Last week, I saw that Miles to Memories reported that a couple of new Hyatt hotels recently became available for booking — and while your travel plans might not take you to either of those specific hotels, the situation reminded me of a good piece of information to keep in mind when you run into a hotel trying to game the Hyatt system: when there is a standard room available for booking with cash, you can book it with points.
Two new properties in Italy, but the key applies anywhere
The two new properties noted in the Miles to Memories post are the Hyatt Centric Milan (Cat 4) and Hyatt Centric Murano Venice (Cat 3).
The Hyatt Centric Milan particularly stood out to me because it is a Category 4 hotel. That means it should cost 15K points per night for a free night award. More importantly for many is that you should also be able to use a Hyatt Cat 1-4 free night certificate, which is notable in a city with relatively high room rates. The first set of dates I checked for this summer showed an advance purchase rate of 349 Euros or a flexible member rate of 369 Euros.
Unfortunately, Mark reported that rooms are not yet available on points at 15K per night but that rooms were rather only available via Cash & Points. I confirmed this was true for the dates that I checked — either a room with 1 King bed or 2 twin beds showed up as available for 7500 points and 205 Euros, but I did not see a free night award available for 15K.
However, that reminded me of the World of Hyatt free night award policy:
World of Hyatt Standard-Room Free Night Awards are available when hotels have standard rooms available at the Standard Rate. If a standard room is not for sale at the Standard Rate on a particular night at a property, a free night award cannot be used at that property.
Some hotels try to game the system here. The Andaz Maui, for instance, will sell some rooms as a “Resort View” — as though you could possibly stay at a resort in any room that doesn’t view said resort and then adding insult to injury by suggesting that you flew halfway around the world to a hotel on the beach in paradise ready to consider a “resort view” as an “upgrade” over a “standard” room.
They’ll use that description – “Resort View” – to avoid calling the rooms an Andaz King (or whatever the equivalent is at your chosen game-the-system hotel), which would have to be available for booking on points if it is available for sale. In other words, they (often) wiggle out of the requirement to offer free night awards by pretending not to have “standard” rooms available. It’s not impossible to find an award stay at the Andaz Maui, but they seem to have a very limited pool of “standard” rooms since almost everything is listed as having a “view”.
However, that particular game does not appear to be the one in play at the Hyatt Centric Milan. As you can see in the screen shot above, the rooms available on cash & points certainly sound standard: 1 King bed or 2 Twin beds. If one of those isn’t the “standard” room, what is?
My first reaction was that I should be able to call Hyatt and book the room over the phone. However, I didn’t immediately want to spend time on hold and figured I could multi-task and ask the Hyatt Concierge on Twitter for clarification. They confirmed that I was correct: they saw the standard 1 King room available for booking as an award stay at 15K points.
I reiterated that I wanted to be sure about availability for free night awards as I was interested in making a booking, but would need to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt in order to be able to do so. I sent a screen shot of my dates to make the point that rooms did not appear available for an award booking.
The Twitter rep then told me one I’ve never heard before:
That’s right — they suggested that the reason I couldn’t see rooms available for 15K points is because I didn’t have enough points in my account to cover the reservation. In response, I sent them a screen shot of available rooms for 30K per night at the Park Hyatt New York. They replied saying that was odd, that it should only show me things I have enough points to book. The agent doubled-down on the concept that Hyatt would only show me rooms I can book with the points available in my account, and since I didn’t have enough to book this reservation (without transferring over from Ultimately Rewards), that’s why I was only seeing cash and points. They promised to report the error (i.e. tell the IT team that it should not be displaying availability at the Park Hyatt to the riff-raff like me who aren’t points-rich enough).
I’ll admit that for a second, I almost spit out a sip of my coffee thinking, “Oh man, I hope Hyatt doesn’t change that — how would you know whether or not to transfer points if you can only see availability when you have enough points in your account?” Then that sip of coffee reached my brain and I realized how nonsensical the response was: you don’t even need a World of Hyatt account to search for availability with points. Anyone can go to Hyatt.com and check the box that says “Use points” to see whether or not a hotel is available on points. To my knowledge, that’s true with every major hotel chain; you don’t even need to be a member to see if a hotel is available on points and what that cost is. I include this snafu not to disparage the Twitter Hyatt Concierge (in fact, the Hyatt Twitter team has by and large been awesome in my experience and I have often said that Hyatt’s twitter team ought to sell a training course on customer service to other companies. I mean that).
But I include this bit of completely incorrect information as a reminder that customer service, even in one of the best customer service departments out there, is just flat-out wrong sometimes (and when incorrect information is presented as fact, it can be confusing). Thus was born the acronym HUCA: Hang up, call again. Sometimes, you just have to try again to get the right rep.
In this case, I was confident that this didn’t make sense. I decided to go ahead and test it out — I moved over the points to make a booking and messaged the Twitter team again asking if they could help me make the reservation (and to let them know that I didn’t see the Hyatt Centric Milan available for a 15K/nt award stay even after transferring the points). They apologized and said they would follow up with management about that — and went ahead and made the reservation for me successfully.
Remember that Hyatt’s policy is that if a standard room is available for sale, it is supposed to be available for an award booking. Know that IT is not known to be Hyatt’s strong suit, so if you see a hotel that should be bookable on points and isn’t, the “old trick” here is to pick up the phone and call (or Tweet), prepared to quote the policy politely if necessary. That concept is not necessarily limited to Hyatt — there are times when a phone rep can manually piece together an award flight, etc. In the case of the Hyatt Centric Milan, the hotel certainly is bookable for 15K points per night, and thus I assume would also be available via a Category 1-4 certificate. Now if only I hadn’t burned my Cat 1-4 cert on a 12K hotel, I’d be 3K points richer….