Hyatt’s 2019 Category Changes Announced: Some Good, Some Bad But Mostly Fair

Hyatt has announced a wide-ranging set of category changes for 2019 with about a third of their properties moving up or down a category. The changes are fairly even overall, although some popular sweet spots are being lost while new ones are being gained.

Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach

Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach – coming soon to an anniversary free night certificate near you

You can find a full list of the category changes here, with these going into effect on March 18, 2019. In total, 259 properties will be changing which represents about a third of Hyatt’s portfolio. The split is virtually identical – 130 properties are going up a category, while 129 are going down. All of these hotels are only moving up or down one category – there aren’t any properties jumping or dropping by two categories or more.

A positive feature of these changes is that the points requirement for each category level is remaining the same. Category 1 properties will still be 5,000 points per night, while category 7 properties will remain at 30,000 points per night. In the 2019 predictions I made on my own site, I guessed that Hyatt would devalue their categories this year, particularly the category 1 level. That’s one prediction I’m more than happy to have gotten wrong, assuming nothing changes in the next 10.5 months.

This therefore isn’t a devaluation so much as a revaluation and, upon first glance, the changes seem to be quite fair overall. That’ll be of little consolation to those of you who have your eye on a particular property which is going up in cost though.

There’s a lot to pore over, but here are some of the most noteworthy changes.

The Losers

The biggest losers in the US are Arizona, California, Florida and Washington State (more specifically, Seattle and Bellevue) as they each have significant numbers of properties moving up a category. For example, five category 1 properties in Phoenix are moving up, while California has 17 properties increasing in price.

Overseas, it’s Japan being hit hardest with six properties costing more from March 18.

The Winners

Considering how few hotels Hyatt has in Connecticut and Utah, those states are comparative winners as they have several properties dropping from category 2 to 1. My wife and I are spending a few months in the northeast this spring/summer, but we hadn’t made a firm decision on which states we’d be visiting. With some soon-to-be category 1 properties in Hartford, Shelton and Milford/New Haven, Connecticut has now gone to the top of our list.

Texas has 10 properties moving down a category, while China and India have many properties also dropping in price.

Category 1-4 Certificates

Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Our view at the Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront – soon-to-be no longer bookable using an anniversary free night certificate

If you have either the old Hyatt or new World of Hyatt credit card, you get an anniversary free night each year that’s good for category 1-4 hotels. You get another when spending $15,000 on the credit card and another when earning Explorist status.

There are 18 properties moving up from category 4 to 5, with 12 properties reducing from category 5 to 4. That means these changes are bringing about a net loss of 6 properties at which you can use your free night certificates. In theory that’s not terrible, but some of the properties going out of reach will feel like a big loss.

Here are all those changes:

Increasing from category 4 to 5

  • Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco, California
  • Hyatt Place Dewey Beach, Delaware
  • Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami, Florida
  • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Florida
  • Hyatt Regency Boston, Massachusetts
  • Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown, Tennessee
  • Grand Hyatt DFW, Texas
  • Hyatt House Virginia Beach / Oceanfront, Virginia
  • Grand Hyatt Seattle, Washington
  • Hyatt at Olive 8, Washington
  • Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica
  • Hyatt Regency Cologne, Germany
  • Park Hyatt Hamburg, Germany
  • Hyatt Regency Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Hyatt Regency Sochi, Russia
  • Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Park Hyatt Busan, South Korea
  • Hyatt Regency Guam

Decreasing from category 5 to 4

  • Andaz San Diego, California
  • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, California
  • Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
  • Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile, Illinois
  • Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago, Illinois
  • Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, Maryland
  • Hyatt House Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson, New Jersey
  • Park Hyatt Istanbul – Macka Palas, Turkey
  • Hyatt Regency Kiev, Ukraine
  • Park Hyatt Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Park Hyatt Hangzhou, China

While the gain of the Hyatt House Jersey City certainly doesn’t outweigh the loss of the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo (check out this post to see why Greg loved it there), there are some interesting options on the new category 4 list. The fact that you can now use your free night(s) in Hawaii is welcome, while Chicago and San Diego each getting two new category 4 hotels is another positive change. Overseas, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar looks like an intriguing option.

Personally, I’m not happy to see the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam increasing to category 5 as we were considering a stay there in a couple of months. I’ll just have to hope our anniversary free night certificates post to our accounts before March 18.

Notable Properties

In addition to the hotels moving from category 4 to 5 and vice versa, here are some other notable changes coming up in March.

Bali

The Hyatt Regency Bali is increasing from category 1 to 2. This change isn’t too surprising, as 5,000 points per night seemed a steal for this hotel. So much so that my wife and I are staying there 10 nights later this year to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Interestingly, the Grand Hyatt Bali is moving down a category and so will also cost 8,000 points per night from next month.

New York

While no New York properties are dropping from category 5 to 4, a few of them are going down from category 6 to 5. That’ll therefore save you 5,000 points per night if you want to stay at the Andaz Wall Street, Grand Hyatt New York or Hyatt Herald Square New York.

Park Hyatt Maldives

If you’ve been building up your World of Hyatt and/or Ultimate Rewards balances for a stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives, you’ll probably want to book it ASAP as it’s increasing from category 6 (25,000 points) to category 7 (30,000 points).

