Hyatt introduced cash and points awards a little over a year ago. You spend part points, part cash, and the awards represent fantastic value for category 2 through 6 hotels.
By spending part cash for category 2-6 hotels, you’re ‘buying the difference in points’ for between 1.2 and 1.38 cents apiece. I consider Hyatt points worth 1.4 cents apiece.
But here’s the kicker: while standard award nights don’t count towards elite status with Hyatt, cash and points awards essentially count as paid rates which means that they:
- Count towards elite status
- Credit as stays or nights for promotional points-earning
- Are eligible for Diamond Suite Upgrades, meaning they can be confirmed in a suite at time of booking (subject to availability) by Gold Passport Diamond members.
The cash cost to ‘buy the difference in points’ with cash and points awards for category 1 and 7 hotels is a whopping 2 cents a point. For category 7 that means instead of paying 30,000 points for an award per night, you pay 15,000… plus $300. That’s a significant premium I’m not especially inclined to pay.
Hotels do not always offer cash and points awards. Unlike standard room awards, where if there’s a paid room available it’s supposed to be available on points, hotels choose their level of participation and inventory for cash and points awards. These can be less expensive for members to redeem, and less expensive for the Gold Passport program to fulfill – they’re a way for hotels to generate incremental revenue as well, and they’ll do this when they expect to be in a position where that incremental revenue is worthwhile.
In general when cash and points first launched a year ago, availability was pretty good. Unfortunately you cannot check this online, you have to speak to Gold Passport to find out if a property is available on cash and points and it’s frustrating to call and learn that the hotel is not.
In fact there are specific reports quoting individual hotel properties that they do not (they no longer) participate in cash and points as a matter of property policy. I’ve seen numerous reports of this at the Andaz Maui and at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives stating this explicitly.
Water Villa at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa
One of the Pools at the Andaz Maui
So I queried Hyatt on this.
Are hotels required to participate offering cash and points reward nights?
I realize that hotels determine their level of participation by choosing what dates to load inventory, and how much inventory to load.
My question is whether there is any program rule which requires a hotel to ever offer a single cash and points award night at all? Or can a hotel opt out of doing so completely?
Hyatt’s spokesperson confirmed that participation in offering cash and points is optional and at each individual hotel’s discretion.
Points + Cash awards work differently than standard Free Night Awards. As you know, Free Night Awards are available at all hotels when the Hyatt Daily Rate and standard room inventory are available. While most hotels participate and offer Points + Cash awards, some hotels may decide to not participate or offer Points + Cash awards.
How does a hotel decide to offer cash and points or not?
Now that the Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives has gone up from category 6 to category 7, the amount they receive for a cash and points redemption has jumped up.
In fact, the General Manager of the hotel e-mailed me to let me know that cash and points are now being offered broadly there.
I am dropping you a quick note to let you know that with the change of our property to level seven this year we have being able to open more dates except for peak times to the points plus pay program so now it is easier than ever to stay. I Know this is often a hot topic on the blogs for our property so wanted you to be the first to know that availability for this program is currently open for most of the year except peak times.
Sunset from the Deck of a Park Hyatt Hadahaa Water Villa
Complimentary Diamond ‘Sundowner’ Cocktail at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa
Here’s why this makes sense:
- They used to receive the $150 cash co-pay from the member, plus $100 from Gold Passport for the redemption. That’s $270 for the room. (They were getting reimbursed ~ $300 to $400 on a regular award night they’re required to offer, but when the hotel was completely full those award nights would reimburse at the property’s average daily room night.)
- Now that the property is category 7, they receive the $300 cash co-pay from the member plus $120 for the points. That $420 for the room, an increase of more than 50% — and as much as they can receive for a regular award night — except on dates when they are booked full since cash and points awards don’t generate a higher reimbursement when the property is 95% full.
(Loyalty Lobby posted full hotel reimbusement charts earlier this month.)
In my experience many months ago the hotel made cash and points available close to arrival when they knew they’d have many empty rooms — when incremental revenue was helpful and likely did not trade off with revenue they’d otherwise receive. Now with higher reimbursements they make the awards available.
The Andaz Maui, still a category 6, appears to believe they’re not being compensated enough for cash and points awards where it makes sense to offer those widely.
View from the Balcony of a Suite at the Andaz Maui
But then the Andaz Maui has gotten less generous in other ways, too.