Hyatt Category changes 2020: A mixed bag

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Hyatt category changes for 2020 have been announced today and will take effect on March 22, 2020. In total, 117 properties increase in price and 100 decrease in price. That sounds pretty mild (especially in comparison to the 1,687 that Marriott has slated to increase), but those numbers don’t tell the full story. Given that peak and off-peak pricing is also slated to begin next month, some of these increases could be much more significant than they sound.

Greg really liked The Pillars in Miami. If you’re interested, book it now — it’s going up to Cat 6 in March 2020.

Which Hyatt hotels are changing category in March 2020?

Here is a link to the full list of properties changing in category. As noted at the top, 117 properties increase in price and 100 decrease. Of the 217 total properties changing in category, 81 are in the United States and 65 are in Europe.

Interestingly, most of the changes in Europe are to non-Hyatt-branded hotels (i.e. Small Luxury Hotels of the World, etc).

Upon first glance, I don’t think any properties change by more than a single category.

What’s the bad news?

Beyond the simple fact that some hotels will cost more points, there are two main areas of “bad” news:

  1. Some hotels will no longer be eligible for the Category 1-4 annual free night certificate given as a benefit on the World Of Hyatt credit card (or the same type of certificate that can be earned after earning 30 elite nights in a calendar year each year and/or after staying at 5 different brands (a one-time deal with each 5 new brands you try).
  2. Some hotels will increase rather mightily when considering peak/off-peak pricing.

While the first point happens every year and is counteracted by the fact that some properties will be newly bookable with a Cat 1-4 certificate, the second point is the really bad news in my humble opinion.

As a reminder, here is the new award chart that will debut in March 2020 along with these category changes. This was announced at the beginning of December.

That means that a property that is currently a Category 1 (and therefore costs 5K points per night) will cost as much as 9,500 points per night when moving to Category 2. That will be a near-double, though in the scheme of things I suppose that it isn’t terribly painful if you consider that it would have been 8K anyway when moving to Category 2 and at off-peak times will cost 6500 points. That’s still a 33% increase during off-peak times but a relatively low number of points.

On the other hand, consider a property moving from Category 7 (currently 30,000 points per night) to Category 8 (as much as 45,000 points per night). That’s a potential difference of 15,000 points per night over the current rate. That spread is particularly significant with Hyatt, where 15K points could buy you three nights in a Category 1 Hyatt Place (which isn’t terribly difficult to find) or a pretty nice night in a category 3 or 4 property. That hurts.

Thankfully, no properties are moving by more than one category. However, when some of these properties inevitably increase again next year, the spread between current rates and peak rates could be pretty significant in two years’ time.

What happens to existing reservations?

Thankfully, Hyatt takes the high road here: if you make a reservation by March 21st, you can lock in the current pricing for hotels increasing in price. If you make a reservation now that decreases in price, you will be refunded the difference. Hyatt had also previously announced that you will be automatically refunded if your hotel changes to off-peak pricing. Basically, you’ve got nothing to lose by locking in reservations right now.

Bottom line

We’ll surely have a more detailed look at specific properties increasing and decreasing, but at first glance the category changes here aren’t catastrophic. Hotels increase and decrease in category every year; the key difference this year is the addition of peak and off-peak pricing. The good news is that there is no downside to locking in a reservation now and there may be considerable upside (just always keep an eye on the cancellation policy before you book).

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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