Andaz Maui Decides They Don’t Like Freeloading Diamond Members Anymore

Mommy Points let me know that the Andaz Maui breakfast — that I raved about just six weeks ago — has tightened up their benefit for Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members.

They’ve created a new, lower level buffet (the “Ka’ana Pantry” rather than full buffet) which they allow Diamonds to supplement with an entree and side off of the menu.

Andaz Maui Had One of the Best Breakfast Offerings in Hyatt, the Chain With the Best Breakfast Benefit

Hyatt offers the most generous top tier breakfast benefit — full, not continental, breakfast in hotels without a club lounge offering.

I rate the Andaz Maui’s breakfast a notch behind the Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives (better setting), Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris (more refined, and room service option), and Andaz 5th Avenue (room service). It’s also behind the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur (one of the most extensive breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen). But it’s unquestionably top 10 and probably top 6 in Hyatt.

The first morning when I went to breakfast I was asked if I had visited before and when I said I had not I was given a tour of the buffet. I don’t think I’ve had a tour of breakfast before.

I described the Andaz Maui breakfast as offering the ultimate luxury of choice.

When I stayed at the Andaz Maui recently I was told at check-in that my Diamond breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant — a $44++ per person buffet — was customizable. Just ask for anything you want and they will make it for you.

I wondered, how does that really work? The restaurant does get busy at times. The servers really varied in quality. The food there was outstanding, very high quality.

I decided to test ‘customization.’ I mentioned that since I was on Maui I would love some fresh fish. Did I have any particular fish in mind? No, whatever the chef thought was the best that he had that morning would work for me, however he wanted to prepare it. She left to discuss, came back and reassured that this would be taken care of. And so it was:

The New Breakfast Benefit

Diamond breakfast now includes a subset of the buffet — bread and bakery items; smoked fish and sliced meat; fruit, yogurt; and oatmeal; plus an egg dish and one side item from the menu and choice of juice and coffee.

Note that these are not the juices from the fresh juice bar, so no pour over coffee either.

Diamonds can upgrade to the full ‘breakfast experience’ (as they referred to it when I was there in July) for an additional $17++ per person.

Here’s Why the Change is a Big Deal

The change at the Andaz Maui no doubt complies with the Hyatt Gold Passport terms and conditions which requires:

At Hyatt hotels that do not have a Regency Club or Grand Club lounge, daily complimentary full breakfast inclusive of one entrée (or standard breakfast buffet), juice and coffee (tax, gratuity and service charges included) will be provided to the member and each registered guest in the room, maximum four (4) people.

They are clearly offering one entree, juice and coffee and are in some sense going ‘above and beyond’ by also offering some of the additional items from the buffet.

But I can’t recall seeing a hotel only offer Diamonds ‘part of a buffet’.

Rather than treating Diamonds as honored guests, the message here seems to be that they are freeloaders and are going to get less than the full breakfast offered by the hotel.

In some sense this is unfair, it’s a framing issue. If the hotel had originally made the Diamond breakfast ‘off the menu only’ and allowed Diamonds to upgrade to the buffet then taking away the full breakfast experience wouldn’t be nearly as bad.

That having been said, by giving them just a piece of the buffet — perhaps thinking they’re being generous — they seem to be sending the opposite message than intended.

What’s more, the change applies to everyone as of a couple of weeks ago. That’s true regardless of when reservations were booked. While the Department of Transportation is considering federal regulations to forbid airlines from raising baggage fees on customers after ticket purchase, hotels go on increasing their own charges after reservations — even non-refundable reservations — are made.

You can have the same exact experience as before if you’re a Diamond for an additional $17++ per person per day. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it’s sad to see the property become less generous. It’s sad to see them nickel and $20 Diamond members.

In the end though if I can book a cash and points award and apply a Diamond Suite Upgrade to the room I’m still going to stay here though because it offers a smaller hotel feel than the mega resorts and good all-around value. I’ll just enjoy the long lingering morning a little bit less, feeling less welcome than before.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. To be fair, a lot of diamonds there probably ARE freeloaders, myself included. Signed up for the Diamond Challenge to coincide with my award stay there. I did complete the challenge, but I would have signed up whether I intended to or not, just for the Andaz Maui breakfast.

    Of course, I did end up spending a lot of money there, too.

