Is Hyatt Overrated? Everything I’m Currently Thinking About the Chain
Hyatt’s been like an old, reliable friend to me over the years. I know them well, having stayed in a variety of their brands over about 20 years. We’ll go months or years without an interaction, but we easily fit together when we eventually cross paths again. I peaked with them a long time ago as a top tier elite for a few years under their previous Gold Passport loyalty program. As my loyalty has since decreased, I’ve heard an increasingly strong drumbeat of loyalty from Hyatt fans, though. Shocker – that mostly comes from the points and travel hobby community. Which brings me to my question today – is Hyatt overrated? Here, I’m bringing up everything I’m feeling about Hyatt right now. By the end, maybe I’ll have my answer, but maybe not.
Probably the biggest reason my Hyatt relationship went from top tier elite to life support is what I consider the chain’s biggest weakness – its small footprint compared to the competitors. While planning our normal travels, we simply come across fewer feasible Hyatt opportunities than Hilton, IHG, Wyndham, or even Radisson.
On multiple occasions, individuals have told me they haven’t visited a travel destination primarily because there was no Hyatt located there. Or they’ve stayed at an airport Hyatt Place because no option was located downtown. If those methods work for them, great, but they provide more illustrations of Hyatt’s limited footprint.
The Chase Effect
Hyatt is clearly one of the top Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, if not the best. Individuals can easily obtain big value from these transfers, and they aren’t as complicated to redeem as airline miles. Clearly, these transfers to Hyatt provide many of us big redemption wins.
But I’ve started to wonder – would hobbyists love Hyatt as much if it wasn’t a Chase partner? Would they easily move their primary loyalty to another hotel chain? Or would they simply be more hotel agnostic, booking the one property that best fits their immediate travel goal, regardless of chain? I’ll never be able to answer these questions, but I’m still curious.
The Decline of Hyatt Place
I loved the Hyatt Place brand when it was introduced about 15 years ago. I’m a fan of consistency and predictability with brands like Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Holiday Inn Express, and Hyatt Place similarly fit in. I enjoy Hyatt Place designs, which make rooms feel bigger than they actually are (at least to me).
But over the years, the Hyatt Place properties we’ve visited have declined. Of course, certain things happen with any aging hotel, but I’ve noticed it more with Hyatt Place lately. Rooms and common areas clearly show wear, many still have the outdated, original Hyatt Place interior design, and common amenities have become more erratic (pre-COVID). One area highlights Hyatt Place’s fall the most to me – breakfast.
Their breakfast offering was relatively simple from the beginning, so I never had high expectations. But their breakfast variety and presentation originally slotted above places like Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express in my experience. Something’s changed the past several years, though. I’ll see a nice Hyatt Place offering every once in a while, but it’s mostly become more unpredictable. And quite often, a mess! Not enough room for the crowds, understaffing (pre-COVID), old fruit, and packaged food. It’s come to the point where I mostly look past Hyatt Place due to this breakfast roulette.
Actual Point Value Is Declining (For Me)
One reason Chase enthusiasts love Hyatt transfers are the undeniably impressive valuations they often obtain on redemptions – a few cents per point (cpp), or maybe even several! The idea of huge points value is great, but in practice, it doesn’t pan out for my family and me. We usually see values closer to 1.5 cpp for our redemptions. I still have Hyatt points earned the old fashioned way (not Chase transfers), but I don’t see us transferring much in the future. Sure, I may replenish for a stay here or there, but not significantly. Why not? Because I’ll take the 1.5 cpp valuation for more flexible cash via Pay Yourself Back. I’ll keep it going even at 1 cpp (as I did before) even if or when Pay Yourself Back disappears. Setting that aside, others are facing tougher decisions on Chase transfers given Hyatt’s recent rollout of peak and off-peak award redemptions.
Hyatt’s Game Playing
A few months ago, Ian shared how Hyatt is seemingly playing games with award availability. Some properties show zero award availability for many stretches of dates. Ian’s Hyatt concierge couldn’t even help. Many others are having similar experiences. Hyatt’s opaque move here clouds the redemption plans and program utility for a wide swath of members.
Top-Tier Elites Love It, Of Course
People go to great lengths to obtain Globalist status, and that’s understandable. Many consider Hyatt’s top tier benefits the best out there. To those of you who put in the hard work to enjoy those benefits, bravo!
