How I Wound Up With an Absolutely Free Ocean Suite at the Hyatt Regency Maui

Deciding to Visit Hawaii – Where I Don’t Often Go

I don’t travel to Hawaii often. It’s beautiful and the weather’s great but it’s a long way to go from the East Coast and lodging and airfare prices tend to be high. Inflight products to get there aren’t that comfortable. For less money, and more comfortable and a bit further travel, I can usually get what I consider to be a more interesting experience. Frequent Hawaii visits, to me, the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

But I was really interested in the new Andaz Maui, enough to get me to plan a trip out there. Back in late May I decided I wanted to visit it shortly after opening, which usually is something I try to avoid — I like to give a new hotel at least a few months to work out the kinks. But they announced a July 31 opening and were taking reservations for it, and since it was just a few weeks out I figured the date would be pretty reliable. I made a booking using Hyatt Gold Passport points starting August 14.

My Hotel – the Andaz Maui – Wasn’t Going to Open in Time

Then on July 1 I got a voicemail from the hotel’s Director of Rooms. I called him back and he let me know they were going to have to push the opening to August 15. They’d be happy to move me to the Hyatt Regency for the first night or for the whole stay. Umm, that really doesn’t work for me.

My mental model of the Hyatt Regency is more or less what I’m not keen on visiting Hawaii over — $400 room rates for large resorts where you have to get down to the beach early in the morning to ‘reserve’ a beach chair, a hotel hardly in the class on what the Andaz was supposed to be, and hardly as interesting as discovering a brand new property.

I said I still wanted to stay at the Andaz, I wasn’t going to cancel the trip since my upgrades were already confirmed and I decided that I would enjoy being there for opening night even if they might not fully have their act together yet.

They offered to cover the night at the Regency, and while I didn’t love the idea of changing hotels and especially changing to a property 30 to 40 minutes’ drive away I decided I’d get to experience and review two hotels so why not? Plus the Director of Rooms said they hadn’t been booking suites yet but that there’d be a few ready and he would assign me to one at the Andaz when I moved there for the balance of my stay.

And the Andaz Maui Still Wasn’t Going to Open in Time for My New Reservation, Either

Only… six days before departing for Maui I got another phone call. This time it came from Hyatt’s Guest Relations department. I called them back, the woman on the other end of the phone asked, “How are you doing today?” and I said, “I’m guessing probably worse now with this phone call than I was a few minutes ago?” ๐Ÿ™‚

The Andaz was pushing its opening again – to September – and could they relocate me to the Hyatt Regency for the full stay?

Now things weren’t sounding so good. I had a quick look at the Hyatt Regency’s website, and wondered what it would take to make this work. They were offering to comp the stay (I subsequently others were also being offered 22,000 points per night compensation if they simply decided to cancel). But I didn’t really want to stay there even if it was free — it wasn’t obviously going to be worth the (fairly precious) time and airfare.

Solution: A Completely Free Stay in a Deluxe Ocean Suite at the Hyatt Regency Maui

I know that the suites at the hotel at the Hyatt Regency are small, about 550 square feet and more like junior suites. So I asked them if they would comp me a “Deluxe Ocean Suite” which is more like 950 square feet and should guarantee some spectacular views.

The woman on the other end of the line said she thought that was reasonable, since i was being moved a second time and since I was already promised a suite at the Andaz being downgraded to a regular room at the Regency didn’t make sense. She had to talk to the property but promised “I’m very persuasive.”

Nearly 48 hours went by and I heard nothing. I figured that’s ok, I would just show up in Maui, get a room somewhere and send Hyatt the bill and argue later if they didn’t sort things out. But on Saturday afternoon I got a call, “everything’s taken care of, we have you in an ocean suite.”

Wait… not a Deluxe Ocean Suite? They saw the notes that’s what I was supposed to be in, but no, I wasn’t assigned to one. Time to do another round with the hotel… About another 60 hours pass, and it’s a day to my departure, I get a call back again that things are all set. A completely free stay, no room rate and no points, for a Deluxe Ocean Suite at the Hyatt Regency Maui. That sounded good to me!

Report Coming: The Hyatt Regency Maui Was Much Better than I Expected!

It’s still not my style, with a busy – not peaceful – club lounge, long lines for the coffee stand in the lobby and in the restaurant if you want to have breakfast there. And food on property wasn’t great.

However..

…the setting was absolutely gorgeous, the views were magnificent, everyone was really friendly and since I mostly ate off property and enjoyed the ocean it was a great jumping off point. Full review to come…


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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 ยป

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Comments

  1. I stayed at this Hyatt in March 2012 and had an excellent stay. The service was friendly and efficient, and the food at the restaurant was also very good (albeit overpriced).

    I do agree with your opinion of the club lounge, and I think the hotel should consider expanding it since it is one of the most popular hotels in the Hyatt brand for point redemption and is therefore very crowded with elites.

