A year ago I had a lovely stay at Hyatt’s Alila Marea that was also a fantastic value on points. I redeemed 25,000 points per night against a $784++ room rate and then used a confirmed suite upgrade to move into a suite selling for over $2400 per night. I didn’t have to pay the resort fee (sorry, Marriott!) and as a Globalist I received free breakfast in their excellent restaurant Vaga and complimentary valet parking too.
Securing a confirmed suite here is tough because they have only a few on property, so I decided to book my 2022 stay a year in advance as soon as I’d returned home from my last visit. Since each confirmed suite upgrade can be used for up to 7 nights, I booked a week-long stay and then narrowed my dates closer to the trip.
Two weeks prior to arrival I received a voicemail and email from the hotel’s Front Office Manager asking me to call him. We connected, and he began by asking how my day was? I replied,
Since you’re urgently trying to reach me, I assume it’s about to get much worse.
The manager responded that I was “perceptive.” Hmm.
It turns out that the hotel had decided to book itself out for a private party over my dates, so they wouldn’t be honoring room reservations. No word which major company or Silicon Valley billionaire would be trumping me. But I was assured that I would be ‘taken care of’. I explained that I was looking for:
- a boutique 5* luxury hotel
- on the beach
- with spectacular food
- in a suite [traveling with our 3 year old I really do prefer this].
He really couldn’t argue when I made the case about how special his property is, which also made it harder to substitute something less.
The one time something similar happen to me before, with another chain years ago, I was moved to a better room in a better hotel and was given daily food and beverage credit and not charged a thing. Hyatt confirms their policy to offer a free comparable stay. According to a spokesperson,
While extremely rare, there have been instances when a hotel has been unable to honor a reservation due to unexpected business circumstances. Hotel teams work to avoid these situations; however when faced with the need to relocate a guest or guests, Hyatt’s policy is to immediately work to demonstrate care by issuing a full-refund, rebooking their stay for a later date or finding alternate accommodations at nearby hotels.
The manager suggested giving me a future free stay if I could change my dates, or a free stay elsewhere for the same dates. But two weeks out over a weekend in Southern California the limited set of options that would be comparable were sold out. He mentioned covering change in airfare as well, but I didn’t want to give up these dates.
- Park Hyatt Aviara was completely sold out. 1906 Lodge wasn’t available.
- Only standard rooms were bookable at Lodge at Torrey Pines and L’Auberge del Mar, which were offered.
- Suites were offered at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay and Grand Hyatt San Diego, but neither appealed
A base suite was available at Hyatt’s Seabird Resort, but I didn’t consider that comparable to a suite at Alila Marea. The market agrees with me, because rates are nowhere comparable. No ‘Estate Suite’ was available at Seabird for my dates. So I pushed to confirm the Grand Estate Suite at Seabird Resort, as the closest thing to comparable with what I’d had. It took a few days, but the Alila confirmed this for me and set up direct billing (I could see the rate they were paying was ~ 60% off what Hyatt.com displayed). Essentially my stay would be billed to the mystery party buying out the Alila for several nights.
That was a good solution, I thought. I really hadn’t wanted to vacation in Oceanside, but that’s because my mental model of Oceanside still anchors to Animal Kingdom.
I’ll shortly share a new hotel review, of a property that I probably wouldn’t have stayed at, and I was more than thrilled with it.