How Some Hyatts Play Games to Prevent You From Redeeming Your Points

The Andaz Maui rarely offers cash and points awards, which is fair, because those are voluntary.

They restricted top tier elite suite upgrades to a new separate room type, poolside suites — a lesser room category that there’s only a few of on property. (And that many people wouldn’t want to stay in, these are ground floor obstructed view suites that any paying customer would be mortified by.)

They’re even tough to get an award night at, perhaps more than any other Hyatt hotel they’ve revealed the games a property can play to stretch the rules of a loyalty program.

  • When a hotel program offers that you can use points for any ‘standard room’ available on property, you think that means the more common room at the hotel but it doesn’t. It generally means the worst or lowest category room at the hotel.

  • So the Andaz Maui has created a room type they actively discourage customers to book with cash, that’s only a few bucks less expensive than their true ‘standard’ room. There are only a limited number of these, and it’s what they make available on points.

  • Since award reservations can have the same rules as paid stays, they impose minimum stay requirements on this room type only in order to further restrict availability of award redemptions.

The Andaz Maui Doesn’t Like Loyalty Program Members

Last year a manager from the Andaz Maui told me that they sell their rooms, they get a disproportionate number of Diamonds, and Hyatt should reduce benefits expectations for them and other Andaz hotels.

Here’s what the Andaz Maui does to prevent you from staying there on points:

They’ve created the Garden View room category which you can redeem your points for.

This isn’t the ‘standard’ room at the hotel as it’s properly understood. It’s a special room type that they discourage anyone spending money to stay there from booking.

For $15, the ‘base’ room is the mountain view (as opposed to ocean view) room.

Crucially, the hotel says that the mountain view room is the one you want if you aren’t going to be at the hotel much. If you’re never in your room anyway, book the mountain view. But if you are going to actually spend much time at the resort, rather than being ‘urged to immerse yourself in the destination daily,’ then you’d want a higher room category. But you certainly wouldn’t be encouraged to save $15 and book the no-view ‘garden’ room type.

In fact, most of the time garden rooms aren’t available.

  • They’re limited in number
  • They generally have 6 or more night stay requirements attached
  • Not that they necessarily want people staying on points to be on property for a week, but if you want a shorter stay you can’t book it on points and if you do want to stay this long then there has to be reward nights for every night of your stay in order to book it.

Oddly, I pulled up reward night availability for a 7 night stay November 5-12. However when shortening the stay to 6 nights (November 5-11) there was still a garden view room (standard room, should be points-eliigble) available but there was no award availability.

So even where the hotel is trying to play games limiting award redemptions, they’re still breaking the chain’s redemption rules by making the room type available for paid stays but not awards.

Ironically This Hotel is Owned By Hyatt

Normally my mental model is that hotels owned or at least managed by a chain will be more compliant with its loyalty program, while franchised hotels will be more likely to try to free ride — taking advantage of the loyalty of a program’s members while providing the bare minimum possible recognition of benefits.

However the Andaz Maui has gone from being partly-owned by Hyatt itself to being 100% owned by Hyatt according to the chain’s most recent 10-K filing.

Oddly, Hyatt also:

Of course even when a hotel is owned or managed by Hyatt, the property’s leadership has revenue targets they need to hit and reward nights may not be as lucrative for the hotel as paid nights.

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. I don’t doubt that “giving away” rooms at these particular hotels is bad for business, but you are right to call them out for their hypocrisy. It’s kind of like how it’s profitable for airlines to have frequent flyer programs, but there’s always the tendency to unreasonably restrict award seats.

    Hopefully, the sunshine you have provided causes Hyatt to rethink its Andaz strategy. I just hope the net result is positive. There are many other ways Hyatt could limit award redemptions at these hotels without being so deceptive.

  2. This is why I’m reevaluating whether to continue my pursuit of Globalist status under the higher 60 / 55 annual nights requirement. With the smallest global footprint, Hyatt makes loyalty difficult with properties that game the award stays at flagship resorts and “suite” upgrades that their most valued customers desire the most.

    Arguably, Hyatt could empower properties to reward its most loyal guests. Instead, they maintain the unfortunate status quo that devalues loyalty. Moreover, lifetime loyalty requires $200K base spend (1 Mln World of Hyatt points), which seems pretty unreasonable for the small global footprint they poorly command.

