Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Hyatt (page 1 of 2)

Hyatt House Portland Review

Overall rating: 9/10

Location: Portland, Oregon

Last fall my wife and I met my in-laws for a few days in Portland. It was actually a surprise for my brother and father-in-law. Because of limited award availability from Arcata, I opted to arrive a day early (’cause who wants a 6:00 a.m. flight?). I picked the Hyatt House Portland for our one night.

I used 12,000 Hyatt points to cover the night. Cash price was $205, so we were getting 1.7 cents per point. This has since become my base valuation of Hyatt points. Others peg them at 1.4 or 1.5, but everything depends on location, season, day of the week, etc. The Hyatt House Portland often goes for as low as $130. Redeeming points wouldn’t be as lucrative at that price point.

One thing I noticed when booking was how few reviews the hotel had. This was because it opened only 3 months before we stayed.

Arriving at the Hyatt House Portland

I knew my in-laws were renting a car that could fit the 5 of us, so we used public transportation to reach the hotel. It is located just to the south of downtown, near the University.

Hyatt House Portland review - transit

Public transit to the hotel is easy. We had to make a single transfer from TriMet light rail (leaves from PDX airport) to a Portland Streetcar. There is a streetcar stop literally next to the hotel.

The other cool thing was that the hotel is kitty corner to the Marriott Residence Inn, at which we would be staying with my in-laws when they arrived. Super convenient.

Hyatt House Portland Review - from trolley stop

Hyatt House Portland from the trolley stop

Check in was easy. We didn’t receive an upgrade, but I didn’t really expect to as a lowly Hyatt Platinum. Anyhow, from what I knew of Hyatt House hotels in general, every room is an upgrade since they all have kitchens and are considered “suites”.

Hyatt House Portland studio kitchen suite

Our points got us a standard studio kitchen suite. You can also be booked into a den guest room. Luckily the suite was available for our dates.

Walking into the room, it was love at first sight. The suite had a full kitchen, sitting/living area, bed area, and large bathroom. Everything was new, clean, and modern.

Hyatt House Portland - Living Room

The kitchen was fully stocked. It contained a stove, cookware, flatware, dishes, and more. It even had a dishwasher. We felt spoiled. The stove was even the modern induction type, which is probably to make it easy to clean, more than anything.

Hyatt House Portland - Kitchen

The dining area was an island adjacent to the kitchenette.

Hyatt Hours Portland Review - Kitchen

The “bedroom” and living areas were cleverly designed. The TV was situated within an open section of the wall, at it would swivel, depending on whether you wanted to watch it from the couch or from the bed. I thought this was brilliant.

Hyatt House Portland - Bedroom

The bathroom was spacious and clean, and included a shower only, which I generally prefer. Everything was super new and clean, and it was plenty spacious.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Bathroom

The view was okay. The location of the Hyatt House doesn’t really make for good views in any direction. If you pressed your face against the glass, you could get a view of some of the taller buildings in downtown Portland.

Overall, we loved the room. Everything was new and modern, and the layout was wonderful.

Lobby and other facilities

The common area was clean and nice, if a bit clinical. The hotel could have done a better job breaking up the space. There was plenty of seating, but it was so orderly it began to remind me of a cafeteria. There weren’t any great places to sit and have a more private or quieter conversation.

Maybe this just stood out since I immediately contrasted the Hyatt House Portland with the Marriott Residence Inn we stayed at the following nights. The Residence Inn broke up their common space into smaller sections, allowing a bit more privacy and an overall better feel.

I also used the gym in the morning. There were enough machines and free weights to accommodate what most people would want in a work out. There is also a pool, but we didn’t use it.

Breakfast

I have to say, the Hyatt House Portland breakfast was one of the best free breakfasts I have had at a hotel. And its always free.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Breakfast

The best part was the made-to-order omelets. You pick a couple filling options, and a cook makes you an omelet in just minutes. There are also the typical continental breakfast options of bagels, muffins, yogurt, fruit, juice, and coffee. All of that was overshadowed by the omelet.

Location and getting around

While the Hyatt House Portland is not right in the middle of downtown, it is plenty close. And the trolley stop makes most places very accessible. You can be at the main food pod between Washington and Alder in 20 minutes or less.

Essentially, anything within the trolley or TriMet system is easily accessible. I won’t deny that a car made visiting several places much easier, including our trip to Multnomah Falls and attending a glass blowing class.

The riverfront is within easy walking distance, as is the aerial tram to the OHSU campus.

Issues with the final bill

Check out at the Hyatt House Portland was quick and easy. The desk staff put our “bill” in an envelope and sent us on our way. I don’t typically receive an final bill for an award stay, but some hotels seem to give it out anyway.

By the time I read it, we were on the streetcar, and it immediately puzzled me. The bill showed a room rate of $57 + tax. This made no sense. I knew there had to be a mistake.

We returned later and asked the manager what the issue was. He apologized and told me that I wasn’t supposed to receive that bill. It was a record of what they bill Hyatt corporate for our stay. It was no skin off my teeth since we had to return anyway (to the Residence Inn) and it actually gave me an interesting insight into how hotels are reimbursed for award stays.

Conclusion

Overall, we had a fantastic stay at the Hyatt House Portland. It still ranks as my favorite hotel brand. My wife was in heaven. Because she has some tummy problems that require a restricted diet, being able to easily and comfortably cook on vacation is extremely important to us. The Hyatt House gave us everything we needed.

Hyatt House Portland Review - Downtown View

My Hyatt House Portland Review takeaway: if we ever return to Portland, we will certainly be looking at this hotel again.

Park Hyatt Milan: A Review

Location: Milan, Italy

Overall Rating: 10/10

Quick summary: Very luxurious, spacious, modern room with a large and lavish bathroom. The location in Milan is unbeatable.

After having a fantastic stay at the Hyatt Palais de la Méditerranée just a few days prior, I was really looking forward to our single night at the Park Hyatt Milan during our trip to Europe this past summer. We used the last of our 4 Hyatt free night certificates for the stay and paid a mere $11 in taxes. The going rate? Over €500 for a standard room.

Park Hyatt Milan Exterior

The Park Hyatt Milan as approached from the Galleria

My wife and I arrived in Milan by train and took the yellow line metro from Milano Centrale to the Duomo stop. From there it is a very short walk to the Park Hyatt.

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Inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, literally next to the Park Hyatt

The exterior of the hotel is attractive, but not overstated. You could easily walk right by it, especially with the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele right next to it. The main entrance is on the north side. We were greeted warmly by the doorman who took our luggage and ushered us to the check-in desk.

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Atrium

The lobby and atrium restaurant were impressive. I knew that without Hyatt Diamond status, though, we would not be spending any real time in either. Price for breakfast? Don’t ask. It was ridiculous.

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Atrium restaurant

The front desk clerk was very kind, and graciously gave us two complimentary vouchers for a free glass of champagne at the bar. I politely accepted, even though I knew we wouldn’t be visiting.

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From desk, from near the front entry

I was surprised to only see two check-in desks. The Park Hyatt only has 106 rooms, however, so maybe this is fairly typical for the size of the hotel.

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Third floor hallway

After check-in we were personally escorted to our room by one of the staff. Similar treatment during our previous stay at the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes had broken the ice for us, but it still felt new and a little odd.

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About to enter our room

We were in room 304. The room numbers are literally engraved into the stone alongside the door. As with virtually every other hotel at which we stayed while in Europe, this one required a key card for the lights and climate control to operate.

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Our beautiful standard room

The room itself was spectacular. I had been impressed by the Hyatt in Nice, but the Park Hyatt Milan took things to an entirely new level. I found that I overwhelmingly prefer this modern luxury style over the more ornate style of older hotels. The room was plenty spacious at over 400 square feet, and had a nice desk and sitting area.

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The heavenly bed

The bed was heavenly. There are few hotel beds that have been as comfortable as either this one or the one at the Hyatt in Nice. We had a good rest after our long day on the train.

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Desk

Unlike the Hyatt in Nice, the Park Hyatt actually had good in-room coffee. It was Illy brand, and actually the best in-room coffee I have ever had.

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Our interior view

We could only book a standard room with the free night certificate, and this is what we got. With only Hyatt Platinum status (courtesy of the Chase card), I didn’t expect an upgrade, and we didn’t receive one. Thus, we got an interior facing room with a view of the atrium. But I honestly didn’t care. The standard room was fantastic, and we were only here for one night.

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The luxurious bathroom

The bathroom was most impressive, and hands-down the most luxurious I have ever used.

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Amazing shower and tub

The tub and shower were both extremely nice, tiled with stone all around. Showering in the morning is an enjoyment to me, rather than a chore, and the deluge of water that the Park Hyatt shower can output is ridiculous. It was like a mini waterfall. I must have spent close to 20 minutes basking under it.

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Bathroom sink

I am not prone to taking hotel toiletries, but I may have taken a couple bottles of shampoo from the stash. There was an entire set in the shower, another next to the bath, and a third next to the sink.

It took us a little time to find the minibar, which is located underneath the sink in the bathroom. The space available for personal items is extremely minimal.

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Complimentary water and chocolate

The Park Hyatt provided us with two bottles of water and a small box of chocolates. There were additional bottles and other refreshments in the minibar, but I didn’t feel like paying €10 each.

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Duomo di Milano

After relaxing in our room for a while, my wife and I decided to head out and find some food. Both the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Duomo di Milano are just steps from the hotel. The cathedral is exquisite. We spent a little a little over an hour wandering around.

Park Hyatt Milan Chocolates

Chocolate as part of the “turndown service”

Later, after returning to the hotel, we were offered turndown service by housekeeping. I still don’t understand the desire to have someone come in and “prepare the bed for sleeping” for you. Apparently it’s the fancy thing to do. What we did accept was the box of chocolates offered as part of the service.

The next morning we headed out to quickly visit the terraces of the Duomo di Milano. Not only did we get up close and personal with the architecture, but we had great views of the rooftops of the city.

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The views of Milan from the Duomo are unbeatable

Returning to the Park Hyatt, it was sadly time to leave. But not before I had a final cup of Illy coffee.

park_hyatt-milan_coffee

We enjoyed our stay immensely, and I would be eager to stay here again should we ever return to Milan and have either the points or certificates to burn on a fancy stay like this.

Park Hyatt Milan - Tomasso Grossi

Can’t wait to return to this hotel along Tomasso Grossi!

I can’t think of a single critical thing to say about the Park Hyatt Milan. It truly was superb, and the first 10 out of 10 rating I have given any hotel reviewed. Even without Hyatt Diamond status, it was an fantastic treat. All for $11.

A Peek Into Hotel Award Stay Reimbursement

As essential part of playing the miles and points game is understanding the various loyalty programs to maximize award value. Most of the focus is on the consumer end: hotel/flight options, points/miles award costs, cents per point value, transfer partners, etc. So it is cool to get a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes in these programs.

For a recent stay at the Hyatt House Portland, my wife and I redeemed 12,000 Hyatt points for a single night. The hotel was going for $217 before taxes, so it was a really good value. Plus, we will get 1,200 points back from a current promotion for Hyatt Visa cardholders that gives 10% of points back on award stays.

Upon checking out of the Hyatt House we were given the folio. This is not entirely unusual on award stays, but I have found that a hotel sometimes skips it entirely if the stay is completely free and there are no taxes or incidentals on the bill. I didn’t even look at the folio until we were on the trolley, and I am glad I did! The hotel appeared to have billed us $60.15 for the stay! The charge was listed as ‘accommodation’, so I was quite confused.

We returned to the front desk to inquire about the charge. The manager was called, and after a minute of investigation, he apologetically informed me that I was accidentally given the invoice that they would send to Hyatt corporate for reimbursement for our stay. My credit card had not actually been charged.

Rather than seeing the incident as an inconvenience, the whole thing was actually a neat experience. I had never really thought about how hotel loyalty programs operate on the business end. Because so many hotels are franchised, I should have guessed that individual properties are reimbursed for award nights on whatever terms they have contractually negotiated with their corporate umbrella. In the case of this Hyatt House, a reimbursement of $60.15 seems like enough to cover turning the room over, but honestly not much more than that.

I offered my experience on the PWAC Slack Channel, and a couple other people chimed in with their experiences. One guy who previously worked at a Sheraton actually handled corporate reimbursement. He elaborated that the reimbursement amount can vary significantly depending on the property, suggesting compensation as low as $20 for low tier IHG hotels to $85 for the Sheraton at which he worked. I am sure that even nicer properties (like the Intercontinental Carlton Cannes we stayed at this summer) would demand even more. His other neat revelation was that once hotels are at a high level of occupancy, award night compensation rates may increase dramatically. The Sheraton he worked at would receive the average daily rate for award stays if the occupancy was over 95%.

This was an neat experience for me. It was fun to get a glimpse into how hotel loyalty programs and operations function behind the scenes.

Hyatt Regency Palais du la Mediteranee: A Review

Location: Nice, France

Overall Rating: 9/10

The Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée has an enviable location along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The gorgeous blue water of the Mediterranean is at your doorstep, and the Vieux Ville (Old Town) is a mere 10 minute walk. All the research I did when planning our summer trip to Europe pointed to this hotel as the best option for our stay in Nice. With our Hyatt free night certificates freshly in hand, I used all but one to book a three night stay for the first few nights of our trip. The cash rate was running about €400 per night, so I’d say this was a great use of our free nights!

The Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditeranée is very easy to access from the airport. The #98 express bus runs from the airport to the promenade and old town every 20 minutes for most of the day, and it is a bargain at €6 per person one-way. A taxi or Uber journey will run you an easy €40, if not substantially more! And lest you think it may be inconvenient to walk from a bus stop to the hotel, bus #98 literally stops just down the block from the Hyatt Regency.

nice_hyatt entrance

Across the Promenade des Anglais from the hotel.

The hotel looks impressive from the outside. The hotel entry is on the corner, where you are greeted by a beautiful lobby and cheerful staff. The front desk staff were very helpful and professions. At check in we were given a modest upgrade to a “Partial Sea View” room.

nice_hyatt hallway

Eighth floor hallway.

We made our way up to our room on the 8th floor. The elevator and hall are elegant, but definitely not overstated. Our room was the second to last one on the floor and quite a ways from the elevator.

The doors used the modern NFC key cards, which I much prefer to the old mag-stripe ones, which I often have trouble with. This stay would have gone smoothly, except it was on three reservations (each Hyatt free night has to be booked individually). Our keys seemed to reset during the middle of each day. I had expected the staff to link the reservations, but that didn’t seem to affect the programming of the room keys. We had to get new ones every afternoon.

hyatt nice hall

Entry hall.

The layout of the room was nice. There was a small toilet room directly to the left as you enter, then the bathroom on the left, closet on the right, and the actual room beyond.

hyatt nice bathroom

Bathroom sink and tub.

The bathroom was lovely. It featured a very nice tub, sizable sink, and a large tiled shower. My wife’s only complaint was the placement of the hair dryer. It was located on the left side, the cord wasn’t especially long, and you had to push the button the whole time to keep it on. It was awkward as she (and most people) are right handed. But it was a small detail.

hyatt_nice shower

Shower.

The room as a whole was absolutely wonderful and the nicest in which we had ever stayed. At that moment I could say that it was my favorite hotel ever, but my perspective may have been skewed by the fact that we had just finished a brutal 25 hours of travel. It was a perfect oasis of comfort.

hyatt_nice bed

Bed and nightstands.

The bed was heavenly. We slept very well our first night, and the next two as well. One handy thing was the fact that the light switches next to the lamps didn’t just control the lamps, but other lights in the room, too.

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Large desk.

The desk was large and comfortable. There was a small tray with a hot water kettle, two mugs, tea, and instant coffee. The instant coffee was a surprise. With the going rate for the place often over €400, I figured they would offer better than that. Nescafé really doesn’t cut it.

nice_hyatt desk closeup

Desk closeup.

Compared to a U.S. hotel of similar quality, the T.V. was small. It didn’t really matter, though, because we never turned it on. Besides the first night of our vacation, I don’t think we ever turned a TV on. With how connected millennials’ lives are to the internet, I wonder if the television will be obsoleted someday.

hyatt_nice toilet

Yes, that’s a phone on the wall.

The place had three phones. One on the desk, one by the bed, and one…..in the toilet room. Cause that’s totally normal. This was actually mystifying at first, and after doing some research, the best answer I found was that it is most likely just because of the diamond ratings for properties, and also likely a holdover for business travelers from the pre-cellphone days.

The room had a small computerized minibar with a selection of drinks and snacks. We never help ourselves to any, but the prices started around €5 and moved quickly upward. There was a small section in the minibar that we used to store our own food.

hyatt_nice view

Our 8th floor room was classified as ‘Partial Sea View’. In reality, it was a pool view room. While it is true that the ocean is technically visible from the balcony, because of the structure of the front of the hotel, we could only see a few square feet of the Mediterranean. The better rooms were clearly either one floor up, or a few floors down.

The balcony with table and chairs was great for relaxing. We spent some time enjoying the warm and humid summer air of the French Riviera.

The room did give us a view of the pool and terrace restaurant. On our final morning, I finally took a half-hour swim. Staff were busy cleaning and setting out towels, and I felt like I was disrupting them a little. I don’t think they expected anyone in the pool so early.

hyatt_nice pool

The pool was fantastic. The final day included a morning swim as other guests headed to breakfast.

Since neither my wife nor I have Hyatt Diamond status, breakfast wasn’t complimentary. Nor was it included in our rate. The morning buffet costs over €25 per person, so we weren’t even tempted. I enjoyed breakfast one morning at a little place just down the street called Sarao.

nice_breakfast not_hyatt

Breakfast at Sarao for ~€8. One minute walk from the Hyatt Regency.

It was quite good, and I felt like it gave me at least a taste of the typical French breakfast. The coffee is still American style. I can’t get used to the typical French coffees, which are essentially a shot of espresso.

nice_breakfast seating

Nice is quiet in the morning. The place was nearly empty at 8:00 a.m.

The Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée has great beach access. The hotel offers daily sunbed and umbrella reservations at one of the private beaches nearby for €27. This is a bit rich for my blood, not to mention sunning myself on the beach really isn’t my thing.

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The brilliant azure water of the Bay of Angels.

The old city is a mere ten minute walk, and was the highlight of our time in Nice. My wife loved the market. Nice is famous for its flower market, but there are plenty more vendors selling local produce, cheeses, and other products.

The best treat, though, was the socca, a regional specialty. It is like a giant pancake made of chickpea flour, water, oil, and salt. Fresh out of the pan, socca is absolutely delicious! We wife hopes to make it at home.

nice_socca

Overall, our stay at the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée was a spectacular use of our free night certificates. Nice is very expensive in the summer, and we were able to stay at a wonderful beachfront hotel for only the cost of the city taxes (~$20). Our room was wondrously comfortable and the hotel was in a great location. It is a stay that I would gladly repeat.

4 Great Options For Using Hyatt Free Night Certificates

Last year my wife and I both applied for the Hyatt Visa Card, receiving a total of 4 free night certificates (2 from each card) redeemable at any Hyatt hotel. I had planned to use all of them for a stay at the Park Hyatt New York during our recent Winter trip, but award availability was elusive. According to other sources, this is a common problem at that particular hotel. About 3 weeks before we were going to be in NYC, I decided to quit trying to wait it out, and ended up booking the Element Times Square instead. This turned out to be a great change.

However, we are still left with 4 free Hyatt night certificates, and I have my sights set high for using them since they are good at any Hyatt hotel. Again, emphasis on any. Anything from a mundane Hyatt Place hotel in the Bay Area to a top-tier Park Hyatt far across the globe. I have identified 4 options that I think would be great choices both for value, and, more importantly, experience.

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The top-floor pool at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Image courtesy of Hyatt.

  • Park Hyatt Tokyo – This one tops my list. Even though Japan is not at the top of my travel list (but definitely on it), this hotel certainly is. It boasts a top-floor pool and great views of Tokyo and Mount Fuji.
Park-Hyatt-Milan-Main-Entrance-Galleria

The Park Hyatt Milan near the Duomo and Galleria. Image courtesy of Hyatt.

  • Park Hyatt Milan – While I have been more interested in visiting southern Italy, I think 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Milan would be an amazing redemption. It is literally a few hundred feet from the Duomo, wonderfully located in the middle of the old city! I have plotted out a potential trip using SPG points in Rome, Choice Hotel points in Venice, and our Hyatt certificates in Milan.
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The Park Hyatt Sydney affords amazing views of the famous opera house. Image courtesy of Hyatt.

  • Park Hyatt Sydney – Australia. How I want to visit you someday, but you are so, so far away. If I ever do head to the land down under, I hope I have Hyatt free night certificates to use at the Park Hyatt Sydney. The iconic Sydney Opera House sits directly across the harbor from this 5-star hotel.
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Outdoor dining in the interior courtyard of the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome. Image courtesy of Hyatt.

  • Park Hyatt Paris Vendome – This beautiful 5-star luxury hotel places the City of Light at your doorstep, and with rates that often start at over $700 per night, redeeming a free night certificate at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome would provide fantastic value. The hotel boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant.

We only have four nights, and as cool as it would be to spend in each of these locations, I would rather have a great four day experience at one. We shall see which opportunity this year brings, if any.

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