Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country Tried To Pull A Fast One On Hyatt And Program Members

The Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country has been playing games with free room night award availability. Most of the time you’ve been able to use Hyatt points for free nights there. However there’s a trick they’ve been using at peak times, like Memorial Day Weekend, to stop people from redeeming. They’ve been pulling a fast one on program members – and Hyatt.

Hyatt requires hotels to make all of their standard rooms available on points. When a hotel is close to selling out they get more money than usual – their average daily room rate for the year – to compensate the hotel for lost revenue from a potential paid guest. However on a peak of peak night some hotels feel that isn’t enough. That’s because they would be able to sell the room not just for their average rate, but for a premium rate.

So on these nights what the hotel has been doing is offering standard rooms only as part of a package (and not at the standard rate, which award availability is tied to) in order to avoid offering free night awards.

  • The Hyatt Regency Sonoma considers 1 King and 2 Queens to be a standard room. These are the room types awards book into, and they’re available most of the time.

  • However on premium dates, such as Memorial Day Weekend these room types are available as part of the Parking Package, Wine County Getaway Package and Pet Package – but not the standard rate.

  • The lowest room type available at the standard rate is 1 King Bed with View even when standard rooms are bookable at other rates and thus no awards are made available.


Credit: Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country

I contacted someone at Hyatt about this and they got back to me quickly, “I connected with the World of Hyatt team and they are working with the hotel to ensure availability for award bookings — we’ll let you know shortly when the adjustments are live.” And true to their word they had the problem solved in under 24 hours.

There are some tricks that hotels do get away with. The Andaz West Hollywood only offers standard rooms on points or for sale for fewer than 3 nights on certain days of the week. Other nights they sell the rooms differently and still assign guests to those rooms. The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach defines standard room very narrowly so there are less than 20, calling nearly identical rooms a higher category.

Perhaps no hotel in the Hyatt system is more egregious than the Andaz Maui. They’ve taken a very limited subset of rooms and called them standard rooms, available for award redemption. But they’ve taken things a step farther. They also only offer standard rooms for sale on 3 night stays, or depending on the season sometimes 6-night stays or a slightly different combination of nights.


Andaz Maui

Of course Hyatt is not alone in facing these challenges. I’ve written about numerous Hilton properties not releasing standard awards. Usually I can get the Honors program to crack heads at the property and get this fixed.

It’s a constant game of whack-a-mole with some hotels who want to reap the advantages of the program without honoring its spirit. That’s endemic to the asset light business model, where the chains have a common marketing platform but don’t own the hotels (although the Andaz Maui had partial Hyatt ownership which makes them even more of an outlier).

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. Not surprising. I have been staying at this Hyatt since it was built! The most recent owner has removed any hint of wine country relaxing ambiance, added 2 new multi-story wings—could well be any low-end hotel USA, added a convention center, complicated parking which is now charged, with gates to navigate around, cut the dining bistro by over half. The new owner is looking for every angle to charge you…..including a daily fee to have toasted marshmallows…..and if you check in later, too bad, you pay, and you don’t eat. Locals are no longer going to the bistro—-the bulk of their business previously. Better off staying across the street at the low-end Marriott. Never thought I would live to see the day that I would say such a thing.

  2. @Gary, you mention that many Hilton properties also play games. I’ve been hoping to book the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, and the nights that they offer standard rooms for 120,000 points are few and far between. In most months there are zero nights available at that level. What gives?

  3. Hyatt, please don’t become Marriott.

    RE: Andaz Maui – As a Maui resident and Globalist who would love to burn some points there for a staycation with my wife, that appears to be impossible. Incredibly frustrating, especially considering occupancy rates are still incredibly low on the island. Anyone know of workarounds?

  4. @andrew. when I looked a few weeks ago, There was only availability in 10 day blocks. so you have to book 10 days and then call and cancel what you dont want

  5. Why not address the real issue? Hyatt full service franchises are poorly run. This is a franchise. There’s no Hyatt employees working there and most people don’t realize this. You almost NEVER seen this kind of BS and Hyatt-managed properties (where real Hyatt employees really work). If you look at complaints/reviews you’ll see a clear trend. Hyatt needs to do a better job of enforcing its standards with the franchisors!!!

  6. Andaz Maui required me to book 9 consecutive nights on points for a stay later this year. They would not accept single night award certificates.

  7. This why it’s just not worth having a Hotel points card, unless you’re staying at one on the corporate dime more than 2 weeks a year. Games, Games Games.

  8. Calendar view for WA Maldives shows zero standard rooms (120k/night) available through end of schedule. Conrad shows nearly every day available at 95k/night (but no overwater bungalows at any level…). Something definitely messed up.

  9. I have 2 Hyatt Category 4 free night certificates. I called Hyatt to book at the Honolulu Hyatt Centric ( category 4 ). I was told by the very nice Hyatt representative that this hotel has no availability to use the free night certificate! How is that possible? I’d like to know who to complain to for not ho,ding up their part of our credit card agreement. Any suggestions?

  10. Txhyattlvr – interestingly, in this last year, I have been less and less inclined stay stay at a Hyatt full-service property.

    You can get more space / less Covid, a room with a kitchen, and actual breakfast that is regularly served. I think Hyatt better figure this out soon.

  11. Well this really sucks. If I knew this before getting globalist status I woulda probably passed. Was looking specifically to stay at a few of these shady properties. Ugh.

  12. Nothing new here unfortunately! This has been going on for years with Hyatt – playing games with award availability and at checkin with upgrades. Most egregious is changing the room name as not to allow award booking or upgrades! Shameless!

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