Maximizing Hyatt Mattress Runs for Elite Status

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At the end of the year almost all frequent flyers are evaluating their elite status situations with hotels and airlines.  In fact, I posted yesterday about my time as a United Silver Premier member, and am currently on a quasi-mileage run to finish earning United Premier Platinum status for 2013.  A post by my friend The Points Guy yesterday about his decision regarding whether or not to push for top tier status with Hyatt this year got my attention.  Hyatt is my hotel program of choice, so there was no question for me as to whether or not I was going to re-qualify for Diamond status for 2013, but his post reminded me of a few things I wanted to point out in terms of how I maximized some stays I needed to re-qualify.

First, a very brief refresher on Hyatt Diamond status and why it is worth all this fuss in the first place.  For me, hotel elite status is way more important than airline elite status because you generally spend more time in the hotel on a family trip than you do on an airplane.  So, the perks you get from the hotel have a greater impact than what seat you get while flying.  With a family, having a suite upgrade, lounge access for snack, free breakfast, etc. are very tangible benefits that impact the trip (and budget) in a meaningful way.  On my most recent trip to NYC, my family made a dinner out of the evening appetizers in the Grand Club at the Grand Hyatt NYC.  This easily saved us at least $50.  We also had breakfast the following day in the club, again this saved us real money.  If you count the drinks/snacks we picked up in the club, it is not a stretch at all to say that we saved at least $100 on our one-night stay by having that access.  This doesn’t even count the ridiculous suite we got by using our confirmed Diamond upgrade at this hotel.

Later that week we stayed at the Andaz Fifth Avenue and fully maximized the $75 daily breakfast benefit via room service both days because of our Diamond status.  Again, that is real money saved.  This is in addition to the 1,000 point Diamond amenity bonus for each stay, 30% bonus on base points earned, free internet, etc.  Multiply these savings out over a full year and it makes a significant difference on many of our trips.

I travel a good amount, but this year I didn’t hit 25 Hyatt stays by accident.  I hit about 21 stays naturally, and then had to push to get the final four stays.  If I had the Hyatt Credit Card (which I am waiting to get to coincide with a trip to Paris to use my two free nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome), then putting $40,000 in spending annually on the card would get me 5 stay credits.  Tip: see if you get an offer that includes a $100 statement credit for the Hyatt card while you are making a Hyatt reservation online.  However, I don’t have the card, and that level of spending is out of my league anyway.

So, that meant I had to do about four mattress runs to re-qualify for Diamond status.  I am lucky enough to live within an easy driving distance to several inexpensive Hyatts in the Houston area, so getting inexpensive stays is not very hard.  I track my stays closely, and by about October it was clear I was not going to hit 25 stays this year without a few mattress runs.  So, I started to really pay attention to the 48 hour Hyatt sales that pop up every month or so.  These are normally not all that useful as they are prepaid and non-refundable.  However, in my case that didn’t matter.  I used Travelocity.com and looked for the cheapest dates available for those properties by viewing 60 days at a time (just leave the date off when you are searching for hotels in a city).

Many of those dates fell close to Thanksgiving.  I was able to get nights in the $55 – $69 range at some properties in North Houston.  I hate mattress runs like this as they are such a waste, but the economics make sense.  Spending around $250 to get the remaining four stays will more than pay for itself – heck, my recent New York trip at Hyatts pretty much brought us that much value in just a few days.

The good news is that I actually did get a fair bit of value for the $250 I spent on my “un-needed” stays by timing them carefully.  First, I get 500 – 1,000 Diamond amenity points for each stay (just 500 for Hyatt House or Hyatt Place stays, but 1,000 for full-service Hyatts).  I also earn 5x Gold Passport points on the stays, plus a 30% Diamond bonus.  I earned points on credit cards for the stays.  There are a million options, but to keep things simple I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for effectively 2.14 Ultimate Reward points per dollar (2x for travel).  However, the SPG Business Amex that gives 3% off Hyatt Hotels (5% starting in January) + 1 SPG point per dollar is also a great choice for Hyatt stays.

What I did differently from The Points Guy is commit to all but one of my mattress runs during a promotion period.  Since I hate waste, I want to at least get as much value as possible from my unnecessary stays, so I did most of them during the recent Imagine the Possibilities Hyatt promo that ended on 11/30.  During this promotion you earned 5,000 bonus points for the first 5 nights, and then 10,000 bonus points for each additional set of 5 nights up to max of 65,000 bonus points.  I already had 7 nights during that promotion, but since I timed 3 of my mattress run nights during that promotion I ended up with 15,000 bonus points.  Had I not timed my nights during that promotion I would have missed out on 10,000 points.

In the end, $250 for four mattress runs netted me 3,000 points from Diamond amenity bonuses, an extra 10,000 points from the recent promo, approximately 1,625 points from regular points + 30% Diamond bonus, and roughly 535 Ultimate Reward points by paying with my Chase Sapphire Preferred.  That comes to 15,160 points that I value at a minimum of 1.5 cents each – and usually redeem for about 2 cents each.  That means about $227 in value was earned from the points.  That makes the stays almost a wash if you look at it that way.  Of course, most of all it also helped me re-qualify for Diamond for all of 2013.

If you find yourself in a similar situation next year, I recommend doing your mattress run stays during a promotion.  This is easier toward the end of the year than at the beginning since you have a clearer picture of all your actual stays.  There is no reason not to make the most out of stays you don’t actually need.

Did you do something similar this year or in previous years to attain elite hotel status?

