How I Confused a Hotel into Giving Me a Free Suite Upgrade

An interesting thing happened on a recent stay at the Hyatt Regency Austin. I wound up with a ‘free’ upgrade to a suite with view of Lady Bird Lake and a patio. And I almost got kicked out of that suite!

I’m not going to do a full review of the hotel, as I’ve already written about this property here and here (so didn’t feel the need to write about it after several subsequent stays, natch).

Hyatt Gold Passport offers complimentary upgrades to Diamond members, but those upgrades exclude suites. Some hotels will give out available suites to diamonds if available anyway, but the program doesn’t promise it. If a Diamond wants a suite, they can confirm one at time of booking four times per year (for up to 7 nights on each stay) using a Diamond Confirmed Upgrade Certificate received electronically each year in their account. (And any Hyatt Gold Passport member can confirm suites with points, but while the Diamond suite upgrades can be used on any rate booked through a Hyatt channel, points upgrades require paying the Hyatt Daily Rate at a city hotel and for a better than base room at a resort.)

I had a three night stay at the Hyatt Regency Austin, and the reservation was somewhat complex. There was a conference rate available for the second and third nights of my stay, so I booked that. I made a separate reservation at the AAA rate for the first night.

I wanted to confirm a suite upgrade using one of my Diamond upgrade certificates, but couldn’t do it because the group reservation was made with the group and the rooming list wasn’t actually provided to the hotel until a couple of weeks before the stay. The hotel just didn’t have a reservation fro me for nights two and three.

By the time that reservation appeared, there was a suite available for nights one and two of the stay, but not for the third night. I put in the request for it, hoping the last night would open up as check-in approached.

I didn’t, so I gave up on the suite upgrade. I downgraded back to a regular room, got my suite upgrade back, and I requested a ‘patio king’ room.

At check-in the agent spent quite a long time looking through the notes to my reservation. She saw the two reservations, linked, so there would be no problem staying through until Sunday (without getting locked out of my room and having to get a new key). She told me I was upgraded to a river view patio suite. (The suite upgrade was still in my account, so free!)

I confirmed with her that the suite was assigned for the full stay, and it was. Score!

Saturday afternoon I was working in the suite when housekeeping came to the room.

They were surprised to find me there, thought I had checked out, and had planned to clean the room and separate the two rooms so that the living room area could be assigned as a room to another guest. Apparently the hotel was overbooked.

Ummm… I’m still here, until Sunday, and certainly wouldn’t have taken the room if it meant I would have to switch. What’s more, I wouldn’t have taken a bedroom-only off a suite because as connecting rooms at the hotel they tend to transmit a decent amount of noise.

Housekeeping called down to a manager, who told me they would check through things and call me back. About an hour later (and I was headed out, but waiting to hear back) they called to let me know I could stay in the suite. I’m not sure how they solved the problem.

In the end I got my three nights in the very nice suite — I’ve had this same exact room three times in six months — with no confirmed suite deducted. But it took some confusion on the part of the hotel to get it.

For an atrium-style domestic Hyatt Regency, I much like the property and breakfast is a above average, especially the Southwestern-style dishes.

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. @Jim we do not know that anyone was walked. I did not refuse. I had thought through the compensation possibilities, actually 🙂

  2. I loved the pics… but wait, how did you confuse the hotel to give you a free upgrade? I missed that.

  3. @JustSaying (1) the Driskill was much more expensive [remember I had a group rate], (2) I’m not a fan of the Driskill’s rooms.

  4. Kinda off topic but a quick question. I just made diamond and have a reservation booked thru Amex Plat FHR on a third night free rate 2 the Park Hyatt Aviara. Can this type of agency booking be upgraded w/ the Diamond suite upgrades? Thanks

  5. @Shaun – it’s an eligible rate for elite qualification so it should be upgradable with a confirmed suite cert.

  6. Thanks for a great story! I loved reading it!

    Now every time I stay at that Hyatt, I will be checking to see if my room is just a living room of a suite.

  7. And you think it is a good idea to write about how you cheated the hotel out of a suite? It will for sure make you their favorite in the future plus they might go back and pull the upgrade cert out of your account. If the hotel is fully booked or overbooked then you request whatever room you want, worst case you end up with exactly what you don’t like: A room with a connecting door. I hate these myself but in the end the only thing you can do is walk away to another property. I did just that a couple weeks ago. Not that easy though in a city where a conference is happening.

  8. Sorry, but I think this is a bit too much fuss (or celebration?) about nothing. I know, some folks are a lot more interested in perks and the almighty “Status” than am I. When I’m forced to use a hotel it is a place to sleep, not to hang out. My needs are 1) clean and quiet 2) a high -quality bed and 3) a quality breakfast. Anything more is fluff.

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