    Ritz / SPG / Marriott, please welcome me with open arms.

  3. I have always questioned the ethics behind these programs. Knowledge is king, and when it comes to hotel upgrades and other program rules regarding hotel inventory, the hotel and FDC has all the knowledge and we have almost none. Am I not hip to some way we can really know if a hotel is pulling some shenanigans?

  4. What we learned today: if you want to get a job as a manager for a Hyatt, get a job at a company owned Hyatt, since apparently your corporate bosses will look the other way at whatever shenanigans you want to pull. Oh boy, like I’ve been saying, Hyatt corporate is so far down the tunnel of corporate do-gooding that running hotels is now only a sidelight.

    _IF_ it is true that the Andaz gets a disproportionate % of diamonds, then Hyatt should attend to that, but I seriously doubt this manager’s ability to obtain such information chain-wide. Let’s remember, Hyatt just modified their program to make it more generous to elites on reward stays.

  5. Park Hyatt NY is the worst I’ve ever seen with playing games with availability. Often 6 night minimum for not only standard Park King room but often also for the DSU room category. I once stayed there for 4 months, and there was 1 night of the entire 4 months when the DSU room type was available… (had the Hyatt agent check)

  6. Really appreciate you bringing this to focus. This has been a recurring issue on classification of room types by individual Hotel management’s and hopefully your reach will allow this to be addressed.

    One thing to consider is that this is not limited to only the high-end properties but has also plagued the Hyatt Places and Hyatt Houses where “high-floor” is considered a room type on a 3 floor property.

  7. I hope you can do something about this, or have someone on the legal side take a look at these properties. I tried to book a stay last year and it would not let me use rewards, however I could use cash for a week stay.

  8. I have P+C reservation at PH Chicago and tried to redeem Tier Suite Upgrade or whatever DSUs are called now. Was told upgrade is not available on P+C reservation, only cash reservation. Is this allowed, or is PH Chicago breaking the rules here? And if they are breaking the rules, can I do anything about it?

  9. This problem only seems to be getting worse at Hyatts.

    Not only do the high-end hotels play these games, but even Hyatt Place hotels are doing this! Many of those hotels created ‘high floor’ categories (one hotel I stayed at had was only 4 floors, yet had this category) and lock out award stays from ‘high floor’ rooms. One Hyatt Place supposedly calls every room ‘high floor’ that isn’t their ground floor (thus restricting about 90% of inventory from award stays).

    There’s a great thread on FT (listed below) that I’d encourage people to contribute to. Since the World of Hyatt looks like it will lose them a lot of frequent travelers, one wonders why they continue to screw their most-valuable guests! I personally think Globalists (& probably Explorerists) should be able to book any non-suite room using points. For someone willing to spend 55+ nights/year at Hyatt that would be a nice reward, especially given these award redemption games.
    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hyatt-world-hyatt/1677460-standard-rooms-available-hotel-hyatt-says-gp-rooms-not-available.html

  10. Overall I agree with your points, but my family stayed in the Andaz Maui pool suite and we loved it. True, you don’t get much of a view, but you do get a nearly private pool (the pool was shared with maybe 3 or 4 other rooms if I recall correctly). It was really nice to be able to jump in the pool right from our patio. It was also very convenient that we could get to and from our room by tiptoeing around the pool rather than walking through the building. And the suite itself was terrific. So… Yes, I hate that they restrict the number of suites that are available for awards, but personally I’d consider picking one of these suites over a suite with a view depending upon who I’m traveling with. With families, I think the pool is a big win.

  11. Andaz Tokyo has been amazing with playing games from time to time. Will pull all award availability for the calendar year as an IT glitch. Only after prodding a few times will availability suddenly open like floodgates.

  12. Yes! Thank you, Gary, for bringing this to the forefront!

    For all of the difficulty that WoH has brought to existing Diamonds/Globalists, it’s incredibly frustrating to have to deal with shady practices by (it turns out) Hyatt-owned properties.

    Why isn’t Jeff Zidell addressing this? Why create higher restrictions for renewing the Globalist level but force us to deal with these antics at these properties? Where is the value of the WoH program when SPG Platinum level is still at 25 stays and no shenanigans?