In our hobby, though, we have a very large concentration of Globalists. And, not coincidentally, many enjoy sharing their top tier elite stories. Up to a certain point, I enjoy listening. Beyond that, I’m over it. I get it – you love Hyatt. But as a travel free agent who largely ignores elite status, I’m more intrigued by other conversations.
Now, let’s go back to my original question. Is Hyatt overrated? As of right now, the best answer I can come up with is this:
Hyatt is probably not overrated for top-tier elites or fans of specific Hyatt brands. Hyatt may be overrated for non-elites with wider hotel loyalty, if any at all.
Again, that’s where I’m at with Hyatt as of this writing. My opinion will inevitably change, and I welcome any of you to do so! What’s your current opinion of Hyatt, and how has it changed over the years?
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Very provocative Benjy! I am actually glad that points & miles bloggers are always crowing about Hyatt because it leaves the other brands available to the travelers who are loyal to their brand. I’m Hilton Diamond and have been upgraded to the best suite in the house for nothing but a smile and “thank you”. I achieved diamond status because my work travel was in terrain as varied as Boston to Auburn, Alabama. It didn’t matter where I was – there was always a Hilton brand there. And, while I’m disappointed in the pandemic cutbacks, I don’t feel that starting over with a new brand would be worthwhile.
Interesting perspective! Zig while others zag, right? 😉
I agree, Hyatt is overrated for non-elites. I’m an Explorist in WoH and have never been anything higher than that in the program or its predecessor. As such, the benefits are mediocre at best and the games Hyatt plays with availability drives me far more crazy than anything else I’ve encountered. Hotels like the Andaz Maui and Hyatt Centric Waikiki are in blatant violaation of WoH T&Cs with their insipid minimum stay requirements, yet Hyatt does nothing about it. Hell, Hyatt Corp. OWNED the Andaz when that requirement went into effect.
Sure, Marriott leaves much to be desired, while Hilton’s perks are quite weak. But, at least the ability to use points with the two of them are relatively easy – even at desireable properties with proper planning.
The most benefit I get out of Hyatt, honestly, is my M Life Gold status. That’s aout it.
Thanks for sharing your take!
From my experiences, Hyatt has the best customer service among the mainstream Hotel groups. It’s very difficult (for me) to remember being slighted or disappointed with any Hyatt property over the last 10 years.
– Marriott? Hit or miss, when it comes to service. Some properties are exceptional, while some properties were frustrating. Their anti-customer changes to their loyalty program make me wonder how they get away with them (answer: footprint).
– Hilton? Also hit or miss but more on the miss. I often catch myself saying “well that was disappointing” at some point, but Hilton has their loyalists for a reason.
IHG – can’t comment because I haven’t stayed at an IHG property in years.
I cannot imagine NOT being a Hyatt loyalist because they take care of me consistently. It’s always easy to complain but it’s difficult to find compliments when things are going well. Hyatt does things exceptionally for me.
I appreciate your thoughts. Back when I was top-tier during the Gold Passport days, I couldn’t imagine not being Hyatt loyal, either. I’m having fun experimenting on Hyatt stays with zero status currently. More on that in a future article!
Hyatt is like the old saying about Democracy: it’s the worst possible system, except all the others that have been tried. Hyatt is not so much overrated as not descending as fast as their competition. Having said that, I mattress ran globalist earlier this year to triple dip the promos, and have yet to stay at a Hyatt since, so not exactly my best investment decision so far.
“Hyatt is not so much overrated as not descending as fast as their competition.” – That’s a great way of putting it.
Does Hyatt have properties 1) in the location you want, 2) of the quality you want, and 3) at the price you want? If the answer is not “yes,” the points and perks don’t matter. If the answer is “yes,” then you get into the intangible sense that your gut tells you. Only you can answer these questions for yourself. And, it’s okay that your answer is different from that of the next person.
I agree with all of the above comments. Hyatt has been great though I was recently disappointed with one Hyatt Place. However, this weekend I am staying at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego. Yesterday I got a letter from the Asst. Dir. of Operations congratulating me on my loyalty, asking what type of room I would like, whether I am celebrating any special occasion, etc. I am a Lifetime Titanium with Marriott and have never gotten a welcome letter prior to arrival. I am staying on points at this property.
