More Hyatt Hotels Are Ignoring Elite Breakfast Benefit Rules, And Getting Away With It

Hotel chains don’t usually own the hotels in their portfolio. They have a brand, and customer lists. They market to participating loyalty program members. But the only thing of value they really have to offer is their reputation, and that’s what they earn fees off of. So it’s important to preserve their reputation.

For that they have rules, because individual owners would otherwise milk the brand and its customer list (free ride off of the brand) while not delivering to brand standard (to save on costs). After all, most brand-loyal guests may just be one-off guests choosing the hotel with no knowledge other than the brand that it is a part of.

A chain’s most valuable customers are its elite members, who deliver an outsized portion of room nights to hotels. To entice them, they’re promised benefits like upgrades and free breakfast.

Knowing that hotels are going to try to cheat, Hyatt spells out in its terms and conditions what the breakfast benefit is for Globalist members when no club lounge breakfast is offered:

  • full breakfast includes entrée or standard buffet, juice, and coffee or tea
  • includes tax, gratuity and service charges

When staying at a participating hotel or resort that does not have a Club lounge (or if Club lounge is closed), Globalists will receive daily complimentary full breakfast (which includes one entrée or standard breakfast buffet, juice, and coffee, as well as tax, gratuity and service charges) for each registered guest in the room, up to a maximum of two (2) adults and two (2) children.

Hotels, though, regularly skimp on this benefit or pocket a couple extra dollars from guests, despite the clearly spelled out rules.

Here’s the breakfast voucher from the Hyatt Regency Bloomington that’s given to Globalists. The voucher expressly states that gratuity is not included at this hotel, and that a member has to choose between juice and coffee (cannot have both).

There are many hotels like this. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center doesn’t cover gratuity for Globalists at breakfast. That’s been the case for some time. I asked Hyatt a month ago about any program in place to monitor hotel compliance with elite benefit terms and conditions and they did not respond.

I often flag non-compliant hotels and more often than not properties wind up having to get into compliance. When called out, the terms must be enforced. But in recent times properties increasingly seem to be left to their own devices to comply, or not. This is an even bigger issue with Marriott. There’s a trend towards milking the brand for current revenue from hotels, at the expense of chain reputations (long-term value of the brand). That’s an odd choice to make, especially as there’s increased competition for room nights, including from home sharing – and because the discounted present value of this strategy is likely quite low.

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 »

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  1. In this specific case, I would not tip. The gratuity would be a dispute between the server and corporate. The hotel is being paid for that breakfast by Hyatt to include the gratuity and the server would have a strong case with the terms and conditions on their side that management is stealing the tips (wage theft).

  2. This has happened FOUR times to me this year with Hyatt.

    Hyatt Regency Wichita (franchised)
    Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center (franchised)
    Hyatt Regency London Blackfriars (corporate)
    Hyatt Regency London Albert Embankment (franchised)

    Other properties, like The Anndore House JDV, simply didn’t have an open breakfast restaurant when I stayed. Unlike Marriott, there’s no compensation if there’s no lounge or no restaurant.

    It’s more proof that the grass isn’t greener with World of Hyatt. Yes, Hyatt is more honest than Marriott. Yes, Hyatt points are worth more than Marriott. Yes, upgrades at Hyatt are more consistent. But at the end of the day, Hyatt is not opening new full-service properties. They have pivoted toward franchised Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties domestically that are not managed by Hyatt. There are also a fair number of Hyatt Regency properties (although a minority of all Hyatt Regency properties systemwide) that are managed by franchisees or third-party management companies like Aimbridge.

  3. Is this really an issue? Saying gratuity isn’t included doesn’t prompt me to include it. That’s their problem.

  4. Even if gratuity is included it is just good form to leave something for the server. Sorry but to do otherwise is just cheap. Even if it says gratuity included you have no way of knowing if the server gets anything and, if so, how much. You are getting a free meal so leave 20-25% of what it would otherwise cost. I always do this for “free” hotel meals and also if comped in a casino.

    Don’t you think $5-$10 matters more to a server than to a business traveler likely with a significant salary and assets?

  5. AC – No. Sorry. It’s not my job to figure out compensation between an employee and employer. So many customers are being put in this position these days with the ridiculous amount of tip prompting on every checkout screen – especially in places where tipping was never customary. I’m glad people are getting fed up with this and putting their foot down and hitting the “No Tip” button more.

    Also remember that 15%-20% is the norm, with 20% being the high end. I’m not sure how 25% crept into the situation.

    I have been writing “Globalist” on the tip line for many years now – let them sort it all out.

