Hyatt’s Suite Upgrade Benefit Is Much Better Than Some Hotels Think

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Airlines have an easier time delivering consistent benefits than hotel chains do. Occasionally gate agents do not do their jobs correctly but for the most part airlines are able to follow their own rules for delivering elite benefits.

  • Upgrades process automatically and in the correct order
  • Access to premium seats happens for eligible elites
  • Airport lounges admit the people that they should

Humans make mistakes, but those mistakes are less frequent than airlines perhaps because there’s a greater degree of automation but perhaps because the same company which promises the benefits is responsible for delivering them.

Hotel chains rarely own the hotels themselves any longer. And in some cases they do not even manage the hotels. There’s a set of benefits and expectations, and potentially the chain fines the individual hotel for not following guidelines. But there’s a much greater distance from the folks at corporate headquarters outlining what benefits should be and the employees on property (who may be responding to the preferences of a different ownership) responsible for delivering benefits.

  • Are you really getting assigned the best room available at check-in?
  • Are you entitled to late check-out?
  • Does breakfast include the buffet, does it include tip, what about for members of your traveling party?

While some hotels have their inventory managed centrally, each hotel property (or sometimes group of properties) may manage the inventory themselves. So it’s no surprise that it can be like playing a game of whack-a-mole to get them to honor what programs.

  • Some don’t want to make standard rooms available as awards, especially during peak times
  • Others don’t want to deliver on upgrades, preferring to see only full price paying customers in the best rooms

Whether it’s the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, the Hyatt Regency Aruba, the Waldorf=Astoria Grand Wailea, or the Waldorf=Astoria Jerusalem sometimes it’s necessary to flag a property’s rogue behavior in order to get them to follow chain rules making award space available.

Unfortunately front line customer service doesn’t always give out accurate information. They may see what’s in their system, or hear what a hotel property is telling them, and assume that’s correct and offer well-meaning but wrong explanations to customers.

A reader wrote to me about the Andaz Papagayo, a hotel I stayed at last year and enjoyed very much. I booked a cash and points award there, and used one of my Globalist confirmed suite upgrades.

He told me that standard suites were available at the property for his dates, but Hyatt wouldn’t let him confirm an upgrade. I confirmed that a standard suite was, indeed, available for his dates.

This is the response he shared with me from Hyatt’s twitter team:

I am sorry. I am told by the hotel that they are not allowing suite upgrade awards during the dates from 22Dec. to 4Jan. Since your stay falls during these dates, we are not able to apply the suite upgrade award. As a Globalist, you are still eligible for an upgrade based on availability when you arrive so I have added this request to your reservation. -KS

The hotel wasn’t allowing confirmed suite upgrades to be used during the Christmas and New Year’s period. However that’s simply not how these benefits are supposed to work.

I checked in with Hyatt. They let me know this was wrong, and that it’s been corrected.

Appreciate the flag…it has been confirmed that this was a hotel error. There are no blackout dates for these confirmed suite upgrade awards. If the suite is available and the member has an eligible or redemption rate, then the hotel must honor the upgrade award. The issue has been raised to the hotel’s leadership team and the suite upgrade should now be bookable…

Hyatt has the absolute most generous suite upgrade benefit for its top tier elites of any major hotel chain.

  1. If a standard suite is available at check-in a Globalist member should be upgraded to that suite.
  2. 4 times per year Globalists can confirm a suite at booking, or at a minimum prior to check-in for a period of up to 7 nights if the hotel has a standard suite available.
  3. Globalists who stay 70, 80, 90, and 100 times per year can choose either 10,000 points or an additional confirmed suite upgrade at each of those levels.

The upgrade benefit is to suites. It is not optional for the hotel. And those suites can even be confirmed in advance. Marriott, Hilton, Accor and IHG Rewards Club do not match this.

And now you can even use the World Of Hyatt Credit Card to achieve status on credit card spend alone.

However sometimes hotels do need reminding, and unfortunately front line customer service isn’t best-positioned to do the reminding. That’s true with all hotel chains, including Hyatt. I appreciate their very quick turnaround getting this one sorted, and I know that members appreciate it too.

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, 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. Hands down this is the best feature of any hotel top tier elite program… I redeemed 30k points per night at Park Hyatt Paris Vandome and used the cert to confirm into the standard suite that goes for $1300 night during peak travel period not to mention daily full breakfast or room service for family of 4. If there is a better way to book a $1300 suite room for less money or point, please let me know.

