There’s been some confusion online about Hyatt’s suite upgrades, and especially about whether and how certain discounted rates can get into suites. There’s an incorrect notion out there, for instance, that capacity controls apply to Diamond Suite Upgrades when used in conjunction with cash and points awards.
But to correct the misunderstanding, I first need to walk through:
- Hyatt’s suite upgrade options
- How confirming upgrades work at a hotel level
- How cash and points awards work
And then it may make more sense why — as I have confirmed with Hyatt — there aren’t any capacity controls on confirmed suites with Hyatt.
Armed with this knowledge you may be better-positioned to get the best deals on the best rooms at Hyatt properties. In fact, it may even motivate you to take advantage of Hyatt’s new Diamond challenge to earn top status quickly.
Hyatt Offers the Best Suite Upgrade Benefit of any Major Hotel Chain
Hyatt allows their Diamond members to upgrade paid stays at time of booking four times per year, up to 7 nights each time. They’re the only program offering true confirmed at booking suites, taking risk out of the equation.
The only real downside is that these confirmed upgrades are available only on paid stays (including cash and points awards), not on pure points-only award stays.
Whereas Starwood wants double points to redeem award nights in a suite, Hyatt offers standard suites for about a 60% premium over regular free night awards.
There’s a 3 night minimum stay on these redemptions, and there are a handful of properties where you cannot spend additional points for suites —
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort , Park Hyatt Sydney, Andaz Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort, Hyatt Regency Tulsa, Hyatt Regency Wichita, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa, Hyatt Manila City of Dreams, Hyatt Santa Barbara, Hyatt Residence Club resorts, Hyatt Place hotels and M life resorts.
These awards book into the base-level suite, as indicated on each hotel property’s page on the Hyatt website. When a standard room isn’t available for redemption you can spend modest points for better rooms. And you can have the better experience, guaranteed at booking, even without status.
Bedroom of suite at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Suites at some properties are only incrementally more expensive than regular rooms, I recall staying at the Hyatt in Bellevue Washington where a suite priced only at about $50 more than a regular room. But suites can also be several multiples of a regular room, even ten times as much, so spending ~60% more points can represent a huge value-per-point value there as well (of course you need to actually care about the room itself for this to matter).
A 60% premium can be a great deal at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (it guarantees you a harbor view), it’s also a great value at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza, a category 2 property where the suite is really quite nice.
Hyatt Gold Passport also offers what is by far the most generous points upgrade benefit for paid stays — even though it’s more expensive than a year ago.
You have to pay the ‘Hyatt Daily Rate’ rather than a discounted rate to be eligible to upgrade a paid stay using points (in contrast a Diamond Suite Upgrade is valid on any paid rate bookable through a Hyatt channel). At resorts you have to pay for a deluxe (eg partial ocean view) room as well.
Here are the confirmed upgrade prices per night.
You cannot book suite awards or upgrades online, it has to be done through Hyatt’s customer service center.
A hotel like the Westin Tokyo will cost an extra 12,000 – 15,000 Starpoints per night for a suite, confirmed only five nights in advance. Hyatt Gold Passport will let you confirm an upgrade at booking the much nicer Park Hyatt Tokyo for just 6000 points per night.
A base-level member who cares about suites and pays for their stays could do a lot worse than getting the Hyatt Visa or a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, earning points for their spending and in the latter three cases transferring those points over to Hyatt Gold Passport and using the points to upgrade to suites.
How Hotels Manage Confirmed Suite Upgrade Availability
There are a number of reasons why the suite upgrade benefit may appear inconsistent, coming down to variations in customer service (so hang up and call back) and coming down to extra generosity sometimes on the part of a hotel.
Hotels designate which room type a confirmed suite books into. It’s supposed to be the basic or standard suite, but some hotels have a myriad of room types and others may just have three. At some hotels a suite is a suite (other than perhaps a Presidential suite). And at others there could be half a dozen suite types.
The process for assigning confirmed upgrades isn’t fully automated. It isn’t something you can do online. It’s handled in conjunction with the hotel. Different Hyatt agents are of differing quality, my experiences have been very mixed to say the least, and you’ll have to hang up and call back. You may get a decent agent but they need to work things out with the hotel, and the person at the other end of the transaction at the property may be of mixed skill, hence the need to hang up and call back.