    Argh!

  13. Doesn’t surprise me. When I stayed at the Andaz Maui as a Diamond on points, they put me in what must have been the worst room in the hotel. Was in a dark, noisy corner of the basement or sub-basement, a handicapped room with a roll-in shower with discolored nasty tile and no tub. When I complained about it, the snooty woman at reception said they were full to capacity (probably true as it was Xmas week) and there was nothing she could do about it. And this after I had booked the room 10 months in advance- which I imagine you have to do to score a room on points during busy times. It’s a nice property and they have a killer breakfast but their attitude made me say no way would I ever stay there again, not on points and definitely not for cash. Not worth it.

  14. Canceled a stay at PH Shanghai recently due to games they play with Tier Suite Upgrades availability. The “standard” room should be defined as the one with the greatest preponderance of rooms, or views should simply be thrown out of the mix. Creating a fake base level should not reset the standard. If an airline “upgraded” me from a window seat to an aisle seat I would roll my eyes.

  15. I rarely write but you have hit a nerve with me on this one… I completely agree. I am a Globalist and I am trying to make reservations for the end of April at they Hyatt in Maui and I’m experiencing shenanigans. This coupled with absolutely RIDICULOUS resort fees that I am being forced to pay for things that I have ZERO interest in infuriates me. Maybe someone can explain to me how something is “complimentary” if I am being FORCED to pay for it?? “Complimentary 800 # calls?? Seriously??” The availability shenanigans coupled with forced resort fees makes me want to AIRBNB after my Globalist expires. I am DONE with misleading hotel programs. Jeff Zidell, I hope you’re reading this… Rant over.

    Resort Fee Policy

    Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa offers a wide range of amenities to amplify your vacation experience, including:

    24-hour access to oceanfront Stay Fit Gym
    Complimentary yoga/fitness classes daily
    Complimentary cultural programs including lei making, hula lessons, wildlife tours, penguin and koi feedings
    Lei Greeting upon arrival
    Two reusable keepsake water bottles, per room, per stay, upon arrival
    Filtered water and ice machines located on every guestroom floor and throughout the resort
    Resort shuttle service in Ka`anapali (Trolley)
    One-hour daily tennis or basketball court time; tennis balls, racquets, and basketballs included
    Concierge services through Expedia Local Expert
    PressReader: access to more than 2000 full-content international and local newspapers and magazines from over 100 countries on your tablet or smartphone
    10% off Macy’s at Hyatt Regency Maui
    25% discount on Greens Fees (Rack Pricing) at Ka’anapali Golf Courses (Royal and Kai Courses)
    10% discount on all non-sale apparel items at the Ka’anapali Golf Course Pro Shop
    Complimentary beach portrait session and 5X7 print from Grins2Go at Hyatt Regency Maui
    Complimentary local, 1-800/1-888 phone calls
    In-room safe
    In-room coffee and tea
    Personalized guest request texting service: TEXT 808-518-2777 for 24-hour assistance

    A daily Resort Fee of $32 plus tax will be added to your nightly rate.

  16. Totally agree with Gary! Inventory games are very lame and shocking to see at flagship Hyatt-owned hotels. If Andaz wants less people why not move it to Category 7?

    Re: Suite Upgrades on P+C — it’s completely allowed and come from same inventory (no special suites just for P+C). It’s not unusual for hotels to miscode things or try to pull a fast one but per WoH terms, Suite Upgrades can be used for cash, points + cash, or points. Escalate to call center supervisor and quote the terms.

    Re: resort fees — they do suck but Globabalists don’t have to pay them under WoH. If you have to prepay, hotel will adjust it on their end to remove the fee.

  17. Anyone notice a pattern here? The corporate-owned hotels have an inside track on how to wink-and-nod their way through violating the spirit of the rule, if not the rule itself. Many of the franchisees have hotels in multiple brand portfolios — one company around here has hotels under the Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Starwood brands — which probably make it tougher for them to manipulate as they can’t master so many different rules.

  18. Hyatt used to be the nicest and most customer friendly hotel chain out there. Suddenly they became the worst. They probably hired a bunch of people from Delta to learn how to destroy a loyalty program. I promised myself I won’t spend a single penny on any Hyatt property anymore. Yes, I will still redeem points when it makes sense but they won’t see my money.

