Well, technically, I still have time to book them by the end of today. But I’m not gonna! So, if you are like my husband, few months ago you suddenly found yourself going from nobody to Hyatt-body. The Diamond kind. Of course, he has no clue about his newly acquired importance in the universe, nor does he care. But I do.
This status is actually pretty sweet and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire it, getting it for free was a major score in my book. I won’t focus on all the details, but the important ones are: free breakfast (or lounge access where you get complimentary snacks all day) and 4 suite upgrades on paid stays. When you have two kids with you, those perks are very nice.
Not having to drive anywhere in the morning or pay exorbitant on-property breakfast prices, more room for kids to play… I like, I like! Plus, I’m sick and tired of mediocre Holiday Inn Express food and want something different for a change. Oops, this Hyatt Diamond status has officially gone to my head.
I bet this guy is Hyatt Diamond!
I’ve actually already signed up for Chase Hyatt Visa before this windfall, and we plan to use the nights at Hyatt Clearwater in the summer. Unfortunately, we can’t redeem Diamond suite upgrades on that stay because we’ll be using complimentary certificates. It has to be a paid reservation or “cash+points” rate. I’m not too concerned, though, because rooms here are quite large and we might get upgraded anyway according to TripAdvisor reviews.
Of course, we will still get breakfast for free (this Hyatt has no lounge), and I’ve heard it’s quite spectacular. It better be for $20 per person. Status covers breakfast for up to 4 people per room. BTW, even though certificates were issued in my name, I was able to call and add my husband to the reservation. That way, we will still get all the benefits.
Resisting the call of the suite
The big question was whether I should transfer my super valuable Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and book a bunch of “cash+points” stays in order to take advantage of Diamond status while we still have it. It’s set to expire next February. The upgrades, on the other hand, expire today.
As you can see, your stay can be in the future as long as you redeem the upgrades by the end of the day. I decided to only use one and stick to burning points in other programs. I would much rather transfer UR points to Southwest or even cash them out at penny each.
I’ve written about my plans to redeem points for Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa I wanted to book a stay over MLK weekend in 2017, but “cash+points” rate wasn’t available. We have so many hotel stays booked already in 2016, and I simply didn’t see how I could possibly add another one without my husband going on vacation strike.
So, it meant replacing one of our booked stays with Hyatt. I had a 2-night reservation at IHG resort over Labor day and decided to cancel it and redeposit the points. Then I went ahead and transferred 8,000 points from Chase Sapphire Preferred to Hyatt on 1:1 basis. It went through instantly. Why that amount? I already had 7,000 points from Chase Hyatt Visa. So, the needed total was 15,000 points, since 1 night at a category 4 Hyatt requires 7,500 points+$100 via “cash+points” rate.
Behold the fees!
Right after I booked my reservation, I called Hyatt and applied my husband’s upgrade certificate. It took only few minutes, and the agent knew exactly what to do. I will really miss dealing with Hyatt. Hyatt to IHG is what trendy Gucci pants are to wacky-looking “mom” jeans.
As long as standard room is available, you can use your Hyatt points. Try saying that about IHG program. But IHG is still the winner when it comes to regular middle-class family. Let me show you why. Here is my Hyatt reservation:
Gasp! That’s for two nights, and the total includes resort fees. Let’s break it down. I already had 7,000 points and had to transfer 8,000 points from Chase in order to top off the account. Let’s say you are starting from scratch. 15,000 UR points at the very minimum can be cashed out for $150. Of course, if you transfer the points to Southwest, you’ll get around $225 in airfare.
So, $150+$278=$428 for two nights, or $214 per night. That’s quite steep and certainly NOT free. However, in my case, I think the juice is worth the squeeze. Like I said, for that amount, we’ll get a suite and free lounge access. August is the off-season, so we are not getting the best bang for our points. But I don’t care, that’s what fit our schedule. Plus, the water is warm and the kids should be able to swim in the ocean.
There is another big reason: I happen to have a $500 Hyatt gift card that my sister-in-law gave me awhile back. I could resell it, but Giftcardgranny says I will only get 75% in value. So, in reality, this resort will cost me $160.50 per night. Now we are talking! And make no mistake about it, I would sell this gift card otherwise. So, we have the trifecta of gift card+free breakfast+suite upgrade. It’s a deal.
Hyatt Gold Passport vs. IHG
But it may not be the best deal for you, especially if you don’t have Diamond status. First, if you are looking for a beach resort, this isn’t it. It has pools and a ferry that takes you to a private Hyatt island, but it’s not the same as just walking up to the water whenever you feel like it. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but could be for some.
If like me, you are a no-frills guy or gal, look into Holiday Inn resorts around Florida. Sure, they won’t be as sophisticated as Hyatt brand, but there are usually no resort fees and kids eat free (check my honest review of Holiday Inn in Sarasota). Plus, if you have Chase IHG MasterCard, you might even get a suite upgrade due to Platinum status. You’ll also get a 10% rebate on your points. If you are not sure what Chase co-branded hotel card to get, I recommend you go for IHG. Seriously, the current best sign-up offer doesn’t pay me, so what does that tell you?
Of course, as I’ve said previously, IHG is a different animal from Hyatt. It’s unreliable, uneven in quality and aggravating at times. Check my post I’m downgrading IHG stock to see what I mean (it also has info on how you can apply for 80K points bonus on IHG credit card). BTW, just wanted to mention that even though Holiday Inn Sanibel shows no award availability on its calendar, if you search individual dates, there are rooms on certain days. But once again, it shows how inept their IT system can be at times.
If you read that post, it has a link to current Accelerate promo. If you acquire IHG points for around 0.30 cents each, you can stay at most beachfront Holiday Inn hotels in Florida for only $100 all-in with IHG MasterCard. If you are just looking for a place to crash, it’s hard to beat this price in high season.
Plus, who knows, maybe some of them will end up on PointBreaks list, a promotion where rotating list of hotels costs only 5,000 points per night. OK, I doubt it will happen during spring, but in August? Maybe. It has happened before. And if it does this year, I’m canceling the Hyatt reservation and selling that gift card. So long, suite upgrade and lounge access, I’m taking the money.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.