No one disputes that Hyatt has some terrific aspirational properties in their portfolio. Many folks in our community have their own personal favorite Hyatt hotel to redeem points or free nights at, and a quick Google search of “best Hyatts in the world” brings up a multitude of Top 5 and Top 10 lists.
Of course, there are a handful of Hyatts that are common amongst most of these lists. The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa usually makes an appearance, along with probably the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Sydney, and in recent years the Park Hyatt New York as well.
But if there’s one Hyatt that’s nearly 100% guaranteed to be on every one of these lists, it’s the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme.
According to the Conventional Wisdom, Paris Vendôme is one of the very best Hyatt redemptions available on the planet and you’d be a fool to not stay there if you’re in Paris. Or just in Europe. Or heck, if you’re anywhere east of the Atlantic Ocean.
Well, I’m here to say that’s hogwash.
I’ve been to Paris Vendôme and I’m not saying that it isn’t a great hotel. In fact, it’s a super nice hotel. Yes, the décor is quite beautiful. Yes, the room service breakfast is terrific. And yes, the staff is excellent and went well out of their way when I was there to make our stay a great one.
But if I’m sitting on two unrestricted Hyatt free nights from signing up for the Hyatt Visa, or if I have 50,000 or 60,000 Gold Passport points burning a hole in my account and I’m looking for a awesome 2-night redemption, I’m not choosing the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. Or even any of the other Hyatts on all the “best of” lists. Nope.
Instead, I’ll happily take one of the Hyatt Ziva or Hyatt Zilara properties in a heartbeat.
Think I’m crazy? Well, let’s compare them…
The Ziva and Zilara are all-inclusive. Paris Vendôme is none-inclusive.
Last week I spent my two free Hyatt Visa nights at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, which is the adults only side of Hyatt’s pair of all-inclusive hotels (the Ziva is for families).
Now, let me tell you, when Hyatt says all-inclusive, they really mean it. Your two free nights (or 25,000 Gold Passport points per night) gets you a room for two people and access to all bars and restaurants on the property for both of you.
We ate and drank as much as we could at the property and when I went to checkout, I was presented a bill for a grand total of $0. That’s right, three days and two nights on the beach in Cancun and aside from small cash tips (which are not mandatory but certainly appreciated by the well-trained staff), I didn’t spend a nickel.
That, my friends, is a terrific deal.
How is the food? It’s pretty darn good. Some of it is great (we particularly liked the Asian fusion cuisine at Asiana) and there are so many restaurant options that if you find a place you don’t like, it’s easy to simply avoid eating there again.
Also included is as much 24-hour room service as you care to order. When you’re on vacation, there’s nothing quite as sweet as ordering breakfast without leaving the room, and apparently Hyatt has taken a cue from McDonald’s on this point because they serve breakfast until nearly noon every day. But there’s also an extensive room service menu for lunch, dinner, and late night hours, so you can have food delivered anytime you’re feeling a bit ravenous. Again, all at no additional cost.
So let’s compare this to the Paris Vendôme, shall we?
The Conventional Wisdomers like to talk about the fabulous breakfast at Paris Vendôme. I have personally had this breakfast… twice. And I agree, it is absolutely fabulous. Everything about it, from the quality to the quantity to the way it is delivered to the room is an experience that you won’t find almost anywhere else.
However, unless you have Hyatt Diamond status, this fabulous breakfast for two costs 98 euros.
I personally do not care how fabulous a breakfast is, if it costs the equivalent of over $110, I do not want it. I do not want it if it even costs half that amount. It’s breakfast, folks. It should cost twenty bucks at most.
And as far as any other meals, needless to say, none of them are included at Paris Vendôme, even if you have Diamond status. You get the room, and that’s what you get.
OK, so what about those gorgeous Paris Vendôme rooms?
There is no disputing that the rooms at Paris Vendôme are beautiful. The Hyatt website describes the 5-star rooms as being created with “clear harmonious tones, noble materials, comfortable furniture and refined items of decoration” which “leave guests with the feeling of residing in their own Parisian luxury apartment.”