  19. We tried staying here last June using our two 2-night stays from having the credit card. The only way they would do it was by adding two paid nights to the reservation. Needless to say we booked our 4 nights at the Regency and were upgraded to an ocean view corner room with two balconies. No regrets whatsoever.

  20. I had Hyatt Diamond years ago…and then realized there were too few luxury level properties that I aspired to stay compared with SPG. So o switched to SPG and couldn’t have been happier. Got matched back to Diamond after a Marriott bought Starwood…and then couldn’t find a single Park Hyatt/Andaz property where I could easily use my points for suites–or use DSUs (since couldn’t use for award stays until the new WOH). So I ended up with 8 DSUs that I never used…and only a few where I even tried. All the while, I had no problem getting award rooms or suites with SPG…or getting upgraded on an award room to a suite.

    I’m so glad I stayed with SPG. It looks like it was Hyatt that truly won the race to the bottom. Marriott thus far has been far more generous and helpful with its attempt to incorporate the best of SPG into Marriott. Time will tell, but Hyatt looks like a disaster for any value when compared with SPG OR Marriott. SHOCKER.

  21. Play games right back. If you have enough points book the property for whatever they require, 6 nights or whatever it is. Then call in and adjust your stay to the dates or nights you want. I’ve done this a few times in the past. At that point you can even ask to swap in a free night award for one of your nights if you have any you are looking to use.

  22. These policies also hurt the Hyatt credit card business because there’s a high likelihood that you will not be able to use the two free night bonus at a desired property. With so many other terrific credit card offers out there, and rules like Chase 5/24 making people very careful about using their applications judiciously, why bother risking disappointment?

  23. I got that garden room at the Andaz Maui. It really is just a view of the parking lot…. The property itself is beautiful though but we were disappointed with the room.

  24. There are much better places to stay on Maui. Find a smaller boutique-ish hotel. Rent a house. Chain hotels on crowded beaches don’t do Maui justice!

  25. My wife and I spent 8 lovely nights in the Parking Lot/Service Entrance View Room at the far end of the second floor.

  26. Thanks for the insight.

    My husband and I stayed here end of Feb 2015 using 4 nights from the Hyatt credit card. We originally booked for Nov. 2014, but my husband had a health issue and we were forced to rebook the entire trip. Back then, Hyatt worked with us, and when we arrived, we were given a POV overlooking the tranquility pool. We had no status other than the credit card. Since we eat very little for breakfast, we just picked up coffee and yogurt at the market and enjoyed it on our balcony. At that time we only had to pay for parking and were only charged for 3 nights – no resort fee back then. Guess we were quite lucky that it went this way for us considering how they have treated those who do have status.

    We no longer have the credit cards and based on what I’ve been reading over the past year, I wouldn’t return here if we go back to Maui. Hope that Hyatt addresses this issue.

  27. Gary – this type of behavior really does not endear anyone to stay with Hyatt. Most of us who are trying to build up Hyatt points stay in Hyatt Place’s that are a little less convenient, Hyatt Regency’s that are a little more expensive and vacation in Hyatt resorts that probably are a little less attractive. The end goal is to have a dream vacation. The ads for the Hyatt card specifically say any property and use the Park Hyatt in Sydney on their photos. I have found the HR San Francisco, HR Vancouver and two new Hyatt properties in Cancun also very over-the-top in the ability to redeem a room.

    Yes I get if a franchisee wants to keep out the hoards who bank points at a Hyatt Place to stay at their property but one day you wake up feeling bamboozled. Really scammed, you’ve collected the points, you’ve gotten the points and you can’t actually use them.

  28. Glad I stayed here in 2014 before it became a problem. Loved this place. Still my favorite breakfast buffet anywhere!

    Do you ever get a response from Hyatt about these games they are playing?

  29. What I have always liked at SPG is the fact they generally didnt play games for rooms using points. Even at higher peak times I have minimal issues. Once in a while they try to charge me a little more points stating the standard room wasn’t available. Moving forward who knows. Basically I redeem Hyatt mostly cash and points since there seems to be a better value (when available) vs straight points. I often use Arrival points depending on cash costs.

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