Hyatt Resorts That Play Games with Award Availability

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One of my very favorite hotel loyalty programs is the World of Hyatt. Their points are easy to earn (thanks, Chase Ultimate Rewards!), the award chart is fair and pretty consistent, their customer service is generally good, and many of their resorts are gorgeous, family-friendly, fantastic backdrops for having fun while making memories.

Pool at Grand Hyatt Kauai

Most of the Hyatt properties are very good about following the program rules of making standard rooms available on points when they are available for sale with cash, even during peak seasons. However, a couple of bad apples who are playing games with award availability through a variety of means put a cloud over the whole bunch. Throughout the years, various Hyatt properties have taken turns being the bad apple who plays with standard award availability. A few Hyatt properties that come to mind as being guilty of playing with standard award room types and availability over the years are Hyatt Lost Pines, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, Olive 8 in Seattle, and the Park Hyatt New York. However, all of those properties reversed course and can now be booked using Hyatt points most of the time.

Hyatt properties that seem to be blocking award availability

Sadly, whereas those properties are currently pretty available on points, there are two other very desireable Hyatt resort properties that are now being charged with blocking standard award availability most of the time. The first, and longest term, suspect of award availability shenanigans is the Andaz Maui. This property is actually owned by Hyatt, but does not have a great track record of wanting to keep Hyatt elites and award travelers happy.

Andaz Maui

We were able to book a spring break trip to the Andaz Maui using points for last year by booking exactly 13 months in advance when the schedule first opened, but that strategy no longer works. About a year ago, others were able to book award nights at this hotel if they booked at least a week-long stay. That strategy no longer works. Update: Try booking for eight nights….

I randomly checked about 20 dates today and did not find award availability on any one date between tonight and 13 months from now, although @HyattConcierge pointed out that February 21, 2019, has award availability, so there is at least one random date available.

However, even when those exact same room descriptions with no specified view are for sale on other dates, they are still not reliably available with points. If you want to see this phenomenon for yourself, check out March 20, 2019 where no specified view rooms are available for sale with cash, but not points.

 

That is completely unacceptable in my mind as those are standard rooms by every logical definition I can come up with. I have a follow-up question Hyatt about why that room type is available some dates (or at least on one date) with cash, but not points. So far I am being told it is because the date is available is a parking lot view, but it doesn’t actually state that on the website, so I’m not sure how customers can distinguish between room types. They can obviously do whatever they want with award program rules, but if you are going to have rules, properties should follow them so that loyalty members can know what to expect. If you are going to have blackout dates or properties that basically don’t accept points, then just state that and let folks vote with their wallets.

While Andaz Maui is by far the most egregious of the Hyatt award availability blocking suspects, unfortunately, it seems that the Hyatt Regency Aruba has been learning from them. This property is also owned by Hyatt and it is especially unfortunate for families that availability here has shrunk because the Aruba property is family-friendly and on a perfect stretch of beach.

A few weeks ago, the Hyatt Regency Aruba had almost no award rooms available using points, but after View from the Wing wrote about the phenomenon, some pockets of dates do now have award availability. I see some dates this spring with either a King Bed with a Garden View for Two Queen Beds and no specified view available using 25,000 Hyatt points per night. This is great as paid rates in this timeframe can be close to $600 per night!

However, once summer arrives, the award availability dries up completely even though paid rates in the summer can be just 1/3 of the cost of travel in the spring. The award availability problem does not end when summer is over as there is no award availability that I can find in my random date searches outside of the next couple of months. In fact, even when there are rooms with a “garden view” available for sale, they are not always available with points. We aren’t talking about a pool view, or ocean view, but even just a generic “garden view” room is not always available with points. Unless you are planning a close-in trip in the next few months, you basically cannot currently use your Hyatt points or award nights at the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

Looks like a standard room to me.

How to beat Hyatt award availability shenanigans

While you probably can’t convince Hyatt directly to change policies (though Lord knows I am trying), you can still beat their shenanigans in some ways. With the Hyatt Regency Aruba, in the summer, paid rates are often only around $250 per night. At that rate, frankly, you are better off not using 25,000 Hyatt points since a one cent per point return is not ideal. If you are going for four nights, you would be better off getting the fourth-night free by booking through the Citi Prestige or using some fixed value points through the Barclays Arrival or similar to cover your room expenses. Heck, you could even use Chase Ultimate Reward points from the Sapphire Reserve at 1.5 cents each to secure a room for less than 25,000 points per night.

