When Your Hotel Room is Disappointing That’s a Great Opportunity for an Upgrade

I checked into the Park Hyatt Sydney where I’ve had mixed luck at best with upgrades.

I arrived early on my first stay there and was told that my pre-assigned room wasn’t ready — but that if I wanted to pay an extra AUD$100 per day I could have an Opera View room. This wasn’t even a larger room, just an upgraded view, and if it was available I should have been offered it as a complimentary upgrade as a Hyatt Diamond. By definition since they were offering to put me in it right away it was available.

I pushed back but was told it couldn’t be given as a complimentary upgrade, that the hotel “tries try to upgrade Diamond members,” but since the hotel was very full they couldn’t provide the upgrade for free.

I accepted the charge, went to the room, and promptly had the charge reversed. Gold Passport and hotel management agreed that the terms of the program required them not to upcharge me for the modest upgrade. And I was promised things would go more smoothly on my next stay. And they did, I was preblocked into a Deluxe Opera View room which is lovely.

On this most recent stay I arrived to find I was given a ‘city harbor view’ room. It wasn’t a deluxe room. I had checked the Hyatt website and knew that there weren’t any higher category rooms for sale, so this was legitimate.

I went up to the room and discovered it was right next to the elevator, and that it had something of a musty smell. I went back down to the front desk. The hotel wasn’t completely sold out, indeed they were still selling this room type at 11 p.m. local time. So surely they could move me.

The front desk associated apologized and called a manager who authorized another room — an Opera Deluxe (albeit one on the ground floor of the hotel, which was fine).

I’ve rarely gotten push back when something is genuinely wrong with a room. The constraints are what’s available, which was true even in this case but they had an Opera Deluxe Room available which wasn’t even showing online for sale.

Sometimes though you do have to ‘push’ at the check-in counter. Although not an inferior room, I have think way back to when when I arrived at the former Westin Rio Mar at 4pm for when I had to push and get an upgrade in order to have a room.

My pre-blocked junior suite wasn’t ready. They suggested I go have a drink or a late lunch and wait. I asked whether they were buying me lunch? Or if they’d like to find me a better room that was ready? The front office manager came over, typed a bit… did not even look up at me, and put me into a giant Atlantic Suite.

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. Regarding your Westin story, I conjecture that he/she didn’t look up at you because you were being a bit of a turd.

    Regarding the Park Hyatt Sydney, I’m amazed at hotels that look at Diamond benefits as an encumbrance or annoying budget expense. If you don’t want the Diamonds, maybe you also don’t want Hyatt serving as your primary marketing/booking channel. They come hand in hand. Sounds like they should re-brand as Langham or a Sofitel or (better yet) an Intercontinental, brands where very few comped benefits to entitled elites are expected.

  2. Don’t mind all the haters, Gary. Some people are like a river: a lot more at the mouth than the source

  3. I used to chase Diamond status but after a few visits like yours I decided to stay at the best spot and use the Citi Prestige card for 25% off that is almost always more beneficial than status and much more flexible. I just had to develop the attitude that if a place was worth visiting it was worth staying 4 nights. And many times the hotels would have a 3rd or 4th night free that meant a 50% off visit. I wonder if the way hotels are owned/managed if what ultimately drives various properties to have a lackluster approach to top tier status guests?

  4. The Park Hyatt Sydney has the unfortunate reputation for playing games with room assignments for Hyatt loyalists and it will be interesting to see if this continues with the new, much promoted WOH. I do wonder what leverage they seem to have that allows them to pretty much exempt themselves from theT&Cs of Hyatt’s loyalty program.

  5. @JustSaying, I agree with you. I find that it works well for me to just book the size room, and desired view that will make me happy, with the Citi Prestige card. Then, any upgrade or recognition I may receive due to my status will be appreciated; but I am not upset if they fail to deliver. Ymmv. Cheers.

  6. Had a truly bad experience with the Hyatt Sydney. Was with my elderly mother and they placed us in a room at the far end of the hotel with a street view. My mom was tired by the time she left the place. She also fell going up the steps on the promenade entrance, they didn’t have a gradient. Then I fell when I slipped, in my slippers, when I stepped on water in a marble floor.

    OTOH had marvelous experience at the Hilton Melbourne. Both were on points without top-tier status

  7. This is one of those things that is absolutely true. Some of my best upgrades have come as service recovery. Still, I hate the persistent mentality amongst hotels that the squeaky wheel – even at the highest level of status – gets the grease…which of course incentivizes people, naturally, to be squeaky wheels.

  8. The Park Hyatt Sydney is the most overrated hotel out there. Limited views, except the end, most rooms look into the back of a cruise ship.

    No lounge, pool under the railroad tracks on the bridge (noisy), marginal location, overpriced, etc. Many other excellent choices at/near the harbor with great views, quiet, lounges, etc.

    I opted against using my two free CC nights (when try were available for use) to stay at the Marriott instead Just a better location and better views if you get an upper flow Opera View room which most Platinums get.

