The Grand Hyatt Factory, New York

Up until March of this year Hyatt’s top tier Diamond members were only entitled to suite upgrades when confirming those suites in advance (up to 4 times a year). Now the program has been renamed World of Hyatt, top tier members are Globalists, and in addition to confirmed at booking suite upgrades are entitled to upgrades to “standard suites (where available), which are defined as rooms within each participating hotel’s or resort’s introductory suite category.”

This means something different at each property, and consistency of delivery of the benefit varies from property to property. For instance I never receive a suite upgrade based on availability at the Hyatt Centric Arlington despite being a very frequent guest there. But since the new rules launch March 1 I’ve received complimentary suites at the Grand Hyatt DFW Airport and the Grand Hyatt Atlanta Buckhead (Grand Hyatt DFW was good about offering suites even before these new rules applied).

I’ve been staying at the Grand Hyatt New York for years albeit not always with a Gold Passport number attached. I don’t actually much like the hotel, but it’s frequently been good value. For instance two renovations and 15 years ago you could book the hotel on Priceline for $77. A decade ago Hyatt’s since-discontinued stay certificates were a great value booking rooms that might price on the Hyatt website at $519 for around two-thirds off.

Last week I spent a night there because it was the cheapest upscale alternative that worked with where I needed to be in the city. Rooms were pricing at $199 when I checked in, also suggesting that this very large property was far from full.

I arrived at the hotel about 10 minutes to 3 p.m. There wasn’t much of a line at the desk. I asked the agent what kind of room she had me in, and when I was told it wasn’t a suite I took out my phone.

  • It was a one night stay, and I was alone. I really didn’t care about a suite.

  • But I wanted to see how the hotel would handle new elite benefits.

  • So I checked availability enroute to the hotel. Rooms of all types were plentiful.

The agent explained to me that as a Globalist I could be upgraded as high as a junior suite but none were available. I showed her my phone. The hotel was selling junior suites.

Agent: Junior suites are for sale but none are ready.

Me: How long would I have to wait for one?

Agent: If you want to wait I can ask housekeeping to clean one with two double beds.

Me: What if I wanted to wait for a king?

Agent: I can’t expedite one of those. It will be a long time.

And that’s how I didn’t get upgraded to a junior suite on a night when the Grand Hyatt New York was mostly empty. I didn’t push further because, as I say, I didn’t actually care about the suite and just wanted to see how the interaction would go.

I asked the agent about the bottled water benefit (Hyatt provides a bottle of water daily at the lowest tier of status). She said that I could get one in the club lounge. Knowing that the club lounge didn’t have water bottles for guests (I hate that!) I pushed back and she gave me a coupon for a single bottle of water in the to-go market in the lobby.

Here’s my corner room.

In general I find the hotel more Regency than Grand although they do have June Jacobs bath amenities. Just like there’s no bottled water in the club that guests can take away, there was no June Jacobs bath gel — shampoo, conditioner, and a bar of soap. Cost control is important, but seems much for a Grand.

Along the lines of cost control they have a ground floor market with coffee and sandwiches as well as sundries as a replacement for room service, guests spend the time picking up food rather than having it delivered. Room service still exists with a limited menu and hours, though the Market is 24 hours.

At this hotel even assistance in taking a selfie for social shares is automated.

The highlight of the hotel is the club lounge space largely because of the outdoor deck. Even the club lounge gets busy.

Except for bottled water (there’s a water dispensing machine, fine in the lounge but not to-go) the club lounge is well-provisioned, although like many lounges in the U.S. evening drinks are pay-in rather than complimentary. Breakfast does offer smoked salmon, though onions, tomatoes, and eggs are chopped rather than sliced which holds down food cost.

Returning to the hotel at around 11 p.m. the check-in line was over 20 deep. It’s a perfectly serviceable property, good at the price when it’s the cheapest full service choice in the area, but more appropriate for a Regency than the expectation of the more upscale and service-oriented Grand brand. Put another say, it’s a stay factory.

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. Agree about your comments on this property. I was here about two years ago, the price was right if you’re okay with the area (a little higher up and further east than my preference). The lounge was good. They did give me a junior suite when I booked a standard room without me asking (I was Diamond at the time).

    Rates in NYC have been low recently I’m noticing…

  2. The lack of clear brand standards and/or clear application of same is why I’m booking away from Hyatt , or at least away from their site. I’ve been able to book a big suite on a “member” website–one with full club privileges for the same price as a base king room on Hyatt’s site. I did not get upgraded to the suite as a Globalist.

    This , coupled with Hyatt giving fast-track Globalist because people are leaving the program, means the status isn’t worth anything to me. It’s diluted.
    My average room rate is $400+.
    Aspirational properties like Park Hyatt Maldives simply are not aspirational when they can’t fix the air-conditioning.
    My recent stay at the Conrad Rangali had air that was cold, so it CAN be fixed. (Hyatt lost $16,000 in revenue on that stay)
    I sometimes feel like I’m buying a used car when i stay at Hyatt, and I’m not going to beg or argue for benefits they should be giving.
    I can get free breakfast at La Quinta

  3. , if I become an AU on 2 of my mothers CC’s and then remove myself in 2 or 3 months, will those 2 AU’s count against me when I want to apply for Chase cards in January ?

  4. WoH was simply a way to reduce check-in bonus points.

    As a diamond -> globalist, I lost check-in food/drink voucher at Hyatt Places and don’t regularly get suites even when they are for sale for similar excuses at Regency. Points redemptions are getting more expensive and harder as hotels have redefined “standard” rooms to be fewer – no corners, no high floor, no view, etc.

