Hyatt Guest Charged $11,212 After Cancelling An Award Stay 58 Days In Advance

I’ve written about the risk you run booking an award stay with Hyatt or Marriott, that if you cancel after the cancellation deadline (say, for instance, your flight is cancelled) you don’t lose your points – you lose a cash forfeiture amount instead.

And your cash penalty can be really high. I once helped a guest avoid a $7000 charge for an award stay they cancelled six months in advance. They booked the stay a year out but it was completely non-refundable, something that hadn’t been disclosed to them at the time of booking.

Most people think you lose your points if you make a points reservation and fail to cancel by the deadline. But that’s not how it works. Here’s a story of a guest that’s being charged $11,212.50 when they went to cancel a reservation at Hyatt’s Montaneros in Vail, Destination Residence. The hotel had a policy requiring cancellation within 60 days of the stay, and it was 58 days prior to check-in when the guest called.

Hyatt’s program terms say that the guest will be charged cash and their points will be returned if they fail to cancel a reservation by the hotel’s deadline,

If a Member does not follow the proper cancellation policy for the applicable hotel or resort or if a Member does not check into the hotel or resort when scheduled, the credit card provided with the Award Reservation will be charged in accordance with the hotel’s or resort’s cancellation or no-show policy and any points redeemed for the applicable Award Reservation will be returned to the Member’s account.

However nowhere during the booking process are you ever told how much money that will be. And even after booking, Hyatt’s confirmation emails do not tell you how much money is at risk.

On one confirmation I consulted I saw a cancel penalty of “50 PCT OF STAY” – but the cost of my ‘stay’ was 90,000 points, which certainly seemed to suggest the penalty would be 45,000 rather than thousands of dollars.

Cash forfeiture for cancelling too close to arrival, or for missing a trip for reasons beyond your control, is both an unnecessarily customer-unfriendly policy and so poorly disclosed that I do not see how it can even be enforced.

Starwood Preferred Guest used to have a friendlier feature where you’d choose the cash forfeiture or just to lose the points you used to book the stay (you could choose). Both Hyatt’s and Marriott’s programs are run by ex-Starwood people.

If you’re ever in this position you’re better off keeping the stay, call and see if the hotel will be flexible. I’ve had a hotel waive their penalty. They were happy to get the room back to sell for cash instead of taking the points compensation. A hotel might also be willing to let you reschedule, if not completely cancel.

However if the hotel isn’t flexible, and you’re going to be charged for cancellation, don’t cancel! You might be able to find someone to take the reservation off of your hands. Just add them as a second guest name on the reservation. And if you can’t find someone to stay at the property, you might be able to pay someone less than the forfeiture amount to check in for you, avoiding the need to mortgage your home.

Update: A Hyatt spokesperson offers,

Please know this is not the experience we want for our guests and valued World of Hyatt members and take feedback like this very seriously. We have communicated with this guest and the property will be processing a full refund. We are also examining the cancellation policy terms and conditions language for Destination Residences properties.

Hopefully they’ll reconsider their approach and allow members to simply forfeit points in the event of late cancellation, and that this will apply across all of their brands.

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. Wonder which companies may allow “remote” checkin without physically reaching the hotel away as an alternative to outright cancellation so that only points are lost. Had this stress on high stakes award stays at hotels such as St Regis Bal Harbor, Andaz Maui, etc where a flight delay or whatever other unforseen reason would’ve triggered a 5 figure cash forfeiture!

  2. I am 100% convinced this is a conscious, deliberate scam ran by the hotels and chain. All they need to say is “If you cancel after the cancelation date YOU WILL BE CHARGED THE FULL CASH PRICE OF $XXXX.” They’re not transparent because the WANT you to make the erroneous assumption.

  3. Lots of confusing stuff here:
    1) The cancellation penalty is the same for a cash and a points reservation. That is good. What is bad is:
    a) That not b eing made clear in advance of reservation;
    b) The amount not being made clear in advance of reservation;

    2) “Cash forfeiture for cancelling too close to arrival, or for missing a trip for reasons beyond your control, is both an unnecessarily customer-unfriendly policy and so poorly disclosed that I do not see how it can even be enforced.”
    This should be enforcable. Customers are better off if they have the right to bear the risk (which you are proposing to take away). The cost has to be paid. There is no ‘cancellation fairy’. I, as the customer, may want to bear it in return for the lower price.

  4. @Thing 1: “I am 100% convinced this is a conscious, deliberate scam ran by the hotels and chain”

    Why do you stay at such places?

  5. I would file a lawsuit in small claims court if the precise amount of the penalty is not disclosed. I would also liquidate my account of points before filing suit in the event the hotel brand retaliated by canceling my account.

  6. File a chargeback on your credit card. The lack of disclosure of the actual amount being billed in case of a cancellation violates the card company rules.