  6. HYATT REGENCY PRINCETON also gave me one of those breakfast coupons …either 1 juice or coffee

  7. It’s not that hard cheapos, just tip. If you are actually charged email your concierge. I’ve never not been refunded.

  8. I like the Hyatt Bloomington as a property, but between this coupon business and their closing the Regency Club lounge from Fri. thru Mon. has sent me to the nice, new Hyatt House just down the street.

  9. It is really a shame that Hyatt does not correct this. It really hurts the brand, program and those hotels which either honor benefits (or go above and beyond).

  10. Ditched the Chase Hyatt card that I held for 12 years about a month ago.

    Usually Chase CSRs don’t ask why one is canceling a card but this time the CSR did, so I went into a bit of detail about the games that a lot of the Hyatt hotels are playing with elites; I was also surprised that she said that she understood, so it appears that Chase is hearing this more than just every now-and-then.

    Just like with airlines, I’m now a free agent when it comes to hotels.

  11. As a recent Globalist I didn’t realise this. Stayed at 3 Regency’s recently, 2 included it but the last did not. Since it was only a few nights and I am solo it didn’t bother me to tip a couple of dollars each day as the staff were attentive but I guess I’ll know for next time. Conversely my room rate recently at HI included breakfast but specifically said gratuity was not included. I’m always torn how much (if any) tip to leave when it’s a buffet anyway, though several places it’s been a hybrid of buffet but service for coffee, juice etc

  12. I too am, ahem, fed up with Hyatt regarding breakfast. I have stayed at Hyatt Regency Denver tech center more than 15 times over the past four years, and not once have they covered the tip. About a month ago, they also eliminated globalists ordering off the menu. It’s now buffet only for globalists.

    Even the servers appear to be brainwashed/misinformed. On my most recent day, our server told us, “you can’t order off the menu, because we are run by a third-party vendor.“

    In addition, they insisted that we have a breakfast coupon/voucher, that it was no longer sufficient to tell them we were globalists. I suspect there, too lazy to look it up in the system anyway. What happened to giving your last name and room number?

    Thanks for the suggestion to write “globalist“ on the tip line. That is a great suggestion. Indeed, let the hotel sort it out and figure out how they plan to treat their servers. I’d love to see them get nailed for stealing tips, if, in fact, it’s the case.

    I do not consider myself cheap. I tip housekeeping at least six bucks every stay, and they work much harder than the servers who bring a cup of coffee and claim that the kitchen (open for three meals a day!) has no side of olive oil upon request.

    Thanks, also, for the suggestion to reach out to our concierge.

    Gary, please keep us posted on your efforts to bring a Hyatt into breakfast compliance.

  13. Hyatt is just not backing Globalist’s when there is a failure of upgrades and breakfast benefits. Next year will be my last as a Globalist. I’m not going to listen to them back hotels that say the suite for sale is really not available. Now its going to come down to cost and location.

  14. The Hyatt Regency at Denver Tech Center is probably the worst offender in Hyatt’s USA portfolio. It’s also just a dump. Stay a block or two away at the Hyatt Place. It’s much better.

  15. Gary – if you have a stay of more than a day or two, is there a way to contact Hyatt or Marriott to let them know you are in the middle of a stay at a hotel that is not complying with the brand standard and having them intervene? That’s what I really want to know. Thanks

  16. Going completely off topic here, but the Hyatt Denver Tech Center will always have a special place in my heart. Years ago during FFNs this property was something like $60 / night. Could call to check in. So never set foot in this property but booked probably 20 one-night stays here.

  17. I Stayed at Hyatt Centric Chicago over the summer and got the Free Breakfast Coupon for being a Globalist and Gratuity was included. I still left a Tip after each meal. Just think it’s humane to do just my opinion

  18. One of two interpretations here.

    1) Marriott led the way with lax enforcement of brand standards with no meaningful loss of profitable business.

    2) The competitive pool has shrunk, given that we all know Marriott is so lax with standards, so others can start to get away with it as well. We’ve seen Hilton hotels weasel out of offering the $15/day dining credit with specious claims that food and beverage are sold by a third party.

    If a Hyatt were not complying, I would not ask for intervention in the middle of a stay. I’d charge everything to my room and ask at or after checkout for an adjustment to my bill. I tend to end up tipping a hair over 20% due to rounding up, and Hyatt hotels have left me responsible for that excess gratuity, which gives me good insight into the penny pinching tendency of management (and leads me to look for competitive lodging when I return to the area).

  19. Enforcing compliance to brand standards should be a basic function of a hotel loyalty program. Where’s the effort Hyatt?

  20. If you read YouTube posts it all makes sense. Corporations don’t have to, Europe is changing into the Third World as we are here. It’s a time of decadence and we all just have to live in it.

