How to Fix Hyatt’s Confirmed Suite Upgrades

Hyatt introduced the most innovative and rewarding elite benefit in 2009 — confirmed suite upgrades. Top tier elites could confirm a suite at time of booking for up to 7 nights four times a year.

Suite upgrades were deposited into a member’s account March 1 and were valid for a year. You have to confirm a suite before the upgrade expired.

Then a year ago this changed — suite upgrades had to be for travel prior to confirmed suite expiration. This presented a problem. Planning a family vacation 10 months out, perhaps for travel in April or May, and you couldn’t use the suite upgrade when you wanted it most. Instead you’d have to wait and hope the suite was available when new upgrades were placed into your account in March. That undermined the whole point of a ‘confirmed’ suite upgrade.

With the move to ‘World of Hyatt’ there have been several changes to the suite upgrade benefit.

  • Suite upgrades are deposited into your account when you (re-)qualify for top tier status, and are valid for travel up to a year in the future. If your desired use for these, though, is more than 12 months out you might want to delay earning the upgrades.

  • Suite upgrades are valid on award nights, not just paid nights. Unfortunately since it now takes more nights to earn and keep top status, and Hyatt is alone in not counting award nights towards status, this remains challenging.

  • You can earn more than 4 confirmed suite upgrades. At each of 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights you can choose between an additional suite upgrade or 10,000 points.

  • Upgrades based on availability at check-in now include suites.

Some Hotels Don’t Allow Suite Upgrades

Hyatt’s terms and conditions lists several “Suite Award Ineligible Properties”

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
  • Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
  • Park Hyatt Sydney
  • Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
  • Hyatt Regency Kyoto
  • Hyatt Regency Tulsa
  • Hyatt Regency Wichita
  • Hyatt Paris Madeleine
  • Hyatt Herald Square New York
  • Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
  • Hyatt City of Dreams Manila
  • Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara
  • Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami
  • Hyatt Place hotels or M life Resorts

All rooms at the Park Hyatt Maldives are considered suites. Park Hyatt Sydney has only premium suites. The Hyatt Herald Square doesn’t have many suites (and has some of the smallest rooms you’ve ever seen).

On the other hand the Hyatt Regency Wichita has standard suites — you just can’t have them with a confirmed upgrade.

Interestingly, Hyatt’s new rules exclude these properties from confirmed upgrades however those that do offer standard suites aren’t excluded from offering them if available at check-in to top tier members (at least under a literal reading of the rules). Of course, upgrades to ‘best room available’ at check-in are “determined by the applicable hotel or resort in its sole discretion” and what they consider best can vary day by day.

Some Hotels Play Games With Suite Upgrades

The Andaz Maui created a special poolside suite category that they do not have very many of, and that is highly undesireable, in order to limit and discourage top elites from using their confirmed suite benefits. So Andaz Suite I had on my first stay there isn’t a room I’d be able to get today — even if a confirmed suite upgrade were available.

The Park Hyatt Vendome calls their ‘standard’ suite a ‘junior suite’ which is just a somewhat larger room than standard. To me a suite has more than one room (aside from the bathroom). If a hotel wants to play games and call a room without a wall separating space a junior suite it shouldn’t also be able to call that room the standard suite.

The Andaz Wall Street used to offer two room suites as its standard suites, then they decided that what used to simply be ‘extra large’ rooms constituted suites. Those extra large rooms used to be given to top elites on check-in (even before such elites were entitled to standard suites if available). Then they were considered suites, and became the room that elites could redeem confirmed suite upgrades for.

The Andaz 5th Avenue has a tremendous number of suites. For a few years they classified the ‘Splash Suite’ which is a premium suite and better than the ‘standard’ suite as the room that confirmed suite upgrades booked into. On the one hand, that’s generous. On the other since there are very few splash suites it made redeeming confirmed suite upgrades much harder. That was the hotel’s game. However they’ve gone back to assigning the lower category suite as confirmable. That’s not as large a room, but it’s far far easier to get.