The downside of using your Ultimate Rewards points to book through Chase instead of transferring them to book directly with Hyatt is you don’t get the benefits of booking direct, and you will have to pay the high taxes and resort fee that you avoid when booking an award night with Hyatt. Still, at least you then don’t have to mess with the ever-changing standard room availability semantics and can book your trip when you want to travel. Or, you can simply book a different resort completely such as the nearby Hilton (used to be a Radisson) that is on the same stretch of perfect beach.

With the Andaz Maui, paid rates are usually high enough to where using points at a fixed value isn’t a good deal. If you search for eight award nights you will see some standard award availability that isn’t available when searching shorter stays of one week or less. If you have the points, you could book for eight nights and then call the hotel to shorten the stay to the length you actually want.

My recommendation for now if you can’t find award availability at the Andaz Maui is to simply to skip visiting that resort. You can use Hilton points or award nights at the nearby Grand Wailea or visit the other Hyatt in Maui, the Hyatt Regency Maui. The Hyatt Regency Maui is actually a better value than the Andaz at just 20,000 Hyatt points per night and it is a better destination for families with great pools, an onsite club lounge, onsite amazing shave ice, and no award availability games.

Hyatt Regency Maui

This is not the first round of hotel award availability games with a few Hyatt properties, and it probably won’t be the last. While I don’t have upcoming plans to visit either of these two Hyatt resorts, I have visited both in the past and want others to have the same chance using their World of Hyatt points in the future. It is best for everyone when a program has clear rules that are followed and applied in a consistent, predictable, and transparent manner.

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  1. On the one hand, for whatever reason, you praise WOH as your “very favorite hotel loyalty program.” Yet you take to task two Hyatt-owned properties (not franchises) that openly violate the rules and intent of WOH and demonstrate that Hyatt seems to have less regard for its own loyalty program (and customers) than you do. And, btw, another company-owned property, the PHNY, was a big game-player until recently (as you point out).

    • JetAway, I still use them more for my family’s adventures than anyone else because most properties are easy to book with points that are easy to earn, but there has been a (small) rotating cast of bad apples for years that I wish would stop.

  2. Thanks for the very valuable information. It is very helpful.
    I think the culprit is the hotel management people. They think they can do whatever they want, regardless of the rules that they are supposed to abide by. In other words, they are cheaters. Cheating the WOH members.

    • Yeah, it is confusing. They are so strong in some areas, but seemingly unwilling to stop this from happening when it should be an easy fix for a Hyatt owned property.

    • Sorry to hear you didn’t like it! We’ve had a couple great stays there as recently as about a year ago. What about it was dumpy on your stay?

      • The room was run down, the pool felt old, the grounds felt worn.

        The hyatt residence next door was beautiful compared to the regency.

  3. The workaround isn’t a week/7 nights, it’s 8 nights. That’s still in play, there’s space in April/May/Sep/Oct/Nov, aka off-peak times. Sometimes it’s been as low as 3 nights, other times it’s 6 nights. Only single nights I’ve seen have been very close-in.

    • Good to know. I did some longer test searches but came up empty-handed. Will have to poke around some more using 8 nights!

      There is a single night on February 21, 2019, if you want it. 😉

      • Don’t be afraid to go as high at 10 nights in a row, then call in to shorten the reservation to the actual length you want. It requires you to have a good balance of Hyatt points to be able to do this, and is a shame that this work around has to be used, but it works.

        • That’s really helpful – it used to not take quite that many nights, but good to know for those with hefty Hyatt point balances! That said, it is sort of rubbing salt in the wound that those rooms really do exist for sale, just not really for the normal traveler who isn’t staying at one hotel longer than a week.

          • Remember that as a Globalist (nee, Diamond), one of the (underrated, IMHO) benefits is being able to make award night reservations without having all of the necessary points available in your account (only for completely free nights; will not work for P+C). So you could find the magic number of days needed, book that (irrespective of your point balance), then later call back to reduce the number of days. As long as you have the points in your account ~7 days prior to your stay, you are good to go.

          • I guess we are too many nested comments down, but I’m curious about real_jetsetr’s comment about being able to book if you didn’t have the points.

            As a globalist I have asked that question before and they have always said you need the points. When did this benefit happen, and how do you take advantage. I just tried and cannot book points stays online if I do not have the points.