  2. @Gary

    This happened to me one time over Christmas. What do you suggest we do if we’re running into this problem? (I also reached out to Hyatt’s twitter team and received an “I’m sorry…” response.)

  3. Why are corporate owned Hyatt’s, such as the Andaz Maui the worst at playing games with award availability (by creating new category’s of standard rooms that are few in number and undesirable in location within the hotel).

  4. @PJ the same happened to us TWICE – holiday season at GHE Bangkok and 4th of July at the HRHB. Both times the twitter team just followed what the hotel says. Plenty of suites were on sale at both properties at both times.

    @Gary, who should we escalate to once the twitter (social) team follows property line?

  5. It would be great if the mobile app showed that an upgrade is available and mandatory at any point in time. Then when we check in, if told otherwise, we could flash that.

  6. There is a limited number of suites at a hotel just as there is a limited number of first-class seats on a plane. For the normal situation where there are more people eligible for upgrades than there are upgrades available, airlines have very specific rules at to how the upgrades are allocated. With increased competition for upgrades in the Marriott program at least, it would be helpful to members in many ways to know what rules, if any, there are for upgrade allocation. Are there any rules for hotel programs? Are the rules published and if so, where?

    One big difference between hotels and airlines is that anyone requesting an upgrade on an airline flight must be present at the gate at time the flight departs. People requesting upgrades at a hotel can arrive at any time of day.

  7. Gary,

    I’m sure this isn’t the best place to ask this but is it possible for me to apply a suite upgrade to a friends paid reservation (honeymoon)? Or is Guest of honor the only way? Kind of like using a SWU on a friends flight… Thinking of making their week special and I never use them all anyways…thx!

  8. @David – you have to have your name on the reservation in order to apply a suite upgrade. You can do a guest of honor booking that applies your globalist benefits but you cannot use a suite upgrade for it. You can spend more points to confirm a suite, of course, about 60% more.

    Some people would make the reservation in their name, add the friend as a second guest on the booking, and use the suite upgrade. However technically this isn’t kosher if you aren’t actually checking in and staying in the room… [and it carries some non-zero amount of risk]

  9. @Gary: While it’s kind of you to exploit your personal connections to cure these situations (which, from the comments, appear to occur very frequently) that doesn’t change the fact that “regular” Hyatt elites have no recourse when individual properties flaunt the program’s rules. This post could equally well be titled “Hyatt doesn’t care if you get your suite or not”.

    Given that this seems to be an ongoing point of contention, World of Hyatt should establish an ombudsman for program rule violations. You shouldn’t be expected to fulfill that role.

  10. I’m remodeling my house and paying my taxes on my Hyatt card and I’ll combine 15 reward nights and 45 nights from credit card spend to achieve Globalist……….then next year I’m taking a 6 week retirement trip thru France and Italy and I won’t even consider staying at another hotel chain UNLESS Hyatt and Small Luxury Hotels don’t have a property…… does appear they have them in Burgundy, Rhone Valley, Avignon, Cap Ferrat, and of course Park Hyatt in Paris and Milan. With the new Small Luxury Hotel options Hyatt owns the upscale redemption market for the future in my mind……….

  11. @LarryInNYC I believe this is an issue that every major program faces. And I’m not sure any do it better than others. But when situations are brought to my attention I do my best to help readers with them. In this case the reader who flagged this is now confirmed in a suite during the peak holiday season.

  12. @Gary a hotel that needs reminding of this is the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino, they are as tricky and the Maui Andaz on suite upgrades…

  13. With Hyatt, the worst offenders – including HR San Francisco, which is particularly awful about this sort of thing – are Hyatt owned or leased. So you can’t blame franchisees for not following the rules.

  14. @Gary do you know if theres written rules regarding premium suite upgrades? For instance, if a hotel lists a suite as “premium” does that mean we are allowed to upgrade using the 9000 points vs the 6000 points for a standard suite? I recently tried to get one and the rep I talked to talked with the hotel, the hotel wouldn’t do the points but would give me the room for what the rep said would be 200$ a night after taxes/fees. I ended up getting an email saying it would be 250$ a night which kind of sucks, on top of that I booked the room with cash and already put 12k of points into a regular suit upgrade for my 2 nights. Now this room is exceptional, its 1850+ ft^2 in a major city and normally goes for 1200-2000 a night, so I still feel lucky and really feel like even at 600$+6k points per night im getting a good deal (maybe im not?), Im just wondering if theres anything I can reference to know for future stays if I should be able to upgrade to a suite using points.


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