 

 

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Comments

  1. Great Story. Thanks. I did the same thing. I was also four stays short of maintaining Diamond for 2013. I live in ATL area so I simply did a couple of cheap local Hyatt Place mattress runs last month before the promotion ended for under $250 and wha-la..My Diamond status is secured for next yr. I will lose PM on Delta this year (down to GM) but I will NOT lose my precious Diamond status with Hyatt. Way to valuable..the upgrades, the breakfast amenity, the first class service, lounges… I’m too spoiled now:)

  2. Nice writeup….very thorough.

    I tend to requalify – or come close – for both hotels and airlines in the first few months of the year, when the status is good for two years. Then we travel on awards unless paid rates are really compelling. Increasingly, award points are generated from credit card promos.

  3. No timing Hyatt Regency stays with closed GCs on the weekend for an extra 2500 GP points? Plus full restaurant breakfast for the win!

    • David, if you can line that up it is even better! The cheapest ones around me are HP type joints that don’t have RC but even better if you have a cheap spot with a closed club!!

  4. Thanks for the tip on checking rates over a two month period with Travelocity. I also make sure that I get my 25 stays in each year. This year I somehow miscalculated–I’ll have 27!

  5. Great strategy — very helpful.

    Did you use a suite upgrade for the 5th Avenue trip? I’m going in a week with family and eagerly await your trip report on that property…

  6. Tommy, calendar year.
    Michael, technically the confirmed upgrade doesn’t get you to splash suite but you can then either roll the dice or buy up one level. Report coming soon.

  7. General Hyatt question… New to Hyatt, but plan to stay in one in Singapore in January. Did a status challenge so I’m now Diamond with Hyatt until the end of Jan.

    I want to use points to book the rooms. I can get a Club King room for 22K points per night or a Grand King for 18k per night.

    With my Diamond status, does it make sense to book the lesser room because I would get the extra amenities from status? Or would you recommend going for the Club regardless?

    Thanks!

  8. Bill, I would not pay more for a Club room as a Diamond. You will likely be upgraded if there is space available anyway, and you will certainly be given Club access. Of course, if you want to be 100% certain you can book the 22k room, but I personally would not.
    Kathy, end of Feb. 😉
    Cogswell, Kathy is right. 😉

  9. Do all bookings thru Hyatt.com website qualify as a stay? Including the cheap prepaid (like the Winter Wander) rates of Hyatt House or Hyatt Place?

  10. I’m still unclear what buy up one level is? For a three night stay, is that basically $70 a night?

    If so, would the strategy be:

    1) Arrive and see what kind of suite they are offering for your confirmed suite upgrade;

    2) If the suite is the standard Andaz Suite ask if it is possible to get the splash suite instead;

    3) If they refuse the splash suite, ask if I can buy up to the splash suite? (Is that the right terminology?)

  11. I did the same thing with Marriott this year to score Platinum status — so far it has been TOTALLY worth it. Terrific upgrades on a family stay to Vermont and a stay earlier this week in Boston — (can you say “Presidential Suite”) ??? Watch the promotions and plan carefully; it’s worth it!

  12. Chum, I would say the overwhelming majority. “All” scares me. The Winter Wander would.
    Michael, I think I was quoted 100 something a night from the confirmed suite upgrade. The risk of waiting until check-in is it may be full. I really wanted a tub for our kiddo as it is just much easier than showers, so I confirmed it ahead of time with $$$. It never hurts to ask, but that is the best I could do after going back and forth with them.
    CU, yay! So glad it has been good for you.

  13. I agree about the hotel status mattering more than Airline status on an individuals need. I like to have a mid tier at least on some, and top tier on others. Good to have mid tier on an airline for international lounge access and more bags. This year a bunch of hotels did instant matches. Like the every few times a year Accor to instant Platinum, which I got instantly matched to Best Western Diamond and Club Carlson too. That Hilton mvp offer was a good one too 4 stays to gold status. And so many more. Great blogs as always! 🙂

  14. Showing Bacon and eggs in a photo…

    “In relation to animals, all people are Nazis; for the animals, it is an eternal Treblinka.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer

    I am a big fan of your blog!

    However, have you ever been to a slaughter house? Did you ever think maybe it is your responsibility as a mother to take your child to a slaughter house? Are you aware of the pain and suffering even before their violent death? Probably not because big money is hiding it from you.

    Are you aware of the damage to your health by eating dead animals? Do you know that there is no need to be cruel to other animals? Are you aware that we are brainwashed by big corporations to eat things that are extremely unhealthy to us?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es6U00LMmC4

    You can be a great ambassador and it is the most amazing road. Great travel that does not involve the pain and suffering of others is the best travel.

  15. One trick that I have used at IAH is staying at the Hyatt Place the night before my flight and utilizing a cab to the airport. My room cost negates what parking would have been. Granted the trip needs to be 4+ days but not fighting Houston traffic the morning of a flight is worth something.

  16. I have done this before, usually aiming for Hilton Gold status based on stays. I decided to pass on requalifying for Hyatt Diamond this year — I’m at only 15 (qualifying) stays. I’m sure I’ll miss the Diamond status, but I can’t see scrambling at this point to get those last ten stays.

  17. if i have a several night stay planned, can i check in and check out immediately and receive credit for all of the nights?

    • Jason, I’m not sure I 100% understand the question as most who do mattress runs would be trying to qualify on stays and not nights, and a multi night stay is still just one stay.

  18. for the hyatt diamond trial, isnt the requirement 12 nights and not stays?

    if that’s the case, i’m wondering if i can check into a hyatt where i’m booked for 5 nights, then just check out right afterwards and receive credit for all 5 nights.

    • Jason, I see what you’re talking about and I doubt it. For the challenge I do believe it is 12 nights. However if you check out immediately you didn’t stay 12 nights so that probably wouldn’t work. May want to check out on the 5th day.

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