Why Don’t I Use My Hotel Suite Upgrades?!

I’m constantly looking at my loyalty program accounts, be it the redeemable account balance, the elite qualifying balance, available upgrades, free nights, etc. And that’s especially true towards the end of the year, when there’s often a rush to track your status and figure out which upgrade instruments are expiring.

My two favorite hotel chains are Hyatt and Starwood, and both offer their top tier elite members confirmed suite upgrades:

  • Hyatt Diamond members received four Suite Upgrade Awards, each of which can be used to confirm an upgrade into a suite for up to a seven night stay at the time of booking
  • Starwood Platinum members receive ten Suite Night Awards, each of which can be used to confirm an upgrade into a suite for one night up to five days before check-in

Le-Meridien-Cairo-Airport
Le Meridien Cairo Airport suite

What kind of surprised me as I was going over my account balances today is that I’ve basically not used any of my upgrades. I’ve only used one of my four Hyatt upgrades for the year:

Hyatt-Suite-Upgrades

And I’ve only used six of my ten Starwood upgrades for the year (and four that I used have been within the past week):

Starwood-Suite-Upgrades

And to me that’s kind of puzzling. Like, I live in hotels, so surely my lack of use isn’t because I don’t stay enough.

Hyatt-Olive-8-Seattle-12
Hyatt Olive 8 Seattle suite

But for some reason — I don’t know why — I hoard them. It’s not that I’m trying to “save” them for anything in particular, it’s mainly just that if I’m staying alone I’m not sure there’s much marginal value to a suite over a standard room, as long as I have a bed and a desk to work from.

I guess my main struggle with Starwood is that I’m usually “entitled” to the same suite at check-in that I’d be using a suite upgrade for, pending availability. And I seem to get that automatically outside the US with good frequency, while within the US most Westins and Sheratons don’t really have very exciting suite offerings.

W-Guangzhou-Hotel
W Guangzhou suite

On the Hyatt front, the issue is that I rarely stay at a Hyatt property for more than four or five nights, so I’d be sub-optimally redeeming them for shorter stays. Then again, the end result there is that I end up with a bunch of upgrades at the end of the year that I haven’t redeemed.

I’m curious, what strategy do you guys use when trying to decide when to redeem hotel upgrades? Do you usually end the year with not enough upgrades, or in a similar situation to me?

Comments

  1. 100% agree with Lucky; I have all my Hyatt and SPG suite awards still intact. In my case, most of the reservations I make are not eligible for suite upgrades and to top it off I usually end up getting my free upgrades anyways. Thinking of a way of gifting them to friends and families but seems like too much of a hassle. I will definitely lose the Hyatt ones this year.

  2. Typo – you say Hyatt Suite Awards …

    I wish my Hyatt upgraded were available Jan 1 and not Mar 1 – also which they were transferable (instead of having to be there at checkin)

  3. SPG Suite night awards expires 12/30 of the calendar year while the platinum status expire 3/1 of the following year. Why don’t they align that so they expires at the same time? Especially when members are usually travelling across the calendar year on holidays when they want to use the SNA but can’t because it expires 12/30.

  4. I think that goes to show exactly why Hyatt and SPG offer these ‘benefits’ – the cost to them isn’t too great as an eligible member is upgraded anyway, but, they still appear to be offering something special

  5. I only use my Suite upgrade for vacations, while I’m on the road for business, I’m only in the hotel room to sleep, I don’t need a suite for that…

  6. I regularly leave Hyatt upgrades on the table. My hyatt stays are typically short business stays, while my vacation tends to be cabins in Alaska, modest inns in Belize or the beachhouse my family rents. A suite means little to me when I am on business.

    In fact, my last leisure stay at a Hyatt was at the Victor, which has not been a Hyatt for ages.

    Hence, I’ve got a tremendous GP balance and always have a bloody mess of upgrades. Redeeming either is just not part of my travel pattern.

  7. Are there upgrades transferable in any way? I would love to take some of these unused upgrades off your hands.

    I don’t have any, but if i did, I think I would be in the same boat as you. No point in upgrading when you’re just staying for one or two nights by yourself and would rather save them for a vacation or more aspirational redemption.

  8. How about just the simple dividing up the year into quarters and then try to use an equal number of upgrades per quarter? Since your travel/stays aren’t concentrated at any one point in the year… That’s… 1 Hyatt upgrade/quarter and 2-3 SPG nights/quarter.