Here’s What Hyatt Could Do to Really Fix Suite Upgrades

Hyatt made some progress this year allowing suite upgrades to be used on award nights, awarding suite upgrades right away when status is earned, and allowing members to earn more suite upgrades for going beyond staying 60 nights in a year.

However there’s not enough guidance or enforcement as to what constitutes a suite, and too many properties playing games to make those suites harder to use.

Hyatt should define what a suite is. A suite is more than one room. And a standard suite is the most common suite room type with more than one room. It shouldn’t be acceptable to say that only the couple of suites on the ground floor are standard.

Hyatt should allow selection of room types up to the standard suite category. Starwood’s Suite Night Awards will let you pick the room types you’d be open to being upgraded into. That could include a room that’s smaller than a standard suite, but still desireable. For instance if no poolside suite of sadness is available at the Andaz Maui, allow suite upgrades to confirm into an ocean view room.

The Park Hyatt Sydney may not have ‘standard suites’ but their Deluxe rooms are certain junior suites if the Park Hyatt Vendome can call a large room a junior suite and define that as the standard suite. A Deluxe Opera View room is a category below their suites, but it’s one that would be fantastic to use a confirmed suite upgrade to ensure.

Finally, why limit upgrades to standard suites? A true and limited celebration of elite status would be access to a really premium suite once a year. Perhaps one of the following would be possible:

  • Let Globalists choose a free night upon achieving status as the new program offers or a confirmed upgrade into a premium suite
  • At 100 nights award a premium suite upgrade instead of just another standard suite upgrade
  • Allow use of 2 confirmed suite upgrades to leap frog the standard suite at a hotel

Given Hyatt’s limited footprint, if you manage to stay 60 — or 100 — nights with Hyatt that’s a real testament to loyalty in a way that it isn’t with Marriott or Hilton (which are everywhere) or Starwood (which doesn’t just count award nights towards status, and allows up to 10 elite nights just for having credit cards with no spend required, but even allows earning elite credit for up to 3 rooms at a time).

Staying that many nights, and being rewarded with one truly special stay, would be a great way to improve the suite upgrade benefit which is already the best among Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, and IHG but which could be more consistent and available.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. Outstanding summary and suggestions here, Gary. Hyatt suite upgrades are rather inconsistent depending on management and property. While it’s nice to have a guaranteed Hyatt suite in advance rather than wait for the SPG lottery, there is not much value in a guarantee for just a larger room. At least with SPG upgrades, especially in Asia and Europe, I have had incredible suites at several St. Regis properties that were more than just a larger room. Of course, all of this may change as well, yet your suggestions make perfect sense.

  2. Ive been loyal to Hyatt but its getting too hard.

    1. With the limited footprint – 60 nights is hard. Heck 50 was hard. Ive already been to all of the aspirational
    2. Upgrades (mention “one bedroom” in the upgrade t&c) that are tough to use. I usually try to use these with my family – and I really need a seperate bedroom.

    3. I often book and pay for two rooms. I really should get two nights credit.

    This year is the transition from Hyatt –> SPG. World of Hyatt is starting to look like DisAAdvantage.

  3. Interesting beginning 1/1/17 I was 14 for 14 in suite upgrades, now I am o for 2. Yes there are properties that play games with the upgrade program Maui Andaz, HR Honolulu and PHV are for me the biggest culprits. At Maui even when you have a confirmed by your My Hyatt Concierge staff they still try to stiff you. PHV always has been “selling” their Jr Suite and as you wrote it is truly nothing more than an enlarged room.

    All I ask is some continuity in the program but doubt it will ever happen. It’s up to us as we check in to ask “any suites ” ? I hated that in the past but now with the higher “entry” level into the program damn it I will ask!

  4. Interesting. So I used a DSU for a 5 night stay at Andaz Maui later this. Was confirmed into a Pool Suite. Would I be better off removing that upgrade and rolling the dice on Globalist suite upgrade at time of check in?

  5. Another nice piece on the ongoing program devaluation. I’ll list several other Hyatt properties that are known for playing games with confirmed suite availability:

    GH San Francisco (created bogus “city view” category to limit upgrades)
    PH NYC (one room junior suite in undesirable location (9th floor or lower))
    PH Aviara (premium category suite, inventory not shown online)

  6. ……and the hotels that play the biggest games….Gary has posted on other articles……are owned by Hyatt.

