Most hotel chain loyalty programs offer rooms on points whenever a ‘standard room’ is available for sale.
Starwood pioneered what they called ‘true redemption’ — not just “no blackout dates” (specific days of the year where you can’t use your points) but in fact ‘no capacity controls’ (every base room at the hotel available on points.
Prior to that hotels offered a limited amount of inventory for redemptions, you could have a hard time using your points for rooms (like folks get frustrated using their airline miles).
The trick, though, is what a hotel defines as a standard room. Most members think of it as the ‘most common room’. Some hotels have played games with this. There might be just a couple of suboptimal rooms, that may not even be sold, but that could be called award rooms by a hotel looking to limit the number of guests staying on points.
Or they could try what it appears the Hyatt Regency San Francisco is doing — their ‘basic’ room is often only made available as part of rate packages, while inventory for the ‘Daily Rate’ which is what Hyatt Gold Passport books awards from, appears to never have that basic room type available. (This is the hotel that downgraded me from a confirmed suite two years ago so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.)
You’ll see that room packages, including parking or breakfast, are less expensive than the basic room rate. That’s because those packages offer value-add services alongside the standard room while the basic Hyatt Daily Rate never shows that room type available.
If you book the ‘park and play’ rate you can have that standard King or Queen room type.
If you book the ‘bed and breakfast’ rate you can have that standard King or Queen room type.
But the ‘Hyatt Daily Rate’ only has ‘business plan’ rooms available.
As a result, when you search for award rooms — even though there are open standard King or Queen rooms at the property — nothing is available using Gold Passport points.
Now, they do not do this every single night of the year. After much searching I found award availability for both King and Double rooms the night of February 10.
I’ve reached out to Hyatt for comment on this practice and plan to update.