  21. Hyatt has been able to somehow swindle people into thinking that its some sort of a superior brand for years, when in reality most of the hotels suck for the price charged, on top of their tiny footprint
    Interesting to see they are killing the cash cow of devoted globalist fanbase.

  22. AC and J Smith – I already tipped. It’s included in my room rate. Or is that too hard for you to understand? DE – you also fail to grasp the concept. THEYRE SUPPOSED TO BE PAID BY HYATT. This is not my problem.

  23. Chasing hotel points is a fool’s errand. Much like chasing airline points/miles. Why? Because the so called “benefits” have been devalued so much the juice isn’t worth the squeeze anymore. It makes you wonder if hotel and airline companies actually begrudge and hate their best customers. I am now officially a “free agent”. I fly whatever flight is cheapest and convenient and choose hotels based on location and cleanliness. Brand means nothing

  24. @Walter – go ahead and rationalize your cheapness. Yes it would be nice if US tipping culture ended but that simply isn’t the case. Leaving a tip for housekeeping and adding something for the server (even if the tip is allegedly included) is just proper. Of course some people don’t get it and rationalize their behavior – how sad

  25. Obviously globalist and 1kers and platinums are not the “cash cows” you think they/you are in this day and age. Otherwise these brands would care much more!

  26. I totally agree Hyatt is going downhill and will lose its most loyal customers soon. I’ve seen this multiple places lately. Corporate doesn’t care I even remained an egregious example from hotel Figueroa got some boilerplate email response didn’t even address the situation. Shame on the new Hyatt.

  27. I am shocked and embarrassed at how many people don’t tip. It doesn’t matter what the voucher says. The servers are not making any more money at a Hyatt that says tip is included than at a Hyatt that says tip is not included. I would never eat a free breakfast anywhere and not leave money. I don’t care what the bill or voucher says. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t leave money. It blows my mind that the majority of these comments are from non-tipers.

    And Dave, the normal tip in 2023 is 20% and maybe more if they are really good. If you are still tipping below 20% then you are cheap and you are living in the 1990s or before that. Just the fact that you still tip 15% or think it is normal, shows how cheap you are.

  28. Had a similar thing at Hyatt Centric Waikiki. They closed their restaurant at the start of Covid and have never opened it back up. They offer a worthless 1000 point as compensation. Yet somehow they have parking validation agreements with hotels in the same block… why not set something up with those restaurants. When I complained to my Hyatt Concierge – they just said “its listed on the website that the restaurant is closed” but as a courtesy they gave me 5K points as well.
    I’ll certainly avoid that property until they conform to brand standards as well.

  29. When something like this happens to me, I write “INC” on the line, use the same total, keep a copy, and let them figure it out.

  30. AC – get off your knees, bootlicker.

    ChanelCinq – you’re an idiot. It matters very much what the voucher says. The voucher includes gratuity. This is now not my problem.

  31. @Walter – so you are not only cheap but rude! Man you must be fun to be around and God help anyone that is unfortunate enough to have to serve you

  32. Its sad what has become of Hyatt once one of the most fair and responsible high value guest programs.More and more we see hotels making up their own rules/terms and conditions.
    Do I say outright scam standard award availability too? Bait & Switch all the way
    And these include some of their most expensive so called 5 star properties being the stingiest which have more than enough margin to provide their best customers a premium experience reasonably .

    In the highest average daily rates environment in select markets they have become shockingly stingy.Sorry water and toast is extra?You’ve reached your 25 dollar limit pay up or shut up?
    Personally I always tip extra for good service as I perceive server automatic gratuity to be 15 to 18 % from what data points I have come across.I also leave cash as I’ve heard from servers the house keeps anything over their contractual amount.

    Also we have noticed considerable lower food quality and variety has plummeted from what it was just 4 years ago.
    I for one frequently stay with a wide range of other brands as these negative changes damaged their reputation.They aren’t fooling all of us even if they happen to be marginally better than say Hilton or IHG on average.Truthfully I’ve had far better complimentary breakfasts in some those competing brands/programs despite the perception with some that Hyatt is always superior etc.Yes perhaps the case some years ago!

  33. The only thing Hyatt has going for it is the company manages a MAJORITY of all hotels across all brands within its portfolio. By contrast, Marriott manages less than 30% of its hotels worldwide. Hyatt and IHG even fewer. Of course, as I said earlier, the problem is Hyatt is not opening many new full-service properties, at least in North America.

  34. One thing I appreciate about Hyatt/Bonvoy/Hilton loyalty programs, unlike U.S. airlines, is that their properties in Asia still provide great value and service to status holders, making them still worthwhile to have. I leave 25+% tip to servers there where service is usually great but tips are not expected, and very seldom do so in U.S. ones where the service is usually bad but tips are very much expected.

