For those that haven’t heard, Hyatt announced an update to their award chart a few days ago. Now, updates to award charts are rarely positive. And, with the recent castration of the United award chart, it’s easy to be on edge about announcements of “enhancements” from your favorite loyalty programs. But, these Hyatt changes really aren’t that bad. And, when put in perspective along with other changes like the gutting Hilton did to it’s program earlier this year, it’s hard to get too upset. But, let’s look at the numbers. I’ve detailed 3 spreadsheets below that show the current award pricing and the new pricing (effective January 7, 2014):
Categories 1-4 stay the same. This might seem like it’s not much of a big deal, but it’s roughly consistent with the financial picture of the hotel industry. Hotel prices are rising faster in Manhattan than they are in Williamsburg, VA. And, there are certainly properties in category 4 that have seen a rise in rates over the past year or two. I think the rise in prices for category 5 and 6 are fairly reasonable, all things considered. As for the creation of category 7 and the properties that are “elevated” to that level, I’m a bit sad as I’ve either stayed at or plan to stay at all of these. A 36% increase is rough, but it needs to be viewed through the lens of this only being six hotels. Hyatt did not shift a whole bunch of 5s to 6s because there’s now a category 7. More on that later. There are still plenty of properties in category 4 that strike me as good values, like Hyatt Chicago Mag Mile and Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle.
Club rooms weren’t spared quite as much pain as the standard rooms. Category 2 and up all see double-digit increases. That being said, because of Hyatt’s generosity with suites, I don’t consider club rooms a sweet spot on the award chart. You’re much better off with a standard room or a suite.
On whole, I think the suite upgrades are pretty reasonable changes, especially when you consider the competition. Some chains don’t even make suites available on the award chart and of the ones that do, SPG has some of the nicest suites and they’re double the price of a standard room. At the properties you’re most likely to want a suite upgrade (category 4,5 and 6) the increases start at a modest 4% and top out at 21%. I don’t love a 21% increase, but that still leaves it 30%-ish lower than a similar suite at SPG. The properties moving up to category 7 are rough, increasing a sum total of 45%. Again, these are aspirational properties and a small lot at that. When you compare to SPG, for example, the Sunset Key Guest Cottages just off Key West in Florida will set you back a whopping 120,000 points a night. The true test of how painful this change for Hyatt will be has yet to be seen. If we see a dozen properties move up to category 7 next year, hide the children and make sure you have plenty of bread and milk in the house.
The list of properties changing categories also really isn’t that bad. 21 go up, 17 go down. I see plenty on here that were expected/feared, like Hyatt 48 Lex and Hyatt Union Square both moving from category 5 to 6. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe dropping from a category 5 to a 4 and Hyatt Regency Maui dropping from a 6 to a 5. That makes those properties reasonable deals, especially for suites IMO. Here’s the full list:
Upgrades On Paid Stays:
This where I think the most pain was, mostly because this was such a great deal. Currently, you can upgrade to a suite on a paid reservation at the Hyatt Daily Rate for 6,000 points for up to 4 nights. That was a great value. The new rate is 6,000 points per night, certainly a much more significant cost. That change truly makes me sad.
You’ve got until January 6th to book rooms under the old award chart. And, in what I believe to be a very generous addition to previous category changes, Hyatt will let you change those reservations for about a month, until February 15th, without penalty. So, if you’re considering booking something it makes sense to get it in place even if you’re not 100% sure of your dates yet. Consider it a hedge against inflation! Lastly, if you happen to book something that’s dropping down a category, Hyatt plans to automatically refund you the points difference.
Like I said, I was pretty scared after the United devaluation. But, this is largely reasonable and Hyatt is giving us plenty of time to book something under the old rates. As last year, the number of properties moving up and down is pretty small, less than 10% of the total chain.
And, View From The Wing is reporting that Hyatt has some good stuff on the way that we should hear about soon. Based on previous conversations with Hyatt, I’m thinking we’re going to hear something like some form of G bonuses coming back, Cash & Points or a possible modification to lifetime status. I’ve also heard rumors about another status level above Diamond (or between Diamond and Platinum), though I think that’s less likely at this point.