  7. Haven’t stayed at a Hyatt in a while. Avoid Marriott whenever possible.

    In the end, I can see the argument for keeping the points, but what is the additional marginal cost in $ if I am checked in and sitting in my hotel room or canceling (and kissing my points goodbye) sitting in a snowed-in airport somewhere? The hotel loses NOTHING because if I had checked in it was all on points anyway (which they’d keep). No, they return your points because they WANT to charge you the cash instead of deducting the points.

  8. I fond Marriott to be consistently the most agrégions here. 99 out of 100 times the fine print says something like ‘if you cancel after X date a penalty will be charged’ with zero indication if that is a fixed fee, your points (of course never this anymore, one night’s rate (which rate?) or your entire stay at full rack rate.

    There does need to be consumer protections here if the brands won’t do it (they won’t) which required a clearly stated dollar amount on all bookings in the booking path with regards to the cancellation penalty to the penny.

  9. Both these hotel chains are THIEVES by messing for such things. OUTRAGEOUS and members should steer away from these 2 Hotel chains. SHAME ON THEM!

  10. Don’t let the Montaneros in Vail, a Destination by Hyatt Residence, screw you by charging your credit card $11,212 after you cancel an award stay reservation 58 days in advance. Instead, advise the Hyatt Montaneros you will donate your thoughtfully appointed condo to a local homeless person and their friends so they will enjoy a week of Hyatt hospitality to help them recover from their COVID-19 infections.

  11. Unless the room isn’t re-rented I would say this an unenforceable liquidated damages provision easily challenged in court. No liability for breach of contract (by guest) if hotel suffers no loss (arguably gained from later presumably more expensive cash booking).

  12. @Ken A while I’d love to stick it to Hyatt more than anything this way, unfortunately this is also against T&Cs and they are well within their right to refuse entry and charge penalty. Guest must be staying at the property unless you booked a GoH.

  13. @FNT, the problem with small claims court is that the damages are capped at $10K in many states. You can not plead down your damages to go under that threshold, I know, I tried.

    @Gary Can you reach out to Hyatt? Maybe your pull can help that poor lady?

  14. Assigning the room to someone else requires the hotel’s assent. Sure, you could add their name as secondary, but some hotels require that the original guest check in at some point, and could enforce a cancellation policy if that guest never checks in (especially if they know or suspect what you’re trying to do).

    If they were especially punitive, what’s to stop the hotel from BOTH charging the cancellation for the guest who no-showed AND requiring payment for the guest who showed up and used a reservation they were not entitled to hold?

  15. As others have noted, and in my recent experience; hotels are now less and less allowing a second guest to checkin. Eliminates many alternatives.

  16. One way to get around cancellation penalties sometimes is to change the reservation dates to push out the reservation dates and then cancel the reservation before the cancellation deadline. But this won’t fly as easily if missing the check-in date.

  17. I think another solution might be putting in a fake cc number when making the award booking (think at least marriott doesn’t verify) or otherwise using a prepaid gift card that only has a small balance so the potential loss is limited. Would think in worst case the company might permanently ban your rewards account if unable to charge the full amount.

  18. Just booked Deer Valley St Regis for 5 nights 12/26-31 2023) for 480,000 points. Got this in an email
    From the hotel the next day:
    Your Reservation: Cancellation Details
    To help us prepare for the season & provide you with the most value,
    a deposit & a 60-day cancellation policy is applied to your reservation.

    What happens if I cancel within 60 days of my arrival date or do not arrive on my reserved day of arrival?

    Your Marriott Bonvoy points would be returned to your account, and you will be charged
    $21620.11 for your dates of stay.

  19. @Michael & Darin: The World of Hyatt terms (updated and effective date: January 1, 2023) says, “The Member must actually check-in and complete the stay for his or her reservation at a Point Property to earn points.”

    Accordingly, if I had checked in with my guests at the Montaneros in Vail, then departed early, I would have met the Hyatt check-in published requirement. Many guests travel with their significant other. Sometimes, one person must leave early due to incoming adverse weather or flight cancellations. I do not see any language in the terms and conditions that guests will incur a financial penalty for departing early as long as one person in the party is there to “complete the stay.” Therefore, your invited homeless registered guests or significant other can help you avoid a Hyatt Montaneros early checkout financial penalty.

  20. Crazy prices! There are other places to ski in the US or in the world. If they charge that much for a hotel night, the food prices must be insane. Personally I’d rather spend $11k flying to Chile or Japan where $11k will cover an entire week’s trip, flight and ski costs.

  21. @Sam and others. This is just insane. It is fundamentally soooo wrong. It also makes their points almost useless. I’m not going to book a fancy resort using points out of fear that something will come up and I’ll need to cancel and be charged the cash price.

