Hyatt Solves Issue of Hotels Playing Games With Reward Space and Confirmed Upgrades

Back in June I wrote about two significant challenges with the Hyatt Gold Passport program.

I spoke with Jeff Zidell, Hyatt’s Senior Vice President for the Gold Passport program, about these issues. And he took action.

He had already researched – and acknowledged — the issue with awards at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, where the hotel was making standard rooms available only as part of ‘packages’ (such as with breakfast or parking included) and not at the Hyatt Daily Rate — and thus not for points stays.

He worked directly with the hotel to resolve the issue. And he noted that he had also followed up to fix similar issues at other properties like the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and the Hyatt Olive 8.

Issues with specific properties may creep up from time to time, but it seems like if we make Hyatt aware of it they’ll get things sorted — regardless of the motives behind it or whether it was the result of a glitch in how rates were being loaded.

I also raised the issue that Diamond Suite Upgrades were being made available at some hotels only on certain rates. As I’ve written, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

Diamond Suite Upgrades are valid on any paid rate, cash and points are considered paid rates for this purpose, and these upgrades aren’t capacity controlled. There certainly aren’t supposed to be different inventory buckets for different rates.

A hotel might not have standard suites available that Diamond upgrades are eligible to be used for — but a hotel has the discretion to go above and beyond and make better suites available. I’ve seen them do this even on award nights (where Diamond Suite Upgrades aren’t supposed to be valid at all.) That can look like inconsistency or capacity controls — no standard suites available, but a hotel offering to book a higher suite category on a paid night but not a cash and points hotel night — when it’s really the hotel doing more than required. (That wasn’t what was happening in most cases, but it’s something that does happen so worth noting.)

Hyatt tells me,

[W]e have put a process in place to ensure that hotels adhere to the Diamond Suite Upgrade terms. Our Guest Relations team is trained to be on the lookout for situations where this might not be the case, and we proactively work with hotels to correct it.

If you ever find an inconsistency, please let the Guest Relations team (800.323.7249) know right away so they can follow up.

If you’re seeing hotels offering Diamond Suite Upgrades on, say, a Hyatt Daily Rate booking but not a cash and points booking that’s not the way it’s supposed to work and Hyatt will follow up to fix it.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Thanks for this.

    If we run into issues with either of these, what do you think the best contact point is to escalate and get a resolution?

  2. Gary – If I booked a Hyatt award using my points for another party. Could I also use a Diamond Suite Upgrade on that award?

  3. Good I am glad someone got to the Olive 8, a hotel I used since it was opened but in recent history I have found that I had to complain when getting to my room seeing I was assigned the smaller rooms ( long time Diamond) Long time customer, let alone their attitude. I stopped staying there

    Good Job Jeff !

  4. Hi Gary: I’m not a Hyatt Diamond, but appreciate you taking action to help make this happen. (I know you won’t take this as a compliment–but it is: this is something I would expect from Mr. E, not a blogger). Thanks–it was a class move.

  5. Thanks for going to bat for us, Gary.

    Did Mr. Zidell share with you the reasons why these hotels took the steps that they did to deny general availability and did he divulge with your his methods or how he was able to persuade them to change their errant ways?

    By the way, these hotels who did not abide by the rules, were they all managed by the same entity as I assume they were franchisees and not directly owned by Hyatt?

  6. Had the same issue – Park Hyatt Paris tried to not let me use Hyatt awards points for two nights when the inventory was clearly there on the website. I brought it to Hyatt’s attention on social media and they quickly acknowledged their no blackout period and corrected the situation — credit to them.

  7. Will this “fixing” extend to C+P availability, not just DSU’s? Specifically, since dropping to a category 6, Park Hyatt Maldives appears to have completely wiped out C+P options. 30 minutes on the phone and was not able to find any availability next year. Others in the FT main thread for the hotel seem to be having the same issue.

  8. I just had the exact same problem at the Hyatt Kyoto. I was using my 2 free night certificates and then tacking on 2 more nights with points. The hotel kept blocking award availability when rooms were available for booking online. They then tried to tell the Gold Passport agent the rooms were fully booked but I was to prove this wasn’t the case by making an online reservation and providing the conf#. The agent successfully booked me 2 nights by booking a 5 night stay and then dropping the last 3 nights. I then decided to add 2 more nights but ran into the same problem. I had to HUCA about 5 times with GP agents before I was able to speak with a manager and explain that the hotel was blocking this. I convinced him to book me a separate 4 night consecutive reservation and drop the first two nights then add my points as the redemption currency. He then strung those 2 nights together with the other 2 nights allowing me to book two nights with my certificates and two nights with my points from 3/22 – 25, 2016. My Takaski, the reservations manager, didn’t outsmart us this time!

