Apparently Hyatt Has A Different Definition Of “Standard Room” Than I Do…

One of the advantages that hotel loyalty programs have over airline loyalty programs is that there typically aren’t blackout dates. If a standard room is available for sale, most hotel loyalty programs will let you redeem points for a stay. Unlike with airlines, there’s typically only one award cost (or perhaps there’s some slight seasonal pricing), so you’re not having to pay some super-high “rule buster” price.

However, increasingly I’ve found that hotels have been playing games with this. I’m not sure whether the games are happening on the part of the loyalty program, the part of the individual hotels, or what, but the number of times this happens seems to be on the rise.

I find that Hyatt’s program has gone from being the most transparent to among the less transparent programs, and it’s quite frustrating. For example, a few days ago I outlined how one hotel was trying to “game” the rules to avoid making rooms available for free night redemptions (and they aren’t the only hotel that uses this practice).

Well, here’s another interesting situation. Over the years I feel like many Hyatts have changed their room categories around, both for the purposes of defining “standard” rooms (which have to be made available for free night awards), and also for the purposes of defining “standard” suites (for the purposes of confirmed suite upgrades). They’ve in many cases created new categories of rooms and suite so that not as many are available to be redeemed for.

However, here’s something I haven’t seen before — the Andaz 5th Avenue New York seems to be using accessible rooms as a way of limiting free night award availability.

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The standard room at the Andaz 5th Avenue is the Andaz King, so that would need to be available in order to redeem for a free night.

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Interestingly the ADA King Shower (which is an accessible room) is exactly the same price.

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However, Hyatt doesn’t seem to define that as a “standard” room, as it’s conveniently not available on points.

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It’s pretty obvious they’re playing games here, because you’ll notice that the Andaz 5th Avenue will never show you the price of both an Andaz King and an ADA King Shower room for the same night.

If the Andaz King is for sale, then there’s award availability, while if the ADA King Shower room is available, then there’s no award availability. I called the hotel about this, and they did indeed confirm that the rooms were priced the same.

When I think of a standard room, I think of an entry level room that’s priced the cheapest, whether it has one bed, two beds, or is an accessible room. I would consider a non-standard room to be one that’s priced higher than a standard room.

Per World of Hyatt’s terms & conditions, here’s how they define a standard room:

Free Night Awards cannot be redeemed for packages, unless specifically stated as part of a particular award offer (in which case additional terms may apply, as specified at the time of award offer). Free Night Awards are valid for standard guest rooms, unless specifically stated as part of a particular award. Standard rooms are defined by each hotel or resort and may differ by hotel or resort. Some properties do not have standard rooms.

Now the issue here is that standard rooms are defined by each hotel, so technically I suppose a hotel could have 40 of the same rooms, but decide that only a single room is a standard room, if they so chose. That’s certainly not within the spirit of the policy, though.

To take it a step further, it certainly doesn’t seem fair to tell those that need an accessible room that they can’t redeem points for it, even though in cash it’s priced the same as a standard room.

What do you make of this — is it fair game for a hotel to claim that accessible rooms aren’t “standard,” even if they’re otherwise identical to the standard rooms (including the price)?

Comments

  1. I think you should stop promoting the HYATT credit card – and tell them that – until they decide to becomes clean with the awards.

  2. The new Hyatt-IST program is a hot mess. This is clearly not the only issue. It is no wounder they were shut out at the Freddie awards this year!

  3. Hilton does play games too. Many hotels have no standard room, period, that I could redeem free night coupon. The hotels I would visit in the summer , not Green Bay Wisconsin in January. For example, Hilton Giardini Naxos, Sicily. When I call them directly, they say, Oh, we are special hotel, we have no standard rooms. What is a “special” hilton hotel?

