Last week the AP’s Scott Mayerowitz was tweeting for advice on booking an award stay in Paris. Getting rooms on points for his nights was a bit of a challenge, I did see options but they weren’t for the best or most convenient places that he was looking for.
I used points for my own Paris stay a few months back.
But the advice I failed to offer Scott is that there are often better value ways to get rooms than award redemptions, and that it’s worth running the traps on all of them.
I tend to see my points as currency. Some people view them as “free” and so they want t spend points to get “free rooms” rather than spending money. I won’t spend my points unless I’m getting some minimum amount of value out of them. That’s because I can more or less always turn them into cash by redeeming them for travel that I’d otherwise pay for. I can even buy points and sometimes get more out of those points than paying for a room. So there’s a minimum amount at which I’ll redeem points (certainly not for less than I would buy points at).
With Starwood points it’s probably a smidge over 2 cents apiece, with Hilton points it’s something like two-fifths of a cent, with Hyatt points it’s about a penny and a half.
If a room redemption costs 22,000 Hyatt points, but I can pay less than $330 all-in for that room, I’ll certainly come out of pocket with the cash and save the points. Fortunately, even for the priciest hotels, there’s often a way to do just that: Hyatt Stay Certificates.
Hyatt Will Sell You Stays for Less Than the Price at Hyatt.com
In the olden days I used to make Hyatt certificate stay reservations, and only buy the certificates once I was certain of my plans. The reservations themselves are cancellable. And if I still needed to cancel the stay after buying the certificate, that’s fine, I could always use the certificate on a future stay within a year.
These stays don’t earn elite credit or points, but elite status has been recognized in my experience. And the cost savings can very much be worthwhile.
The cost of many of these stay certificates are less than paying for the room outright. I used to use the Grand Hyatt all the time when it was at the Premier level, then priced at $165 all-in including tax for a room there when rates could be going in the mid-$400s or low-$500s a night. In fact I once booked two rooms for eleven nights at that rate. Those 22 room nices were obtained at nearly a 75% discount to the advance purchase price once taxes were factored. Amazing.
Sadly, Hyatt changed the booking system to require the ‘certificate code’ off of each certificate in order to book a certificate stay. They wanted to clamp down on my practice of booking the room first (ensuring that certificate stay inventory was available) before buying the certificates. Put another way, they were doing their best to avoid undercutting their own web pricing through the sale of these certificates.
Finding Availability With Hyatt Stay Certificates
Hyatt.com now lets you search for gift certificate availability right on the home page, although you still need to enter the certificate code.
Click ‘offers and gift certificates’ and a box pops out to the left. That’s where you pop in the ‘gift certificate code’.
It wasn’t that hard to figure out the certificate codes. These weren’t codes tied to each individual certificate, but rather codes tied to the type of certificate.
Still, I never published the codes here for years. But they were made ‘public’ at the beginning of the year when Lucky published them.
The price of these certificates and the basic corresponding code for each is as follows:
- Classic ($109.00) – HSCLN1
- Choice ($152.22) – HSCHN1
- Premier ($188.89) – HSPRN1
- Elite ($260.00) – HSELN1
- Inspire ($325.55) – HSINN1
- Exclusive ($394.44) – HSXLN1
- Ultimate ($461.11) – HSULN1
The basic structure is (H)yatt (S)tay (TWO LETTERS TO REPRESENT THE CERTIFICATE TYPE) such as CH for Choice, PR for Premier (N)ight (#) representing the number of nights the certificate is valid for.
You can change the last number in each code to correspond with the number of nights that a certificate is valid for. Although I always used and ordered 1 night stay certificates — because they are combinable (on a five night stay use five one-night certificates, for the 2 room 11 night stay use 22 one-night certificates). They’re more flexible that way, you make a reservation and buy the certificates but if you need to cancel the reservation having one night stay certificates is more flexible for later on when you make other bookings in its place.
Using Certificates in Paris — And Other Big Cities
Hyatt shows which certificates are valid at which properties, although note that this can change at any time. (Once you lock in a reservation you’re good, but one reason I like to do that before buying the certificate is that a hotel might go up in category between the time I buy the certificate and when I make a reservation with it later).
In Paris the ‘value’ property is the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (admittedly not the best tourist location). In Nice check out Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee which looks fantastic. Both accept ‘Choice’ certificates — just US$152.22 all-in per night, including taxes.
The Hotel du Louvre requires an Elite — $260 all-in per night — certificate. Not bad for a hotel that regularly goes for twice that.
In New York, the Andaz Wall Street will take an Elite certificate… often a good deal during the week at $260, not so good on the weekends when rates there drop to $200+tax.
The Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson — a Path train from the City with a nice view of the Manhattan Skyline — accepts Choice certificates, a good strategy for a cheap New York stay.
Assuming the stay you’re booking is more than a few days away (you need time to order and have Hyatt ship the certificates), this can be a good (albeit non-points or stay credit-earning) way to save on stays with Hyatt at some of their more expensive hotels.
And since you can reserve a stay that’s cancellable before committing to buy the certificate, it’s a strategy with very little risk. Though if you do need to cancel the stay, the certificate of course is non-refundable. You have a prepaid stay for use later.