Your Hotel Awards Aren’t Safe: Hyatt Cancelling Redemptions at Ocean Resort Casino

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 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.

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. Unless I am misreading you, Hyatt will give the points back, and a month is ample time to find alternate accommodation in AC if required. Not sure what the big deal is here; definitely not “shocking.”

  2. @gary I know other chains (especially Marriott) have the advantage of footprint, which means that in many cities no single property will necessarily be solely inundated with award redemptions, but I have to say that in the past 1-2 years, I have seen more egregious examples of Hyatt properties playing games with award availability (often with minimum stay requirements imposed solely on the base level rooms when paying standard rates) than any other chain, and Hyatt has clearly been unwilling to do anything about it.

  3. IHG actually did this to me early this year except they didn’t even bother telling me. We had 3 nights booked at the (formerly Kimpton) Amara Resort in Sedona. The resort was in the process of leaving IHG, and they cancelled my award reservation and didn’t tell me. I only found out because I compulsively check my reservations.

    I had to call IHG to figure out what happened. They were unapologetic, did not offer to help me find a another hotel, and only suggested that I could rebook for cash which was over $500 per night. I explained that our trips was less than a month away and we already had flights booked to AZ from NYC. They wouldn’t even give me points for the inconvenience, basically told me to go pound sand.

  4. @Anthony Folks may have booked rooms which they could afford using hard-earned points when they couldn’t afford the cash rates. Now there undoubtedly air travel costs already incurred, and the cash rates remain unaffordable. Your lack of empathy is surprising.

    I appreciate Gary’s focus on consumer advocacy. What’s wrong is wrong.

  5. We actually have a reservation at this property in early December. Bizarrely, were using a free night certificate because we couldn’t find anywhere else good to use a category 1 to 4 before the reward expires on us. That got us a Saturday night at Ocean Casino resort. All you have to do is gamble a little bit and you can get a free or inexpensive room at this property any Sunday to Thursday, and if you gamble a bit more, a Friday room as well. Saturday night is reserved for big player or spenders.

    In this case I think the reason for the change is that when the new owner (Bruce Deifik, now deceased) took over the property, he was looking to bring in business and attaching it as a Hyatt affiliate made some sense to him. Ultimately this property has not been totally successful financially as a casino even the second time around and the owner lost the property and surrendered to the lenders. So now with different people in charge I think they made a management decision here and that’s why they no longer part of Hyatt. It certainly has nothing at all to do with Hyatt corporate.

  6. I had a suite booked over the summer for an air show. I booked it contingent on being on the beach side (where you could see planes….) and when I checked the day before they had me on the bay side. My concierge couldn’t get the hotel to budge and was apologetic, but it was by far my worst Hyatt experience. The concierges seemed to know AC was a whole other realm of customer service.

  7. Ihg is another chain that does not care about it’s customers once the hotel leaves it’s chain. It happened to us this spring in Rome, when I found out 3 days before beginning of our stay that hotel that we had booked with points had left ihg. When I called ihg, they offered me another hotel for $500 per night whereas our hotel would have been point redemption!!! They did not even say sorry and did not help in any other way, I even had to call twice to get our unredeemed points back in the account. Ihg is worse than Hyatt!!!

  8. Is there not terms with hotels that they have to honor a. Existing reservations etc up to one year at the same rates etc.

  9. I used a free night certificate at this property in August (to complete a multiple status match weekend – well worth the stay) the property itself is well worth the value – sad to see how quickly they joined the Hyatt family and left – but lets be honest with regard to the location of this property – Atlantic City has been dying for years (truly on life support) and this property has been open, closed, on the verge of becoming a hybrid university, to being the current incarnation. I think this situation has more to do with Atlantic City than Hyatt. Its a great property overall and i think would have been an excellent long term partner with Hyatt. I would love to know the details of the reasoning of its exit.

  10. I’d expect that they plan to become independent. They have their own loyalty program (Casino) – so there was so oddities when I stayed there (but also perks) of getting benefits from both programs.

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