New Hyatt properties: a reminder of an old trick

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.

The takeaway

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….

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Diana
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Diana

Any tips on booking a 3 night stay at Andaz Maui for next month? I reserved a standard 2 queen room last month with cash booking hoping to just transfer it to a points booking when my points came in this month, but of course when I called they said they couldn’t do it b/c my standard room was no longer available at this current time of booking

Brands
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Brands

Diana, if I remember correctly, the Andaz Maui plays games with award availability. They only have a couple of rooms that qualify for award nights, and you have to book a minimum of 5 consecutive nights in order to use points.

Rohit
Guest
Rohit

Nick, this is only possible for Hyatt owned properties. Hyatt representatives cannot book you into a standard room with points if partner property (think MLife) doesn’t want to make it available on points.

losingtrader
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losingtrader

I had this exact problem at the Grand Hyatt Incheon, trying to use 12,000 points instead of $340. Hyatt supervisor told me a 1 br Deluxe King is not a standard room. Maybe it is , maybe it isn’t. I ended up with a day rate of 250 and an upgrade to a massive suite I didn’t need

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

Just book Hyatt Centric Milan three days ago. I had more than enough points but also could only see pionts& cash. I called Hyatt and they booked us immediately on points only.
The problem with many of their hotels in Italy(and around Europe, I suspect) is the property itself is playing games and calling a standard room some/anything else to get out from allowing point redemptions. This is especially egregious at their newer collection of properties recently added via their deal with Fine Hotels of the World(or whatever it’s called).
Given the older(and very expensive) nature of the properties very few rooms are the same size. As such, they often get categorized as “King Deluxe” or some such nonsense.

David
Guest
David

Do you know what the policy is for Suite Upgrade Awards? If a suite is available for cash, is it available for a Suite Upgrade?

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

It’s not Hyatt, but i know with Hilton the system won’t let me see or book award nights if i have a zero balance of HHonors points. With just a couple hundred points, all of a sudden the restriction is magically released. And yes, if im not logged in at all, their system lets me see award prices and availability. Log in, and then poof the points option disappears.

MSer
Guest
MSer

10x lolz. Love the old trick – of picking up the phone. Tip: It’s best done on a rotary-dial phone, just to clarify…Preferably Avocado Green or Burnt Orange.

trackback

[…] How to book awards: Book online at Hyatt.com. To add elite upgrades like Globalist suite night upgrades or Explorist Club Access Awards, you will need to call or contact the Twitter team (which can also help book award rooms — see: New Hyatt properties: reminder of an old trick.) […]