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The stay that broke my loyalty to Hyatt - Andaz Maui: Confirmed Suite Upgrade Disappeared Upon Check-In
In this previous post, I explained some of the tremendous valuable benefits that I would be receiving as a Globalist member in the World of Hyatt program at our stay at the Andaz Maui over Christmas / New Years.
One of the most important benefits that I was looking forward to was our complimentary upgrade to an Ocean View Suite for 5 out of our 10 nights. A suite, while still not as spacious as most timeshares, can be quite luxurious and with a family of four, we needed the space in order to all receive good sleep.
In my previous post, I did not go into the various details on why I had to only get a suite for 5 nights. Before I get into what transpired, I will go into a few of these details so that readers can better understand what happened, how to make sure it does not happen to you and get a better understanding of how the Andaz Maui uses various mechanisms to prevent most (maybe all) World of Hyatt members from getting a confirmed suite upgrade.
As a Globalist World of Hyatt member, you are given 4 complimentary suite upgrade certificates that you can apply to your reservation. Each certificate is good for 7 nights. In order to use them, a standard suite must be available for the nights that you intend to use them. Fortunately, these suite upgrades can be used on paid nights or award nights.
As I explained in my previous post, I made this particular reservation for the Andaz Maui a full year in advance. The Andaz Maui is known for being quite stringent with its award nights and only allows bookings into their garden room views. There are very few of these rooms, hence very little availability.
Since I was traveling during Christmas / New Year, I knew that I had to book as early as possible to secure the availability. The hotel plays a little game during this timeframe and only allows you to book a minimum of 10 nights with points. I tried to book 7 nights and they tell you that there is no availability but rooms open up when you try to book 10 nights.
In my case, I booked 10 nights under one reservation since I could not book anything else due to their capacity controls. There are no such capacity controls for paid night stays.
Again, as I explained my other post, once I booked this stay, I began to map out our entire year of travel. Due to the various perks that would come with this stay, I decided to try to achieve Globalist status. Since I mainly travel for personal and not business, getting 60+ nights is quite an achievement as most people generally only get 2 weeks vacation time per year.
The free breakfast, free parking and waived resort fee easily would save us approximately $280 per night.
Despite staying in various timeshares and other brand hotels throughout the year, I hit Globalist (60 nights in a year) in early November.
Complimentary Suite Upgrade
While complimentary suite upgrades became available under the new World of Hyatt program (subject to availability at check-in), you will receive 4 confirmed suite upgrades upon the date that you achieve Globalist. These confirmed suite upgrades allow you to confirm you suite before arriving provided that they are available to pay cash.
Since I was traveling during the highest demand time, I knew that a complimentary suite upgrade at check-in would likely not be doable. Rack rates during this time exceed $1600 per night for a standard room so people that can afford these rates likely would splurge for upgraded rooms and suites.
Searching for Availability
Knowing this, I checked Hyatt's website constantly as soon as those 4 confirmed suite upgrades hit my account in the beginning of November. While I searched, no suites came up for the entire 10 night stay but I did find an Ocean View Suite available to pay cash for the first 5 nights of the trip.
When I called Hyatt, they indicated that since it was not available for the entire stay, I could not use one of my suite upgrade certificates. When I asked them to split the reservation into two, they claimed that they could not since there were no availability for award nights.
As I explained above, this strategy that the Andaz Maui uses is that they require a minimum of 10 nights to use points even though there is no minimum amount of nights to use cash.
In my situation, while I had 10 nights reserved, they could not split my reservation into two 5 night stays with points since there system blocked any reservation on points for less than 10 nights. The Andaz Maui has been called out for this practice many times as well as some other "shady" practices that limits award availability.
Since I already had 10 nights reserved and simply wanted to use one of my suite upgrades for part of the stay since the standard suite was available, Hyatt was able to call the hotel and they agreed to block the suite for us for the first 5 nights. If it was booked or unavailable for the other 5 nights, we would have to move rooms.
While moving rooms would be a pain (especially with children on their stuff), it was something that I was willing to do in order to have the space and a view. The on-site representative confirmed our suite but did warn us that a move was likely. When I asked for confirmation for this, she said that it was booked internally and she assured me that everything was handled accordingly.
I pressed her on some type of confirmation but due to the way that she had to book it, she said it was not possible but reassured me multiple times that she had it under control. I had no reason to doubt her and she was a supervisor, was confident in the way that she booked it and knew what had to be done internally to make it happen.
This was a tremendous mistake on my part. Next time, I will make sure to get written confirmation and I encourage all my readers to make sure to get written evidence for anything that is offered!
My Suite Disappeared
We arrived at the hotel around 10pm. My wife was feeling ill and my son had been throwing up on the flight over. It was a long day.
When I checked in, they indicated that they had us in a garden room, no upgrades were available (not even the same room with a view) and put us in a garden room looking out to a cement wall and with the elevator right next door. This was not the Ocean View Suite that was promised. Arguably, it was one of their worst rooms in the hotel. This was not something that I expected as a "Globalist".
The front desk supervisor, while pleasant, indicated that there was nothing to do at the moment but would look further into it the next morning. I was not happy especially since we traveled 60+ nights in a Hyatt solely for this stay and was promised a spacious suite for a family of 4.
