Four Big Changes To World Of Hyatt (Three Don’t Happen Until March 22)

Annual category changes are pushing up prices at 117 Hyatt hotels, and 100 go down. Out of these 217 properties changing category 65 are SLH hotels.

Meanwhile Hyatt is adding 48 new SLH hotels to their portfolio, introducing variable pricing for cash and price awards, and implementing new peak and off peak award pricing. All of this goes into effect March 22. Overall the changes that are new are modestly positive or neutral.

Hotel Category Changes At Over 20% Of Hyatt Properties

Each year Hyatt, like Marriott, makes changes to the redemption category each hotel is assigned to. Last year 259 hotels changed category, about a third of Hyatt properties. An equal number went up as down, however the reductions were clustered among the cheapest hotels and the increases were focused on the hotels that were already the most expensive.

This year we’re seeing 217 hotels change category, with 117 going up and 100 going down. 65 of the changes are in SLH properties.

  • No hotel changes more than one category in either direction
  • There are 25 new category 1 hotels
  • There are 24 hotels moving down to category 2 including Grand Hyatt Athens, and the Hyatt Regencys Baltimore Inner Harbor, Bangkok and Cleveland and the Andaz Delhi
  • 14 hotels move down to category 3
  • 13 hotels move down to category 4, including the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam (I have some points coming back to me) and Sydney, the Park Hyatts in Hamburg and Melbourne, and the Grand Hyatt and Olive 8 in Seattle.
  • 17 hotels move down to category 5, including the Park Hyatts in Mallorca, Seoul, Chicago and Moscow
  • 6 hotels, all SLH properties, move down from category 7 to 6. There are no hotels dropping out of category 8.
  • One of the most important changes is 21 hotels bumping up from category 4 to 5, meaning they’re no longer eligible for category 1-4 free nights. That includes the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara and Park Hyatt Saigon.
  • 13 hotels go from category 5 to 6 including Andaz Papagayo which only made it out of category 4 last year.
  • 19 hotels go from category 6 to 7 including Hyatt Regency Aruba and Grand Hyatt Tokyo
  • 13 hotels, all SLH properties, go from category 7 to 8 including the Viceroy Bali

Andaz Papagayo Went From Category 4 to 6 In Two Years

Overall this year’s changes are more balanced than last year’s where the reductions were almost all focused in the bottom categories and the increases nearly all focused at the top. If you have a reservation after March 22 for a hotel that goes down in category or that moves to off peak, you’ll get an automatic refund in points.

I’ve uploaded the full list as an excel file for ease in digging through the changes.

48 New SLH Hotels Added To World Of Hyatt

Hyatt has a partnership with SLH hotels, some of the nicest hotels in the world. There are around 500 properties in total and as of the end of 2019 they had brought over 300 of them into the World of Hyatt program.

Members can redeem points for SLH hotel stays. That’s the sweet spot, although Hyatt elite benefits don’t apply. Members can also earn elite stay credit and points at SLH hotels. The problem is that you have to book the stay through Hyatt to do so and you won’t always get the best available rate (best rate guarantees do not apply).

Hyatt has added another 48 hotels to the partnership bringing them now to over 350, or around 70% of the total SLH portfolio. This batch brings them reach into Mongolia, Montenegro and Israel, and includes properties such as:

  • The Sukhothai Bangkok
  • Hotel Villa Franca, Positano Italy
  • MarBella Nido Suite Hotel and Villas, Corfu Greece
  • Hotel Vestibul Palace, Split Croatia
  • The Norman Tel Aviv

Variable Cash and Points Prices

Hyatt gutted cash and points awards in fall 2018. Instead of being a fixed cash charge in addition to half the points of a standard award night, they changed pricing to be 50% of the prevailing room rate. That made cash and points more expensive when hotel stays are expensive, limiting the value you get out of the redemptions. I haven’t booked a cash and points stay since.

I’ve seen reports on twitter of guests being charged less than 50% of the prevailing room rate in recent weeks. This becomes official March 22, with variable points and cash pricing. Cash and points may still be 50% of the prevailing rate, but it will range down to 30%.

Peak and Off Peak Prices Go Into Effect

In December Hyatt announced that peak and off peak redemption pricing would come in March. It’s happening effective March 22.