Suite upgrades are sometimes negotiable. The base room may not be available, but a hotel may be willing to assign a different suite to your stay. They may be willing to do that if you buy up to a more expensive room type or with a cash co-pay. They may even sometimes be willing to assign a suite upgrade on an award night even though those are technically ineligible.
Suite upgrade room types change.
- The Andaz 5th Avenue has a ton of suites. Suite upgrades used to confirm into a base level suite, and they were pretty much always available. Then the hotel changed the room type to a more premium suite — using a confirmed suite upgrade would get you a fabulous ‘Splash Suite’ but there are fewer of those meaning the upgrades became harder to use.
- In contrast the Andaz Wall Street started calling an ‘XL King’ a Suite and using that room type for confirmed upgrades. It’s more of a junior suite with no wall separating living area from bedroom. The size of the room you’d get with a confirmed suite dropped by about 35%.
Hyatt’s Cash and Points Awards Offer Exceptional Value
Hyatt introduced cash and points awards at the beginning of last year and they’re fantastic, a real improvement over their regular award night redemptions. In fact, as a general matter outside of category 7 hotels, I try to avoid redeeming points for ‘regular’ awards since those don’t count towards elite status. I’ll redeem for full awards only when cash and points awards aren’t available, and when prices are high.
Cash and points rewards are cheaper than standard reward nights. For category 2 through 6 hotel redemptions you’re buying back points at 1.2 to 1.38 cents apiece, while Hyatt points are worth 1.4 cents apiece.
Cash and points rewards are better than standard reward nights. Cash and points awards count towards elite status qualification. They are eligible for Diamond Suite Upgrade awards and count towards earning promotions.
Cash and points awards aren’t always available, unfortunately — a hotel is only going to want to offer them when they’d otherwise have empty rooms. That’s because for a regular award night, if the hotel winds up 95% sold out, they get reimbursed by Gold Passport at prevailing rates instead of their discounted internal reimbursement rate. Meanwhile with a cash and points award night their reimbursement is fixed — they get the cash portion of the cash and points rate, plus a small payment from Gold Passport.
Hyatt Cash and Points Awards Get Access to the Same Suite Upgrade Inventory As Other Paid Rates
The other day One Mile at a Time suggested that Hyatt had capacity controls on suite upgrades when using them in conjunction with cash and points awards.
However, there’s a bit of a catch when it comes to redeeming Diamond Suite Upgrades for Points + Cash bookings, as John has encountered:
- When on a fully paid cash rate, Diamond Suite Upgrades can be used to confirm an upgrade to a standard suite at the time of booking, pending availability, with no capacity controls
- When on a Points + Cash stay, Diamond Suite Upgrades can be used to confirm an upgrade to a standard suite, though those upgrades are capacity controlled
So there is indeed only a sub-set of suite inventory which you can upgrade a Points + Cash stay with using a Diamond Suite Upgrade, and that will vary by hotel.
That didn’t seem right to me. I realize that customer service agents may give different answers, and individual hotels may assign different room types to the suite upgrade rate plan, but I was pretty sure that there weren’t actually capacity controls in place for suite upgrades. Not only didn’t that match my experience, I would have been shocked to learn that Hyatt had put in place the IT to manage inventory that way.
Still, Lucky generally knows what he’s talking about and seemed pretty sure. So I waited to post on it until I was able to ask Hyatt about this myself. I reached out for clarification and I was told unequivocably:
To clarify, Diamond Suite Upgrade inventory (standard suites) is not capacity controlled. The same Diamond Suite inventory is available whether a Hyatt Gold Passport member is booking a Hyatt rate or points + cash.
That’s great to know because Hyatt’s cash and points rates, if you can book one, really are equivalent to paid rates — not just for earning elite status and credit towards promotions, but for accessing confirmed suite upgrades for Diamond members.
Hyatt doesn’t place capacity controls on confirmed suites. Hotels do manage the inventory differently. There are IT challenges, and variability in the agents you may deal with on the phone and folks they may deal with at a given hotel, so don’t assume that every no you get is a real no.