  2. Granted my family and I did the diamond challenge when we stayed there, the amount of raving I have done (and still do) about the breakfast experience probably brought them more paying customers than the $17 up charge they are now implementing. Not to mention we spent over $1500 at the resort outside of benefits. Loyalty works both ways… not a fan of this change.

  3. What compounds the issue is that the marginal cost of offering this breakfast to Diamonds was likely next to nothing. Of all the devals, reductions, and scale backs to FF members, etc, this one seems particularly misguided.

  4. Totally confused. Why in the world do you rehash the old buffet in painstaking detail when it’s changed? Why not just link to your old review and discuss the changes?

    You outdone yourself with yet another unnecessarily longwinded post.

  5. These are not that impressive. My personal favorite is the breakfast buffer included with your room at the Marriott Nanning (Guangxi, China). Words can’t even describe what it is like. Experiencing it is the only way to fully appreciate it.

    Catch a glimpse here:
    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/04/c4/64/03/marriott-hotel-nanning.jpg

    http://cdn4.agoda.net/hotelimages/208/208460/208460_120402153843065_800x600.jpg

    Runners up are the brunch at the RItz-Carlton Jakarta and the breakfast at the Renaissance Shanghai Putuo Hotel.

    Ritz:
    http://stumbleabroad.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/brunch-ritz-carlton2.jpg

    http://whatsnewjakarta.com/contentfile/asia_restaurant_ritz_carlton_jakarta_large.jpg

    http://www.thepeakmagazine.com/files/Brief%20Ritz%20Carlton.jpg

    http://cdn1.agoda.net/hotelimages/655/65540/65540_13052017470012497947_STD.jpg

    Renaissance:

    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/5d/e8/16/renaissance-shanghai.jpg

  6. Personally I prefer the free Park Hyatt Tokyo room service breakfast, I’d rather eat in my room than deal with a bunch of freeloaders and a buffet. Looking forward to Andaz 5th that you mentioned.

    Did you every notice that breakfast buffets overseas (at all luxury chains) generally put US properties to shame? Did you ever consider why that is? Is US management more pennywise and pound foolish? Or just too many families that abuse elite privileges at certain US properties?

    It’s funny how shocked you are every time a travel provider cuts elite benefits. You seem to have missed the fable about killing the goose.

  7. How RUDE of Hyatt. I mean, how much can one person eat? Were Diamonds filling their handbags with buffet items? STUPID MOVE, HYATT. I didn’t really like the hotel anyway, so this is just one more reason not to return.

  8. Rude. If he continues to write “yet another …long winded post…” why do you come back for more suffering? Are you a sadist? or just love being a critic?

  9. To put it bluntly, I think this stinks. My wife and I have a booked stay upcoming in November and the ridiculous food costs on Maui steered us in the direction of the Andaz. Could I have bigger problems? Sure. But when it comes to loyalty programs – they just keep chip, chip, chipping away.

  10. Thanks for this post. I have a stay booked in a few weeks and am quite mad about this. Now I have to factor in another ~$50+ per day if we want to enjoy the nice breakfast buffet.

    I wish Hyatt GP would step in here and put this hotel in line. If Andaz Maui doesn’t like GP members staying there and having perks they should leave Hyatt and go independent.

  11. I’ve been a Diamond for only 6 years and love the program. I think overall Hyatt GP treats their top tier extremely well.

    I booked my stay prior to the change and stayed just this past weekend. I was happy that they made an exception and allowed me to have the full breakfast experience. The breakfast was high quality and plenty of choices. But I wouldn’t say it’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had, May be top 10…

    I’ve to admit, it feels a bit weird for me during breakfast. having my neighbors looking at my pork buns and fresh juice, while they are eating cereal and cold cuts was a bit uncomfortable. I hope the hotel will reconsider their policy and allow diamonds, whether fake or real, to have the full experience.

  12. What don’t they understand when the terms state full breakfast? And many folks are just two in a party anyway not 4
    I usually have one plate of food and some fruit
    Another abusrd devaluation of the program!
    I could understand it better if they had a lounge too
    But they dont have a lounge and this is just changing the terms and conditions by a single hotel
    I hope corporate sets the record straight and puts their foot down on the hotel and reads them the riot act
    Its insulting after being with Hyatt for 20 plus years

  13. I was also there this past weekend and my wife and I enjoyed the “breakfast experience,” and honestly, how much more did it cost them? 2 slices of bacon and a bit of egg over 3 days, plus a fresh pour over coffee? maybe $2-$3/day. $6-$9 total and we dumped plenty more than that back into the resort for the 4 days we were there. Maybe have them look at the Grand scheme of things – People rave about your buffet, which brings more booked rooms, which leads to more revenue. Cut the buffet, you cut the ravings, which leads to less word of mouth advertising, which is the best kind.

