Yesterday, Hyatt announced its annual category changes and we reported that 217 properties are changing in category. Because many of us have earned Category 1-4 free night certificates, many readers are most interested in properties that will be newly added to Category 4 or those that will soon become inaccessible with a Cat 1-4 free night certificate. In this post, I put together the list of new opportunities coming our way on March 22nd as well as those properties you should book now to use your free night certificates while you can.
Reminder: The new Hyatt award chart & the full list of properties changing category
Keep in mind that beginning on March 22nd, 2020, this will be the new Hyatt award chart with off-peak, standard, and peak pricing in effect:
If you book now and a property decreases in price later, you will be refunded the difference. If your chosen hotel increases in award price, you will not be charged the difference.
The good news is that even though Hyatt will debut peak and off-peak pricing (in addition to standard award pricing) on March 22nd, it was previously announced in December that free night certificates would be valid for the included categories regardless of peak / off-peak pricing. In other words, a Category 1-4 certificate is valid all the way up to Category 4 peak pricing.
Keep in mind that Hyatt Explorists with Club Access Awards can apply those to points bookings, but not to free night certificate bookings.
New opportunities for Hyatt Cat 1-4 free night certificates: Hyatt properties decreasing to Category 4 in March 2020
Decreasing from Category 5 to Category 4 represents an interesting spot that makes for a win-win of sorts. On the one hand, the hotel isn’t necessarily giving up much: current Category 5 nights cost 20K points. A move to Category 4 means that standard nights cost 15K, though peak dates will be 18K. During busy times, the hotel will lose whatever the reimbursement value of 2K points is, which I imagine isn’t much. Hopefully they can increase occupancy some during low-demand times with the switch.
On the other hand, we of course gain the ability to use Category 1-4 free nights at these properties. Those readers who have the World of Hyatt credit card receive an annual Category 1-4 free night certificate.
Only two properties in the US are dropping to Category 4, and both are in Seattle (unfortunately, there are quite a few more US-based properties increasing out of Category 4 than decreasing to it). The Hyatt Olive 8 caught my eye in particular because I know this was a popular Category 4 hotel for a long time (for those who could find award availability). It only increased to Category 5 last year (March 2019). Apparently, they saw enough of a decrease in award bookings to have given up on that pretty promptly. The Grand Hyatt Seattle also drops to Category 4, giving two options in a city where room rates can be quite high at times.
It also caught my eye that there are three Park Hyatt properties dropping into free night certificate range. At least two of those should be a pretty good deal for a free night cert.
- Park Hyatt Melbourne: Summertime rates in the $220-$250/nt range, winter rates around $200
- Park Hyatt Hamburg: Summertime rates in the $280-$300/nt range, winter nights from around $225
- Park Hyatt Changbaishan: No information available (The hotel’s website currently says, “In light of the recent novel coronavirus developments and for precautionary measures, the hotel is not accepting room reservations until further notice. For inquiries, please contact the hotel directly.”
Note that Australia, which has obviously been devastated by fires this year but can nonetheless be somewhat of a challenge in terms of finding great award options, sees three total properties decrease in category: In addition to the Park Hyatt Melbourne notes above, the Hyatt Regency Sydney drops to category 4.
Funny enough, one of the category changes I found most intriguing is that the Hyatt Regency Perth drops to Category 1 — meaning that it could go as low as 3500 points per night during off-peak season. I have not stayed at the Hyatt Regency there, and a quick look at rates show that the drop makes sense (I see Australian summertime rates around a hundred bucks a night), but I visited Perth a few years ago and I will keep an eye on it as an opportunity to escape the winter here next year.
Still, I imagine that most readers are most interested in new opportunities for Category 1-4 certificates. Here is the full list of properties decreasing from Category 5 to Category 4:
|HOTEL||COUNTRY||CURRENT CATEGORY||NEW CATEGORY||CURRENT STANDARD POINTS¹||NEW STANDARD POINTS¹|
|Park Hyatt Melbourne||Australia||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Hyatt Regency Sydney||Australia||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|The Sukhothai Shanghai||China||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Park Hyatt Changbaishan||China||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Park Hyatt Hamburg||Germany||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Hyatt Regency Amsterdam||Netherlands||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Hyatt Regency Sochi||Russia||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Aleenta Resort & Spa Hua Hin||Thailand||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|The Grand Hotel||United Kingdom||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Grand Hyatt Seattle||USA - Washington||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Hyatt at Olive 8||USA - Washington||5||4||20,000||15,000|
|Nam Nghi Phu Quoc||Vietnam||5||4||20,000||15,000|
Places to book with a Hyatt Cat 1-4 free night certificate now: Hyatt properties increasing to Category 5 in March 2020
On the other hand, there are 21 properties that are today in Category 4 that will move to Category 5 on March 22nd. If you have your eye on any of these destinations over the next year, you’ll want to consider locking them in now — especially if you’re looking to use a free night certificate.