  2. @mark when you’re as prolific as Gary is–keeping in mind this isn’t his “day job,” and he travels constantly–there are going to be typos.

    would you rather he post a perfectly edited piece of beautiful prose once a week?

  3. Glad you had a good trip Gary. I live in Hawaii and find the hotels to be tourist factories, i actually think the FHR type properties are best, even though they are pricier. But the weather and scenery here is spectacular, never figured out the allure of Florida for you east coast folks, other than it is nearby.

    As far as reserving lounge chairs, i noticed that in Khao Lak as well. They had plenty of seating, but was still amused to go down in the morning and find all the books that had suddenly occupied lounge chairs.

  4. How many times did you drop the “I’m a prolific blogger” or the whatever of Milepoint, The Freedies, etc to get this treatment. I’d assume that many, many people had booked the Andaz and they all didn’t end up with the same resolution that you did. Serious question, Gary. I’m not a troll.

  5. Shameless brag. I don’t get it. I suppose you didn’t forget to also run a few hundred bucks on the breakfast bills as well!

  6. I might have taken the points, this resort (or the Westin or Sheraton down the beach) can be got for +/- $120 on Priceline.

  7. @Brian there was zero discussion of blogging, or any sort of “don’t you know who I am” (no mention of it by me or by them).

    My understanding is (which I think I communicated in the piece) Hyatt was generous with everyone that was similarly effected —

    * Reports are, and they did not offer this to me, that folks who wanted to cancel the trip were offered 22k points per night that they had planned to stay so that they could have a future stay of similar length (actually, at any Hyatt in the world). These were not reports from bloggers.

    * They were doing comped stays at the Hyatt Regency for everyone that was affected.

    * The reason I got a suite is because (1) this was the second time my reservation was being moved, not the first time, and (2) after the first time I had already been promised a suite at the Andaz because I was going to be switching hotels.

    Since I was being downgraded from a suite at the Andaz to the Regency they gave me a suite at the Regency.

  8. @Scott does this come off as ‘bragging’? I started to write my review of the Regency, found the explanation of how I wound up there rather long (in addition to a long review) and broke it up into two posts. I thought the explanation and blow-by-blow would be relevant to some folks especially that might wonder about or find themselves in similar situations.

  9. My guess is Hyatt isn’t really all that concerned with the costs, just doing their best to make their customers from being to vocal in their inconvenience. I bet their contracts with the Construction Contractor probably stipulated severe penalties and reimbursement of expenses related to missing the opening date.

  10. Thanks for the thoughtful response, Gary. Many of the more mediocre bloggers would have deleted the question.

  11. Gary I think you forget one golden rule for readership, the blog needs to be about your readers, not about you. I think lately you have veered off track…i.e., “did you see me on this show or that article where I was quoted” This is positive feedback, I think you and Ben provide solid material most of the time. Just let your readers brag about you…all self promotion has limits.

  12. @IdahoSt – maybe you’re reacting to the post title (which I thought of more as ‘fun’ when I wrote it as anything else). But I was just telling my story. And the blog has ALWAYS been about whatever I’ve found interesting on a given day, though I hope readers will find it interesting, useful, and entertaining in various proportions on different days.

  13. Did you get a chance to stop by the Andaz? If so does it look like it will actually open on Sept. 1?

  14. I’m interested in hearing in Part II whether the property is doing a better job of cleaning the bird poop off of the outdoor seating cushions.

    Last time we were there (two years ago) most of the outdoor chairs were disgusting.

  15. This hotel is beautiful and crowded but it doesn’t even have beach chairs you can save. Only cabanas that u have to pay for

  16. So many of the comments on this post are truly ridiculous…

    Gary, I’m glad it worked out and look forward to reading more (as I’m currently planning a Hawaii trip myself). And hey, good on Hyatt for making good in this situation!

  17. Hi Gary,
    Another great post. I appreciate you sharing your experience.

    I noticed you mentioned Hawaii wasn’t the best use or most comfortable use for award ticket or miles. What other places could you suggest getting the best bang for your miles and what airlines would you suggest using?

  18. @Shadow Traveler I’m suggesting that (1) from the East Coast it’s 10 hours of flying, when a few hours more gets you to Asia and less flying gets you to Europe, (2) the inflight products to Hawaii aren’t as good. So just because it’s domestic doesn’t mean it’s cheap and easy or as interesting as what you can get elsewhere. Personally I find the most ‘value’ in Southeast Asia but it really depends on interests.

  19. Maybe the name Gary Leff on the reservation had some pull!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was wondering about the progress of the Andaz, too. Right now, you can make a reservation for Sept 1 forward. I was trying to see if there was an opportunity to book and get the call and take the points (kinda like trying to book a flight on Xmas Eve trying to get IDB’d). However, they show a cancel policy of: 21 day Prior To Arrival To Avoid Two Night Pnlty.
    Thanks for the info.

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