A Strategy to Save Big on Great Hotels in France.. and Many Other Cities

Last week the AP’s Scott Mayerowitz was tweeting for advice on booking an award stay in Paris. Getting rooms on points for his nights was a bit of a challenge, I did see options but they weren’t for the best or most convenient places that he was looking for.

I used points for my own Paris stay a few months back.

But the advice I failed to offer Scott is that there are often better value ways to get rooms than award redemptions, and that it’s worth running the traps on all of them.

I tend to see my points as currency. Some people view them as “free” and so they want t spend points to get “free rooms” rather than spending money. I won’t spend my points unless I’m getting some minimum amount of value out of them. That’s because I can more or less always turn them into cash by redeeming them for travel that I’d otherwise pay for. I can even buy points and sometimes get more out of those points than paying for a room. So there’s a minimum amount at which I’ll redeem points (certainly not for less than I would buy points at).

With Starwood points it’s probably a smidge over 2 cents apiece, with Hilton points it’s something like two-fifths of a cent, with Hyatt points it’s about a penny and a half.

If a room redemption costs 22,000 Hyatt points, but I can pay less than $330 all-in for that room, I’ll certainly come out of pocket with the cash and save the points. Fortunately, even for the priciest hotels, there’s often a way to do just that: Hyatt Stay Certificates.

Hyatt Will Sell You Stays for Less Than the Price at Hyatt.com

In the olden days I used to make Hyatt certificate stay reservations, and only buy the certificates once I was certain of my plans. The reservations themselves are cancellable. And if I still needed to cancel the stay after buying the certificate, that’s fine, I could always use the certificate on a future stay within a year.

These stays don’t earn elite credit or points, but elite status has been recognized in my experience. And the cost savings can very much be worthwhile.

The cost of many of these stay certificates are less than paying for the room outright. I used to use the Grand Hyatt all the time when it was at the Premier level, then priced at $165 all-in including tax for a room there when rates could be going in the mid-$400s or low-$500s a night. In fact I once booked two rooms for eleven nights at that rate. Those 22 room nices were obtained at nearly a 75% discount to the advance purchase price once taxes were factored. Amazing.

Sadly, Hyatt changed the booking system to require the ‘certificate code’ off of each certificate in order to book a certificate stay. They wanted to clamp down on my practice of booking the room first (ensuring that certificate stay inventory was available) before buying the certificates. Put another way, they were doing their best to avoid undercutting their own web pricing through the sale of these certificates.

Finding Availability With Hyatt Stay Certificates

Hyatt.com now lets you search for gift certificate availability right on the home page, although you still need to enter the certificate code.

Click ‘offers and gift certificates’ and a box pops out to the left. That’s where you pop in the ‘gift certificate code’.

It wasn’t that hard to figure out the certificate codes. These weren’t codes tied to each individual certificate, but rather codes tied to the type of certificate.

Still, I never published the codes here for years. But they were made ‘public’ at the beginning of the year when Lucky published them.

The price of these certificates and the basic corresponding code for each is as follows:

  • Classic ($109.00) – HSCLN1
  • Choice ($152.22) – HSCHN1
  • Premier ($188.89) – HSPRN1
  • Elite ($260.00) – HSELN1
  • Inspire ($325.55) – HSINN1
  • Exclusive ($394.44) – HSXLN1
  • Ultimate ($461.11) – HSULN1

The basic structure is (H)yatt (S)tay (TWO LETTERS TO REPRESENT THE CERTIFICATE TYPE) such as CH for Choice, PR for Premier (N)ight (#) representing the number of nights the certificate is valid for.

You can change the last number in each code to correspond with the number of nights that a certificate is valid for. Although I always used and ordered 1 night stay certificates — because they are combinable (on a five night stay use five one-night certificates, for the 2 room 11 night stay use 22 one-night certificates). They’re more flexible that way, you make a reservation and buy the certificates but if you need to cancel the reservation having one night stay certificates is more flexible for later on when you make other bookings in its place.

Using Certificates in Paris — And Other Big Cities

Hyatt shows which certificates are valid at which properties, although note that this can change at any time. (Once you lock in a reservation you’re good, but one reason I like to do that before buying the certificate is that a hotel might go up in category between the time I buy the certificate and when I make a reservation with it later).

In Paris the ‘value’ property is the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (admittedly not the best tourist location). In Nice check out Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee which looks fantastic. Both accept ‘Choice’ certificates — just US$152.22 all-in per night, including taxes.

The Hotel du Louvre requires an Elite — $260 all-in per night — certificate. Not bad for a hotel that regularly goes for twice that.