    Lastly, they are completely uncompetitive with breakfast. As a globalist (let alone lower tiers), I think I should get a full breakfast vs. a lounge meal that doesn’t even have eggs. If Hyatt is serious about catering to top stay / spenders, then they need to step it up. Right now, they are not the best primary program, and have made it unworthwhile to be everyone’s favorite “2nd program”

  5. Had a one night stay here last year when I was about 5 stays short of Diamond.

    Was not happy with the room at all when I checked in at 3pm. I called down to ask about availability and the front desk told me they had plenty of rooms.

    After a night out, I walked back to the front desk around 2am and told them the room was unsatisfactory. She looked at me, looked at her computer screen, and then explained to me that what she was about to do was a “courtesy”.

    i went up to my new room, and noticed that it had a double door. I walked in to find a long hallway with a baby grand piano at the end of it. No doubt, it was the Presendential Suite. By far the most amazing hotel room I’ve ever been in.

    To top it off, I got to extend my checkout to 2pm with my status. I just wish I hadn’t had achieved diamond so I could push it 4.

  6. @noah . . . Hyatt uncompetitive on breakfast? So which program has a better breakfast benefit than Hyatt? It’s definitely not Hilton, Marriott, or SPG. I’ve ditched Hyatt, and the thing I miss most is the breakfast benefit, which is far and away the most generous of any of these programs.

  7. Although a lot of people are getting on WOH I haven’t had any bad experiences every property I’ve stayed at so far has upgraded me to a better room. So far I’ve stayed at Park Hyatt Milan, grand Hyatt Singapore , grand Hyatt Taipei , park Hyatt DC…

  8. So the water choices are Sparkling, Ambient and Still.

    What in the world is “Ambient” water?

  9. Agree with the review Gary — except that your great pictures tend to glorify it a bit! I also had a corner room my last stay, with what had to be the smallest bathroom I’ve seen in a long time! As to upgrades, it’s pot luck, isn’t it? At the Park Hyatt NYC couple of weeks ago I asked what chances were for an upgrade (I’m a Globalist) and Lo! A fantastic corner suite over-looking Carnegi Hall.

  10. Enjoyed this review. Haven’t been there in a while but your ranking of it as really a Regency spot on. I’m happy to get this hotel on Priceline or a a good rate but when its $400 + I look elsewhere. Also the sometimes brusque NY service of the old days would usually be on display here during any given stay. But photos actually look better than my memory.

    Its well known by you and your readers but it bears repeating — its main asset is a phenomenal location in Manhattan. Despite the “Grand” appellation, ironically it can be a great hotel for those watching their nickels and dimes, and thus easy to overlook its shortcomings … Priceline your way in, you’re directly connected to Grand Central and at the heart of the NYC subway system, with bus coach service to the airports just outside your door, walking distance to Rockefeller Center almost entirely indoors if necessary. And when I lived in NY and people still read magazines and books, the lobby restaurant was a bit of a people watching power breakfast for the publishing business, as the hitters would simply roll off their suburban commuter trains and take their first meeting of the day off the lobby and up that escalator in your photo.

    To mangle an old saying, even a (n Orange Orangutan) finds an acorn now and then.

  11. My understanding is that the on,y difference in Hyatt vs Hyatt Regency vs Grand Hyatt is the amount of convention space….

  12. I would have pushed for the suite…but that’s just me. As for the water at the club, it is plentiful, but hidden in the back, so you have to ask for it. You’ll get a dirty look from the person working the club, but I found you can ask for up to three and you will get them.
    Also a Globalist (still don’t know why Diamond doesn’t work for them) I always make sure to tell them at the desk, I do not want one of their janitor closet rooms (which looks like you got stuck with), but rather one of the more spacious regular rooms…usully works.

  13. I guess it just comes down to rates…..$200 or less ok for NYC. More than $200 try find something better. Generally Hyatt takes care of me, mostly because of my company, as I have no status with Hyatt. I won’t be pursuing status with Hyatt either. Posts like this are why.

  14. This is a crappy hotel and an absolute zoo when it’s busy. I was last there in march and will probably steer clear when I’m next in NYC.

    Gary, I think you’d be a lot happy if you bought a refillable water bottle, then you wouldn’t have to worry about this stuff.

  15. I was at GH NY last week too. As a Globalist, I got the same small room you did “as a courtesy” (no upgrade to larger room even though it was available) and received a stupid single water bottle voucher.
    Hate that the club doesn’t have available bottled water. Then Club run out of food that Tuesday night with an hour left until close. The Club staff I interacted with were not particularly pleasant nor helpful.
    The room was ok, except, what’s up with the little plastic shower head you can barely get to rotate or work correctly.

  16. Wow, it looks very pedestrian: people in swimwear complete with flip-flops in the private lounge! Don’t they even have a dress code there?

  17. Thanks for your top 5 Grand Hyatt’s! I appreciate it!

    I read your blog every day! I look forward to it!

  18. I agree with what you wrote. This property’s biggest issue is its focus on cost control rather than providing service. How the agent responded to your request for a Jr Suite is unacceptable, and this hotel should be held accountable to Hyatt brand standards!

    On another note, I think the Grand Hyatt Washington DC is even worse than this one. Their “Grand” lounge is worse than many Regency clubs…

  19. Bottled water is wasteful; kudos to GH for encouraging travelers to bring a reusable bottle along.

    Als, for everyone’s information, the lounge *does* have bottled water. You just have to ask an attendant.

  20. I just checked in and was proactively offered a voucher for 2 bottles per day. Maybe they are reading your blog…

  21. Gary this hotel is falling apart, I am surprised there is no pictures or comments about how the rooms are in bad shape, with broken and dirty things that do not resemble a premium Hyatt experience.
    I have followed this blog for years and have trusted your reviews but I can’t really trust it anymore after experiencing such a poor stay, I am sorry to say I will unfollow the blog because of this.

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