  9. Great job! First blogger I have seen proactively pursuing actions that are consumer protection oriented and that benefits travelers in general and not so much for their own dime. You may have bigger things in you Gary. Great job!

  10. @Jose – diamond suite upgrades aren’t available on reward nights (though they are with cash and points). technically they are for reservations for the diamond member only, however in practice that member could make themselves a reservation and add a second person’s name to check in

  11. As a Diamond elite, if we use cash & points on a suite upgrade, should the hotel still be able to charge the add’l resort fee? Most/all normally do not on a true points usage reservation.

  12. Holy cr-p – a hotel chain with integrity! Not a huge surprise as Hyatt has always had taken better care of its elites than most other chains. Hyatt’s response is so atypical – it acknowledges that the problem exists, resolves the issue and promises to keep it fixed – is a model for all travel providers. just makes me want to give all my business to Hyatt, if only they had a better geographic footprint.

  13. If only Carlson did something like this. The UK and Ireland IME are pretty easy to book, but a disturbing number of French properties don’t have award availability at all.

    And they’re pretty fast and loose with the elite “upgrade”. I never understood some of the rooms I got in the past until I read your leaked manual. Apparently a high floor or a better view is an “upgrade” in their eyes. Ridiculous. In my view, something you can get 99% of the time by asking nicely is not a “room upgrade”. It’s a rather minor courtesy.

  14. Find it quite amusing that so many are lauding your “consumer” efforts. I believe that you are primarily concerned with your benefits as Hyatt is your favored hotel program. Nothing wrong with that; however, I doubt we would see you go to bat on say Best Western, which also has an upgrade system that is frequently not honored, since this you don’t typically stay at these. Plus I doubt you have suddenly decided to become a consumer advocate in place of your real job as a blogger. Not faulting you. Just noting that your efforts are to help yourself.

  15. thanks for clarifying that there is no separate suite upgrade pool when booking P&C + DSU.vs cash + DSU. Both are eligible rates and pull from the same pool of available suites.

    There’s some confusion because the rate codes look different when using a DSU with a p*c booking. I was confused about this myself, but I don’t think I’ve had an issue with it, at least not that I’m aware of.


  16. Hey Gary,

    I don’t think Andaz Maui got the Hyatt memo about playing games with reward nights. This hotel is THE WORST OFFENDER!

  17. @Jana I’ve never run into the problem myself, but it’s one I understand and knew whom to reach out to. No question my personal experience at Hyatt positioned me to work on this in a way that I wouldn’t be as able to work on something with Best Western.

  18. Thanks for getting Hyatt to take corrective action. Truly value your impact on the community.

    -MEOW (Your favorite friendly troll)

  19. I agree. The Anda maui is terrible. I wish we could search cash and points online. Any thoughts why this information is not available?

  20. Park Hyatt New York too, plenty of room for cash booking but none for reward night? Are they allow that or should i raised to Hyatt?

  21. The Problem are still going on.

    I made a reservation at the Hyatt Centric in Miami with Point and Cash.
    But there is not a DSU for a Suite avbl. with Points and Cash only in combination with the regular rate.

    The Gold Passport team was not helpful, because the DSU is only AVL on regular rates.

    Can i do some others to become this Upgrade with the DSU voucher?

  22. Thank you for your prompt replay.
    In the mean time I was able to contact Hyatt via Twitter and i got the conformation for a DSU for my request.

    Its really strange that the Hotline is not able to book the DSU with point and cash but the agent on twitter yes .

    Thank you again

  23. Read your article, “Hyatt Solves Issue of Hotels Playing Games with Reward Space and Confirmed Upgrades,” dated Aug 14, 2015. Was interested to see that the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort was mentioned.
    We have been invited to a wedding at the Lost Pines Hyatt Resort in April 2016. We just recently became Hyatt Gold Passport members and found out that we are entitled to two free nights at that resort. When I called to make a reservation, I was told that we could get the first night free, but there were no rooms available for the 2d night. However, I could pay $235 for the second night!! Does not make sense to me. Involves a technicality with the contract with the wedding party! Our confirmation number is: [redacted]. Thank you for any help you can provide.

  24. @Rudy Herrera there have to be standard rooms available at the resort in order to use a free night there, it sounds like that room type is sold out the second night?

  25. Yes sir, I understand. The room I got for the second night is a standard room, the same as the first night. I was told that a standard room was not available for the second night. When I asked what we could do, I was told I could get a standard room for $235.00. Do not understand why I was able to pay for it, but not get it as a free night. Hope this clarifies the situation. Thank you.

  26. The Andaz Maui isn’t showing up for any award availability at all up til the end of the calendar date. Could someone really alert HGP about this? Basically, all garden rooms are being held back from the inventory. Very shady…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *