Andaz West Hollywood’s GM Responds to Their Scammy Award Availability Strategy

Monday I wrote about how the Andaz West Hollywood keeps World of Hyatt members from using their points.

The hotel benefits from being a Hyatt. They attract stays from guests loyal to the brand, and looking to earn elite night credit when staying in the area. But they appear not to want to honor the other end of their obligation by redeeming free night awards.


Andaz West Hollywood, credit: Hyatt

A reader that’s been in touch with the General Manager at the Andaz West Hollywood shares the GM’s response to my blog post, which he had already seen.

First, let me start by stating that I agree with you that if the hotel were restricting Award stays on their own, it wouldn’t seem like a very logical way to reward loyalty and for someone who very much values loyalty myself with airlines and other partners, I would never allow that to be the case at our hotel.

We are a very small hotel and have a high demand, being the only Hyatt in the area, so we do have to manage our inventory for longer length of stays for all booking channels – not just Hyatt- and particularly for our base room category which is by far the most in demand and only a small portion of our rooms.

Our average length of stay here for all channels combined is over 3 nights, so we do have strategies in place to manage for that longer stay and work hard to make it beneficial for those travelers to obtain and\or redeem for that reason. The decision to do that has nothing to do with loyalty- it is about managing the availability so we are fully committed all 7 days of the week. If we freely allow any channel to book a 1 night stay inevitably it blocks out guests that wish to stay with us longer and we have to turn them away.

Based on your feedback and from the review online, we are working internally to open up more 1 night redemption stays for at least half of any given week avoiding the highest demand days for us which tend to be Tuesday and Wednesday. I do hope that will help many of our valued travelers to obtain the nights they seek whether 1 or 10 here in West Hollywood.

Here’s what we learn:

  1. They’re going to try to make award nights available for fewer than 3 nights for part of the week.

  2. They don’t want shorter stay award guests on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they can sell those rooms for more money.

However it strikes me as disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that they’re really just trying to keep all guests from booking shorter stays. The reality is that this policy largely applies to World of Hyatt members looking to redeem their points.

  • They allow booking every other room type besides the one attached to the award rate plan for fewer than three nights.

  • It’s not like they’re only making the most expensive rooms available for short stays, either. They’ve carved out a limited number of their basic rooms and call those award rooms. It’s that subset that the 3 night restriction applies to.

  • The rooms that are available for cash on 1- and 2-night stays are often even the same price as the rooms that are made unavailable on points.

The hotel has essentially carved out a room that’s identical to their lowest category room in order to place greater restrictions on award guests than cash guests. They do this because they get more money from cash guests than from World of Hyatt, so limiting award redemption is a money-making strategy for them. And they’ve figured out that doing so may be dirty pool, but it’s within the rules of the program.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Gary,

    Isn’t the solution to lobby Hyatt to reimburse the hotel with more money during those times when the hotel is busy? If you want to stop hotels from playing games with availability, it should be the case that hotels don’t lose money on points bookings.

  2. @Anthony – the hotel gets its average daily room rate when it’s full, which the chain assumes won’t be the most they’d sell a room for but likely isn’t less than the least they’ve sold a room for on that night. at times though a hotel will lose money even getting that extra money on full nights compared to selling a room for cash. Overall Hyatt is more generous compensating properties than Hilton and Marriott are I believe.

  3. @ Gary — Why do you really care? Screw this hotel. Stay elsewhere. It is an overrated hotel anyway. I actually prefer the HR at LAX.

  4. Good to see you taking them on, and calling out their duplicity. “Disingenuous in the extreme” hits exactly the right note here.

  5. Their policy is wrong.
    As long as any standard room is available for $$ it should be bookable with points/free nights.
    Or Hyatt changed that policy?

  6. @DT – they have created a small room category called standard that is identical to rooms they consider not to be standard, that’s the trick here

  7. @Gary-
    “…they have created a small room category called standard that is identical to rooms they consider not to be standard…”

    Is that the real issue or is it that they’ve imposed a minimum stay requirement of 3 days (or both)?

    Also, is the Andaz WH requiring ALL stats to be 3 days minimum, or just award stays?

    I remember with Hyatt Gold Passport, this crap would be removed in time (not sure about Andaz Maui though). Do these hotel corporations think that loyalty members will just accept these schemes and move on?

  8. @VX

    It’s a combination. They’ve taken their old base rooms (let’s say there is 50), and carved most out (let’s say 45) and made them “base in all but name”, so they are no longer considered to be a base room, and therefore aren’t available for awards. They’re selling them for the same price for cash. But the “Base” room has a 3 day minimum stay (both cash and points), while the “base in all but name” room doesn’t have that requirement.

