Your Hotel Award Nights Are Never Guaranteed

The Last Hotel in St Louis abruptly left Hyatt on Monday. Customers with reservations were notified that,

  • Existing reservations for paid stays would be honored, but without Hyatt points or benefits
  • Existing award reservations would not be honored.

I asked Hyatt what they were doing for customers with award bookings at this hotel, that had been part of their ‘Unbound Collection’ of independent properties. A spokesperson offered, “Hyatt is working with the hotel owner and guests and members to minimize any disruption in service, including transitioning World of Hyatt award reservations for stays May 24, 2021 and beyond to other Hyatt and Hyatt-affiliated hotels.”

Credit: The Last Hotel, St. Louis

I was curious what would happen to those who were already on property in the midst of stays. Eligibility for promotions, for instance, often will be based on check-out date. However Hyatt tells me points and elite nights will be awarded “for the portion of the stay that is affiliated with Hyatt, regardless of the checkout date.” So points and stay credits, in this case, can be earned for a portion of a stay up through May 24, 2021.

Hotels sometimes change from one brand to another. That means you may have a reservation at a hotel, it leaves the chain, and you won’t be able to earn points, elite stay credit, or receive elite benefits when that happens – although if the hotel joins a different chain you’ll be able to participate in the other program’s points and benefits.

Award nights are a little more complicated. Often a hotel is required to honor future award stays as part of their contract, even after they’ve left the chain. However it often is complicated and gets messy. When the Le Meridien Tahiti left Marriott they didn’t want to honor future award redemptions, and started wrangling for Marriott to pay them more to do so.

Guests are in a tough spot, and so is the hotel chain. There are often nondisclosure agreements that prevent customers from being told earlier – and leading the chain to break trust with their members. When a hotel doesn’t honor future award stays the chain needs to find a way to make it right, if they don’t have their own similar quality hotels nearby to rebook into I’ve seen examples where they paid regular rates for rooms at other hotels on behalf of their members.

Even when a chain comes through to take care of customers, it can take time and winds up really stressful for the member.

I asked Hyatt what assurances a program member has that, when they book a redemption stay, it will be honored when the date of check-in arrives? Hyatt responded with something not very comforting at all – if a stay isn’t honored, points will be refunded.

We make every effort to minimize disruption in service and delivery of loyalty benefits to World of Hyatt members when staying at Hyatt affiliated properties. However, all transitions are unique, and we work with hotel ownership to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. We always ensure members’ points and rewards are refunded in these types of situations.

When staying on points, and a hotel leaves the chain, your award stay isn’t guaranteed.

By the way, is it just me or does “The Last Hotel” bring to mind The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe?

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. This happened to us when one of Hyatt’s Istanbul hotel’s left the program. Hyatt contacted me with options on how they could resolve the issue. They refunded all my points for my stay and also booked me into the Park Hyatt Istanbul on their points so we were getting our stay for free. When I had to cancel the stay due to COVID, we got those points back into our account, so we actually made a profit (although I would rather have gone to Istanbul!).

  2. Multiple murders and shootings have taken place in front of and within a block of this property since it opened. It’s name is quite appropriate, since no one is going to develop another downtown STL property again. Hyatt did not do their research before this experiment went horribly wrong.

  3. STL is an awful city. Missouri in general sucks fat donkey my first name.

  4. Never knew this and fascinating regarding award stays. I did stay in a hotel one time that was a Le Meridien in Orange County. When I woke up the next morning all the branded signs were covered up and cardboard new signs were placed over them as The Sutton Place Hotel. It was a mess as we had a conference there and people were driving around completely confused as the entire name changed as well. Two years later they did it again and it became a Fairmont, lol.

    This could get really messy though with island resorts where non refundable airline tickets are booked and there are not enough other equal options within the brand. An example would be the St Regis Mauritius. If they left Bonvoy over night the only other option is the Meridien which is not even close to the quality. At that point it’s left to wonder what Bonvoy would do.

  5. I’m pretty sure that when Ocean in Atlantic City left Unbound / WoH they did the same. Not great. SPG used to always make sure members were re-accommodated on awards no matter what.

