Back in November Hyatt announced some pretty big changes to their Gold Passport program, which came in two stages. First they announced a Gold Passport award chart devaluation, whereby they added a seventh hotel category, which costs 30,000 points per night, compared to the previous category six cost of 22,000 points per night. Fortunately only six hotels will belong to the seventh category initially.
The following week they announced some positive changes, by adding Points & Cash Gold Passport redemptions. Several hotel chains offer this nowadays, and it’s almost always a spectacular deal. But it’s especially awesome with Hyatt for a few reasons:
- Confirmed Diamond suite upgrades can be applied on Points & Cash reservations
- Points & Cash reservations are eligible for elite stay & night accrual, as well as points accrual
- Points & Cash reservations count as qualifying nights for the purposes of promotions
Anyway, all of these changes kick in Tuesday, January 7, 2014, so you have a few more days to plan your travels before then. What should you do to “prepare” for these changes?
Lock in as many award bookings as you can, especially at the new category seven properties
Generally speaking you’re best off making as many speculative bookings as possible now, since award stays are typically refundable till pretty close to arrival (though always double check the terms for the specific hotel you’re looking at). If the award price goes up, they’ll honor the old rates, and if the award price goes down they’ll proactively refund you the difference in points after the new chart kicks in.
Generally speaking my focus is on booking stays at the six properties that are going up most in price, which are the category seven properties:
- Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
- Park Hyatt Milan
- Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Park Hyatt Zurich
That’s because they’re going from 22,000 t0 30,000 points per night. While the new award chart kicks in on January 7, it’s worth noting that Hyatt will let you modify award bookings until February 15, 2014. So for example if you lock in a booking at the Park Hyatt Sydney now, you’ll still have several weeks to change the dates, add or remove a night from the reservation, etc.
I’ve already stayed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and Park Hyatt Zurich and have a booking for the Park Hyatt Sydney later in the year with my dad. I’d really like to make bookings at the Park Hyatt Paris and Park Hyatt Milan, though. My plan is to just randomly book a couple of dates later in the year, and then I’ll have till February 15 to decide which dates I really want to use for my booking.
Hope for the best when Points & Cash bookings go live
As I stated above, Points & Cash bookings almost sound too good to be true. The catch is that Points & Cash bookings will be capacity controlled, so the big question is just how “controlled” they’ll be.
The value to be had from them is potentially spectacular, and if availability is good then I’d argue the award chart changes on the whole are actually positive. For example, Hyatt’s category six properties currently cost 22,000 points per night, and starting January 7 would theoretically cost 12,500 Gold Passport points plus $150 per night, but will be eligible for stay credits, promotions, and Diamond suite upgrades. We should definitely cross our fingers and hope for the best, but I wouldn’t wait till January 7 to make a booking counting on there being Points & Cash availability.
Consider redeeming Hyatt Visa anniversary nights now
If you have the Chase Hyatt Visa Card you get a free night valid at up to a category four property annually. If you’re thinking of redeeming the certificate, it’s worth remembering that the following properties will be transitioning from category four to five (meaning you will no longer be able to use the anniversary free night certificate at them):
- Andaz West Hollywood
- Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile
- Hyatt Place New York/Midtown South
- Park Hyatt Melbourne
Meanwhile the following properties are going from being a category five to being a category four, meaning you will be able to redeem your Hyatt Visa free anniversary night there starting January 7:
- Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi
- Hyatt Regency Changbaishan
There are pros and cons to these changes, and the best we can do is take advantage of the good values that are going away in the next few days, while hoping that Points & Cash availability is good once the benefit becomes available.