Last week Hyatt program announced some category adjustments that will take effect on March 28th. Nancy has already written a post with her analysis, so I’ll briefly add my two cents here. First, these changes are completely expected. The cash prices at most desirable Hyatt properties (resorts and major cities) are out of control at the moment, so a rate hike was inevitable in my opinion.
It doesn’t mean that the changes don’t sting, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. As I’ve said many times, hotel points are the most unstable type of currency you can hold, and Hyatt program is no exception. That said, compared to the competitors, it’s still a far less risky alternative. At least there is an award chart, and changes are (usually) announced in advance. Not so with Hilton, IHG or Marriott.
It doesn’t mean that changes will always align with your schedule, but such is life. If you are not happy with Hyatt program, I recommend voting with your wallet or UR points in this case. Honestly, my passion for travel doesn’t depend on the ability to get outsized Hyatt redemptions. If the stars align, great! If not, I’ll simply move on to independent hotels in the same area. My happiness in life does not go up or down with Hyatt award chart.
It’s also important to remember that hotel redemptions, like real estate, are local. So what if several nice properties are going up in price if you don’t intend to stay in any of them anytime soon? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to visit an all-inclusive Hyatt resort in the Caribbean. If you prefer to use your points on low-category hotels in small US towns, there is still plenty of value to be had.
In 2021 I’ve actually speculatively transferred 120k Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt before canceling my Chase Sapphire Preferred. I fully understood the risks, but did it anyway. No regrets so far. Btw, this to me was unthinkable a decade ago, as I would’ve likely transferred my points to miles.
But my preferences have changed over the years, and I have gradually become a real Hyatt lover. Well, at least when it comes to using points. I still think most Hyatt hotels and resorts are overpriced, but transferring Ultimate Rewards makes the cost somewhat palatable even for a cheapskate like myself.
My first encounter with Hyatt
In 2009, when my daughter was only 18 months old, we used miles to visit my family in Belarus. As expected, it was a grueling trip, and not something I recommend you attempt with a car seat. But we survived, and staying overnight near Frankfurt airport before continuing on to Minsk certainly helped. I looked at various options in the area, and Hyatt Regency Mainz caught my eye.
Back then Hyatt sold discounted certificates, so I booked a night here for only $120 all-in, which was half compared to what the hotel was charging on its website. I was also able to sign up for status challenge right before our trip, which yielded us a free upgrade to the view of the river:
While I was overall happy with the value we got, I thought the hotel was bland and unremarkable. Not something I would seek out or go out of my way for.
This bias later extended to Hyatt chain in general, which in hindsight wasn’t really fair. The truth is, Hyatt had/has many properties and not all are cookie-cutter. In addition, even those that are kind of bland, often have amazing amenities for families with young kids. Who cares as long as there is a lazy river and amazing pools for children to enjoy. But I’ll get to that later.
To me, the SLH/Hyatt partnership became a real game changer, and one of the reasons I’ve decided to speculatively transfer my precious UR points to Hyatt.
Incidentally, on that same trip, we booked a stay in Schlosshotel Kronberg before flying back to US. At $250 per night (fancy breakfast included) it was a real splurge for this struggling young family. But how often do you get to stay in a real castle, right?
Well, this hotel is now part of SLH program and can be booked with Hyatt points. It’s a category 4, but at the end of March it will become a category 3. Yes, 12k points for a room that back in 2009 cost me $250. The best part? Breakfast is included for all members who book via Hyatt program.
My favorite Hyatt properties when traveling as a couple
In general, I prefer smaller/unique places rather than busy resorts where you have to fight other guests for pool chairs. I would certainly put Schlosshotel Kronberg in that category, and would love to book a stay there via Hyatt points at some point in the future.
The rooms could be described as “shabby chic”, but the property is really special. Certainly a deal for 12k Hyatt points per night if you can find availability.
Apologies for poor photo quality
I really enjoyed our recent stay in Tabacon Resort in Costa Rica (see detailed review), and highly recommend it. This is also part of SLH, so you get free breakfast included with your stay. We paid 17k Hyatt points per night during off-season, and I actually thought it was underpriced. So, I’m not surprised that this property will go up one category at the end of March.
If you’ve been thinking about visiting Arenal area in Costa Rica, this is an excellent choice, mainly due to the fact that access to famous Tabacon hot springs is included with your room rate. A nice bonus: exclusive entry for hotel guests two hours prior to opening to general public. Book this one!
