What is the best hotel scheme? – Hyatt Gold Passport – The Facts

This is the third of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme, the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

Hyatt Gold Passport is the smallest of the global hotel loyalty schemes. It covers 600 hotels globally under the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Vacation Club, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva and Andaz brands. The Gold Passport home page is here.

What is the geographic spread? You will struggle to find a Hyatt in the UK. There is one in London and one in Birmingham, plus an Andaz in the City. The chain is expanding – Andaz hotels are popping up in Europe and Hyatt reflagged hotels in Nice and Cannes in 2013. The budget Hyatt Place chain is coming to Heathrow in late 2015. Germany is particularly strong. More importantly, the hotels Hyatt has are generally excellent. Park Hyatt is the most luxurious hotel chain that is run by a multi-brand group.

Do I use them? Yes I do, because they are very good hotels. I have stayed at the Grand Hyatt Berlin, Park Hyatt Vendome Paris, Park Hyatt Hamburg and Park Hyatt Zurich for cash in recent years (Zurich is reviewed here). My wife uses the Park Hyatt in Hamburg when visiting her head office. I have had some spectacular redemptions in Asia over the years using the ‘suite upgrade’ rewards which required just 6,000 points, although that benefit has now been devalued. If they had more properties, I would use them more.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Elite membership levels

Platinum – requires 5 stays or 15 nights. Benefits are 15% bonus on base points, free high-speed internet and a room on a higher floor or slightly larger than booked.

Diamond – requires 25 stays or 50 nights. Benefits are 30% bonus on base points, club access, room upgrade, free breakfast, free high-speed internet, 4pm late check-out on request, and a points or food and drink amenity per stay.  Diamond members who book reward nights for other people are guaranteed that the guest will receive all of the benefits even though the Diamond member is not staying.

You also receive four free suite upgrade vouchers to use on paid stays – these are confirmed at the time of booking making it the most generous suite upgrade benefit in the industry.

Platinum status has been devalued in 2015 because Hyatt is now offering free internet to all guests – although Platinum members receive the free high speed version.

Diamond status with Hyatt is generally seen as very attractive, primarily due to the guaranteed club access and the four annual suite upgrade certificates. These can be used for stays of up to seven nights each.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit unless you are a Diamond using a suite upgrade certificate.

Hyatt has a good reputation for giving you your elite member benefits even if you have booked through a third party such as Expedia. Your stay will still not earn points for the room rate spending, however.

The full list of elite benefits is here.

Hyatt Gold Passport does offer lifetime Diamond status. However, the target of 1m base points – requiring $200,000 of hotel spend and 10 years membership of Gold Passport – is exceptionally high.

You can fast-track your way to Hyatt Diamond via their Diamond Challenge.  Refreshed for 2015, you will be IMMEDIATELY given Platinum status if you call to ask for the challenge before May 31st 2015.  Your trial Platinum status lasts for 60 days.  If you complete 6 nights during the 60 days you retain Platinum to the following February.  If you achieve 12 nights, you are promoted to Diamond status until the following February.

Once Hyatt Place at Heathrow opens, it may offer a decent mattress run opportunity for the Diamond Challenge.  If you could complete 12 nights at, say, £60 per night you would be paying £720 for Diamond.  If you knew you could use the four ‘confirmed at time of booking’ suite upgrades for decent length stays (the maximum allowed is seven nights per stay), it may be a good investment.  This is also a promotion you could exploit if you knew you would be in Asia or some other destination with low-cost hotels.

Hyatt Regency Churchill

Earning points

Hyatt Gold Passport gives 5 points per $1 spent, plus any elite bonus. See the Hyatt site here.

Hyatt runs regular promotions. However, these usually require at least five nights during the promotional period to generate a bonus. See our ‘Hotel Promos‘ page for any current offers.

If you are visiting Las Vegas, Hyatt has a partnership with M Life.  This allows to earn and spend Gold Passport points at 12 hotels in Las Vegas including Bellagio, Aria, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Luxor, Vdara, MGM Grand and Delano.  Details are here.

Spending points

Following the 2013 devaluation, redemption rates for hotels run from 5,000 points in Category 1 (the cheapest properties, mainly old US hotels) to 30,000 points in Category 7 (just seven properties globally).

There are no discounts for extended stays.

There are no blackout dates. If a standard room can be bought for cash, it is available for points.

For a roughly 30% points premium, you can book a room with club access at a participating hotel.

A 5-star 25,000 point Category 6 redemption would typically require a Platinum member to spend $4,300. This is almost 250% more than Club Carlson would require for a top hotel. Unlike Hilton, which has a similar premium, Hyatt promotions tend to be less generous so it is harder to reduce this spending target.