    The end result is requiring 3 night stays for awards, without impacting your cash booking, because the cash people can just book the “base in all but name” room for one night for the same price as the basic room would be.

  9. With the exceptional New” Edition property in West Hollywood” by Marriott opening this year
    the hotel could end up struggling to retain most guests except for die hard Hyatt junkies
    While I have nothing against Andaz West Hollywood the failure to sound proof the rooms/suites and the new added destination fees I think they may be ready to suffer the consequences of bad decision making and procrastination big time

  10. Well, it will spread. Just like dynamic pricing at airlines. It’s all going to shit. At least the Edition is opening soon down the street from Andaz and will have them, I am sure, rethinking their “precious” place in hotel lore.

  11. Good on you calling them out, the manager response is not any better either. Of course they would rather sell single night for cash, who is that guy trying to fool? I too prefer the Hyatt regency over this place.

  12. Here, here! WeHo is way too over-rated. And it’s a pain to get to the freeways. I prefer HR LAX among Hyatts when I’m in LA.

  13. How about the Andaz San Diego? Their base room comes in king bed and double bed configurations (exact same size room), but only the double bed room counts as award eligible–this despite the fact that the double bed room is more expensive than the king room in cash! How much do you want to bet there are far more king rooms than double bed rooms? There’s no point in remaining loyal to a program that countenances such shady tactics.

  14. The two room photos look identical, but if you look closely, the first one does not have a sun with a smiley face, and the second one is missing the cat.

  15. Speaking as a huge fan of Hyatt and the WoH program, I’ll agree that the Andaz West Hollywood is a very weak property anyway — I’d skip it even if there was huge awards availability. It really does not deserve the cachet of the Andaz name. Much nicer: the delightful Valencia Hyatt Regency in Santa Clarita, or the spectacular waterfront Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, or even the well-run Hyatt Regency in “Anaheim” (actually, Garden Grove). Yeah, they’re all a bit of a drive, but odds are in SoCal that the Andaz West Hollywood isn’t anywhere near where you need to be, either.

  16. God please quit the whining. Businesses exist, whether you like it or not, to maximize profits. If blocking these rooms for stays shorter than 3 nights results in greater revenue that is what the hotel should do.

    There are so many self righteous people on here that think they have a God-given right to a free night, upgrade, etc just due to status (or in many cases simply because they get points off credit cards instead of actually staying in the hotel).

    35 years of travel here and have been max level of 4 different airlines and 4 different hotel chains. 8 million actual FF miles (not credit card) and around 2000 nights in hotels. I don’t expect my desires to be met all the time so most of you shouldn’t either.

    BTW there is enough wiggle room in any points program (airline or hotel) including the right to modify it (or end it) at their sole discretion so just deal with it instead of the ongoing whining and Gary continuing to write click bait articles to fill his blog.

  17. I have worked as a hotel manager for the last 30 + years and the managers response is right on. You cannot have a sold out night on a Tuesday which keeps guests from staying for several nights.

  18. @Steve M – that manager though is happy to have a sell out on Tuesday night for cash, just not allow points reservations to be part of it. They are effectively only restricting length of stay on award nights since they are making rooms for sale that are the same price as the ones allocated to awards.l

  19. The Andaz San Diego is a great redemption for Category 4. I just stayed there with my wife for a staycation as she had an expiring annual night certificate from having the credit card. She doesn’t have any status besides the basic Discoverist that she got from having the credit card and they upgraded us to a nice big room with King bed.

    If you stay there don’t valet as it’s $49! There is a self parking lot literally half a block down and it’s only $10 per day.

    I got a free annual night for the $15,000 spending WoH card and will use it here at the Andaz San Diego.

  20. their policies are a slap in the face to the Hyatt loyalty program….”we are a small hotel that needs to maximize profits and will value a cash customer over points from any customer, no matter what loyalty level the customer is…”
    if they want to be shady and deny Hyatt loyalty members from booking available rooms, boot them out of the program and sue them for non compliance with the program, after agreeing to it when they became partners with Hyatt. If the rest of Andez doesn’t like it and wants to leave, let them. They are an over-rated, overpriced, limited chain…that scams customers all the time with outrageous resort and parking fees, on top of inflated room rates for small rooms. They want to pretend they are 5 star, but the truth is there is usually a better class hotel nearby that shows them to truly be a 3 to 4 star chain….so wake up Hyatt, slap these properties with whatever stick you have available to bring them into line….if you don’t how many of the other “partners” will ignore your policies and bonvoy your brand?!?

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