  4. Lucky, what’s the last straw for you? I ditched Hyatt and now staying with SPG/Marriott and couldn’t be happier. It’s simply refreshing to see the multitude of properties in one city. Give you an example. Bangkok. SPG/Marriott, over 10 properties to choose from. Hyatt? Currently one, soon to be two. Los Angeles? Downtown LA has more choices in that small area than Hyatt does in the city of LA.

  5. Seems like a violation of the ADA.

    @rene…the freddie awards are a joke. Really marriott is the best program out there to win in most us categories…and then american winning for best elite program…a joke. Cant believe anyone takes them seriously.

  6. Was thinking about getting the Hyatt card for my son’s honeymoon at the Hyatt Regency Nice. Award rooms are 100 euros less than the next room class. Wonder how many there are if they will be available after my minimum spend is up. Seems to be more game playing with award redemptions, both airlines and hotels, in general.

  7. Given that accessible rooms are predominantly for guests with mobility issues, could it not be argued that this practice is discriminatory?

  8. Lucky –

    I don’t disagree with your premise that Hyatt hotels are playing games with availability.

    That said, as someone who has needed accessible rooms a few times over the years, can I offer a counter theory here? Most people pay cash for rooms. A small minority’s are using points in any given hotel at any given time, otherwise the system falls apart (maybe a couple of resorts aside).

    If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that the hotel leaves accessible rooms open to travelers who are willing to pay, because the probabilities are that someone who needs an accessible room will be more likely to pay cash than points, and so it doesn’t seem out of line for a hotel to say “points users, we’re not going to let you grab the last acccessible rooms for points, because we need/want to leave them available for the larger pool of cash paying guests who might want it/need it.”

    I highly suspect that if you need an accessible room, book a standard room for points and call the hotel asking to be changed to an accessible room, they’d be ecstatic to do so, because generally they’re not as desirable.

    Do I know this is how they’re thinking about it? No. It’s entirely possible that it’s just a game. That said, I can imagine that some room management person at the hotel thinking about it that way, and potentially being concerned about ADA issues if they didn’t.

  9. All true. But on the other hand….

    Wife just redeemed free night award at Park Hyatt NYC. She got the Presidential suite.

  10. Hey lucky, didn’t know about this before, award redemption (points) at regency Hyatt savannah GA, I’m one level up from standard, with the redemption the valet parking was included. Vary good to know in a hard to park place. Is that specific to that Hyatt/brand? Maybe a short series on added bennies included in award stays? Saved us $35 in parking downtown. Also even if your room isn’t ready, 10am, they still took our car. No street parking just toss them the keys and start exploring!

  11. NY is one hotel example and the Maui Andaz is another glaring example. I have been a loyal Hyatt FT for quite sometime and in the beginning supported the change, however as I have gotten deeper into the new program it’s becoming clearer that it’s just not working at least for me. Prior to the start date in January I was getting suites for whatever reason now not only am I not getting suites but seem to be getting the exact room reserved. Oh once in awhile they will say” it has a better view” really?

    It’s become bland. And “Globalist” I can not even bring myself to say that word. No it’s failed. I am running this one out this year and returning to my LFT PLT at Marriott

  12. I agree with @Greg above. It’s totally reasonable to reserve ADA rooms for those with disabilities who would need them. On aircraft, it’s easy to bump or shift passengers to make room for those with disabilities (often seating them in specific rows in the main cabin). With a hotel, this is not nearly as easy due to differing stay dates and lengths. Reserving those rooms is not only kinder to disabled people, but helps keep the hotels on the right side of the law and public opinion.

    That said, if they’re playing games by marking nearly all standard rooms as ADA rooms to limit award availability, then that’s another matter entirely. You’d only need to reasonably reserve a handful of ADA rooms to provide good service to disabled customers.

  13. I really don’t get why US bloggers keep promoting their fascination for Hyatt. Yes, Park Hyatt are nice but they are basically nowhere to be found. Hyatt used to have the best loyalty programs of all hotels until they brought in the Delta interns to destroy it. It is almost impossible to reach their higest status level based on the number of nights you need to stay and the small footprint of properties they offer. There are way better hotel programs out there like SPG and Hilton where even not being a top elite member you are still someone. Stop promoting Hyatt.