This change mirrors what other larger hotel chains have done – Hilton and Marriott both have peak and off peak pricing (though Hilton’s is unpublished since they hide their award chart). This moves Hyatt closer to revenue-based redemptions and to delivering average rather than outsized value for points. When hotels are full and rates higher, Hyatt will charge more points. When hotels are empty and rates lower they’ll charge fewer points.

Peak pricing will be an upcharge of 1500 to 5000 points depending on the category. Off peak pricing will be a discount of 1500 to 5000 points. Here’s the new free night award chart going into effect in March:

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

And since cash and points awards are 50% of the points and 50% of the prevailing cash rate, cash and points will see lower and higher points prices on off-peak and peak dates as well. Similarly cash and points and free night awards will have peak and off-peak for club redemptions, standard suite redemptions, and premium suite redemptions.

grand hyatt singapore club lounge
Grand Hyatt Singapore Club Lounge

Regency Club and Standard Suite awards have the same discounts and upcharges for off-peak and peak in each category as Free Night Awardss.  Here’s the standard suite redemption chart with off-peak and peak pricing:

Category Off-Peak Standard Peak
1 6500 8000 9500
2 11500 13000 14500
3 17000 20000 23000
4 21000 24000 27000
5 29000 32000 35000
6 36000 40000 44000
7 43000 48000 53000
8 56000 61000 66000

Premium suite awards can actually go up (or down) by 10,000 points per night:

Category Off-Peak Standard Peak
1 7000 10000 13000
2 13000 16000 19000
3 18000 24000 30000
4 24000 30000 36000
5 34000 40000 46000
6 42000 50000 58000
7 50000 60000 70000
8 70000 80000 90000

A Miraval premium suite with additional person during peak period can jump up an additional 17,000 points to 137,000 points per night. That’s a lot of points for a cleanse.

The per-night cost of points upgrades (to club, standard suite, and premium suite) do not change with the introduction of off-peak and peak.

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. Oof – every single hotel that’s changing categories in Japan is going up (maybe for the Olympics, hopefully they’ll go down the year after?). The Hyatt Regency Tokyo was one of the best ways to stay in the city with points (excluding Choice hotels), which is now losing quite a bit of value.

  2. Well this should not surprise anyone out there. Interesting enough there are some downward departures that I am surprised at especially in Dubai both of which are nice properties. Park Vendome stays the same its in somewhat of a decline.

    Marriott then Hyatt the rest who are left will follow. Loyalty is on a decline folks enjoy it while you can.

  3. While I’ve had some nice stays at Park Hyatts (Paris, Milan and Vienna), I rarely use points for hotel stays and the stays above are a luxury that I wouldn’t do again. I’d much rather use 48,000 chase points towards a business or first class ticket than stay at a category 7 hotel.

    The high end hotels just seem unnecessary for my travels. I don’t stay in cheap places but staying at the high end places just means everything is outrageously marked up (expensive bottle of water, $40+ breakfasts, etc.).

    I know some people crave that but other than getting a nice airplane seat so I have some privacy and am treated a bit nicer (I don’t even care for the alcohol or the fancy food) I’m not that high maintenance.

    I need to use my free nights before they expire, if I can find some place I want to go.

  4. For my Asian travels…

    Biggest positive move: Hyatt Regency Bangkok will now be my go to property at 8k. No more dealing with the zoo of mainland Chinese at breakfast at Hyatt Place Bangkok! Park Hyatt Seoul at 20k is also now suddenly interesting.

    Biggest negative move: Hyatt Regency Tokyo. Well, at least can still use Cat 1-4 certs.

    Most perplexing: Hyatt Regency Tokyo moving to same price as Andaz and Park Hyatt?

  5. @WR2: the increase in the Tokyo properties could also happen because of the Olympics and how much focus is being put on Japan this year. Even people you don’t want to attend the Olympics might have Japan on their radar. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tokyo properties move down again next year or two years from now.

  6. Bummer that Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port is going from Cat 4 to Cat 5. Very nice property but I thought it was over priced at a Cat 4 so Cat 5 is really hard to stomach. Somehow should tell Hyatt that the property is located in Maine and not Maryland which is how it is currently listed.

  7. The Excel file link seems to be to a schedule of last year’s changes. Am I mistaken? Or, is that what you intended there?

  8. SLH properties let Hyatt claim it is expanding. Those properties are are pretty worthless for many because they are expensive and no elite benefits. Of course I’m generally not a Park Hyatt/Andaz fan either.

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