  35. Its sad what has become of Hyatt once one of the most fair and responsible high value guest programs.More and more we see hotels making up their own rules/terms and conditions.
    Do I say outright scam standard award availability too? Bait & Switch all the way
    And these include some of their most expensive so called 5 star properties being the stingiest which have more than enough margin to provide their best customers a premium experience reasonably .
    Truthfully I’ve had far better complimentary breakfasts in some those competing brands/programs despite the perception with some that Hyatt is always superior etc.Yes perhaps the case some years ago!
    — dwondermeant

    Leaving aside the always bogus perception of World of Hyatt’s purported “superiority”, which was amplified in the travel blogosphere echo chamber by self-anointed “travel gurus”, it is not at all surprising that the program appears to be losing any consistency that it might have had in delivering benefits because I saw it coming…

    It would seem that having been told repeatedly that “size matters”, Hyatt vowed to address its “size” problem by adopting a risky model that would enable it to grow as fast as possible. It went on a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) shopping spree. That is in contrast to the alternative approach known as “organic growth” by which Hilton’s CEO Christopher Nassetta swears, which, while inherently a slower growth model, it allows a company to retain full control of and over its brand.

    According to experts:

    Organic growth allows for business owners to maintain control of their company whereas a merger or acquisition would dilute or strip away control.

    About 4 months ago, I wrote that it would be interesting to see whether the string of independent hotels that Hyatt had acquired would affect hotels in the chain’s so-called “Timeless Portfolio” (i.e., Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place…) from the POV of World of Hyatt and benefit delivery. My bet was that because the independent hotels would largely retain their preexisting management styles, mixing them with legacy Hyatt hotels would to lead a palpable difference in service and benefit delivery, consistent with the tendency of M&A to “dilute or strip away control”. It may be what the reports of “diluted” breakfast benefit suggest may be happening. If that is the case, then we’ve seen just the tip of the iceberg and the worst is yet to come…

  36. I usually stay at Hyatt Place and enjoy the breakfast when available. I try to help out by busing tables of the guests that are more inconsiderate.

  37. Can’t agree more.
    As a Hyatt Globulist, I’m eligible (entitled?) for another set of benefits called “Guest of Honor”. That’s when a Globalist granted an ability, under certain condition, to bestow his/her benefits on someone. It always been sacrosanct, universally observed and respected. Obviously, not anymore.
    Secrets Moxche is a prime example.
    It’ll take too long to describe a horrible experience I, as a Globalist, had to go through when my guests (my son, no less) was denied the benefits.
    Lets just say 68 min on the phone, three way with Moxche and 3 different Hyatt reps and nothing to show for it.
    What an embarrassment. And an impotance of Hyatt

  38. I find the root cause of failure to follow brand standard is selling franchises to the Patel family. When I find corners being cut it is normally a Patel owned franchise. Corporate needs to do a much better job enforcing minimum expected brand standard.

  39. These kinds of shenanigans are exactly why I stopped being loyal to a hotel chain (in the process of doing the same for airlines). I now book hotels based on price, reviews and location.

    Value for money (even with luxury hotels) is how I play the game. I pay for my own breakfast, whether it’s at the hotel or more frequently outside the hotel. Loyalty is a 2-way street.

  40. @AC What is this free meal stuff. I spend a ton of money on Hyatt Hotels when I could have gone other places to get status. Those awards stays are not free. I use points for them. Many points of which I paid money for. Nothing is free. I completely disagree.

    Like @Dave says its not our responsibility to make sure the servers get paid. They aren’t beggars. I’ve seen beggars, they’re on the streets of 3rd world countries all over the world. They should stop whining about not getting tips. Most waiters are overpaid for what they do. The ones that aren’t overpaid should work it out with their employer and just raise the god damn prices. I’ll pay the higher prices gladly.

  41. I’ve only had one hotel ever have an issue with coffee and juice, and that was Gild Hall in NYC. But they have a huge coffee service in the lobby, so I grab my coffee there and my juice in the restaurant.

    As for the tipping of the server, I tip each and every time. When I check out I ask to see the charges printed, and ask about breakfast, if any excess and it’s always taken off. 10 extra seconds and a tip to the server and 99% of the time we pay nothing.

  42. @Tom R, customary buffet tip is generally 10%. You’re getting your own food and servers are just clearing tables and refilling drinks.

  43. Hyatt Regency Cambridge (Boston) did the nickle and dime thing too. Brand is DEFINITELY slipping. It all started with their mid-market Hyatt Place offering. I have seen a number of these properties really dirty and poorly maintained.

  44. This is why I no longer care about hotel status, and just stay at whatever hotel suits my wants and needs best. I’m about *this* close to making that shift with airlines, too.

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