Four days from now, the unthinkable happens.
In 4 days I will no longer be a Hyatt Diamond. I will be nothing. A Hyatt Nothing.
(As a quick aside, I think airlines and hotels should start taking a more honest approach and call their elite tiers what they really are. “Hilton Diamond” could be called “Hilton Cubic Zirconia.” Delta could refer to their Platinums as the “Still Not Getting Upgraded” elites. And the VIP Member level of Spirit Airlines would simply be renamed “Suckers.”)
A lot of pixels get spilled around the points and miles community extolling the virtues of Hyatt Diamond, and the Conventional Wisdomers tell us it’s the best elite hotel status to have by far. So you would assume that once one has acquired it, one would never ever allow it to lapse under penalty of death, right? (Or at least not without risking being excommunicated from the blogging community.)
However, I’ve learned from experience that it’s not necessary to be a Hyatt Diamond. The benefits aren’t everything they say they are, and trying to maintain the status will often cost you more than it’s worth. Yes, folks, I’m here to tell you that Hyatt Diamond status isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Why do people love Hyatt Diamond?
In preparing to write this column, I undertook an exhaustive search of every blog post written about Hyatt Diamond status across the entire Internet within the last 10 years, in the process weighting how much each individual benefit was discussed in a positive, negative, or neutral manner, and then determined a value rounded to the nearest hundredth of a point for each one.*** Here are the results of my research…
While the rest of the Diamond perks are nice — such as the 30% bonus on Hyatt Gold Passport points or the welcome amenity — most of the discussion centers around the confirmed suite upgrades and the free breakfast. So let’s focus on those two benefits.
As a Hyatt Diamond, in 2015 I had 4 Diamond Suite Upgrades at my disposal. I used one of them to go Vendoming in April when I took my mother on a trip to Paris and London to celebrate her 80th birthday. The suite we received at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome was tremendous and the in-room breakfast every morning was a fantastic treat. My mother and I enjoyed every moment of our stay and I can honestly say it was a trip we will never forget.
As for the other 3 suite upgrades? I didn’t use them.
“Oh, please,” the Conventional Wisdomers snicker. “Obviously you don’t actually travel that much. If you were a true road warrior, you’d find plenty of uses for those exceptionally valuable suite upgrades. Hand over your travel blogger certification! You’re out of the club!”
Is the problem that I’m not a road warrior? Well, I flew over 100,000 miles on American in 2015, which means I have Executive Platinum status (or, in our new ultra-honest vernacular “You Get To Skip The Stickers Status”). I visited Europe (twice), Alaska, Orlando, Dallas, Las Vegas, Ann Arbor, and a few other spots as well. Sure, I spend more nights at home than I do on the road, but I’d say flying 100,000 miles in one year might count as a decent amount of travel.
But I just didn’t find a lot of reason to use my suite upgrades. When I was staying at a Hyatt, it’d be for one night at the Orlando Airport, where I didn’t really need a suite. Or two nights at a Hyatt House, which doesn’t even have suites.
Even the year before in 2014, I found myself searching for reasons to use my Diamond Suite upgrades. I even ended up burning one at the Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, which is known for automatically upgrading Diamond guests to a suite anyway. So that wasn’t exactly a great use of a suite upgrade certificate.
Yes, my travel patterns may be different from yours, but the fact is most folks don’t need a suite very often. Having one is nice and there are special occasions when you might really want one. But 4 suites a year isn’t particularly necessary, and I found myself struggling to burn them every year.
You can still get suites without paying cash.
Many times the Conventional Wisdomers neglect to mention this fact, but we’ve got you covered here at Travel Codex. Because when our Fearless Leader Scott recently noted that Hyatt is changing the expiration policy on their Diamond Suite Upgrades (which will no longer be extendable beyond the Diamond program year), he also pointed out that Hyatt offers an excellent suite upgrade program via Hyatt Gold Passport points. For just 6,000 points per night, you can get a suite upgrade from your standard paid rate.
If you estimate you’d use a suite upgrade for maybe 2 or 3 nights, you’re only looking at 12,000 to 18,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points. So if you value Hyatt points at around 1.6 cents per point, that’s only $288 in points to be upgraded for 3 nights in a suite.
You can also book a suite entirely with points. Hyatt provides a separate chart for booking suites, which you can see below with all the categories. Basically it costs 60% more points for a suite than it does for a standard room.
So there’s a whole bunch of ways to get a Hyatt suite without paying for it and without Diamond suite upgrades.
But what about breakfast?
The other big perk is the Hyatt Diamond breakfast, which varies from hotel to hotel but in some places can be extravagant. I already mentioned the awesome room service breakfast at the Vendome — other Hyatts with well-known breakfasts include the Andaz Maui and the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York. Plus there’s many others.
However, folks… it’s just breakfast.
Yes, it’s an impressive breakfast (at least in some cases). And you’re saving money by not having to pay for it. But breakfast is usually the least expensive meal of the day. Personally I’m not a huge breakfast person, so perhaps I’m a bit biased on this one. All I really care about is coffee in the morning, which is pretty much a given in any decent hotel.
But even if you enjoy breakfast, wouldn’t you rather get out into the city that you’re visiting and try one of the local breakfasts? I remember the best breakfast I ever had was at a little restaurant in Amsterdam. Cost me about €10. Granted, it might have had something to do with recovering from the activities of the night before, but man, that was a great breakfast.
The Devil’s Advocate still likes Hyatt Diamond, but will live without it (for now).
Honestly, I did enjoy being a Hyatt Diamond, but about halfway through the year I found myself chasing the status more than enjoying it. I was at around 15 stays through September and probably could have made the remaining 10 with a combination of scheduled travel and mattress runs. But the amount of extra resources (meaning time and money) that I would have needed to spend in order to make it happen just wasn’t worth what I was getting for it.
So Hyatt Diamond, it’s time for you and I to say adieu. At least for now. Perhaps we’ll meet again somewhere down the line.
And finally, I have to admit I lied a little bit at the start of this column. I have the Hyatt Visa credit card, which automatically awards a lower-tier elite status at Hyatt. So instead of being a Hyatt Nothing, I’ll be a Hyatt Platinum. Sweet!
Except I hear they’re getting ready to rename it “Hope You Like Just Coffee For Breakfast” status.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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