New Category 7 Hotels

The Park Hyatt Maldives isn’t the only property moving up to category 7 – there are three others:

  • Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hawaii
  • Hôtel Martinez, France
  • Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Japan

Australia

Redemption rates for properties in Australia tend to have an upward trajectory, so it’s nice to see three Hyatt hotels reducing in price Down Under. If you need an overnight stay at a Melbourne airport hotel, the Hyatt Place Melbourne/Essendon Fields might be worth looking into now that it’ll only cost 8,000 points per night and has a free airport shuttle.

Final Thoughts

Overall, these changes are – realistically – as good as we could hope for. Hyatt hasn’t changed how many points are required for each category level, while the number of properties moving up a category is pretty much evenly matched by the number of properties going down in price, much more than can be said for Marriott.

Those of us looking to redeem category 1-4 certificates are probably affected the worst, with fewer available properties and the overall selection not being quite as good as before.

If there are hotels you want to book that’ll be increasing in price, be sure to book them before March 18. If the ones you want to stay at will be reducing in price, wait to book those until after that date.

Question

What are your thoughts on these changes? Have any of the decreases caught your eye or have some of the increases affected your upcoming plans? Let us know in the comments below.

h/t OMAAT

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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Jamie J
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Jamie J

I was looking at going to Andaz Papagayo next March. My 2 free cat 1-4 night certificates come again in April. So, can I book with points or cash before the March deadline and then change 2 nights to the free 1-4 nights since it’s booked at the lower level?

Dee
Guest
Dee

Andaz Papagayo is going up a category from 4 to 5. After March, you won’t be able to use your certificates, as they are only good for cat 1 to 4.

I’m glad we got to go last year and used our certificates. It is a lovely property.

Jodie
Guest
Jodie

How long does it take for the free night to post after hitting the 15k spend requirement on the Hyatt card? Wondering if I could meet that spend (almost there) and have the free night dumped into my account so that I can book Papagayo before 3/18???

Dee
Guest
Dee

Stephen, I used to live in Milford, CT and stay at the Hyatt Place Milford/New Haven when I go to visit. It is right off of the interstate, so convenient for getting on and off the interstate. But, it is not a lovely part of town. If you spend a little time there, check out the town green, duck pond and harbor – very New Englandy. The city of Milford has public beaches, but you have to have a sticker on your car that shows you paid your taxes to park in the lots. Silver Sands State Park is open to the public – a lovely place for a picnic or an afternoon on the sand. No snack bar or ice cream trucks though. You can pick up lobster rolls from a food truck along Rt 1 on your way, or a least get an ice cream from a truck at adjacent city beach Walnut Beach. Gulf Beach (a city beach) has a snack bar – early and late you don’t have to worry about parking tickets. It is a lovely spot to watch sailboats in and out of Milford Harbor.

The Audubon Center is in salt marshes at the very tip of Milford where the Housatonic River flows into the Long Island Sound. If you are into birding, it is worth finding it.

Restaurants:
Milford is a coastal town along the Long Island Sound. Lobsters, Blue Point oysters, clams and flounder come out of the Sound.
For fried seafood and chowder, Chick’s Drive In in West Haven. Great fried oysters and whole belly clams. They offer free beach parking, too. West Haven has a nice beach path that is over a mile long.
For nicer seafood lunch or dinner – Stonebridge in downtown Milford. Get there early to get a table on the porch over the waterfall that powered the mill in the ford below (Mill + Ford = Milford)
Right down Old Gate Lane from the hotel is Sundae House – a soft-serve shack that is a local tradition. Packed every evening in summer with locals and nice views of salt marshes out back.
The Corner Cafe’ in downtown Milford, near the duck pond/City Hall, only serves breakfast & lunch. The spicy duck wrap is amazing.

New Haven has excellent restaurants around Yale in the downtown area. Yale is a beautiful campus to stroll around.

Greg
Guest
Greg

The category 1-4 certificates take a big hit with the category changes. At least in the US, the category 4 hotels moving up often result in significant savings, so it makes sense why they are changing. It seems to me that the hotels moving from 5 to 4 are intended to make it appear like there is only a net change of 6 hotels, instead of really benefiting members. San Diego is the only city coming out ahead here. Chicago already has a number of options available for the certificate, so adding two more offers little value. You could argue that people traveling to New York have a couple of new options, but Long Island City has a similar commute. Hawaii is in the same boat, where the Centric adds another option besides the Hyatt Place.

In a nutshell, I would say that the significant category changes represent more than just savings at a hotel. The savings made it appealing (or even possible) to travel to that specific destination, especially when combining multiple certificates. Bonita Springs, Costa Rica, Nashville, San Francisco and Virginia Beach are no longer places we will look at prioritizing, while the door now opens for us to focus on other great options like Austin, San Antonio, Houston, San Diego, Charleston, Savannah, Portland (ME) and Keystone.

quasimodo
Guest
quasimodo

done with Hyatt Place. Don’t care how cheap they are. Cordless phones (+ strong wi-fi) in every room means a lot of microwave radiation

James
Guest
James

Losers are California (except for San Diego Area) – HH Carlsbad, HRMB, Manchester, Andaz and La Jolla all drop, of course the $70 resort+parking fees,make the Mission Bay property a non-starter for most.

Josh
Guest
Josh

assuming the 15k = free night is only for the new hyatt card?

Ed Dee
Guest
Ed Dee

Was in Hyatt Regency Bali in January. It was just opened in December 2018. Too good for a Category 1 or even 2. I was upgraded to a suite as an Explorist member and also access to Lounge which comes with great food. Go early to the Lounge or the food is gone. They don’t replenish the food. They are building Andaz next to this property.

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