  14. Are you certain it has changed? I stayed at the Andaz Maui as a Diamond on August 5-7. We got the breakfast tour followed by full breakfast — fruit, eggs, coffee, healthy juices, etc., etc. By the way, it was a wonderful breakfast, no “lower level” about it, and I really like the open kitchen concept.

  15. It’s a major blow to diamond members. They also did away with their free outrigger canoe rides and their free regatta boat race. And remember that they no longer provide beach bags or even slippers. Anything they can charge for they now do.

  16. “While the Department of Transportation is considering federal regulations to forbid airlines from raising baggage fees on customers after ticket purchase, hotels go on increasing their own charges after reservations — even non-refundable reservations — are made.”

    Why would the DOT regulate a hotel program?

  17. Truly unbelievable that anyone gives a damn about breakfast, let alone whines about not have a “full” breakfast.

  18. I was planning to book 2 rooms on an upcoming Hawaii trip due to all the positive reviews. After reading this I do not think I will. As a Diamond I was looking forward to the amenities. Not happy. I make an effort to stay at Hyatt and I have felt less comnpelled to do so for the last couple of years.

  19. Wah, wah, wah! Talk about your “First World Problems”.

    Plenty of times I have had to forego breakfast in any number of hotels because I had an early flight. This is a frigging vacation! That you are largely getting for *FREE*. So what if you have to shell out for a few meals? If you had to pay for the exact same trip with cash, you would be out probably $5,000 or more (airline and hotel). Yet you bitch about a $17/pp breakfast?

    The point is that you get plenty of free stuff, but it is never enough.

    Oh, and @Secretary Toaster, last I checked, most hotels were not “transportation”. The ones that are are called *CRUISE SHIPS*.

  20. “Why would the DOT regulate a hotel program?” @Secretary Toaster, I believe the DOT comment would be an example of an analogy – not meant to be taken literally.

  21. I’ve grown weary of the overused term, “first world problems.” Yeah, no kidding that if you live a “first world existence,” then every problem falls under that category. I didn’t realize this was the Haiti Today site.

    My other favorite response to yet one more devaluation in a never ending devaluation of “loyalty” programs, is “quit your whining, you get plenty of free stuff.” That thought encapsulates all that is wrong with the travel industry today. The attitude a loyal customer is too entitled. Just quit your whining and pay more for an ever shittier experience with reduced benefits…..and you’ll like it. Spoken like someone who works in the travel industry.

    Never mind the thousands of $$$ spent in Hyatt properties or the many nights away from family needed to earn all that “free stuff.” The use of the term Diamond freeloader doesn’t help. What does that mean? When a traveler is smart enough to use a rare opportunity (Diamond Challenge) to upgrade their travel experience, I say good for them. It’s usually the other way around.

    You know, when you compare a USA based airline club to their international counterparts, maybe the US is closer to a third world experience after all.

  22. @Dark Chocolate – where are you getting all of this for free? I paid for my flight to Kauai, I paid for my room at the Andaz, and I paid for my lunches and dinners….and spa treatments…and cabanas, so why should I have to pay more?

  23. Gary: “Blah, blah, blah . . . I don’t like it, but it doesn’t matter, ’cause I’m still going to stay there . . .”

  24. @RoloT:

    Yeah, maybe it is overused, but it is quite appropriate in this instance.

    Many, and certainly not all, of the folks who read and write these blogs are all about “gaming” the system to get huge CC signup bonuses (and dump the card when up for renewal), MS, and maybe stay at a low end hotel once per year on a paid visit.

    Then they expect to be treated like the King of the World. And when a company figures out they are being scammed, they claw back a little and everyone of the gamers bitch and moan. But they never quite get pissed off enough to actually leave a program.

    Regular people who actually earn status by flying and staying rarely complain. They take it in stride, and while it may upset them for a few days, it is still a small price to pay for the hassle of travelling for a living.

    And programs know how you got your status. For example I am Diamond on Delta by flying over 150K miles on Long Haul International BC flights and have spent over $50K with them so far this year. I have also gotten domestic upgrades on award tickets 11/12 segments this year. Conicidence? I doubt it.

