Beware Hyatt 3rd Night Free Offers

Now that World of Hyatt requires an obscene 60 nights for their top status (which unlike their competitors doesn’t include award stays), many Hyatt loyalists are looking for ways to stretch their night count.

One method you’ll want to avoid? Booking a “Third Night Free” rate on Hyatt’s website.

Various hotels in the Hyatt portfolio offer these rates at different times. They almost always have a cutesy name, often have an extra on-property perk thrown in, and are sometimes limited to higher category rooms. The common thread is that for stays of three consecutive nights or longer, the third night is free.

In theory it sounds fantastic. Combined with the Citi Prestige benefit, you can potentially get two nights paid for, which could represent a significant chunk of cash.

But there are some problems with these rates.

The 3rd night isn’t really free

Prior to this year and the new World of Hyatt Globalist requirements, I would never even have considered booking one of these rates, as they’re not necessarily as competitive as they seem at first glance.

Take a look at this rate for the Andaz Mayakoba, where Mike recently stayed with his family. The best available rate is the “Member Discount” Andaz King at $204 per night. Meanwhile, the third night free rate is called “One More Night” and suggests a rate of $218, including a breakfast buffet for the Lagoon View King (which would be $247 a night using the “Member Discount” rate).

So on the surface that looks like a great deal! You’re getting a $29/night discount over the member rate, plus breakfast.

When you click through, however, and expand the rate details under the “summary of charges,” you can see that the cost of the individual nights are higher than on the search screen, though the total for four nights is the same.

Still, if the larger room and breakfast matter to you, this is a pretty decent deal. You’re paying $870 for the four-night stay, versus $988.

Combined with the Citi Prestige, this can be an excellent deal (still do the math!), as the Hyatt pricing breakdown works in your favor. By spreading the room cost across three nights rather than four, the average nightly rate is higher, so you receive a greater reimbursement from Citi.

But there is one big caveat.

The 3rd night doesn’t earn stay credit

In retrospect this should have been obvious, but it caught me by surprise.

I booked a 3rd night free rate at the Park Hyatt New York this winter when my cousin Heather and I went to Hamilton with our husbands (you may remember the ridiculous IRROPS recovery through Europe on that one).

As we needed two rooms, I made a Guest of Honor booking for a standard room for Heather, and then booked a Park Suite through Citi Prestige using the 3rd night free rate (with the expectation that we’d switch rooms at check-in).

Citi had no issues booking the rate, and the agent thought it was excellent that I’d be getting a free night from Hyatt and from Citi.

It wasn’t until check-out that I realized my mistake. Hyatt’s accounting systems structure this rate so that the third night isn’t merely discounted — it effectively doesn’t exist. So on a consecutive stay of four nights, night number three doesn’t even show up on the folio:

(Before anyone judges me for eating in the hotel, that “dinner food” is post-post-theater cocktails)

That means that as far as World of Hyatt is concerned, this was a three night stay, so I was awarded three eligible nights.

And that recent four-night stay of Mike’s at the Andaz Mayakoba?

Same story.

Bottom line

This isn’t a huge deal, and like I said, it seems obvious in retrospect, but since Mike and I were both caught out by this rate at different properties I figured I should share.

For general members, and especially when combined with the Citi Prestige, the third night free rates can be pretty good deals. Those who need the night credits towards status will need to crunch the numbers and see if the potential savings outweighs missing out on a stay credit.

Has anyone had a different experience with the 3rd night free rates?       

Comments

  1. I’ve had luck calling in and asking them to manually post the night. Doesn’t hurt to try

  2. Recently stayed at Confidante in Miami Beach and l got the 3rd night free rate on a base room with a rate equal to the nightly rate. I even got upgraded to a suite upon check in, which l didn’t expect as l tried to use a suite upgrade at booking and they said nope. I also used Citi Prestige for the fourth night so got quite a bargain.

  3. @ Tiffany — OMG, you PAID for a Park SUITE at the Park Hyatt NEW YORK??? What did that run, like $4,000 per night???