          • Tom, yeah I’m not 100% sure if this is still a thing or not. I have used it in the past, but while I haven’t tried recently, I also haven’t heard real recent success stories. Jetsetr knows his stuff, but I just don’t know if this perk is still a thing or not.

          • @Tom We’re very nested in the comments 🙂 This was a legacy perquisite of Diamond status. You can’t do this online, it has to be done over the phone (and no, it doesn’t have to be with your Hyatt Concierge, if one has one). Some agents are unaware, some will say the perq was eliminated with the transition to WoH. Remember the rule: HUCA. I’ve used this benefit at least twice since Gold Passport became WoH. Once I politely educated the agent and asked that she check with a supervisor; surely enough the agent got back on the phone, and it was done.

    • Sorry to hear that about Coconut Point – will have to test that one, too. I hear nothing but good things about that resort for families, so I hope there isn’t a widespread availability issue there, too.

      • It’s a return trip because we loved it the first time! Category 4! Now they have added more of a water park, so we want to check it out again!

    • We’ve stayed at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point few times, during winter/holiday break. Never had problems finding availability. Just checked Dec 23-Dec 30, 2018, award nights are still available.

      1
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      1 King Bed

      Enjoy the relaxed décor of this 430 sq foot room with a king bed and integrated work table affording you space and comfort to unwind.

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      Two Queen Beds

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  4. Andaz Maui is completely overrated but it is sad to see Hyatt Aruba playing the games. The Hyatt is much much nicer than the Hilton next door. That said because of the games we are looking to stay at the Hilton next year

    • I haven’t stayed at the Hilton since it became a Hilton, but agree the Hyatt was nicer than the Radisson. The beach is still five star though!

    • I would have to disagree. We found Hilton Aruba to be much nicer than Hyatt. I mean lay out, and the beach. Hilton is wide spread, while Hyatt is kinda one thing on top of another. :)) The only thing Hyatt had that Hilton did not was Hot Tub. :)))

    • I stayed at the Hilton and Hyatt in the same trip back in 2016. I liked the Hyatt because it had a water slide for my son, but I liked the Hilton too. I have not been there since 2016, but I know Hilton was planning on renovating the resort, so people should give it another try when it is done.

      • I go back and forth between the Hyatt and Hilton. I had moved over to the Radisson/hilton back in the day when it was crazy easy to get Radisson points. So disappointing when Hilton took it over.. I was last there in March 2018 and although I still like it it left a sour taste in mouth. They stopped giving hot breakfast as a gold member, the renovations i felt were half down.. did not redo the bathrooms which really needed it. Add the fact the cruise ship people have not taken over the beach and its gotten way more crowed. I have notice now they even put up front row umbrellas in front of the huts even if they are not being use. Gilligans which was great for breakfast was shut down for breakfast and the lunch was not nearly as good. But they are all minor things and I will probably go back with my hilton points. In a few weeks I will be at the Hyatt again 4th time in a year. It was the first place I stayed on my honeymoon and left for a while because it had gotten so crazy. But with the reserved hut or tent ahead of time .. I can get front row with nobody in front of me (if you are on the right side:) Atmosphere is more hopping at night at the casino and lobby bar. And with the new room renovations and adult pool going in.. its only to get better.. SO MAD they are pulling points.. But, glad I was able to sneak one last trip in before they did.

  5. off topic prob doesnt matter.. andaz was bought by Host which also owns fairmont kea lani, hyatt reg maui and hyatt place waikiki…

  6. This has been a MAJOR source of contention with me and a reason why I’ve been distancing myself from the World of Hyatt. However, it isn’t only award night shenanigans Hyatt pulls. Last week I wrote a post about the Andaz Napa, since they saw it fit to offer only prepaid rates during the time I’m looking to stay there in November. This includes points + cash nights, and the reason I was given for this situation is that there’s a convention during that time. What concerns me most about this practice, though, is that these pre-paid rates appear under the prepaid tab, but also the “regular rate” tab. But you wouldn’t really know it’s a prepaid rate unless you read the rate disclosure.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t travel a whole lot, but Hyatt seems to pull the most tricks and games than any other large hotelier. To me, they’re just as bad as American.

  7. Hyatt Aruba does sell out, especially during High season. Couple of years ago we stayed in Hilton Aruba Dec 21-Dec 31, and then decided to stay for New Years for couple more nights. Hilton was completely sold out, so we were able to book Hyatt for 2 nights on points, I guess we just got lucky, someone probably canceled. :)) Paid 50K points for 2 nights, the cash rate was $1.250 per night. :)))

  8. I was finding similar shenanigans being played for Austin Hyatts and San Antonio Hyatts during Spring Break, as well as some other dates. Denver is another place I have gotten that message too.