Note that as we’ve previously covered, there is no downside to reserving now: if a property decreases in price, you will receive a refund. If your hotel increases in price, you will not be charged more points. Note that if you reserve now for 15K points per night and later wish to use a Category 1-4 free night certificate, I do not expect that will be possible after the property changes category on March 22nd. Apply any free night certificates you have now.
Within the US, the destination that stood out immediately is Silicon Valley. I’ve had a couple of quick overnights in San Jose over the past year or two and I’ve been amazed at how expensive hotels can be in that market. The Hyatt House San Jose/Silicon Valley, Hyatt House Santa Clara, and Hyatt Regency Santa Clara all move up from Category 4 to Category 5, making this your last opportunity to use a Cat 1-4 free night certificate at those properties. The good news is that there are several more properties yet in that area that will still be Category 4 or less.
The Hyatt House Nashville/Downtown-SoBro isn’t even open yet and it is already moving from Category 4 to Category 5. According to its website, it is scheduled to open next week. I looked up a room near the end of the calendar and thought, “Wow. Even for Nashville, this is crazy.”
Rooms aren’t typically nearly that expensive, but they are expensive enough that this could make for a good Category 1-4 free night certificate use (and in fact I may book it with mine).
One unique-looking property that caught my eye is the Boutique Hotel Villa am Ruhrufer Golf and Spa in Germany. Its website indicates that it is a 20-minute drive from Dusseldorf airport and located on a river. The standard rooms look a little awkward to me:
On the other hand, the hotel features just twelve rooms. Looking at that room pic, I can’t vouch for luxury, but that certainly is small. I imagine service is likely quite good.
I nearly used a Category 1-4 free night certificate last year at the Hyatt Regency Seragaki Japan, which is in Okinawa. I eventually decided that it was too much to pack into my Japan trip and I regret missing the opportunity now that it moves up to Category 5.
Another standout in Asia is the Park Hyatt Saigon. This is a beautiful property with terrific service, an excellent breakfast spread, and elegant rooms if you’re into the classic decor. Though Vietnam can obviously be a very inexpensive place to visit, this hotel was well worth the points in my opinion.
Most of the US-based properties increasing from Category 4 to Category 5 appear to be places with highly seasonal swings in price. I imagine we’ll see many of them available at off-peak rates during the winter (which will only be 2K points per night more than they cost now, but inaccessible with a Cat 1-4 free night cert) and likely at peak during the times when you’d most like to visit. The jump from standard category 4 (15K points per night) to peak Category 5 (23K points per night) is significant, so if you have these properties in mind for in-demand dates, you definitely want to book now.
Here is the full list of properties increasing from Category 4 to Category 5 on March 22, 2020.
|HOTEL||COUNTRY||CURRENT CATEGORY||NEW CATEGORY||CURRENT STANDARD POINTS¹||NEW STANDARD POINTS¹|
|Park Hyatt Shenzhen||China||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Boutique Hotel Villa am Ruhrufer Golf and Spa||Germany||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf||Germany||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island, Okinawa||Japan||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Grand Hyatt Fukuoka||Japan||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Gaya Island Resort||Malaysia||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel & Villas||Qatar||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Park Hyatt Zanzibar||Tanzania||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|The Fish Hotel||United Kingdom||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt House San Jose/Silicon Valley||USA - California||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Regency Santa Clara||USA - California||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt House Santa Clara||USA - California||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Place Augusta||USA - Georgia||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Regency Louisville||USA - Kentucky||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port||USA - Maine||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina||USA - Maryland||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Place Ocean City / Oceanfront||USA - Maryland||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt Place State College||USA - Pennyslvania||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Hyatt House Nashville / Downtown - SoBro||USA - Tennessee||4||5||15,000||20,000|
|Park Hyatt Saigon||Vietnam||4||5||15,000||20,000|
Hyatt has given us about 3 months of nottice ahead of the introduction of peak and off-peak pricing and more than a month of notice before category changes take effect, so the good news is that we have had time to consider the looming changes. The good news is that there are some decent-looking properties decreasing in price and there is time to eke value out of your current Category 1-4 free night certificates before category changes take effect.