Update: this hotel is now a category 3.
During Memorial Day holiday weekend, my husband and I had a chance to stay two nights in Hyatt Place St. Petersburg/ Downtown hotel. It’s a relatively new property that costs only 5,000 Hyatt points per night. On paper it looks like a spectacular bargain. And it is… with some serious caveats. More on that later.
Over the last two decades, the waterfront area of downtown St. Petersburg has been going through a renaissance of sorts. If you’ve visited NYC, imagine Brooklyn slowly turning into Manhattan, and you get the idea.
The rents have gone way up, all kinds of posh stores have moved in, and middle-class families have sold their apartments, capitalizing on the economic boom in the area. But the city of St. Petersburg has managed to retain its funky/artistic vibe, and I absolutely love coming here for our couple getaways.
Review of public spaces and amenities
Hyatt Place St. Petersburg/ Downtown definitely has a modern and sleek appearance to it. This isn’t your grandma’s Hyatt Place, that’s for sure.
Parking (located on the third floor) costs $15 per night, which is fair for downtown St. Pete.
You may even spot some “fancy pants” pets while you are here.
Breakfast in Hyatt Place is very good, through they did away with skillet sandwiches (insert sad face emoji). You still get many options, though, including scrambled eggs, pancakes etc. I really like fresh fruit and oatmeal.
There is a (barely) heated pool, but no hot tub. The water was a bit cold for my taste, but perhaps they keep it warmer in spring and winter. I will say that my kids wouldn’t have an issue with it. I guess I’m a bit of a wuss.
There is a gym, though we didn’t use it. I have a strict “no exercise during vacation” policy!
Review of our room
I wanted to reserve a room with a king bed, but those were sold out. So, we got one with two queens and a sleeper sofa. The unit was quite spacious, and I think a family of four or five would be able to survive (without going nuts) for few nights. The room was very clean and comfortable.
Let’s face it, if you’ve seen one Hyatt Place, you’ve pretty much seen them all. To me, the design seems a bit spartan, but if you just want a place to sleep, then who cares, right? The fact that you have two queen-size beds, plus a sleeper sofa, is a big deal for families of five or six.
I requested a higher floor, though the view wasn’t anything to write home about. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the area, and we could actually hear a saxophone player in the evening. Neat!
Service and “hair” issues
A great thing about using your own points is that you don’t have to worry about offending your sponsor overlords. So, here are some things I simply must mention in order to give you an overall picture on the property.
When we were checking in, I forgot to mention my husband’s Explorist status right away. When the employee was handing me the room keys, it finally dawned on me to ask for a higher floor. He became slightly annoyed and told me he wished that I would mention it earlier. Hmm, shouldn’t the tier status be in my husband’s profile? Besides, I also put in “higher floor” in special requests section.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a DYKWIA (do you know who I am?) type. But if you advertise certain benefits, it only makes sense to train employees to be aware of them. Here the worker was totally clueless as to what Explorist tier even means. Oh, and I forgot to ask for complimentary water (another perk). You guessed it, nobody offered it at check-in either. These are minor gripes, for sure, and most of the employees were very friendly. So perhaps it was just a fluke.
The second issue is a big one. I’ve mentioned earlier that the room was clean and I stand by it. I didn’t inspect every corner, as I’m aware that housekeepers make very little money. It would be unreasonable to expect perfection, so I don’t go crazy if I see some hair in the bathroom that wasn’t swept away.
One thing I absolutely will NOT tolerate is hair on the sheets. Unfortunately, I found some hair on both beds. The sheets didn’t look dirty, and perhaps the hair got stuck in the dryer. I don’t know. Regardless, my husband and I weren’t about to sleep on them. So, I called the front desk and requested new sheets.
The same guy who gave me attitude earlier told me he would send them right away. He didn’t offer any kind of apology or told me someone else would make the beds. Granted, the hair thing wasn’t his fault, but he sounded so nonchalant, it really made me wonder if I was being a difficult guest for wanting hair-less sheets? Nope, I don’t think so.