Again, all true. But what the website doesn’t mention is that if you don’t have Diamond status and can’t get a suite upgrade, it’ll be a very small Parisian luxury apartment.
The standard room at Paris Vendôme is 26 to 30 square meters. For hotel rooms in Europe, that’s not an unreasonable size. But 26 to 30 square meters isn’t the size that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “luxury apartment.”
As far as the décor, it’s all very nice, but Paris is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. So if you’re visiting Paris and spending endless time in the hotel room admiring the décor, trust me, you’re doing it wrong.
Now, let’s compare that to the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, where the standard room is a junior suite. That’s right, even if you have zero status at Hyatt, there are no rooms smaller than a 61-square meter suite at Zilara Cancun. That’s twice the size of the standard room at Paris Vendôme.
Did I also mention that every room at Zilara Cancun also has a balcony and a jacuzzi in the room? No, not in the bathroom. In the room.
I can’t speak as to whether every Zilara room will have “refined items of decoration” like the Paris Vendôme rooms, but you’ll probably be too busy eating breakfast in the jacuzzi to notice anyway.
But how do the locations compare?
Of course, the most important element of any hotel is location. If it’s not in a good spot, it doesn’t matter what food is served or what the rooms look like.
The Paris Vendôme is located on Rue De La Paix, about a 15 minute walk from major tourist attractions such as the Avenue des Champs-Élysée, L’Opéra Garnier, and the Louvre Museum. It’s a very nice area.
It is also, unfortunately, a very expensive area. If you’re going to eat near the hotel, expect to pay. If you’re going to shop near the hotel, expect to pay a lot. This is not the slums of Paris, folks. You’re not getting anything for free at this hotel, and you’re not getting it cheap nearby either.
On the other hand, the Zilara Cancun is literally right on the beach, with all-day cabanas available both on the sand and poolside at either of the two pools. Yes, once again, at zero additional cost.
If you want to leave the property and explore Cancun, you can certainly do that and obviously Cancun is not a particularly expensive city. But if you’re only going for a few nights, there’s not much reason to leave the hotel. Everything you could want is there.
And finally, it goes without saying that if you’re based in the United States, Cancun is a slightly shorter flight than Paris. American offers 5 nonstops a day from Dallas, which can be booked with British Airways Avios on their distance-based chart for 7,500 miles per person each way. So for 15,000 Avios roundtrip, you can get to Cancun. That’s a wee bit cheaper than even the most inexpensive award ticket to Paris.
The Devil’s Advocate says to ignore redemption values for the Paris Vendôme.
The Conventional Wisdomers will point to the redemption value of the Paris Vendôme versus the Zilara Cancun to defend their position. Since the Paris Vendôme routinely goes for $800 or more per night and the Zilara Cancun is usually closer to $500, they’ll argue you get more for your money when redeeming points or nights at the Paris Vendôme.
But that doesn’t take into account the costs of food, drinks, and everything else you’ll pay for during your stay. In a city like Paris (and in an area like the neighborhood around Paris Vendôme), you’ll easily pay another $100-$200 in expenses for two people each night. Not to mention that if you’re redeeming points, the Paris Vendôme is 30,000 points per night, while the Ziva and Zilara properties are only 25,000 points per night.
I can only speak for the Zilara in Cancun, but there are Hyatt Ziva properties in Cancun, Los Cabos, and Jamaica and another Zilara in Jamaica as well and they all get excellent reviews. So if you’ve got two free Hyatt nights with an expiration coming up and you’re not sure where to use them, rather than journeying across the ocean for an expensive European trip, consider staying closer to home and pick a Ziva or Zilara property instead. Your wallet will thank you. Just don’t lose it on the beach.Devil’s Advocate is a bi-weekly series that deliberately argues a contrarian view on travel and loyalty programs. Sometimes the Devil’s Advocate truly believes in the counterargument. Other times he takes the opposing position just to see if the original argument holds water. But his main objective is to engage in friendly debate with the miles and points community to determine if today’s conventional wisdom is valid. You can suggest future topics by following him on Twitter @dvlsadvcate or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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