Hyatt Diamond Upgrades Will Expire on Friday

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.

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Tuan

    Can you explain how you use the standard upgrade as a “bargaining” chip for something better?

    • Scottrick

      It’s common that a Diamond elite gets some kind of complimentary upgrade, perhaps one or two room categories, to something better than a standard room. The hotel might do this because it is near capacity and needs to upgrade *someone* (like an op-up on an airplane) or just because it has a reputation for being generous to elites.

      A confirmed suite upgrade is already better than a standard room, but if the hotel is running out of standard suites or if it wants to be generous, it might upgrade me further and give my standard suite to someone with a standard room.

      • Tuan

        Thanks, Scott. I have used my Diamond upgrades on family trips and usually have only gotten the standard suites. It’s good to know that the possibility exists for something better if you negotiate.

      • ms

        Can you tell us which hotels have a “reputation for being generous to elites”? Do you usually negotiate in advance for something better? Do you do this through the GM at the hotel? Thanks!

        • Scottrick

          I mean that through personal experience and reports of others staying at the same hotel multiple times, some extend additional benefits or are more proactive about offering the guaranteed benefits entitled to a Diamond member. I don’t talk to hotels in advance of my stay unless I want something very specific, and in those cases I always offer to pay the cost of providing that service.

  • Jason

    you said in the past you tried booking one paid night and then an award stay afterward, hoping the hotel would keep you in the suite. my question is, did that method work? i wonder if a suite upgrade would work if i did a point+cash redemption for the first night and then award stay afterwards. what do you think?

    • Scottrick

      Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like getting an extra upgrade on top of a confirmed suite upgrade, it depends on the hotel’s demeanor and availability. Personally, I don’t like the approach since it contradicts the purpose of a confirmed suite upgrade.

      If you choose to try it, there’s no practical difference between upgrading one paid night at the beginning vs. one Points + Cash night, though in the latter case it’s an award night and the hotel is making less revenue, so they may be less likely to extend the upgrade.

  • CS

    Thanks for the reminder! I just used my upgrade certificates for my stay at the Andaz Maui in April.

  • Jonathan

    hey Scott, I’ve got a free SPG Gold upgrade for one of your readers to give away. I have it available as part of my platinum card I Just signed up for, but I dont have an SPG card anymore.

    • Scottrick

      Thanks, Jonathan. Can you send an email to scott@travelcodex.com? I’ll be sure to include it in another giveaway coming up soon — probably in mid-March.

  • JetsetterFL

    Scott – Any tips on how to get Diamond with them? I already have the Hyatt card and am Platinum. Thanks for any tips.

    • Scottrick

      You could email customer support asking for a Diamond trial, which requires 12 nights in 60 days to keep for the remainder of the year (you still need the usual 25 stays or 50 nights by the end of the year to renew for next year).

      To request a trial, you need mid- or top-level elite status with one of several programs. Many people use Hilton Gold because it’s so easy to get with a credit card. You also need evidence of at least one stay with the the program you’re matching from (e.g., one night at a Hilton Garden Inn). Even an award stay would be enough.

      • JetsetterFL

        Do the award stays count towards the 12 nights for Diamond Trial? I have four award nights scheduled in a couple of weeks – it would be ideal if it did ;-)

        • Scottrick

          No, they must be regular paid stays. I’m unsure about Points + Cash awards or stays at MGM Resorts, but I believe they are ineligible. It’s worth confirming with the agent when you make the request.

          • disqust101

            Back in your Nov post, you posted an email convo with Hyatt PR which said Points+Cash would count toward Diamond challenge.

            Wife has 4 Suite upgrades. Can she apply them to a Points+Cash stay on my account? If so, I could qualify for Diamond challenge plus get suite upgrade…would be sweet.

          • Scottrick

            Thanks for reminding me. That makes sense because both are eligible nights for earning elite status and thus both eligible for applying an upgrade.

            I don’t know about applying an upgrade to someone else’s room. If we go with the “eligible nights” theory, then they’re her eligible nights and not yours. What I’d recommend is splitting your reservation so you each pay for half the nights. While you’re completing the trial you’ll already have Diamond status. If you are both Diamond members, you’re both staying together, and only one of you has applied the upgrade to her share of the stay, then they might be likely — no guarantee — to to extend the upgrade to your share of the stay.

  • Alex

    Scott – do you have to physically stay at the hotel for the challenge to be completed or I can just check-in for 12 nights and check out at category 1 hotel?
    Thanks

    • Scottrick

      You could try to check-in and out without staying at the hotel. However, it’s not strictly within the rules. If the hotel finds out you’re actually there, they may check you out early and charge you the cancellation fee, if any. Most people who do this only do it for one night at a time, not 12 in a row.