This Hidden Benefit Gives Starwood An Advantage Over Hyatt

There are plenty of reasons to like both Starwood Preferred Guest and Hyatt Gold Passport.  After a number of years of stellar service, I’ve turned into a Hyatt HomerTM.  Couple that with a drop in service from some SPG properties and it’s not hard to see why I direct most of my business to Hyatt.

But, there’s one hidden benefit of the SPG program that I’ve enjoyed for years.  And, whether it’s a conscious choice by Hyatt or a technology limitation (tech is something they’ve said is limiting them on a number of enhancements they would like to add), it can make a big difference.

Starwood Preferred Guest really broke into the big leagues when they pioneered no blackout dates and have a website.  But, a great benefit that lots of people don’t know about is that they will let you book lots of different room types with points.  What makes this a hidden benefit is that their website generally doesn’t display the award options available for a specific hotel.  Sometimes it may only cost you another 1,000 points a night to book a better room type.

This expanded availability is generally only available by phone, which means there are plenty of folks that search the website and don’t find availability (or find standard room availability).  By calling, you can get access to those extra rooms for not much more.

Conversely, Hyatt won’t even let you book certain categories of rooms with points.  I ran into this situation twice in the span of a week.  In one case, a property was sold out of standard rooms but had a slightly upgraded room that wasn’t eligible for points.  I wasn’t sure if I could push the issue with this property by asking for an exception but ended up finding another property nearby.  In another case, I was researching rooms in Paris for an upcoming trip.  Two of the 5 Hyatt hotels I was considering had one room type of the two needed to have connecting rooms available for points redemptions.  The other room would have set me back over 500 Euro a night, making these options significantly less desirable.

Hyatt also won’t let you book a suite with points for less than 3 nights, which can be an issue for shorter stays.  You can book club rooms with points but I’ve never quite figured out the value there.

Connecting rooms are something we rank highly for family vacations.  By searching for a slightly higher category of room, we’ve not only been able to get connecting rooms but also much better accommodations at places like the St. Regis in Rome and one of our favorite hotels, Hotel Danieli in Venice.  One phone call and an extra 1,000 points or so a night got us connecting rooms.

Hidden Benefit Gives Starwood An Advantage

It’s something to keep in mind when you’re not only booking your next award vacation but also what currency you want to save up.  The more details you know about how to leverage the programs to the max, the better off you’ll be.

Every reservation or redemption doesn’t have to be an effort to extract maximum value.  However, searching for and identifying these soft spots can stretch your points out much further for more free travel (or more luxurious travel, if you’re like me).


The post This Hidden Benefit Gives Starwood An Advantage Over Hyatt was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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12 Comments

  1. What many travelers in the Hyatt and Starwood hotel market segment do not know is Choice Privileges typically offers a variety of room types for points redemption, even suites, for the same number of points as a standard room. I even booked a 3-bedroom suite last year at a beach resort in Norway.

    I am writing this from a one-bedroom suite in Orlando that is as close to the Orlando Conventions Center as Hyatt Regency or Hilton where rooms were around $250 to $300 per night and are sold out now.

    The room was booked for $48 per night all-in at the rate I purchased Choice Privileges points from Daily Getaways this year.

    1. Ric, no question there is a lot of value for travelers on a budget with Choice Privileges. While I prefer Hyatt and Starwood, I though that Daily Getaways deal was reasonable for people willing to work the Choice Privileges program a bit. Glad to hear you’re getting solid value from Daily Getaways. With many of those, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe most of them can be leveraged.

    1. Cyhu, I usually call the main reservation line. It can help to have the SPG page for that hotel up on a computer screen so you can see the different room types on the room description page for the property. Also, there can be other room types not even listed on the website. Happy hunting!

  2. The same problems exist @ SPG with standard rooms not being available on points.

    I also have problems at SPG hotels with being able to redeem anything (At all). There are dates @ the W in Barcelona for instance where you can only buy rooms on Cash & Points.

    1. Ryan, you’re right about standard rooms being a problem for SPG as well. That’s where being able to book in other categories can be helpful. I must say, though, I’m surprised to hear a property that has C&P but no award rooms. C&P are usually the first thing to go.

  3. Need clarification on the extra 1,000 points or so a night to get connecting rooms. You mean that you pay for the two rooms (cash or points) and then an additional 1000 SPG points gets you connecting rooms?

    Thanks!

    1. Kalboz, in specific properties (Danieli, for example), there are no standard rooms that connect. So, if connecting is a priority there, you actually HAVE TO spend a few more points per room. That doesn’t guarantee connecting. However, again at the Danieli specifically, the vast majority of rooms in that category are connecting. So, you increase your chances exponentially in certain situations of guaranteeing a connecting room (and a canal view, in this example).

  4. @Kalboz, not just connecting rooms, but better categories. Like the St. Regis in Rome only sets you back 2K a night to end up in an Imperial Room confirmed at booking, which is the closest you’ll get to a suite at that property. This of course varies by property, but Pizza is absolutely right, at some properties, there’s real value. When it’s busy season and you’re on a break with the family, I really don’t want to risk ending up in a tiny room facing the dumpster. While unlikely, it does happen. By booking a higher category of room, your chances also increased to end up in a suite, which is great at properties that are stingy.

    1. Right, Tommy (and STR Rome is another good example). As a whole, I’ve found room categories in Europe to be more nuanced (not just standard, club and suite) with some properties having more than a half dozen different categories. Even given the relatively high value of a Starpoint, a few extra thousand points on a reservation can make a big difference for a once-in-a-lifetime stay.

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