  9. @Justsaying @Jeepie Couldn’t agree with you guys more, I’m Hilton Diamond and Marriott Platinum and seem to regularly have issues like Gary describes in this article almost every stay at either chain. I have to argue to get a regular room just with a view(that is still on sale on the website), or being told my free breakfast is actually a free cracker, or that the lounge is closed on weekend so too bad, and I can’t even remember the last time I got anything resembling a suite upgrade. I’m just over the loyalty scam. The past year I have just been booking cash price suites that work for my family and it is like I’ve been liberated. That, of course, has meant that I’ve been booking places like the London NYC, the Knickerbocker, Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam and some really cool places. I have essentially given all of these higher value stays to whichever hotel has the best price for a nice suite and it is very rarely a Hilton or Marriott. Fake loyalty works both ways.

  10. Stayed in this exact room a few months ago. Emailed the manager in advance and this was the room they assigned. Guess it is their standard go to upgrade room for Diamonds who ask/complain. Pretty nice room but the lack of privacy being on the ground floor and people walking only 15 ft away is kind of annoying. Glad I was paying with points as I would have been annoyed if I had paid cash and gotten this room.

  11. The Opera View rooms at the PHS are well worth it. It’s sort of pointless to stay there and not get an Opera View room.

  12. The question is: How much can one really trust the knowledge and intentions of a front desk clerk? Checking room availability online before check in is a good idea.

    Even when an “upgrade” is offered, I suspect that it is often to a technically superior room but one that (for various reasons) the hotel would prefer not to give to a guest who is paying the going rate.

  13. As someone that lives in Sydney, it always amazes to read about bloggers swooning over the PH and their points and upgrades. Sure its a nice hotel on the harbour with some great views, but there are actually already nicer hotels in much better locations. As one of the earlier posters said, its quite a noisy location being next to the Harbour Bridge and the outdoor pool is tiny with next to no privacy. There are lots of new hotels slated to open over the next few years in Sydney especially in Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and The Star Casino, which will probably eclipse anything the PH can offer. Even the new Hyatt Regency in many respects maybe a better option.

  14. “I’m amazed at hotels that look at Diamond benefits as an encumbrance or annoying budget expense.”

    Like the Park Hyatt New York? Despite some nice features (the restaurant) this is hands-down the worst Park Hyatt property I have ever stayed at. They Just Don’t Care. I’m disappointed it’s their US flagship, as it doesn’t hold a candle to the PH Chicago. (And none of the US properties compare to Asia, but what else is new.)

  15. The rooms at the Park Hyatt Sydney consistently look mediocre at best from all the photos bloggers post. Is it really that great of a place?

  16. I find it irritating that hotel chains dont upgrade premium members when rooms are available. I call it travel Karma and dont push for it when i am traveling for work, but if i am traveling with my family i will elevate as necessary to get a better room and am usually pretty successful.
    At the Doubletree Breckenridge as a Diamond member they were going to charge me $200 for about a 3 hour late checkout. This should be free as a Diamond member if available. I requested to talk the the manager who didn’t care as he said its his policy not hilton honors policy.

  17. @Trup – that’s why virtually all of us appreciate the concept of a “Guarantee” when it comes to a late 4pm check-out 😉

  18. @JetAway opined, “I do wonder what leverage they seem to have that allows them to pretty much exempt themselves from theT&Cs of Hyatt’s loyalty program.”

    Perhaps because it is a bumper property. My guess is it makes Hyatt oodles of money with its view of the Opera House.

    Is this hotel managed by Hyatt or does the owner/management merely license the Hyatt name?

  19. Well, I started staying at the “Regent – Sydney” back in 1988 – and only changed to” The Four Seasons Hotel”, because it is the same hotel, just a ‘name’ change. Its rooms overlooking the Opera House are spectacular, and its location is from my perspective, absolutely the best.

  20. This post has been extremely helpful in planning a special retirement trip for my wife. I would hate to fly half way around the world to get a PH in a less than optimum location plus one that has a bit of attitude towards Diamonds. The Four Seasons sound like a great spot to use the the Prestige benefit.

  21. @FNT Delta Diamond-Last I heard the PHS is owned by Katsumi Tada, a private, wealthy Japanese property investor.
    But my information may not be current.
    In any event, Hyatt has a management contract with the private owner.

  22. So the question is does the difference of whether Hyatt owns or manages the property affect the treatment of Diamond members? I’m betting management demographically profiles guests and low chance of repeating customers would get shallow treatment where Hyatt ownership would be more interested in building the brand. Who owns PH Paris?

  23. Great link. Thanks. Seems like Regency SF is a convention hotel and so they don’t view the customers as long term as Grand Hyatt Union Square which I would think has much better repeat business. Didn’t Andaz Maui open near the Diamond matching gaming that probably burned them won suite upgrades? What other explanation is for bad treatment of Diamonds? Local bad manager’s causing uneven experience?

  24. It’s March. There is no such thing as Diamond anymore, so if you were enforcing your “Diamond” benefits, such a thing doesn’t exist.

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