  22. Vail and Aspen seem to be the worst in this regard, though I see a lot of hotels in Phoenix with no refundable rooms for Super Bowl dates.

    If possible maybe change the guarantee card to a card with a low limit (visa debit card?) or a virtual card that can be cancelled (X1 offers this feature). Then let the hotel try to come after you.

  23. I have read about this before…. I really dont understand what the logic for Hyatt or Marriott corporate allowing this. Fine to lose your points. They can re-rent the room. But the huge cash penalty? Is that supposed to compensate them for all the margin they were hoping to make in the restaurant/bar/spa?

  24. @Sam: Thanks for warning us when you make a future reservation for five nights at the Marriott Deer Valley St Regis resort, you may be penalized if you die within 30 days of your reservation. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Nearly half of the 37 skiers and snowboarders in Utah who have died in avalanches in the past 20 years have perished in backcountry terrain accessed via a ski resort lift. And more than half of those — including two men who died in separate avalanches in January — left through the exit point above the Ninety-Nine 90 lift.” Due to previous guest complaints, the Deer Valley hotel website cancelation policy has changed from 60 days to 30 days. So, if you check out before checking in within 30 days of your reservation, the Marriott Deer Vall St Regis resort may bill your estate $21,620.11, but your valuable Marriott points will be refunded.

  25. What if Southwest cancels your flight for a few days and you can’t make it to check in? Does credit card insurance cover this?

  26. Just move the stay to a date more than 60 days in the future, then cancel. Both are allowed and that solves the problem, has worked for me many times.

  27. The people who ever said it was a scam on comments are those people who never read ” Terms and Conditions”. Be responsible for your own life, read those words and sentences. And as a adult, please start to learn how to be responsible for your own mistakes. Maybe stopping being a crying baby will be the first step.

  28. Have a paid stay in July at St Regis Deer Valley – $5,000. 14 day cancelation – if less than that they will charge my card $4,800. Reserved using Chase Sapphire Reserve which is supposed to come with $10,000 insurance. Am I to understand that if there are either health issues, a death or a problem with the airline that Chase won’t consider this an insurable event? Seems like one of the main reasons I have the card!

  29. Marriott often will not allow you to add a second guest name to an award stay. The owner of the award must check in Happened to me twice when I was running late and tried to get them to release the room to my friend.

  30. Not all hotels are equal – IHG Holliday Inn did not charge me for no show due to health emergency. IHG has very generous cancelation policy.

    Also never experienced anything like that with Bonvoy – most of their hotels do their best to satisfy members, especially Platinum and higher.

  31. @NeMo – fyi it varies by property. The W Maldives tried to charge me $18,000 to cancel when I was hospitalized and the doctor forbade any travel. I escalated and escalated, with the Dr’s note – from the cardiac wing mind you – and they offered $10,000. I persisted and got it waived. Titanium. Bonvoy was unable to intervene. Both CSR and my purchased Trip insurance would not cover a penalty charge.

    Just FYI.

  32. Insanity. I book the room. I spend 400,000 points. The room is taken out of availability. I cancel within 60 days. Then Hyatt rebooks my room perhaps this time for $$ instead of points. If they don’t, they have my equivalent $$ via the points. They are out nothing. And then Hyatt charges me $11,000 as well. No sane person would think this to be reasonable. Why would I call and cancel? Simply not show up. Hyatt keeps the points.

    I repeat. Insanity.

  33. A recent points booking for a Hyatt property next summer told me this:

    CANCELLATION POLICY:
    30 DAYS PRIOR OR 2NT FEE/ 2NT DPST AT BOOKING

    Seems pretty clear for changes too:

    Changes to the dates of stay, number of guests per room or number of rooms confirmed will be subject to current pricing which may be different than previously confirmed rates.

    This is all the language in my confirmation email with no footnotes about it.
    So once i get inside 30 days I’ll just need to change dates and then later cancel.

  34. Twice this year I have had airline delays that got me to my destination a day after the start of my points reservation. Both times I was staying at Hyatt properties. I am Globalist, which might be a factor in how they treated me.

    First case: Park Hyatt Saigon. With a multi-day travel itinerary and complications of working around the one day delay (United got us to San Francisco too late to make our connecting flight to Singapore and due to the Singapore schedule we were stuck in SF for a full day), I completely forgot to reach out the the hotel until the day we _actually_ arrived. We arrived and I explained the delay. They had already charged my credit card for the missed night. They asked for documentation of the delay, and when I provided it, they credited the payment toward incidentals. We ate one night in the hotel restaurant and were paying for a rollaway bed for our daughter, so that wound up being a reasonable solution.

    Second case: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Our flight to Denver was canceled and although we eventually figured out how to get to Colorado, we would not arrive until the next day. As soon as the delay was known, I immediately reached out to the hotel to tell them that our flight had been canceled and there was a good chance that we’d miss at least one night of our reservation. When we confirmed that we’d miss a day, they pro-actively offered to extend our stay by one day on the points reservation. Once I confirmed that I could change the return flight for a reasonable cost, I accepted.

