After Promising To Suspend Hotel Category Changes, Hyatt Will Make Category Changes

Back in the fall Hyatt announced 15 hotels that would change redemption category but otherwise declared they would ‘suspend 2021 hotel category changes’.

That didn’t turn out to hold. They’ve just added 11 hotels that are changing categories, 10 of which are going up in redemption price Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 8:00 am CDT:

Property Current New
Hyatt Place Houston Downtown 3 2
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows 5 6
Park Hyatt Aviara 5 6
Mar Monte Hotel 4 5
Hyatt House Nashville/Downtown-SoBro 4 5
Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico 3 4
Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort 2 3
Hyatt Regency John Wayne Airport 2 3
Hyatt Place Delano 1 2
Hyatt Place Fair Lawn/Paramus 1 2
Hyatt Place Palm Bay/Melbourne 1 2

Park Hyatt Aviara

Redemptions for future travel made before 8 a.m. Central on Thursday, March 25 will be at the lower category price. Existing bookings at Hyatt Place Houston Downtown, which is going down in category, will get credited with the points difference automatically starting Friday, March 26 (no need to rebook).

This brings the total of announced changes to 26 properties, which doesn’t seem like ‘suspending category changes’. While 2019 involved a lot of movement (equal number of properties going up and down), 2018 (also a normal year) saw just 9 hotels change category.

What’s odd here is that redemption categories should be dropping fairly broadly across the board not holding steady or increasing.

  • Hotel average rates determine reimbursement paid by the chain, and therefore the points World of Hyatt charges members.
  • Facing the worst times in the industry’s history, we should be seeing major downward revision in hotel categories.

Of course Hyatt’s redemption structure is most similar to how Starwood’s used to work, and Starwood didn’t reduce its hotel categories after a disastrous 2009 either. Members face higher redemption prices when times in the hotel industry are good, but don’t benefit from the flipside when times are tough.

And Hyatt still plans to devalue with the introduction of peak and off-peak pricing starting July 1, 2021.

Category Off-Peak Standard Peak
1 3500 5000 6500
2 6500 8000 9500
3 9000 12000 15000
4 12000 15000 18000
5 17000 20000 23000
6 21000 25000 29000
7 25000 30000 35000
8 35000 40000 45000

Hyatt is the last major program to retain true fixed award chart pricing. That provided great value to members. When rates are low you spend cash at a hotel. When they’re high you spend points. That way you get great value for your points.

Ultimately I don’t see raising award prices at 10 hotels as being worth reversing course on ‘suspending category changes’. And introducing high and low season pricing (peak and off-peak) means you’re much more likely to get average value for your points relative to the cost of a room, and much less likely to get outsized value. That’s the real devaluation we can look forward to in July.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Anyone in California needs to experience the Moar Monte before it’s no longer a “free-night” option. It’s just so lovely, right on the beach.

  2. Good suggestion about Mar Monte. Though it does appear the rooms are on the other side of the street from the beach. But the right side of 101.

  3. @ Gary — Now even Hyatt can’t be trusted. They are (were?) the ONLY loyalty program left that I trust. They should seriously consider the cost of losing members’ trust by being so greedy.

  4. Or maybe they are just anticipating a huge surge in demand as people try to get back to normal and want to sell the rooms for cash instead of points…

  5. This is very Delta-like. I never expected Hyatt to be so deceptive and dishonest. I completely agree that this is not worth trashing your good name for.

  6. I cancelled our Hyatt Chase cards months ago, I’m going independent: No fitness center I don’t use, no club with cut-back benefits, no ‘business center’, no breakfast with scaled-down food and come and go service.

    Just cash for real value. What a concept!

  7. @Gary, will Hyatt Category 1-4 free night certificates be valid for Category 4 properties during Peak periods (i.e. 18,000 points instead of 15,000 points)?

  8. Can you directly ask Hyatt about announcing no category changes, and then reversing course? Part of why they get away with this, is the larger media sites let them.

  9. Prices are less sticky on the way up and more sticky on the way down, so can’t say I’m surprised we get another case of this with the sale of services priced in a hotel companies’ proprietary currency even from Hyatt.

  10. A positive spin on this is that this is not a stealth devaluation like Hilton has done in the past.

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