Is Hyatt Playing Games With Award Availability?

When it comes to hotel loyalty programs I “trust,” Hyatt Gold Passport is at the top of that list. However, there have been a couple of situations lately that leave me scratching my head.

Most of the major hotel chains nowadays don’t have blackout dates on free night redemptions. That means as long as a standard room is for sale, you can redeem points for it. In the past it really was that straightforward, though back in July I wrote about an interesting situation at the Park Hyatt New York, whereby they simply weren’t selling standard rooms, and therefore you couldn’t redeem points for them.

Park-Hyatt-New-York-Award

Technically they were acting within the rules, since all standard rooms available for sale were also available on points. 😉

I gave the Park Hyatt New York the benefit of the doubt when they first opened since only a limited number of rooms were operational. And the situation has gotten a little better. A year out they seem to make a couple of Park King rooms available for sale, but that’s the extent of it. It seems like snagging a standard room award at the Park Hyatt New York is the equivalent of snagging a Qantas first class award seat between the US and Australia.

It looks like another Park Hyatt is playing similar games, and it’s even more apparent. Take a look at award availability at the Park Hyatt Milan for next summer.

Through the night of April 24, 2015, the Park Hyatt Milan is selling Park King rooms (the standard room) virtually every night, and as you’d expect there’s award availability almost every night.

Park-Hyatt-Milan-Awards-1

However, between April 25 and November 1, 2015, there’s not a single date with a Park King room available for sale. Then after November 1, 2015, every night has a Park King room available for sale again.

Park-Hyatt-Milan-Awards-2

Just to be thorough, I also searched a dozen random dates over that time period at the Park Hyatt Paris and Park Hyatt Zurich, and without exception those hotels had standard room award availability. So the “problem” is isolated to the Park Hyatt Milan.

To me, this raises a few questions:

  • Did the Park Hyatt Milan really already sell their Park King rooms for every single date for a period of over six months?
  • If so, how many Park King rooms does the hotel have?
  • I’d be willing to bet they haven’t sold all their Park King rooms, which raises the question of what they plan on doing with the rooms — are they holding back the inventory and only planning on selling it close to the arrival date, or…?
  • What incentive does the hotel have to hold back award inventory? Has the system for reimbursement somehow changed since I last learned about it, by which the hotel doesn’t have any incentive to hold back award inventory, especially in peak season.

Park-Hyatt-Milan-Park-King-Room
The elusive Park Hyatt Milan Park King Room

While technically the hotel and loyalty program are acting within the “letter of the law,” I don’t think they’re acting within the spirit of the program. I’m not sure whether this is something that was agreed upon between the Park Hyatt Milan and Gold Passport, or if it’s something the Park Hyatt is doing and Gold Passport isn’t aware of.

Makes you wonder, though…

(Tip of the hat to James)

Comments

  1. i don’t know the answer to this, but PH Milan is a hotel we book a lot and it’s often sold out… we have to get our hotel desk to negotiate with them and sometimes even they can’t get the hotel to release a room… it’s really super popular, i assume they can do whatever they want, even last minute they would sell any room.

  2. They could very well sell it all to some consolidator/ tour operator. Not sure why they would want to do that if they are already selling out but perhaps they got a good deal.

  3. Just another data point, saw the PH Vendome had Park Queens for sale but it wouldn’t let me book it using points. I called up customer service which had to call the hotel and they were able to get it booked.

  4. Lucky, I am running into a slightly similar situation with regards to booking a suite upgrade award. I can book a points + cash reservation at a particular Hyatt hotel that has NOT opened yet. This hotel only has one type of suite according to their website. The suite is for sale and is bookable for the same dates of stay on the Hyatt site; however, when I call in to book the reservation and use the suite upgrade award, they are telling me that the suite upgrade cannot be used at this hotel, even though it is the only type of suite in the hotel and it is bookable on the site. I read in the terms and conditions of the suite upgrade award that you cannot use the suite upgrade award on a hotel that hasn’t opened yet? Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks in advance

  5. I had the best luck with their Twitter team, honestly. Scored a standard room at the GH Santiago (de Chile) for 8k pts/night, when both the Reservations team and the standard website showed no availability for any reward rooms. Even better, I kept checking the website for fun .. and a club room popped up for the same amount of points. Made a quick call to change it, and we were all set. Agent was super puzzled, but somehow made it work. It seems that all mediums have different availability .. sometimes you’ll get lucky and they can force/squeeze you in.

    Good luck…

  6. Ben, my same experience with PH properties in NYC, Milan and Paris. I’ve checked each property for one night stays at multiple dates from 1-10 months out and I have yet to see award availability. Many of those nights there are rooms available but none showing for award. The only property I’ve called on was Paris and still no help.