    Both of these had a happy ending for us, but these were single day changes. If we’d had to cancel outright I might have a different story.

  35. I am aware of these rules but I do not understand how undisclosed penalties at time of booking can be held up in court. I once was worried about a similar situation with Bonvoy in Hawaii. I tried to find out WHAT exactly I am on the hook for if our flights got canceled somehow- but there was zero information.

    I was once booked at Hyatt Tahoe and we couldn’t go because all roads were closed due to snowfall, they let me cancel the day of arrival with no issues. I would not want to risk the same in Vail or Aspen, the hotel’s there seem notorious for this gold digging. Also, how on earth can they charge 11k per night. At most they should charge the room rate that was available at the time the points booking was made.

  36. Consider this solution if you have been Bonvoyed by a costly Marriott or Hyatt no-show fee when your travel is canceled unexpectedly due to a mid-air collision or you die before arrival. For example, you may get a pesky no-show fee when you die from a cardiac event caused by an airline meltdown at Southwest Airlines or during a multi-state adverse weather event when you shovel heavy snow. When you pass before your scheduled arrival date, some Marriott or Hyatt properties bill your estate thousands of dollars. So, if you die within 30-60 days of your check-in date, here is my advice. Have your body cremated. Then send or have your significant other bring your ashes to the property on your check-in date. Congratulations. You have met the terms and conditions because even though you are dead, your cremated body is physically at the resort during check-in. However, if you scatter cremated remains in various areas of a property (like some people have done at Disney World), you may incur additional housekeeping, resort, and parking fees.

  37. You snooze you lose. Did they reserve without noticing the cancellation policy? Paying a fee will wake them up from the stupor they’re in.

  38. L3 who cares how much this woman has…No need to scam her when they could rent the room out for CASH!!!! But easier to charge her$$$$$$$$

  39. I love staying at Hyatt. I’ve found that they are flexible if it’s something out of your control. Just takes a call to Customer Service. I would ask for the manager until they say they are the last stop. I stay with Hyatt often and prefer a phone call over booking in the App. I have never talked to someone that didn’t say the cancellation policy when I call.

  40. Anyone who books a hotel without knowing the EXACT terms is just plain dumb. You cannot trust travel providers to not try to cheat their customers; we know this. You HAVE to know what you are buying BEFORE you buy it. Hotels who pull a scam like this on their loyal customers should be put out of business for being fraudulent. But they won’t be, they’re just slimy, not fraudulent … so the customer has to take charge. READ the information, if you don’t understand it, or it’s not complete, get some clarification in writing. Otherwise, move on to a hotel chain that won’t cheat you. I’m not sure if even Consumer Rescue can help here, but contacting Michelle is worth a try. If you have Hyatt or Marriott points, use them up or give them away, and set yourself up with a hotel chain who cares about you. This story about greed and ignorance makes my blood boil.

  41. I agree with Undertak. My experience with Hyatt was very similar.
    I think it’s about communication. If you cancel your reservation inside the cancellation policy, just call. The article kept talking about situation that are out of their control. If you call and talk to a manager, I’m sure you will have a different experience. Then again, it could be the type of place that it is. I think Residence Club is a Time Share. They might be ran different than a hotel.

  42. This is why I have it clearly outlined within my own Terms & Conditions that I DO NOT perform any services that use membership rewards/mileage programs when booking travel products/components. If a client wants to entertain this option, I tell them that I will book the travel as requested and, after the required deposit/payment has been posted they can contact the supplier to redeem their points. Don’t have the time to get into this area as it is a messy place to be, and the client always wants to find a way to put you at fault. If you don’t get involved with it in the first place, you have no liability for it when it goes South. And it always goes South.

  43. Go online and get in contact with a random person in the area of the hotel and have them check in as your guest. If you are unsuccessful, I would suggest that you first cancel the credit card that the hotel has on file and then call and see what they might suggest then.

  44. @Robert – how much do you think you would owe for failing to cancel 30 days prior? You write “current pricing which may be different than previously confirmed rates” but do you even know which paid rate this is based off of?

  45. @gogo – if fully disclosed, I’d agree. However this isn’t fully disclosed at booking. This means it’s unlikely legally enforceable. Without a set amount being listed, no court would find customer had to pay some vague amount.

    @Steven S – while other poster may have had bad luck, trip insurance does cover this. As long as the reason for canceling is a covered reason. I’m not sure why poster had issue. However I’ve known others who’ve had this covered. (I helped them with claim)

  46. I can’t believe people attach real credit card numbers (not Luhn-compliant fakes or prepaids with a few dollars left) to hotel bookings.

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