I also really liked staying in Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport before our trip to the South Pacific, mainly due to convenience. You can’t beat walking out of your room and already being at the airport. No shuttles to worry about and no looking for a parking spot early in the morning. It’s a bland property decor-wise, but a unique value proposition. I probably wouldn’t burn 15k points, but it’s a great option for a renewal certificate from your Hyatt credit card.
While I enjoyed staying at Park Hyatt Sydney back in 2018 via Hyatt certificates (see my review), I felt it was overpriced if I chose to transfer UR points instead. But many would disagree.
Two Hyatt redemptions I find quite appealing:
- Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid, NY (part of SLH)
This one looks intriguing. It’s a small property where all rooms face the lake, with beautiful views of the water. There is also an indoor spa complex that looks really cool. The resort is a category 6, so rooms start at 21k points per night, breakfast included. It won’t be affected by the latest category changes.
The property is not cheap per se, but it looks like my kind of place. One thing I strongly dislike, however, is that any modification or cancellation is subject to $100 processing fee. I assume it applies to points reservations, but I’m not certain.
Out of all Hyatt all-inclusive resorts, this is the one I find the most appealing. There are only 35 suites (each with a hot tub!), and all of them face the ocean. Free ferry transfer from Cancun is included in the rate. For 25k Hyatt points per night this one really seems like a steal. Unfortunately, it will be going up to 30k points per night, which is not surprising. Availability is tough to come by, though.
I would love to book a stay here, but this will likely be the one that got away. Our schedule is completely full, and I just don’t see any way to add a Cancun trip into the mix this year. Oh well. My husband and I will instead be flying to a tiny island of Saba and staying in a mom-and-pop hotel by paying cash. I’m excited!
I suppose paying an extra 5k points per night is not the end of the world, so perhaps I’ll circle back to this Zoetry resort in the future.
All-inclusives are really being hammered by this latest chart adjustment, so if you’ve been thinking about going, now is the time to book.
My kids’ favorite Hyatt redemptions
These are NOT the type of properties where I would burn my Hyatt points if we didn’t have young kids. But we do, and Hyatt really knows how to build resorts that appeal to families. The best part is a somewhat reasonable cost of suites via points, at least compared to programs like Hilton.
Nancy and I both have written about Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa many times on this blog, and I still consider it a crown jewel of Florida resorts. While I would never pay $1k for a suite here, I’m OK with dropping 29K-32K Hyatt points per night. It’s a lot, but for this price you get a huge suite with two bathrooms, and an amazing view of the water. The resort had some damage from hurricane Ian, so some amenities are still not available.
But normally, you have access to an amazing waterpark with a lazy river, and a boat transfer to a private island included in the rate. Plus, all kinds of other perks. It’s currently a category 5, and will remain that way for now. This is my daughter’s favorite resort.
Recently we had a chance to finally check out Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando (see my review) My son absolutely loved it, and keeps asking to go back. His favorite part was the cave pools, but there is so much more to this property. There is even a resident parrot called Merlot.
As a category 4 resort (no upcoming changes), it’s eligible for renewal certificates from Hyatt credit card. I’m definitely planning to come back here at some point. We should have four Hyatt certificates at the end of the year (two from 5-brand promo), and will likely use them at this resort for a weekend stay. My MIL will keep the kids in her room, and my husband and I will enjoy some privacy. A win-win.
Many years ago we stayed at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Resort and Spa (read my review), which my kids really liked. I’m personally not a huge fan of the property, but beachfront location and proximity to many restaurants/activities is certainly a big selling point for families. It’s currently a category 6 (no changes).
Obviously, there are many other amazing family Hyatt resorts out there, but as a Florida resident, I’m biased towards those that are located within easy driving distance from our house.
I’ve also booked a stay in Andaz Costa Rica before this announcement (see Nancy’s review), so will let you know what I think about it after we get back. It’s currently a category 5, soon to be 6. My son asked me if we could stay somewhere where there are lots of monkeys, and this seemed like the obvious choice. We are planning to fly from Florida during hurricane season so fingers crossed, all goes according to the plan. Otherwise, this resort will probably be filed under “one that got away” category.
Even after the latest category changes, there is still a lot of value left in Hyatt, at least when it comes to my travel patterns. That doesn’t mean that the same can be said about all of our readers. For some, it’s a total bummer, no doubt about it. But that’s the nature of the game we play. We can be upset about it, or we can move on and look for other deals. There is plenty of value left in Hyatt program if you are flexible enough.
P.S. If you are interested in collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards with the idea of transferring them to Hyatt program, see this post listing the latest credit card offers.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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.