  14. Hilton in china (many of them play the same game). For weekends and peak period, they will hv points only for corner room (30k points) which is approx 3 x the points req for standard room.(10k points)m but the standard room will not be redeemable on these nights. But on non peak days, u will notice the selling price for both rooms are the same. The special category is only created to take advantage of the loop hole of the honors program

  15. ADA connotes the Americans with Disabilities Act. My guess is that they are rightfully holding those for people with disabilities and charge the same so that they are not accused of discrimination.

  16. @ Ben….I’ve had horrible luck even as Marriott Platinum Premier, getting a room at Marriott Vienna or Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Numerous attempts to contact the hotels and Marriott itself have yielded little help.

  17. @malc
    Accesible room, is a room that can be used by a person in a wheelchair, or otherwise has other disabilities.
    Usually it will have special accommodations in the bathroom and shower, or a lightstrobe connected to a doorbell for the hearing impaired.
    You can read more about it here:
    https://www.ada.gov/hsurvey.htm

  18. There are many Hyatt hotels that play games with their inventory (so do Hiltons and Starwood properties, while neither Marriott nor IHG actually promise last standard room availability on points).

    However like the Hyatt Regency Jersey City where there appeared to be an IT lag in making award rooms available as the hotel released rooms (customers cancelled rooms shortly before the cancellation deadline), and the awards did show up that same evening, I have to disagree with you on this case as well — at a minimum it’s not a slam dunk to me that the Andaz is playing games here.

    You write:

    “It’s pretty obvious they’re playing games here, because you’ll notice that the Andaz 5th Avenue will never show you the price of both an Andaz King and an ADA King Shower room for the same night.”

    I don’t think that’s an obvious game at all. ADA King Shower is a different room type than Andaz King. It’s a subset of the Andaz King availability. Book an Andaz King and let the hotel know you need an accessible room.

    It sounds like from your description that when there are ONLY ADA King rooms left (i.e. # of standard King rooms for sale is equal to or less than the total ADA rooms) they’ll sell you ADA rooms. That way you know what you’re getting. But otherwise they’re holding those rooms back for those who actually need them, which is usually fewer on a given night than the number they have and less desireable for guests who don’t need the rooms.

    ADA King is not a standard room. Andaz King is. As long as Andaz King is available for sale you can use points. And if only accessible rooms are left, you can’t book the award.

    Before you can say “those that need an accessible room..can’t redeem points for it, even though in cash it’s priced the same as a standard room” I think you’d need to try reserving the Andaz King and letting the hotel you need an ADA room and then seeing if they tell you ‘no’.

    I remain a critic of lax enforcement of award availability rules, whenever I’ve seen it I’ve brought attention directly to Hyatt and gotten it resolved. I just don’t think this is a case I’d put in front of them as a slam dunk based on what you describe.

    Best,
    Gary

  19. I am staying at mostly Hilton properties now, some Starwood, and an occasional IHG. I dislike that Hyatt came out with a new loyalty program and to see them play games like this is upsetting.

  20. There is nothing new here. Every hotel loyalty program allows individual properties to do the same thing and it’s been happening for years, which is either to show no availability of standard awards even though standard rooms are available for booking with cash or to reclassify standard rooms as “premium” in order to take them out of the standard award inventory or simply make them too expensive to redeem points for. It is why it is utterly naive to keep claiming that some benefits are “guaranteed” or “confirmed”, and to keep ranking higher any program that purports to give such benefits. The excerpted portion of T&C makes it clear why Hyatt could not possibly be sued over this:

    — “Free Night Awards are valid for standard guest rooms, unless specifically stated as part of a particular award. Standard rooms are defined by each hotel or resort and may differ by hotel or resort. Some properties do not have standard rooms.”