    That or focus on using half your Hyatt upgrades in that one quarter, then alternate and use half your SPG upgrades another quarter? Although then it’ll be 6-14 nights in a Hyatt suite one quarter and 5 nights in an SPG suite the next so it doesn’t balance out as well…

  9. Lucky-

    With your Hyatt upgrades expiring, is it possible to go ahead and book rooms beyond the Feb. 28 “use by” date? In other words, is this a “stay in the hotel deadline” date or a “book by” deadline?

    If it’s the latter, you could guess which trips you might be taking in 2015 and go ahead and book some refundable reservations using the expiring upgrades. If that works, the worst case scenario would be that you cancel them and lose the 2014 upgrade certificates (which is about to happen anyway), right?

    -Phil

  10. Lucky: I used to have a tough time using my Hyatt DSUs because the really nice hotels where I wanted to use them (when travelling with family for leisure) were too expensive paying cash.

    The introduction of Hyatt Cash and Points has completely changed the dynamic now (since DSUs can be applied toward those reservations) and in fact now I don’t have nearly enough DSUs. I can’t wait to get a new batch on March 1.

    I love Hyatt Cash and Points!!!!

  11. Can’t Hyatt DSU’s be used for family members if you leave your name on the reservation? e.g., send my parents to a property using Cash&Points, apply DSU, and leave my name on the res (plus my mother’s, so she can check in…)

    Do properties request proof of presence of Diamond member?

  12. I specifically plan leisure trips to use SPG SNAs and Hyatt SUs. I don’t hoard them, but I never use them for business travel. I don’t normally EVER stay in a single property for more than 3-5 nights for leisure. For Hyatt SUs, I don’t worry about the “lost” value by using them for less than 7 night stays–instead, I simply appreciate the value for the suite for the nights I’m staying and call it a day. For SPG, I use SNAs ONLY when I stay at luxury level properties for holiday travel or, when I have some close to expiring, I use them for luxury level properties for business travel where the suite upgrade is most likely to be nicer (usually only at St. Regis or W properties, unless I happen to be on a business trip in a Luxury Collection locale). If I have expiring SNAs, which is rare, I have sometimes switched a business trip hotel reservation to a more expensive SPG hotel where I’m staying at least 2-3 nights (enough to perhaps enjoy the nicer accommodation) and then apply the SNA to better ensure I’ll get a nicer room at a hotel where a nicer room more likely has impact. I’m self-employed, so I have the flexibility to choose whatever I feel is most appropriate, but I don’t hoard SNAs and SUs. I’m more likely to hoard SPG, Chase UR, and Amex MR points than I am these suite upgrades.

  13. Hyatt’s DSU (Diamond Suite Upgrades) are “book by” expiration date – so can be used for future reservations but if the reservation is changed you lose the cert. I’ve used my 4 for 2014 for 2015 reservations before I’d burn them sometimes even for 1 night stays.

  14. @matt – that is a possible workaround that is much more likely to work at domestic US properties than internationally where they often do ask for your passport.

  15. @ Phil in ATL — Yep, indeed. Hyatt lets you use them past the expiration date as long as they’re confirmed, while Starwood makes you stay by the expiration date.

  16. Lucky–you may want to mention that not all SPG platinum get the suite night upgrades. Just those over 50 nights. I am unfortunately in this group. 25 stays. 28 nights.

  17. I am at 49 Starwood nights this year, and am contemplating a single-night cheapie stay, but my nearest cheap Starwood is $109 after taxes. Does anyone have a hotel to suggest with cheaper rates/taxes, that reliably posts on a no-show reservation?

  18. I concur about Starwood suite nights. Since, as a Platinum member, you are already “entitled” to them based on availability at check-in, there is little incentive. Maybe Starwood should allow the suite nights to function like Hyatt – whereby you can redeem one “Award” for a stay of up to 5 or seven night (confirmed in advance – but more than 5 days in advance).

  19. you can reserve Hyatt upgrade before expiration for stays anytime in 2015
    I had one suite upgrade remaining and reserved for July trip even though its expiring Feb 28
    just reserve before that date

  20. @SST – How much cheaper than $109 do you expect to get an SPG property? Why risk a no-show not posting when you can just check in at your local hotel? Alternatively, give a friend or family member an end-of-year staycation. Make the reservation, put their name on the reservation, and let them stay there for the night…

    @Jeff – While Plats are entitled to upgrades at check-in, if the hotel is relatively full and you expect to arrive late, getting a confirmed upgrade before other Plats check-in may be the difference between an upgrade and not getting one at all.

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