The next morning came around and despite promising to contact me, no one called or attempted to contact me. I reached out to My Hyatt Concierge and the Hyatt twitter team and later that afternoon, one of the front desk supervisors spoke to me and apologized for this situation. She reviewed the reservation and basically indicated that there were no notes, no suite confirmation, or anything else to verify my story.
She seemed to imply that I was making it up despite being well versed in the various games that the Andaz Maui plays with their room allocation and going into the various details explained above on why the reservation was done differently than the normal procedure.
No Suite for You!
Since it was Christmas week, there were no suites available and apparently the hotel was completely booked. I do not dispute this as this was a very busy week. There was not much that they could do to move us so we stayed in our "Garden View" Room. aka cement wall view with constant elevator noise. She did offer to give us 25,000 World of Hyatt points as an gesture of goodwill which we took although I am still waiting on these to get into my account.
Due to the way that the Andaz Maui books rooms and allocates award nights, they were not accommodating to revise my reservation and use the suite upgrade certificate. As they stated, they would block it internally and take my suite upgrade certificate upon check-in. I have done this before at other hotels and have not had a problem.
Since this was Christmas week and the room rates were sky high, there were plenty of people at the hotel who probably wanted a suite and would pay for that luxury. We met a few people who paid $2,000 per night for a suite.
My guess is that the hotel knew this and simply removed the suite from our reservation in order to accommodate a paying guest. At $2,000 per night, while making me and my family unhappy, they received $10,000 in additional revenue. An understandable but short-sighted business decision.
Hotel "loyalty" is an interesting item. Hotels want you to be loyal to their brand, stay at their hotels, eat at their restaurants and spend money at their outlets. In exchange, hotel loyalty programs give you points, perks and amenities that encourages this behavior.
From my previous post, you can see that there is some real value in achieving hotel status.
However, I tend to find that hotel loyalty is really a one way street. The hotels offer these "perks" when it is easy for them to do. Most of these perks are "subject to availability" so whenever there is someone willing to pay for it or the hotel doesn't want to give away something, they simply say that they are booked or nothing is available. There is little that you can do to verify inventory.
Additionally, many of these "perks" do not cost the hotel much if anything. It is a way for them to claim "value" while not hurting their bottom line.
I have held top tier status in various different programs and while I may be upgraded on various 1-2 night business hotels, I almost never have been upgraded at resorts when I travel with my family. This has been consistent through many different hotel brands (Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, etc.) If I am traveling alone, getting a suite, while nice, does not make much of a difference to me. When I have 4 people with me, a suite becomes a necessity.
This is one of most important reasons why timeshares became the preferred way of travel!
Getting Status in 2018??
After this stay, I was extremely disappointed with the Andaz Maui as well as Hyatt. I was promised something and they simply reneged on the promise since it benefited the hotel and Hyatt. Since I was crazy enough to achieve Globalist status SOLELY for this stay, their failed promise was hurtful.
During 2017, I stayed at Hyatt hotels when they were more expensive, less convenient, paid cash instead of used points, encouraged family to stay at Hyatt's when we "needed" to stay at Hyatt's and traveled at times when we simply could have stayed at home simply to get a few extra night credits.
Will I do the same thing in 2018? Almost certainly not. While there is no doubt that there is value with achieving hotel status, I did and still highly prefer staying in timeshares. If I book a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom unit, these are almost ALWAYS larger than the hotel suites. While getting free breakfast is nice, stuffing myself every morning for 10 nights actually got old. The Andaz Maui breakfast is one of the best breakfasts around but eating it everyday for 10 nights definitely became overkill.
I am generally very happy having kitchen facilities to cook a few eggs and toast which probably costs only a few dollars a day. The Andaz Maui breakfast costs $47 per person!
My Plan for 2018
2017 was a great year! My family and I were able to travel extensively for a fraction of the cost of the rack rates by using timeshares, hotel points and other travel tools. For those of you that missed this post, I highly encourage this read to get a good idea of the various travel tools that I use throughout the year.
We easily traveled over 90 nights throughout 2017.
2018 will still be chock full of travel but after a year of chasing Hyatt status, I doubt that I will endeavor to do same thing. Timeshares / condos are much more conducive to traveling with a family. The kids are getting a bit older / bigger to be able to comfortable share a bed. I much prefer to have everyone in their own bed so we can all rest comfortably.
Additionally, timeshares can easily be just as luxurious as hotels if not more so!
The Stay that Broke my Hyatt Loyalty
Despite this disappointment, the Andaz Maui is a phenomenal resort. I will do a full review of the property shortly but in short, it is worth a stay, especially on points!
However, this stay broke my loyalty to Hyatt but thats okay. Hotel loyalty has its perks but can be overrated. I prefer and will continue to prefer the "perks" of timeshares / condos over hotels any day.
By their actions, the Andaz Maui confirmed this and will focus my upcoming year of travel on the quality of the resort rather than the brand. I do still like the various Hyatt brands, but I will not simply choose a Hyatt because it is a Hyatt in my effort to gain status! Thank you Andaz Maui for making my 2018 travel plans simpler!
What do you think of hotel status? Does hotel status and the various perks encourage you to stay in a hotel rather than a timeshare? Leave you comments below!