just 25,000 World of Hyatt points a night, a steal considering cash rates regularly surpass $500 per night. Now a standard night will cost 30,000 points a night, while peak will set you back 35,000 points a night. That said, if you stay off-peak, it drops back to 25,000 points.

Other notable increases include the Hyatt Regency Aruba (6 to 7), Hyatt Centric Key West (6 to 7) and the Hyatt Centric Park City (6 to 7), while notable properties dropping in price include the Park Hyatt Mallorca (6 to 5) and the Hyatt Regency Sydney (5 to 4).

Related: Maximizing redemptions with World of Hyatt

It's also worth noting that SLH properties affiliated with Hyatt are being hit pretty hard. A total of 66 are changing (the highest of any participating brand), with 41 moving higher and 25 moving down.

Finally, it’s interesting to see that some properties have moved up a category for the second straight year, most notably the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo. After shifting from Category 4 to 5 last year, this terrific property is moving from Category 5 to 6. That’s a 66.67% increase in nightly award rates since early 2019.

Impact on free-night certificates

Another important consideration involves the impact to Category 4 properties, as these are frequently the sweet spots for using the annual free-night certificates on the World of Hyatt Credit Card, which are valid at a Category 1 to 4 Hyatt property. With these changes, you'll see a net loss of seven properties, as 21 Category 4 properties are shifting to Category 5 (and out of range of the certificate), while just 14 are dropping from Category 5 to Category 4.

Here are some notable properties that will now be bookable using these free-night certificates:

  • Hyatt Olive 8 (Seattle)
  • Grand Hyatt Seattle
  • Park Hyatt Melbourne
  • Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami
  • Hyatt Regency Amsterdam

What’s especially interesting is that the two Seattle properties and the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam were previously Category 4, shifted to Category 5 last year, and are now coming back to Category 4.

Unfortunately, there are 21 moving out of range of these certificates, including the Grand Hyatt Doha, Park Hyatt Saigon and Park Hyatt Zanzibar. If you need to use a free night at Category 4 hotel that's increasing to Category 5, you should book now before the changes take effect.

We’ll continue to unpack these changes and update this article with additional analysis throughout the day today, so be sure to check back later.

Points + Cash changes

Hyatt also announced that members will now be able to save between 50 and 70% off the standard rate when combining Points + Cash. This applies to off-peak, standard and peak redemptions. Previously, the current cash surcharge on Points + Cash nights was 50%.

In 2018, Hyatt announced that it was devaluing its Points + Cash redemptions. Previously, you paid 50% of the points required for a free night plus a set amount of cash, the latter of which depended on the category of hotel. For instance, a Category 7 hotel (at 30,000 points a night) would only cost you 15,000 points plus $300 under the old model.

Related: Best ways to earn points with the World of Hyatt program

Keep in mind that if you have a big redemption coming up that you may want to book now. Hyatt says that any free night award and Points + Cash redemptions booked on or after March 22, 2020, at 8 a.m. Central Time will follow the new Award Chart.

All free night award and Points + Cash redemptions booked before March 22, 2020, will follow the current award chart, even if the existing award booking changes to peak or the hotel shifts to a higher award category. Note that any reservation changes made after March 22 will follow the new award chart.

New SLH and Destination properties

Finally, Hyatt also announced that nearly 50 additional hotels had joined SLH, including The Norman Tel Aviv, Hotel Villa Franca and The Sukhothai Bangkok, and four were joining the Destination portfolio, including Suncadia Resort.

Here's a full table with all of these new additions, sorted by award category:

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.