In New York, the Andaz Wall Street will take an Elite certificate… often a good deal during the week at $260, not so good on the weekends when rates there drop to $200+tax.

The Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson — a Path train from the City with a nice view of the Manhattan Skyline — accepts Choice certificates, a good strategy for a cheap New York stay.

Assuming the stay you’re booking is more than a few days away (you need time to order and have Hyatt ship the certificates), this can be a good (albeit non-points or stay credit-earning) way to save on stays with Hyatt at some of their more expensive hotels.

And since you can reserve a stay that’s cancellable before committing to buy the certificate, it’s a strategy with very little risk. Though if you do need to cancel the stay, the certificate of course is non-refundable. You have a prepaid stay for use later.

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. Relais & Chateau has a 4th night free promo going with Chase Ink and these properties can’t be beat.

  2. Hi Gary…

    This is great to know…thanks! I noticed that the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City does not accept Choice…just Premier and above.

  3. Gary, I’m probably over looking the info I’m trying to find so it’d be great if you can point me to where I can find more info on the following: difference between the choice/premier/elite levels and will these certificates count as stays?

  4. Gary, one thing to note is the link on the Hyatt website that shows the certificate level has many errors on it. Before you order, I would suggest that you phone Hyatt to confirm if the certificate level is the same as they advertise on the website.

    I was unaware that Hyatt no longer lets you search for certificate availability before you have the certificate.

    How are you supposed to know if you can redeem your certificate. I noticed for a while, that Hyatt had blocked ALL of the availability in Maui and Kauai to certificates (this is how for years I booked my Christmas vacations and never had a problem but now there is no availability.)

    Also I thought that somewhere in the terms Hyatt said that diamond benefits would be given to loyal guests, whether they redeemed points, booked from other websites or were a regular guest.

  5. *”Nicest” is used in the URL, as though the title was changed at one point. Still probably not accurate. I’m not even sure I’d call them all great.

  6. Perfect timing for the post 🙁
    I was about to book mine at the martinez in cannes to see my family, plenty of inventory the last few days and as I went to book today… Nothing is available, this sucks…
    from $2000 to $7000…
    Blogs are great most of the time…

  7. Yes Matthew, I don’t really blame Gary, 99% of the time I benefit from his (or others) posts, this was just bad timing. And also a bad one nearly 5K extra…outch!

  8. I read through the previous posts, but still don’t get what the difference is between elite/premier/etc. certificates. Is it just price? If so, it looks like most hotels take a range of certificates – why not get the lowest priced?

  9. I was researching for Hyatt hotels in Hong Kong over new year’s eve and found that the stay certificate is also a great value. Another great use of hyatt certificate is highlands inn in Carmel if you can find availability.

  10. sw – the reason some hotels take different certificates is to increase their flexibility. Yes, of course, if you are buying FOR YOURSELF then you buy the cheapest that is accepted.

    However, these are usually bought as gifts. The recipient of the gift would be happy to use an Elite cert at a Choice hotel (they still get a free night) if that is where they are travelling, so it makes sense for Choice hotels to accept them.

  11. Gary said above:”These stays don’t earn elite credit or points, but elite status has been recognized in my experience. And the cost savings can very much be worthwhile.”

  12. Palais de la Meditérranée for $152 is amazing. I paid over 400€ for a courtyard (eww) view room a few years ago – this was before the property joined Hyatt, though!

  13. In France and just realized over shopping was going to cost some duty fees. Anyone up on what 3k in clothing will get charged in duty? Each person gets $800 duty free and then next 1k is 10 per cent and then am lost where it goes from there? And does “used” clothing versus in the box matter?

  14. I am using certs for a couple of stays in Germany this summer thanks to Lucky’s post earlier in the year. $152 a night is a fine deal. Having to call to make the reservation is a little bit of a pain since I like doing things online. But I guess it’s a small price to pay.

  15. so, by buying certs are we avoiding trans fees, whether declared or hidden in the exchange rate?

  16. Thanks very much Gary for demonstrating the value of Hyatt stay certificates, but wanted to alert fellow readers to a potentially alarming change. While attempting to use one-night stay certificates I had purchased, I was unable to secure availability at a wide range of properties that previously offered rooms for certificate redemption. I proceeded to review the participating property list, which has changed drastically for the EAME region (only 44 locations remain on list). Most notable properties in the UK, France, and elsewhere in Europe (Grand Hyatt Cannes, Park Hyatt Paris, Hyatt Regency London, etc) are either no longer participating or only available at the Ultimate level. Does anyone have any additional information regarding this unfortunate change? It is very disappointing to note the lack of any advance notice or warning from Hyatt.

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