    That is, each property reserves the right to set the terms of ANY award , as well as define what is a standard room, including classifying every room in a property as non-standard.

    The only thing substantive here is this”

    — “To take it a step further, it certainly doesn’t seem fair to tell those that need an accessible room that they can’t redeem points for it, even though in cash it’s priced the same as a standard room.”

    The ADA would have a shot at winning a case that claims that Hyatt is discriminating against members of its loyalty program who have a disability that requires them to book accessible rooms by not offering such rooms for booking with points, especially since identical rooms that are not accessible are offered for booking with points.

  21. Thats all peachy, but whats the point of advertising free nights based on some action you take- when you really have zero- little interest in honoring it.

    I think after i use my two free nights ill cancel my card. Hyatt is really marginal anyway.

  22. Loyalty programs need to stop it with the games or they’ll find themselves with much less loyal customers.

  23. As someone who worked front desk, handling reservations and check-ins/outs at a major chain for a few years, I think Greg and Gary have it right. Even the largest properties have a very limited number of ADA rooms available. While you could argue that it’s a bad practice to only build X amount, customers consistently preferred non-ADA rooms during my work experience.

    So you have just a few ADA rooms available, and sometimes you have guests arrive that don’t mention a need for an ADA room until they check in. We tried our very best to *save* as many ADA rooms as we felt would be needed for a day, because you can always give an awards guest (without disability) any room you want, but you can’t give a guest who needs an ADA room just anything.

    So yes, they hold back ADA rooms from awards. Probably because disabled guests need them more than random people booking awards stays. And I would bet you a doughnut that if you are disabled and book an award room, if you called the hotel and requested an ADA room, they’d give you one immediately. Sure it’s an extra step, and maybe someone will create yet another lawsuit to try to force hotels to open ADA rooms to awards. But just like the number of people who suddenly needed emotional support dogs skyrocketed over the number of those truly in need when people discovered the racket of getting their pets in anywhere, I think you’d find ADA rooms booked by perfectly-able people blocking out those in need.

  24. I’m tired of getting accessible rooms(particularly accessible suites) as free night awards, so I’m perfectly fine with this. SPG loves to hand out accessible suites for suite upgrades and then you end up with a completely different bathroom than the standard for suites.

  25. The Grand Hyatt Tokyo is another hotel trying to “game” the rules to avoid making award rooms available and suites available for Globalist. To your point, about arbitrary definitions about “standard rooms” the same applies to “standard suites.” Hyatt ought to read these telltale signs and offer more transparency.

  26. Looking for a room at the Hyatt Centric Key West, the only award room available was a ADA room. Risking the wrath of those accusing me of taking a room from a handicapped guest (I booked ADA rooms for my mother for years), I booked the room. I wrote the hotel and asked to be changed to a regular standard room, which was still available (but not on points) and they changed it immediately. I’d agree that Hyatt is playing some games with award availability but I find Hilton is playing games with prices on regular rates to charge more for rooms on regular rates.

  27. Lucky you are discerning as am I when it comes to loyalty programs so I assume you are slowly discovering just how appalling Hyatt has become . The World of Hyatt is a “World of Pain”! I abandoned my Diamond support this year as the whole program has become utterly disingenuous . All stays are now with SPG and I am extremely happy will never go back to Hyatt. When you actually compare, which I have, it is so obvious World of Hyatt has been designed to deceive . No matter how competitive Hyatt becames I would not return ,reciprocal respect is more important than cost and World of Hyatt represents no respect whatsoever .

  28. Same thing just happened at Andaz in Amsterdam…tons of “standard size “priced rooms during my stay but according to hotel not in standard classification for award purposes

    All of the Point Buzz sites should stop promoting Hyatt card until they stop deception

  29. This is exactly what happens at The Shelbourne in Dublin….plenty of standard rooms unsold, but you can’t use points for them. Opposite end of the spectrum, Marriott Sydney upgraded me from standard room to Opera suite MONTHS before my stay just with a simple email request.

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