Points expiry

Hyatt points will expire after two years of total inactivity on your account. This policy started in January 2014. Before this, points did not expire.

Can you upgrade using points?

Yes. Hyatt allows you to upgrade to a suite or club room using points. A suite will cost 6,000 points per night whilst a club room is 3,000 points per night. You need to book a room at Best Flexible Rate to upgrade, and must book the equivalent of a ‘deluxe’ rather than ‘standard’ room. Each hotel defines this differently and you will need to call Hyatt to book this.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, from January 2014 Hyatt is offering ‘cash and points’ rooms. These are explained more fully in this post. They represent a good deal, although hotels are not obliged to offer them, even if ‘all points’ reward nights are available. Anecdotal evidence so far suggests that availability is good.

Airline redemption options

Hyatt Gold Passport points can be transferred to a large number of airlines including Avios. The transfer ratio of 2.5 : 1 is not bad. However, given that you can get a one-night upgrade to a suite for just 6,000 Hyatt points, I would use them for that. Hyatt points are tough to earn and should not be transferred to airline miles unless you are sure you will never use them for a room.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see ba.com here. You can earn 500 Avios per stay by showing your British Airways Executive Club card at check-in. You will not earn any Hyatt Gold Passport points. However, you must still be a member of Hyatt Gold Passport in order to do this.

Credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card? No

Is there a Hyatt Gold Passport credit card in the UK? No

Is Hyatt an Amex Membership Rewards partner? No

Bottom line – the only way for a UK resident to obtain Hyatt points is to stay in their hotels. That is a very radical approach in 2015!

Purchasing and transferring points

You can buy Hyatt Gold Passport points for $24 per 1,000 via this link. This is not cheap, but can actually represent a bargain if using the points for a suite or club room upgrade (6,000 and 3,000 points per night).

Points can be transferred to other members by filling in this form here and emailing or faxing it to Hyatt. There is no charge for this.  However, as I found out recently to my cost, you can only do it if both members have had a stay within the last 12 months.

My opinion

Click here for Part Two and my overall opinion of Hyatt Gold Passport.

(To see our complete list of current Hyatt promotions, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

TRIPLE points on Club Carlson stays between April and June - a 50% rebate!
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Comments

  1. I have happy memories of my first stays in the Hyatt group. Back in 2009 Hyatt ran a Big Welcome Sweepstakes where they gave away 30,000 nights, 10,000 each to members from the US, Europe and Asia. This made it quite easy to win if your membership was Euro based, We won quite a few and stayed 3 nights at each of the Grand Hyatts Dubia, Singapore, Hong Kong and 7 nights in Bali the later had the best Lounge I have visited to date. Even on free nights we were upgraded to some wonderful rooms.
    Platinum status was awarded to everyone who did not win a free night so used one of the to do the Diaomond challenge giving us lounge access at all of the above hotels.

    I wonder how many free nights would have been won by the HFP community had Raffles ( who I seem to recall was also a winner in the promo) had Head for Points up and running back then.
    Happy days indeed.

  2. rotundo says:

    It looks like Germany is a sweet spot for HGP. The two hotels you mentioned in Germany (Park Hyatt Hamburg and Grand Hyatt Berlin) are only 15000 points a night. The hotels in London are 25000 points a night in comparison.

  3. Big John says:

    DIAMOND CHALLENGE – MORE INFO PLEASE ?

    ANY WAY TO FAST-TRACK TO DIAMOND STATUS HAS TO BE A REAL WINNER .

    THE HYATT WEBSITE HAS NOTHING ON THIS SUBJECT AND THEIR CUSTOMER SUPPORT HAVE JUST REPLIED BY EMAIL SAYING THAT THERE IS NO SUCH OFFER CURRENTLY.

  4. I did the old Diamond challenge and I am now Diamond until 2016 Feb. I have to say I really love the chain and I will happily pay cash to keep my Diamond status.
    The 4 certificates are awesome if you know that the properties will treat you well, which in most cases they do. Birmingham, UAE and Heathrow will be good options to do cheap runs if you are few stays from Gold.
    Customer service is excellent, when having an issue they do sort them out of compensate you. Their price match works great most of the time and their properties are brilliant with Park Hyatt being true luxury.

  5. Did I heard that Hyatt were thinking of buying Grosvenor House Hotel, London ?

    • They are a rumoured bidder but that is prime London property and is probably out of their reach. Unlikely that another buyer would unseat Marriott unless it was a sovereign wealth fund. Jumeirah manages the apartment complex at Grosvenor House so a UAE bid with Jumeirah taking the whole hotel is not impossible in my view.