  6. Yikes
    Once was enough for me staying at the hotel ugh
    Wasn’t Hyatt’s near best by far
    Just blah ok
    Won’t be missed

  7. I’d expected better in Hyatt’s response but best to know beforehand I suppose.

  8. Yes, STL has the Blues, Cardinals and a new soccer stadium going up.
    However, lots of homicides including children.
    Kansas City is doing everything right and less dangerous.
    STL is a sad state of affairs and nothing being done about it.
    However, Spirit is now offering flights. Good luck with that.

  9. I was actually in the middle of the mess of the Le Meridien in Tahiti. The hotel claimed that it wanted to maintain award night reservations (35,000 Marriott points per night) but Marriott wasn’t offering the hotel enough reimbursement. After several rounds via e-mail, my Marriott points were refunded and the hotel offered me a cash rate substantially below the price on the web, which I accepted.

    I also had it happen when the hotel at Copenhagen Airport left the Hilton system and became a Clarion. Hilton reached out to me in advance and asked me if I wanted to keep the reservation (which I did). In that case, I was able to maintain my stay on points, and they even continued to grant me lounge access. It was very well handled by Hilton.

  10. STL is a shithole city
    The city attorney Kim Gardner is a useless POS and a good for nothing scumbag
    She thinks the criminals are the victims

    I commend Hyatt for getting out of this hellhole of a city

  11. The best thing about the city of St. Louis is that it makes St. Louis county look less corrupt, in comparison.

  12. My wife went to college in St. Louis and still has friends there so I’ve visited a couple of times over the last 10+ years. If you ever get the chance, don’t go there.

  13. @Gary – It seems pretty odd that in your article about hotel awards not being guaranteed there’s a spate of hating on St. Louis. Is this cavalcade really from separate people or is this another instance of people posting under false names again?

  14. Looking back the writing was on the wall that they would be leaving Hyatt as soon as the economy started to recover. They admitted joining the Hyatt program only because they had just opened and were at very low capacity during the peak of the pandemic.

    I stayed there earlier this year as a Globalist and had a wonderful time. On top of that was a great deal as a Cat2.

    Shame that they’re leaving and on such short notice without recourse for their customers.

  15. How did a post on award nights lacking an iron clad guarantee, morph into a bashing of a city? Aren’t there more appropriate forums to debate the crime and decay of St. Louis?

  16. Happened to me with with a Crown Plaza deflagging a few years back a couples week before my stay, which I booked 6 months out. As my award stay was no longer possible I was told to contact reservations who offered to book at a remaining IHG properties with cash rates, a remaining IHG property 7 miles out of the city, or just booking cash rates at hotels of my choice. As it was a couple weeks out most hotels were booked and rates were much higher, so I eventually was able to argue a solution with IHG. Part of my argument was that while the hotels often given little notification to the chain they will be deflagging, there are often set dates when these can happen and the chain would know how many impacted award booking there would be (especially the close in ones) and proactively protect their awards at the hotel or alternatives.

  17. Wow- strange that we seem to have one person posting so many separate comments on their hate for St Louis (obviously the same disgruntled person- get a life).
    St Louis is like any “former glory” town. Detroit, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, San Francisco (I’ll get flamed for San Fran, but boy has it changed). It has its rough spots, up and coming areas, massive well- off suburbs, and lots of stuff to do and see. Can’t find any city in this US that doesn’t have issues but also doesn’t have some pretty awesome bits too.
    As for the Last Hotel, my understanding is that the hotel hasn’t paid the loan payments to the developer in some time and is in a financial pickle.
    Too bad- I actually loved the place. Stayed there about a half dozen times. Unique amazing rooms, friendly staff and a pretty cool little rooftop bar/ pool. Stayed both on paid and points and treated well as a globalist every time. Have a feeling we may see some more “covid casualties” leaving their brands in the next year….

  18. I have actually stayed at that property a couple times in the last few months. The last time i stayed there (one month ago), check in was a little strange when they ran my credit card through square because their computer system was down (and had apparently been down for a long time). It was a pretty cool property putting aside their lack of parking (even valet), rotten apple core on the floor of my room, and no one staffed at the front desk at 830am

  19. A few years ago St Louis was trying to get an International Sister City, New Delhi was chosen, but New Delhi said they did not want to be associated with St. Louis ))

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