  7. Not to mention we are now entering the 4th month of the year and no Hyatt promo, while every other brand has had one…

  8. @john i definitely do not think you should gamble on a suite upgrade at check-in there if you want a suite, and since suite upgrades are determined by the hotel into their standard suite i’d guess they consider the standard suite category to be the same — pool suites

  9. Don’t change things now…. I just stayed in 3 non-Hyatt hotels (when I had a Hyatt choice) for the first time in years…. Even though I have 11 nights YTD, the mid-tier status not worth much and the top status unachievable for me… so I wont even temp myseflf.

  10. @Tokyo Hyatt Fan — You are having fun at your expense, actually.

    Take as case in point, this trip to ATH, that just ended.

    I arrived on 3/23 evening at Hilton Athens for discounted 4-night revenue stay in a “King Room with Acropolis View.” The only thing that would’ve topped the room at I’d booked would’ve been a Suite with Acropolis View, but I knew such an upgrade would be highly unlikely, and I would have been perfectly okay with the room I’d booked. However, I decided to request a suite upgrade — to any suite — because I got irritated by the young lady who checked me in.

    In a first ever, she asked me if I could show her my HHonors Diamond card, and this was after I’d given her my passport and she’d already found out that I was a legit Diamond. Flabbergasted, I asked her if she believed my passport was a fake and that the reservation with my name was really someone else’s and not of the guy in front of her trying to check in. She quickly retreated and only to say something just irritating and I quickly figured that this was my chance for a payback. With a straight face she said: “As our valued HH Diamond member, we have upgraded you ‘King Room with Acropolis View’ and executive lounge access.” Why was this irritating? Because she’d just told me that as a valued Diamond member, she’d upgraded to the VERY ROOM category (‘King Room with Acropolis View’) that I’d booked! Very coolly I told her that if she wanted to upgrade me, she should try to see if there is a suite available, because the upgrade that she just claimed to have given me was to the room that’d booked. Nothing works like a little embarrassment. Suddenly she warmed up, got very friendly and said she was going to see if any suites were available. After a few minutes of searching, she said she’s found a suite she could offer but — predictably — it would not have the Acropolis view. However, if I was not sure, I could check into the suite and if I did not like it, I could always get back the King Room with Acropolis view I’d booked. That’s exactly what happened. First, I noticed from the room number that the suite was on the third floor, so I already hated. Then when I got inside the suite I hated it even more because it offered me to nondescript and dilapidated area of Athens. I called back immediately and requested my original King Room with Acropolis View. It was actually quite large and had a small balcony with two chair and a table (on which would set my tripod to take picture of light-flooded Acropolis a bit later).

    A. I easily scored a suite upgrade and turned it down for a better choice.

    My business in Athens, a conference, ended today so I was to return to the US on LH, flying from ATH to FRA and then FRA to JFK. My connection at FRA for JFK was just 50min, which, allowing me just enough time to get from one plane to the other. I decided I wanted to slow things down considerably by staying in Frankfurt overnight. I essentially wanted to insert a stopover in an already ticketed reservation, which a LH agent in ATH said she could not do because it was a UA ticket, but she estimated that it would cost me about $700 to to do switch. I checked in for the originally booked flight which was departing in about an hour an half, and then called the UA 1K desk and spoke with someone who did no seem even understand what I was trying to do. First he tried to route me to Newark, and then suggested that I should fly to MUC, when the only option I had was to fly FRA and I was about to take ATH-FRA flight!!! In the end he told he got it, and it would cost me $1300 to do what I’d requested. I told him that he seemed to be confused because LH had already told me that it would cost about half of what he’d just quoted me. I hung up because this was a clear HUCA situation. I called back, got an agent who understood immediately what I wanted do, and said a while later that it would cost me $300, which she decided to just drop because of my many years as a 1K and now a 1MM!!! Really Kool.