Nevertheless, the sheets arrived promptly, and I decided to move on and not let this whole thing spoil our getaway. I know what some folks are thinking right about now: “You got the room via sign-up bonus from Hyatt card and got matched to Explorist status via a loophole. What are you complaining about?”
To them I say: IRRELEVANT. This property commands rates of $175+ in low season. It doesn’t really matter how you got your points or status.
Looking at the big picture
Despite the shortcomings, I still think the hotel is one heck of a deal via points. In fact, I’ve already reserved a room next spring. It’s important to note that I filled our an email survey after our stay mentioning the issues, and got a response from the manager the same day. He was apologetic and promised to look into it. Perhaps what happened was just a fluke, though I definitely plan to examine the sheets as soon as I enter the room.
The CPP (cents per point) value during spring months is tough to argue with, that’s for sure:
But room price is only part of the equation.
Is this hotel a good fit for your family’s Spring Break vacation?
Only you can decide. It’s not a resort, so if you are looking for a sprawling pool complex and other family-friendly amenities, you may want to stay elsewhere. I highly recommend Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa that costs 15,000 Hyatt points per night. If you’ve recently matched to Explorist status, your Club Access certificates should now be extended through February 2020.
If you are looking to add a few cheap (via points) nights to your Disney vacation, and want to stay relatively close to Gulf beaches, Hyatt Place St. Petersburg/ Downtown is an excellent choice.
You can go for a stroll on the scenic waterfront (located two-minutes walking distance from the hotel)
See top things to do on this Trip Advisor page While not dirt cheap ($65 per person), this sunset cruise seems like a fun activity for family. Busch Gardens park is 45 minutes away, so that’s another excellent option if you have kids. If you like flowers, I highly recommend Sunken Gardens, and if you are into art, you may want to look into visiting The Dali museum
I’ve saved the best for last: Fort De Soto Park and Beach, only 22 minutes from the hotel by car.
We happened to be in the area when tropical storm Alberto was brewing in the Gulf. That didn’t stop some Florida families from coming down and enjoying the beach.
The park has restrooms, picnic tables and cafes that operate during limited hours. There is a marina from which you can take a ferry to Egmont Key The cost is $20 for adult roundtrip ticket, $10 for kids. My husband’s cousin has been there and really enjoyed it. He said that snorkeling around the island is terrific, and there is lots of history.
View from parking lot area
If it’s windy, you will likely spot many windsurfers in the south end of the park.
All in all, Fort De Soto Park and Beach is a terrific option for a day trip if you happen to stay in downtown St. Pete.
How you can acquire Hyatt points
If you have a premium card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt account on 1:1 basis (more info on the cards here). All these products pay us commission if you feel inclined to support the site, though Chase Sapphire Preferred has a non-affiliate link that may be a better fit for you. Here is also Nancy’s personal referral link for Chase Sapphire Reserve if you prefer to support just her.
You may also want to look into applying for Chase Hyatt Visa. You’ll get 65,000 points after spending $6,000 in 6 months and adding an authorized user. The annual fee of $95 is not waived. As of now, it’s not subject to 5/24 rule. The card is a keeper for most traveling families due to category 1-4 annual certificate upon renewal. It does pay us commission. Thanks for your support if you choose to use it!
Obviously, 65,000 points will go a long way when you are redeeming them on a Category 1 Hyatt property, like the one I’ve highlighted above. You may also want to read my post Best category 1 Hyatt redemptions for a family trip in USA And you can view all Category 1 Hyatt hotels via this link
Is Hyatt Place St. Petersburg/ Downtown the best Category 1 deal in US? It’s impossible to answer that question since value is in the eye of the beholder. Despite few issues, I do think at 5,000 points per night the hotel is underpriced. Plus, by booking via Hyatt.com, you won’t have to worry about new breakfast policy I’ve mentioned on our Facebook page. If you have a large family, even redeeming 10,000 points per night on two rooms is an amazing bargain during spring months. Just make sure to check the sheets.
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.