Hyatt is making annual hotel category changes – making some hotels to more expensive points redemptions, while making other hotels less expensive, based on the room rates those hotels are projected to achieve. These changes will go into effect at 146 hotels on March 22, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. Central time.
What’s significant here is that even though slightly more hotels will go down in category (76) versus going up in category (70), this should still be seen as a devaluation – and in some cases a big one. For the first time ever Hyatt will charge category 8 prices for hotels that have been in their own portfolio for years, not merely partner hotels or hotels that are part of newly acquired brands. Here’s the full list of changes.
New Category 8 Hotels
10 hotels are going from category 7 up to category 8. That includes 9 hotels that are Hyatt-branded hotels including the Park Hyatt New York, Park Hyatt Paris, and Park Hyatt Sydney.
- North America: Alila Napa, Alila Ventana Big Sur, Andaz Maui, and Park Hyatt New York
- Europe: Hôtel Lou Pinet in Saint-Tropez (SLH), Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Milan
- Asia Pacific: Park Hyatt Sydney, Park Hyatt Kyoto, Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono
Park Hyatt Sydney
Most bizarre here, perhaps, is seeing the Andaz Maui go up to category 8 since the hotel is notorious for making it difficult to redeem awards at anyway. The games this property plays, such as exact minimum stay requirements on points (e.g. 3 or 7 nights) and limiting availability to the greatest extent possible should minimize Hyatt’s exposure. I’ve asked if perhaps the hotel is being rated more highly to draw additional points from members in order to fund extra payments to the property to get them to loosen up inventory. I’m looking for a silver lining!
Hyatt Said This Wouldn’t Happen, I Told You It Would
When Hyatt introduced category 8 pricing in fall 2018 they said it was just for the highest-end of their SLH partner hotels and they had ” no plans for any Hyatt-branded hotels or resorts to move to a new Category 8.”
I told you to expect it anyway, and that it would happen with hotels they were adding as part of the Two Roads Hospitality acquisition. It took only a year for Destination Residences (part of that acquisition) to get priced as category 8. And now we see several Alilas (also part of that acquisition) with category 8 pricing.
And, of course, we see legacy Hyatt properties in category 8 too – exactly what I said would happen as well despite assurances to the contrary.
Other Notable Changes
Alila Marea goes from category 6 to category 7. This one is likely justified, but boy has the hotel been a great value especially for Globalists. While suites here are scarce, they only have 3 standard suites last I checked, I’ve twice booked award nights confirmed in suites selling for over $2000 a night and benefits have included fabulous breakfasts (the hotel restaurant is very, very good and offers a la carte dining) and free valet parking.
Alila Marea Encinitas
There are several popular hotels that’ll no longer be bookable using category 4 free night certificates, because they are moving from category 4 to 5. These includes Confidante Miami Beach, Gild Hall Thompson (the only Manhattan option that was bookable at category 4 – leaving behind a huge hole) and Park Hyatt Istanbul.
The much-underrated Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress moves from category 3 to 4, and should still be considered for Globalist family Disney trips especially when suites are confirmable.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Also worth noting that Hyatt Place Moab is the only 2 category adjustment – moving from 2 to 4.
How Much Redemptions Will Cost
At one point the most you could spend to stay at a Hyatt was 15,000 points. There was nothing higher than category 4. However, at the end of 2006 they created category 5 as the new highest redemption tier. Then in 2010 they created category 6 as a new highest redemption tier. With room rates not at all yet recovered from the Great Recession it was surprising that they were charging more points for rooms.
In 2014 Hyatt introduced a new category 7 and raised the price of category 5 and 6 awards. Four years later we got category 8 and now we have category 8 and peak season pricing.
Hyatt is the last major program to retain true fixed award chart pricing. That provided great value to members. When rates are low you spend cash at a hotel. When they’re high you spend points. That way you get great value for your points. Peak redemption pricing cuts against that. And the very best hotels will now be out of reach for many. Remember that Hyatt does not offer ‘5th night free’ like Marriott or Hilton (or 4th night like IHG for its cobrand cardmembers).
Moving Similar Numbers Of Hotels Up And Down Category Is Still A Real Devaluation
The introduction of peak and off peak means that even when an equal number of hotels go down in category as go up, that doesn’t mean they balance out. Hyatt can lower properties in category and then have more peak nights, effectively only lowering the property half a category. I’ve asked Hyatt whether peak and off peak dates will change for properties that are moving categories in 2022.
In any case the combination of category 8 and the addition of peak/off peak pricing means that a Hyatt property redemption may cost as much as 45,000 points per night, up from 30,000 just a few months ago. That’s a devaluation for the best properties that drive aspirational loyalty.
How To Take Advantage Of These Changes
Make your award reservations before the changes go into effect for any hotels that will be going up in category. Pay attention to cancellation rules, and cancel before the deadline if you’re not going to use a booking. But consider even speculative reservations to save points.
Meanwhile if you have a reservation at a hotel that is getting less expensive, Hyatt will process points refunds automatically. You won’t need to cancel and rebook.
However bear in mind that any changes you make to a reservation after hotel category changes go into effect will get priced according to the new chart.