One of my favorite benefits of Diamond status with Hyatt Gold Passport is that I get four suite upgrades that I can confirm as early as the time of booking. Megan and I just returned from Austin where we enjoyed staying in the Primrose Suite at The Driskill. We debated having our wedding in Texas and chose to do it here in Seattle instead, but at least I could still treat her to the bridal suite at one of her favorite hotels.
I’ve gotten suite upgrades at several Hyatt properties with no request, as well, but I like being able to confirm them for those times that really matter. A single upgrade certificate is valid for up to seven consecutive nights.
I still have one suite upgrade remaining from last year, and it will expire on February 28. Some people mistakenly think they need to travel by that date — similar to the requirement that you must use an airline systemwide upgrade for travel booked and flown by the expiration date.
But Hyatt only requires that you redeem the upgrade in time. Your travel date can be for any stay in the future. (If you end up changing your reservation, the upgrade is supposed to be forfeited, though not everything works as it’s supposed to.) You can even apply this upgrade, earned last year, if you didn’t requalify for 2014. I routinely apply them to travel several months in the future.
This one remaining upgrade from 2013 — and one of the next four for 2014, after they’re deposited — will be redeemed to upgrade stays at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and Andaz Maui when I head there in the summer. Upgrades are only to a standard suite, if available, but they provide bargaining power for something better. The Driskill’s Primrose Suite is not a standard suite, but who do you think they’re going to give it to first: the guy who redeemed an upgrade or the guy who just showed up?
Here’s the best part: In the past, upgrades could only be applied to paid rates, and award stays were not eligible. This put me in a bind because I wanted to visit some really nice hotels and pay with points, but then I’d miss out on upgrades.
New rules for Points + Cash awards mean that these nights are also eligible for applying a Diamond suite upgrade; standard free night awards are still ineligible. I would much rather book a Points + Cash award anyway because it earns elite status and because it helps me stretch my points further.
Rooms at the Andaz Maui are $650 during our stay (if I want to upgrade) or 25,000 points (no upgrade). In the past I have tried booking one paid night and then an award stay afterward, hoping the hotel would keep me in the suite. For four nights, that would mean $650 the first night and 75,000 points for the next three nights, with only a hope that the upgrade would carry over for the entire stay. Instead, I’ll pay only 12,500 points and $150 per night, for a total of $600 and 50,000 points, and with a confirmed upgrade on all four nights.