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Is Hyatt Overrated? Everything I’m Currently Thinking About the Chain
Hyatt’s been like an old, reliable friend to me over the years. I know them well, having stayed in a variety of their brands over about 20 years. We’ll go months or years without an interaction, but we easily fit together when we eventually cross paths again. I peaked with them a long time ago as a top tier elite for a few years under their previous Gold Passport loyalty program. As my loyalty has since decreased, I’ve heard an increasingly strong drumbeat of loyalty from Hyatt fans, though. Shocker – that mostly comes from the points and travel hobby community. Which brings me to my question today – is Hyatt overrated? Here, I’m bringing up everything I’m feeling about Hyatt right now. By the end, maybe I’ll have my answer, but maybe not.
Probably the biggest reason my Hyatt relationship went from top tier elite to life support is what I consider the chain’s biggest weakness – its small footprint compared to the competitors. While planning our normal travels, we simply come across fewer feasible Hyatt opportunities than Hilton, IHG, Wyndham, or even Radisson.
On multiple occasions, individuals have told me they haven’t visited a travel destination primarily because there was no Hyatt located there. Or they’ve stayed at an airport Hyatt Place because no option was located downtown. If those methods work for them, great, but they provide more illustrations of Hyatt’s limited footprint.
The Chase Effect
Hyatt is clearly one of the top Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, if not the best. Individuals can easily obtain big value from these transfers, and they aren’t as complicated to redeem as airline miles. Clearly, these transfers to Hyatt provide many of us big redemption wins.
But I’ve started to wonder – would hobbyists love Hyatt as much if it wasn’t a Chase partner? Would they easily move their primary loyalty to another hotel chain? Or would they simply be more hotel agnostic, booking the one property that best fits their immediate travel goal, regardless of chain? I’ll never be able to answer these questions, but I’m still curious.
The Decline of Hyatt Place
I loved the Hyatt Place brand when it was introduced about 15 years ago. I’m a fan of consistency and predictability with brands like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Holiday Inn Express, and Hyatt Place similarly fit in. I enjoy Hyatt Place designs, which make rooms feel bigger than they actually are (at least to me).
But over the years, the Hyatt Place properties we’ve visited have declined. Of course, certain things happen with any aging hotel, but I’ve noticed it more with Hyatt Place lately. Rooms and common areas clearly show wear, many still have the outdated, original Hyatt Place interior design, and common amenities have become more erratic (pre-COVID). One area highlights Hyatt Place’s fall the most to me – breakfast.A Hyatt Place breakfast spread looking this clean is an anomaly during my recent stays.
Their breakfast offering was relatively simple from the beginning, so I never had high expectations. But their breakfast variety and presentation originally slotted above places like Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express in my experience. Something’s changed the past several years, though. I’ll see a nice Hyatt Place offering every once in a while, but it’s mostly become more unpredictable. And quite often, a mess! Not enough room for the crowds, understaffing (pre-COVID), old fruit, and packaged food. It’s come to the point where I mostly look past Hyatt Place due to this breakfast roulette.
Actual Point Value Is Declining (For Me)
One reason Chase enthusiasts love Hyatt transfers are the undeniably impressive valuations they often obtain on redemptions – a few cents per point (cpp), or maybe even several! The idea of huge points value is great, but in practice, it doesn’t pan out for my family and me. We usually see values closer to 1.5 cpp for our redemptions. I still have Hyatt points earned the old fashioned way (not Chase transfers), but I don’t see us transferring much in the future. Sure, I may replenish for a stay here or there, but not significantly. Why not? Because I’ll take the 1.5 cpp valuation for more flexible cash via Pay Yourself Back. I’ll keep it going even at 1 cpp (as I did before) even if or when Pay Yourself Back disappears. Setting that aside, others are facing tougher decisions on Chase transfers given Hyatt’s recent rollout of peak and off-peak award redemptions.
Hyatt’s Game Playing
A few months ago, Ian shared how Hyatt is seemingly playing games with award availability. Some properties show zero award availability for many stretches of dates. Ian’s Hyatt concierge couldn’t even help. Many others are having similar experiences. Hyatt’s opaque move here clouds the redemption plans and program utility for a wide swath of members.View from the Grand Hyatt Shanghai lounge.
Top-Tier Elites Love It, Of Course
People go to great lengths to obtain Globalist status, and that’s understandable. Many consider Hyatt’s top tier benefits the best out there. To those of you who put in the hard work to enjoy those benefits, bravo!
In our hobby, though, we have a very large concentration of Globalists. And, not coincidentally, many enjoy sharing their top tier elite stories. Up to a certain point, I enjoy listening. Beyond that, I’m over it. I get it – you love Hyatt. But as a travel free agent who largely ignores elite status, I’m more intrigued by other conversations.
Now, let’s go back to my original question. Is Hyatt overrated? As of right now, the best answer I can come up with is this:
Hyatt is probably not overrated for top-tier elites or fans of specific Hyatt brands. Hyatt may be overrated for non-elites with wider hotel loyalty, if any at all.
Again, that’s where I’m at with Hyatt as of this writing. My opinion will inevitably change, and I welcome any of you to do so! What’s your current opinion of Hyatt, and how has it changed over the years?