Presumably everyone likes to stay in a hotel suite, especially when only paying for a standard room. There are few options for confirmed upgrades for top tier elites in certain hotel programs.
Previously I have discussed some thoughts on the Starwood Suite Night Awards, and now I’m going to compare these with the confirmed Suite Upgrades provided to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members. Hyatt and Starwood are the only major hotel programs that offer the ability to confirm space available upgrades as a benefit of their program. Hyatt has been doing this for years, and Starwood added this benefit in its current form late in 2011.
I’m fortunate to have enough travel (primarily for business) to hold top tier status with both Hyatt and Starwood, and I believe these programs are the best hotel loyalty programs right now; and that is certainly the case for my travel patterns.
Starwood’s Suite Night Awards vs Hyatt’s Diamond Suite Upgrades
|Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond
|Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum 50 nights
|Nights required per year to earn upgrades
|50 nights (or 25 stays)
|50 nights (no stay option)
|Number of Confirmed suite upgrades granted
|Number of upgraded nights per certificate used
|Up to 7
|Usable on points stays
|When is upgrade confirmable?
|Max 5 days before check in
|How to apply upgrades
|Call to apply (or contact Diamond concierge)
|Can be booked online
|Room upgrade policy without using certificate
|Best available room excluding suites
|Best available room including suites
|Cost to upgrade paid stays
|6000 points for up to 4 nights, confirmable at booking
|3000-35,000 points per night, depending on hotel category; confirmable up to 5 days before arrival (details on SPG site)
|Additional points cost for suite vs. standard room
|3000-11,000 points extra per night, with a 3 night minimum (details on Hyatt site)
|Usually double the cost of standard room, with some exceptions. (I.e. 3000-35,000 points per night)
Both of these policies are quite generous, but neither are ideal for me.
I love the flexibility of the SPG upgrades, confirmable on either paid or award nights. This works well for me for shorter stays that I frequently have. I don’t know that I’d want to burn half or more of my SNA’s for a single longer stay. The earliest possibility of these upgrades clearing a 5 days before arrival is rather limiting. I apply these as soon as I have a stay booked, but the suite upgrade will only clear in advance if there is still availability 5 days or less before arrival.
The Hyatt policy allowing for up to 7 days for each upgrade is quite generous, but unfortunately these are only usable on paid stays. I’d like to use these upgrades for vacation stays, but I often am redeeming points on leisure trips, so I can’t use upgrades. The ability to confirm these upgrades immediately after booking is generous, so there is no mystery whether or not the upgrade will clear. This assumes space is available. I can only remember one instance where I was unable to confirm an upgrade in advance, at the Bali Hyatt. The low cost for using points to upgrade rooms at Hyatt hotels is exceedingly generous for anyone to use, and there is exceptional value at higher category properties.
Ideally, an upgrade system would have the flexibility that the Starwood program to apply these certificates on both paid and award stays. I also would like to have the ability to confirm upgrades further out than 5 days as is a benefit of the Hyatt program. I have mixed feelings on the length of upgrades. Most of my stays are relatively short, so I can’t fully maximize the ability to use Hyatt upgrades for up to a 7 night stay, so in my case, the individual nights used for Starwood upgrades tends to work a bit better for me.