    Like I said, I was making this new flight arrangement at the airport, now just minutes from taking my ATH-FRA flight. Having succeeded in postponing my connecting flight to JFK on another LH flight by about 24 hours, I needed to book at hotel in FRA!!! I pulled the HH app, searched for available at Hilton properties in the city (there are 5-6 in the area). There was availability at Hilton Frankfort City Centre, where I have stayed quite a few time. I’d booked at King Room, at check-in requested a complimentary upgrade to a suite, which was available and the manager on duty promptly approved.

    B. On two successive stays on the same trip I have just got suite upgrades relatively painlessly.

    C. For the Year — I am 4 for 4 suite upgrades: Conrad Hong Kong in January (pro-actively offered); Hilton Alexandria (VA) Old Town in mid-March; Hilton Athens (declined) and I am writing this from my suite upgrade at Hilton Frankfurt City Center in end of March.

    Like I said, You are having fun at your own expense. While others are still strategizing about how to “fix” Hyatt’s broken confirmed’ suite upgrades, I am on pace to another year of a perfect or near-perfect suite upgrades record as a HH Diamond.

    BTW, if WoH’s suites are purportedly already CONFIRMED, why is there a need to fix anything? They are ‘confirmed’, just move it! 😉

    G’day.

  11. I find it laughable that anyone would chose more DSU at 70, 80, 90 etc nights instead of 10K pts. 10K pts have actual value.

  12. @ Gary – you bring up excellent points but, based on discussions on forums & blogs, Hyatt can start off by making more straightforward changes:

    (1) expiration dates — when you requalify as a Globalist, you get suite upgrades immediately (POSITIVE!) but they expire within 12 months of being issued, i.e. it’s tied to Globalist tier expiration. So if you requalify in June 2017, upgrades will expire mid-2018 unlike your status (Feb. 2019).

    (2) not being able to use in advance — a way to fix #1 would be to allow upgrades to be used for stays after expiration date (like DSUs had been done a couple years ago).

    (3) free nights (cat. 1-4, cat. 1-7, etc.) not eligible for upgrades — major bummer; this means, for example, that I can’t use free Cat. 1-7 night to add a night to an upgraded stay.

  13. @Tom, I agree 100% The DSU are nice, but not really that big of a deal as there are so few rooms that can be booked with them.

    The old Diamond program was great because of the benefits that are guaranteed and have true value. 1000 pts. or food/beverage amenity. 2500 points if no lounge. Those I miss. At least Globalist still gives a guarantee of Regency Club access (often $100 more) or free breakfast for the people in the room (again a $100 value, that I would pay for)

    I like the way you think, I just don’t think that Hyatt could implement your idea.

    One other that I would like to add or piggyback on your thoughts, would be to add a connecting room with a diamond suite. That would be good value if that was possible.

  14. @THFan – because he is incapable of not posting pro-Hilton propaganda in any story about hotels, even if they have no Hilton content

    Nobody cares that int’l suite upgrades are easy to get if you have any elite status and a pulse

  15. @Tokyo Hyatt Fan — It is not easy to read a comment like yours in this “lion’s den” [it’s why it is a virtual lion’s den for me!]. To the extent the I misread yours as a sarcasm, I apologize, especially since I have been seeing comments like this one all over the place:

    “Never thought I’d say this but I think I’m just going to stay with Hilton.”

    As for my suite upgrade successes, the claim used to be that it was due to my preferential travels in Asia where getting suite upgrades is easy. Now that I have reported 3 of 4 upgrades so far this year to be out of Asia, the claim now is that it’s “int’l suite upgrades that are easy.” The claim is clearly bogus, but even if it were true, a smart person would interpret that as an indictment of the dismal quality and state of loyalty programs in the US rather than a weakness of Hilton Honors!!!

    I just re-read my long comment above (started on the plane and completed and posted from Hilton FRA) and, boy, is it full of missing words ad other such errors!

  16. Hi guys – i spent now now 80 nights in hyatts and have to chosse to take either the 20.000 points or the suite upgrades. Which you guys go for?

    i can’t really figure out which is better in value as I have neither used any suite upgrades in the past nor used any points collected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *