Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Hyatt (page 1 of 2)

Get up to 12 free nights from this hotel card offer!

You probably clicked on this due to the eye-popping headline. I know. It’s clickbait-y. But now let me convince you why you might actually want to consider the current offer for the new Chase World of Hyatt Visa card. You can get up to 12 free nights from this offer.

Why Hyatt is a great hotel program

While I’m not a huge fan of the refreshed World of Hyatt program in terms of elite status and benefits, if your goal is inexpensive free nights, it is one of the best.

Hyatt shines due to their reasonable award prices for lower tier hotels. Category 1 properties cost a mere 5,000 points per night. Most of these in the U.S. go for at least $100 per night, including taxes. And there are a good number of Category 1 properties across the U.S. You won’t fine them in urban areas, but they are common enough.

Category 2 and Category 3 properties aren’t all that far behind at 8,000 and 12,000 points per night, respectively. Even with just those three categories and Hyatt’s fairly small footprint, you still have much of the U.S. covered. Check out this complete map of Hyatt hotels.

The lower tier properties are almost always Hyatt Place and Hyatt House brands. But don’t think that means they aren’t good. Both brands are great! Hyatt House is one of the best hotel brands at which I’ve ever stayed (SEE: Hyatt House Portland Review).

So…all that said, the World of Hyatt Visa could have you well on your way to quite a few free nights.

I put friends up at this Hyatt Place hotel for only 5,000 points!

Chase World of Hyatt Visa card offer

Chase issues the co-branded World of Hyatt credit card which has recently undergone a bit of a refresh. The current sign up offer is for a total of 60,000 Hyatt points, which is equivalent to 12 free nights at a Category 1 hotel!!

The minimum spend is fairly large, however. You earn 40,000 bonus points after $3,000 in spending within the first three months. An additional 20,000 points are awarded after spending a cumulative $6,000 within the first 6 months.

The card earns 4 points per dollar at Hyatt hotels, 2 points per dollar at fitness clubs and gym memberships, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. The card carries a $95 annual fee that is not waived. But who can argue that paying $95 for 12 nights of hotel isn’t a good deal.

The card also gives you a free night every anniversary, as well as an additional free night annually if you spend $15,000 on the card within your cardmember year. The card gives you 5 nights of elite status credit as well, plus 2 more elite nights for every $5,000 in spend.

If you are interested in applying, I would appreciate it if you would use my personal referral link (I may receive points if you apply through my link).

Conclusion

As always, I’ll end my spiel by saying that you should always be wise with your card usage and pay off your balances monthly (SEE: 5 Commandments of Travel Credit Cards). I personally consider the World of Hyatt Visa to be a solid product, and one of the best hotel card offers available currently. However, do your own research and consider whether this product is something of value to you. Don’t just apply for a card because some guy on the internet says you should!

If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment or drop me a note on my contact page.

2 Consistently Good Mid-Range Hotel Brands for Families

During our Southwest road trip this past April, my kids and I stayed with two brands that consistently meet all my expectations: Hyatt Place and Hampton Inn. One is Hyatt’s most budget option and the other is part of the Hilton portfolio, but both are great mid-range choices for families.

Why I love everything about Hyatt Place

If you’re looking for a hotel that will get you the perfect combination of amenities for a family, look no further than Hyatt Place. Hyatt Place topped my list of 5 best hotel chains for families of 5 (or more) due to their near perfect set of amenities. The only thing they are lacking is a kitchen (which would pretty much make them a Hyatt House).

I’ve been to only a few Hyatt Place hotels, but every one has been great. They have a clean, modern appearance that is particularly inviting. Every lobby has been welcoming as a place to either meet up with someone or get some work done. The rooms are spacious and typically include a sofa and sitting area in addition to the bed(s). Breakfast is a few notches above the basics found at a Holiday Inn Express.

One of the best Hyatt Place features is that some block rooms for 6 people. Not four. Not five. Six. Yes, I’m serious. Many have a standard queen-queen room with a sofa bed, so you can comfortably sleep everyone. And the room is spacious enough that you don’t run into fire code issues. The Hyatt Place Emeryville was the option we chose when we headed back from Costa Rica since there were six of us.

All of this comes at a slight premium. Hyatt Place hotels are usually a tad more expensive than similar hotels. Even for work trips, they are usually just above the allowable price.

But not when you’re talking points. Hyatt Place properties are usually Category 1 or 2 properties, which means they cost 5,000 to 8,000 points per night. If you’re in an urban area, you may hit Category 3, and there are a few higher than that out there as well. But in general, they are lowest tier. In my opinion, paying 5,000 points for a hotel night is a steal. With the merger of SPG and Marriott, no other award chart even comes close anymore.

During our trip we had one night at the Hyatt Place Tucson Airport. It was as nice as any other Hyatt Place I’ve stayed at, and one that I would happily stay at again. The Hyatt Place Emeryville still stands as the nicest.

Hampton Inns are a great choice anywhere

Another great standard choice across the board is Hampton Inn. Hampton Inns offer comfortable rooms, free breakfast, and nearly always a pool. With rooms typically offering two queen beds, they can comfortably sleep a small family. My kids loved the pool at the Hampton Inn Tucson.

The other nice thing about Hampton Inns is that they are proliferous in the United States. You can find them in almost every large or mid-size city. Most are also reasonably priced, as far as Hilton awards go. I’ve typically seen Hampton Inns price in the 20,000 to 30,000 point range. Now…you may be thinking: why would I pay 20,000 points for a night when I can get a Hyatt for 5,000 points? Good question.

It really comes down to how you are earning the points and could be a wash. For example, say you have the choice between putting your grocery spend on a Chase Freedom Unlimited. With the no-fee Hilton card, you’ll earn 5x Hilton points per dollar. With the Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 1.5 UR (that can convert to Hyatt points). Assuming you’re comparing a 5,000-point Hyatt versus a 20,000-point Hilton, it would take $3,334 of spend to earn a free night at a Hyatt, versus $4,000 of spend for a Hilton. Hyatt still wins, but not by that much.

Final note: Hilton is one of those chains where you get the 5th night free, as long as you have elite status (which is super easy to get via credit card). So if you need to stay longer at a Hampton Inn, that’s an extra savings.

Conclusion

There are a number of other family-friendly brands out there, but these are two I wanted to highlight after our trip through the Southwest since we stayed with both of them. Both are solid, although I think Hyatt Place still has the edge.

Do you have a favorite hotel brand you enjoy with your family?

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.

milan_galleria

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.

park_hyatt_milan-lobby_view_up

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.

park_hyatt_milan-breakfast

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.

park_hyatt_milan-lobby

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.

park_hyatt_milan-hall

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.

park_hyatt_milan-door

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.

park_hyatt_milan-desk

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.

park_hyatt_milan-view_interior

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.

park_hyatt_milan-bath_pano

The luxurious bathroom

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

park_hyatt_milan-bath

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.

park_hyatt_milan-sink

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.

park_hyatt_milan-compliments

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.

milan-duomo_view

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.

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