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. (When a chain leaves without much advance notice, right before peak travel periods, it can be difficult to even find rooms.)
Even when a chain comes through to take care of customers, it can take time and winds up really stressful for the member.
One case where a chain seems to be doing nothing for members is with the Ocean Resort Casino which is leaving Hyatt’s Unbound Collection at the start of 2020. Hyatt tells me that guests with future award stays are basically just out of luck.
Hyatt call center agents have “begun the process of contacting members with point redemption reservations” and a spokesperson tells me that customers will have two options:
- Cancel the booking
- Pay cash for the stay
Ocean Resort Casino, credit: Hyatt
According to the spokesperson,
As of January 1, 2020, at 12:00 a.m., Ocean Resort Casino will no longer be operated as part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand or affiliated with Hyatt in any other way. We are working with the hotel operator to ensure a smooth transition for guests. Our most important priorities are to care for our guests and to support our colleagues through the upcoming changes. While the hotel remains affiliated with Hyatt, guests will be provided with the same level of authentic hospitality befitting a Hyatt hotel.
Existing hotel reservations, except for World of Hyatt award stays, will not be affected due to this brand change. After December 31, 2019, World of Hyatt members will not be eligible to receive World of Hyatt program benefits when staying at the hotel, including earning World of Hyatt points and redeeming World of Hyatt points or free night awards. Please know we are working with the hotel operator to minimize any disruption in service to guests, including moving World of Hyatt redemption reservations to paid rates if members wish. World of Hyatt members with free night redemptions stays scheduled at this hotel after December 31, 2019 may contact Hyatt’s Global Reservations Center at 1-800-344-9288 or hyatt.com for assistance and booking options.
It is genuinely shocking to me that Hyatt is leaving guests in the lurch this way. However there seems to be a pattern emerging of Hyatt doing little for customers when hotels choose not to step up. For instance when the new all-inclusives in the Dominican Republic opened without being close to ready for guests, those who booked club rooms without the club even being open couldn’t get the extra money they paid for club access refunded. Hyatt’s past reputation for ‘making things right’ is getting tarnished by recent events.