  4. More importantly, if you’re booking a room based on a nightly rate and they fudge the numbers on your bill you are screwed for GSA hotel per diem compliance

  5. @ Gene — Hah, it was actually shockingly reasonable at ~$700. That’s never going to be a price I pay for hotel rooms for myself, but with the 4th night from Citi it wasn’t horrible for doing something nice for Heather (especially since they let us live with them for six weeks this year).

  6. @Omar – Thanks for the note. I asked Hyatt’s great twitter team about it. It took an additional message explaining this approach doesn’t exactly inspire loyalty and they credited me with the night and said they’d forward the feedback to folks at World of Hyatt. Wouldn’t have asked without your comment, so thanks.

  7. @all

    Most of these 3rd/4th/5th/6th night frees are available as true free nights through Virtuoso/FHR including benefits at properties such as Andaz Maui/Mayakoba etc. Feel free to reach out to me at jonathan@milesahead.co for help booking or any Virtuoso advisor or FHR agent.

    Best,
    Jonathan

  8. Displaying $218 as the average rate might be a little surprising, but I don’t think it’s exactly misleading. I already know that when I see a different rate for different nights, the average rate displayed on the search screen is the average of the rates for the nights. In your case, the nights priced at $290, $290, $0, and $290, and the average of those is (290 + 290 + 0 + 290) / 4 = $217.50, which they round to $218. Once you know that they do it this way, it actually makes it easier to compare different rates.

  9. It’s kind of a big deal. Marriott gives you credit for every night you stay, including nights on points or free night certificates.

  10. @Jonathan Friedman don’t you think it’s a bit crass (to say the least) to advertise your business on someone else’s blog in the comments section?

  11. @Eric

    I wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been related.

    Hyatt gives fake 3rd/4th/5th night frees on their website when you can get real 3rd/4th/5th night frees through agents or FHR. I don’t care if people book through me, I’m merely pointing out that Hyatt’s website isn’t always the best place to book when booking long stays at properties that offer those deals which has value and offering a route to do so for those that don’t have Platinum cards. I wouldn’t have commented had this not been directly related to their point about the free night offers being on inflated rates.

  12. @Eric – one of many reasons I’ve switched my loyalty to Marriott / Starwood. I really like Hyatt hotels, but they’ve turned their loyalty program into an average offering with a sad footprint.

  13. @Jonathan …. Yes, you can use Chase or Amex travel sites to avoid the problem. And likely do better. Should have stopped there.

  14. I am just curious how point & cash booking would be counted with Hyatt now…. Would it be counted as a night stay since the portion is paid with cash? For the side note, I had started to use IHG properties (mainly Intercontinentals, signed up for Ambassador program as well) since this year and IHG does not credit reward night stay towards elite qualifying points either. I always chose to stay at Hyatt previously but am giving a try to other programs. I miss Hyatt and Gold Passport program.

  15. @Jonathan Friedman

    Agree with @eric. If anyone needs to book through Virtuoso/FHR/Luxury Privileges, etc., please at least book through Ford (who actually works for OMAAT and provides some content for this site). fordb@travelsociety.com

  16. Thank you for answering @Tiffany I booked three nights at Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, TX for this fall with point and cash, so it’s really good to know. I think I am going back to Hyatt as my main hotel loyalty program.

  17. I wonder if this will generate 2 stays though? This could work out for those that qualify on stays for SPG

  18. Citi Prestige card offers the 4th night free reimbursement if you book through the ThankYou.com travel portal. If I book it through ThankYou.com, would I be able to get the stays and points under World of Hyatt? My understanding is that stays and points would only be earned if booking are made through Hyatt.com or the App.

  19. I really like Hyatt. Just returned from Palm Springs and used my annual free night certificate and cash and points for the other 2 nights. They didn’t offer a 3rd night free at this location otherwise I might have taken advantage of it. I find the staff at the Hyatt’s very capable and friendly.

    Two weeks ago I was at the Herald Square Hyatt. Lucky and I just missed each other by a few days staying there. I didn’t see his review until I returned home. When I travel I unplug. Great staff and very helpful people. Nice smaller hotel and with an AMAZING rooftop with dynamic view of the Empire State Building. You have to check it out next time in NYC.

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