  7. Looks like Milan has instituted a minium stay requirement for booking a Park King. I’ve seen a similar game at the Andaz 5th Avenue. If you search 6/5 for 1 night at the PH Milan, than there isn’t any Park King availability. However, if you search 6/5 for 2 nights than the Park King is available. I’ve seen more egregious examples at the Andaz 5th Avenue where an Andaz king isn’t available unless you search for >3 nights….

    FDW

  8. I’m seeing what FlyingDoctorWu says.

    When I look for availability on Amex. FHR, June 3-4 is not available for Park King, however June 3-7 is, so looks like it’s a minimum stay thing, at least for cash bookings.

  9. Several Hyatt phone representatives have told me there’s a finite allotment of award nights at each hotel (and this doesn’t defy the “no blackout date” etc. Claims they make)

  10. @ Chris — For free night redemptions that’s definitely not the case/they’re misinformed. That directly contradicts the terms of the program.

  11. It is pretty clear why they are doing this. The 2015 World Fair is in Milan from 01 May to 31 October. Don’t know whether they are gaming this or if there may be some genuine exception allowed by Hyatt for high demand extraordinary events. Or perhaps they have contracted out these nights for travel packages.

  12. As I asked on “Ask Lucky” – this just re-confirms that the Hyatt program is more shady than other hotel programs (i.e. SPG). I faced a similar situation on a non-aspirational Hyatt – where when I tried to book with points, the website won’t allow it while there was still standard rooms for sale. I had to call to get central reservation to call the hotel in order to book the room. That took 45 minutes!

  13. Wandering Aramean’s Hyatt alerts can be a godsend in these situations. Strangely, for reasons I can’t understand, availability popped up right around the time I needed rooms, and I was able to book for 30k/nt.

    I also learned that Hyatt will let me “liquidate” expiring free night certificates for 20k/night.

  14. I was able to book 2 award nights @PHPV in October (saturday->monday).
    There was availability for the Saturday night a few weeks in advance. The Sunday night became available on points just 4 days before the actual booking.
    [using Hyatt web-site]

  15. Every day for a month, I checked the PH NYC for award availability for a friend (for a stay this month). Was never anything, and then one day – boom. He called, booked the room, and then I checked a minute later – and it was gone. So it literally was just one room that became available. We both felt pretty stoked!

  16. What’s the deal with Cash+Points+DSU availability? I recently looked into possible bookings at 2 hotels (the Andaz Papagayo and the Grand Hyatt Kauai, if it makes a difference). By being flexible with dates, I was able to find cash+points availability at both, which got me excited, but the HGP rep said I would not be able to apply a DSU to either of those bookings even though both hotels had base level suites available for sale on those same dates. Those suites could also be gotten entirely on points. I thought once you found C+P availability, you were okay to apply a DSU, but apparently not.

  17. I booked cash and points with a DSU at PH Zurich in March. Feeling excited bout it.

    I posted on FT. ..I was walking by PH Milan last week and there were about 200 people crowded in front of the hotel. Lady Gaga was staying there and her fans were begging her to come out.

  18. @ Tara — I’ll do some research on it, but have also heard that DSU inventory is limited when booking Points + Cash. Thought it was an isolated incident, but apparently not?

  19. @Lucky

    I have been having the same problem with booking the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne between the 19th – 21st of November. Both the Grand and Park Hyatt have been all over the place with which rooms are selling (being only suites available at the Park) and which ones are available on points (non at the Grand Hyatt) either something epic is going on in Melbourne those couple of days or booking issues?

  20. @ David C — You’re looking over just two days, so it could be that they’re just legit sold out. It’s the beginning of high season and you’re booking close to the arrival date.

  21. @Lucky

    Completely agree with you! I have been trying for about a month to book it and it is just so rare for the Melbourne Hyatt’s to be booked out, especially mid week. But there are a lot of people heading down under over the next couple of weeks for some major world conference or something that is apparently coming to town that is going to make Brisbane’s single runway airport just a complete nightmare haha so I think it was more of a hope that actual logical thinking. A little disappointed, if only Australia had a few more Hyatts maybe a little closer to Brisbane that aren’t $850 a night to sleep under a bridge 😛

  22. A G20 summit in Brisbane then they do touristy things with their staff. Most upmarket hotels are fully booked on the East. In addition a lot of people will desert Brisbane for the G20. Spring in Melbourne is very busy at the best of times.

  23. Shady but not that surprising. And I guess if it’s not shown on the site, you can call in and book a higher level room for more points like you can with SPG?

    Speaking of games that hotels play, Hyatt is opening up another all-inclusive — Hyatt Zilara (adults-only) / Ziva (families) in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Because all rooms are technically “suites”, a DSU only gets you a one-level upgrade from base room to an ocean view room which is a mere +$30/night extra if you use a grand opening 50% off rate.

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