  9. I have seen come of the Cancun properties only offering alternate days on points (so you can almost never get a chunk of nights booked together).

  10. What I noticed about the Hyatt Aruba is that you can click cash & points, but it will say 7,500 points plus $750, but when you click cash rate the rate for the room is $750. So why would you spend points on something that is the same exact amount of money either way? Makes no sense. I have checked this feature on more than one occasion and it is always the same.

  11. I definitely struggle with the fascination for the Andaz Maui. Unless you really need to stay on points there are many much better properties in the island. The Andaz would be the last option if I were paying for a hotel in Maui.

    • Have you stayed at the Andaz in Wailea ? We just got back from the Andaz Maui and as a globalist we were treated extremely well, we have stayed in Maui many times and in many different locations and we have visited almost every Andaz Property, what you get especially with loyalty is well worth it. Status was worth over $4000 for our 1 week stay. I posted some pics on instagram @checkingtravel highlighting most of their benefits. Yeah there is a workaround that is needed to book there, but that just means if you know the trick there is more availability for you that is not taken by someone else. I have no problem finding availability and applying a suite upgrade cert. There is a reason it is always booked, it is one of the best locations in Maui in my opinion with a great beach.

      • Sorry, if I stay in Wailea paying for a room my order of preference is: Four Seasons, Fairmont, Grand Wailea, Andaz. I stayed at all of them paying for a room. Unfortunately the Four Seasons does not offer award nights. Andaz is extremely overrated.

  12. Hawaii is a very tough places to redeem points effectively. They is simply in so much demand from all the point chasers on the U.S. mainland. If you do find a redemption, you’ll be lucky to get a cent and a half per credit card point. I instead treat Hawaii as a place to earn points, not to spend them. Otherwise, I would do as the author suggests and settle for 1.5c/p via credit card booking websites.

  13. Starting in November I check the Hyatt Regency Maui (HRM) site at least daily for availability over Christmas – New Years 2018/209. Standard rooms were offered under rate plans other than Stamdard Rate. I was looking for 7-14 nights. I’m highly confident that HRM has gamed the system such that there is not a single room booked on points from 12/22/18 – 1/5/19.

  14. I’ve run into problems with both the Andaz Papagayo and Andaz Mayakoba showing standard rooms available at the “advance purchase” rate or “member” rate but not the standard rate. WOH terms say the room has to be available at the “standard rate” to be available on points, which seems like they are giving the hotels an “out” from having to offer award nights. Once I did have luck with Hyatt Concierge securing the room for me in that situation.

  15. Just wondering if Hyatt Residence Club is suppose to follow same rules as far as making standard rooms available on points when they are available for cash? I recently tried to book at the Maui Residence Club. There was a standard room available to pay with cash for two nights.

    I called three different times and got three different answers. Hyatt Residences in Maui aren’t available to book with points, they are able to book but those specific dates are ‘blacked out’ because award rooms had already been booked. I spoke to a supervisor and voiced my frustration with inconsistencies within policy as well as agents, and she called the Maui Residences to get me a final answer. She told me that yes, they were standard rooms available to book with cash, but it was owned by a timeshare owner. Hyatt has it on their site to try and sell bc they won’t be using it and Hyatt will reimburse the owner of it books, so therefore they could not give me the room on points and I could only pay for it.

    She also told me there was no way for me to find any of the information online and I would have to call to see what availability the Residences had. I was so over it, I just booked two nights at the Regency.

    • Residence Club properties do not have the same standard availability rules, but their entry-level rooms are sometimes bookable online for points.

  16. I have encountered a slightly different issue, but just as frustrating. I reserved a 3 night stay at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin in Thailand. I then asked to have one of my confirmed suite upgrade awards applied to my reservation as the hotel was showing a standard suite available. My upgrade request was refused and I appealed to my Hyatt Concierge who contacted the hotel and came back with the same refusal to grant the upgrade when Hyatt.com was still showing the suite available for sale.

    I was so outraged that I cancelled the reservation and stayed at the very new and beautiful Marriott Hua Hin Resort where I was treated very well as a Platinum Elite member.

    These games are not the way a hotel chain rewards the loyalty of frequent guests.

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