Andaz West Hollywood appears to be placing a 3-night minimum stay requirement on their entry level room types throughout the year.
What seems odd at first glance, until you dig deeper, is that they are imposing these 3 night minimum restrictions on both revenue bookings (paid reservations) and award bookings (free night awards) for the 1 King Bed and 2 Queen room types. And they are not doing this for the rest of their rooms.
Available for 3 nights, but not if you reduce your stay to 1 or 2 nights
Here’s the rub: the lowest room category at the hotel covers ‘1 King Bed’ and ‘2 Queen Bed ADA Tub’. That’s the room cetegory, therefore, assigned to free nights. So free nights always have 3 night minimum stays.
And the especially nefarious part: they seem to have carved out a limited set of these rooms and they appear more or less identical “Hollywood Hills View” room that for all stays under 3 nights is the least expensive room offered anyway.
Andaz West Hollywood, credit: Hyatt
There often isn’t even a difference in rates between the award room type and the non-award room type, although I do see the non-award type pricing $15 higher (even there paid rooms still presented as being less expensive than they really are thanks to a scammy $23.10 per night destination fee.)
The hotel has figured out a way to construct a lowest category room, assigned to free nights, that they rarely sell for cash and can use to make fewer nights available for redemption. And of course if this property can do it, others will model.
A week ago Hyatt told me that revenue management was “connecting with the hotel this week to further investigate what is driving the property to set the minimum stay requirement.” Even though what the hotel is doing is technically compliant, it seemed like Hyatt might give them a talking to and fix things.
Unfortunately Hyatt has come back to me re-confirming that what the hotel is doing is within the program’s terms and rather than the hoped-for change in practice, they merely say that they are hoping hotels don’t start doing this a lot.
[W]e can confirm the hotel is operating within World of Hyatt program rules; hotels may set a minimum stay requirement, as long as it applies to both paid rates and redemption stays. The hotel and World of Hyatt program team continuously review and manage their strategies and will work to keep this stay strategy to a minimum.
Andaz West Hollywood, credit: Hyatt
It is apparently legitimate to carve out a subset of a hotel’s base rooms, call them something else, and place a minimum stay restriction on them. Then it’s impossible to redeem for fewer than that number of nights. Customers may search night-by-night not even realizing if they search multiple nights together availability would come up. (After all, minimum stay restrictions are only usually used during peak of peak periods when hotel rates are at their highest.)
Some hotels want redemption guests. They fill rooms that would otherwise go unoccupied, and the property receives a premium when the hotel is fully booked. However the most popular properties at peak times are going to get less from the chain for a redemption guest than they can sell the room at for cash.
Hotels that don’t want to make awards available are going to have a path to do this, and Andaz managers talk to each other regularly. A manager at the Andaz Maui once told me that as a group they were addressing how to limit award redemptions. Such a shame, they’re benefiting from customers coming to the property on paid nights out of loyalty to the chain and shortchanging the program on the other end.