  25. I did the Diamond challenge earlier this year and as a result I have definitely increased my Hyatt stays as a result……Seattle Olive 8 and Vendome Diamond benefits were nice……and we have 7 Regency Maui and 2 Andaz both points and cash with Suite upgrades……But another 7 nights in Seattle just to vacation because of the Hyatt benefit so for my family the program works……we’ll pay the $17 “once”……only time will tell if we continue but it sounds like management and accounting didn’t talk in Maui…….a whole lot of sizzle and rug pulling……….

  26. Gary, some comments are to the effect that you are long winded, or that you unnecessarily repeat posts, or are pimping cards or do not properly edit your posts.

    I do not share any of those opinions. I look forward to everything that you write.

    Thank you

  27. Must be more of the Hyatt Surprise & Delight program ! But still, this is not near as bad as their targeted promos and gifts discrimination without criteria, aka special sauce….

  28. We stayed there last May and while free breakfast is always a good thing, the experience didn’t live up to our expectations in any way. We didn’t get the customized, grand treatment at all. We were shown to our table, pointed to the buffet, and the only time we saw our server was when he gave us the check. The Nutella pancakes were good, but certainly wasn’t worth $100. Might have been an off morning, but it was unpleasant enough that we didn’t go back there for any meal the rest of our week there.

  29. I agree with RoloT, and Darth Chocolate, you are wrong . . . these amenities are not ‘free’, they are earned . . . and squawk all you want about credit card churning gamers, but the credit card/points/miles game is a winner for the hotels and airlines . . a real profit center, if you bother to read the annual reports of the these companies . .

    Hotel occupancy is at an all-time high now, and resort destinations such as the Andaz Maui probably have more paying guests than they’ve had before.

    What burns is the paying diamond guest is being nickeled and dimed as much as the guest on the earned award nights . . You say you’ve had 11/12 upgrade success on Delta domestic flights this year? What if that was 4/12 or less on paid domestic flights? You’d be raising holy hell as a ‘mistreated’ full-fare paying Diamond on Delta . .

  30. You all are WAAAY too hotel bound. Get out of the stinky hotel and see the rest of the island. Get up early and enjoy it. Go at 6:30am up to the Gazebo in Kapalua and eat too much for $15. Just do it. There is so much more to Maui and any other place than spending your valuable time eating in the hotel. Or enjoy what you get for free, shove it down in a hurry, and get outside. Quit sitting at the hotel pool and go to the beach. Drive up the volcano. Drive to Hana against the tourist stream and enjoy beaches all to yourself. Go walk around Paia, shopping and watching wind surfers. Play golf at the cheap local courses. Be normal tourists!

    And it’s hard to fault a new hotel for adjusting benefits once it knows its loads, why give more away than you need to?

  31. I always worry when I see cuts in breakfast. I choose to give my business to Hyatt mainly because I am fairly sure that I will be able to get something that meets my low carb diet to eat before I start my day. Other programs that only offer continental breakfast can leave me with nothing to eat. $17 * 2 people is a lot for my budget. Yes, I can go find something….but, I need to eat fairly soon in the morning and sometimes it takes some time to find something. I send my stays to Hyatt mainly due to breakfast benefits. Of course, I like the other benefits as well.

  32. RoloT, all I can say is well said. Well said indeed! Still LOL about the ‘Haiti Today’ comment. @Darth Chocolate, you’d be surprised but many don’t engage in MS (various reasons). I for one started a Diamond Challenge after reading reviews of this and other properties & had planned to keep the status by steering more business to Hyatt. Just like RoloT said, there’s a cost for most of us to bring Hyatt the extra business. Either in nights away from the family or more inconvenient locations (sure you’ve realized Hyatt just doesn’t have that many properties).

    And the low-end-hotel stay comment? You don’t think anyone is trading in from a stay at the Ritz (or other luxury brands)?

    And I’m not even sure why BIS-mile earners think they’re such a godsend to airlines. If anything, margins there are a lot smaller than the ones from credit cards, etc.

    Loyalty does indeed work both ways.

  33. “In the end though if I can book a cash and points award and apply a Diamond Suite Upgrade to the room I’m still going to stay here though because it offers a smaller hotel feel than the mega resorts and good all-around value.”

    According to Flyertalk, the Andaz Maui is no longer offering new Cash and Points stays.

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