I currently Explorist with Hyatt and expect to be Globalist later in the week. I mentioned this in my response and received a reply that, in anticipation of my upcoming status, I was today told that my wife and I would have a complimentary breakfast in the restaurant and asked what beverage or snack I might wish to have upon arrival. For me, this is the ultimate in customer service. Yes, the footprint is not that of Marriott. However, the free parking, no resort fees, complimentary breakfast, etc. are expected to be far superior to Marriott that, to me, is on a steep slope downward at all properties.
My wife and I are fortunate to have this window of travel in retirement where we are on the road for six months each year. This is my first time as a Hyatt Globalist. I’m not expecting to be disappointed in moving my stays from Marriott to Hyatt independent of lifetime status at Marriott.
Bravo for not rationalizing exclusive Marriott loyalty due to your lifetime status!
With Marriott having worked so diligently to destroy value in Bonvoy, Starwood long gone, IHG offering few perks of note for elites, and Hilton having recently seriously downgraded elite status, Hyatt is the last one standing.
Hyatt has a good – and improving – footprint, their Milestones program is genius while you’re climbing the status ladder, the Chase partnership makes their very good program even better, and they constantly under promise and over deliver.
Hyatt has consistently shown their loyalty to me, and I have no problem reciprocating. You seem to either ms or spend an ungodly amount of money on credit cards for someone who’s retired. If either is correct, get yourself some top status that actually means something. Come on in, the water’s fine.
I’m not surprised to hear about the welcoming water. 🙂 Beyond prioritizing my travel free agent preference, I just don’t enjoy chasing status. And I try to focus on things I enjoy. Nonetheless, I know many who do and it makes total sense for their goals. Maybe again someday, but definitely not before I have enough HR/Grand/PH plans.
I love Hyatt, but the limited footprint and the very disappointing benefits as a Discoverist are what bothers me for Hyatt. I do better with IHG Platinum and actually now Marriott. Most every hotel chain’s breakfast has been seriously downgraded or cut out in the last two years. Some of Hyatt’s hotels are absolutely lovely-the Confidante is a great way to use a free night, and I love their partnership with SLH, although all my bookings have been canceled because of COVID-although I have four nights booked at the Cape Fahn hotel in Koh Samui-a steal at 17k a night if I can get there in May!
My fingers are crossed for your Koh Samui trip!
I’m in 7 loyalty programs and yes, my attitude towards Hyatt has changed over the years. Every year I like it better. Because of footprint, if I was determined to be in only one loyalty program, it wouldn’t be Hyatt. But it’s not my only program, just usually my first choice, if available or convenient and I won’t sacrifice convenient just to stay at Hyatt.
Unlike other programs, I’ve not had any bad or disappointing experiences at hyatts. I’ve noticed more personal attention before arriving for a somewhat long stay , compared to form letters from competitors. I also believe it would lose a lot of appeal if no longer associated with Chase. Their generous programs towards elite status is a major part of my loyalty. Hyatt globalist is valuable, elite status with the competition, not so much . I’ll continue to focus on Hyatt. I have lots of their hotels I want to travel to .
Have fun discovering more premium Hyatt properties! I definitely enjoyed that previously and look forward to returning to those types of stays eventually.
I agree that Hyatt gets a lot of hype but rightfully so. They offer a lot to top tier that others don’t.
I remain loyal to both Marriott (Titanium) and Hyatt (Globalist) for very different reasons. Marriott has a larger footprint and I can count on finding one just about anywhere my travels take me.
But for Hyatt, I tend to only book them for leisure travel with my wife. I enjoy being able to book right into a suite without having to play the “first come, first get” game considering the amount of Globalist out there. You can’t beat the 12-20k suite bookings.
Using suite night awards and hoping that they clear over at Marriott truly sucks as my success rate with them clearing is not very high.
I don’t care much about free breakfast at Hyatt or Marriott as when I travel for leisure I tend to want to get out and try something local than the run of the mill, typical hotel breakfast.
Another major reason I maintain status with Hyatt is because I don’t have to pay resort fees or parking on award stays. Anyone who has stayed in places like Chicago or New York can certainly attest to how nice it is not having to pay north of $50/night to park in Chicago.
My wife and I travel leisurely travel 8-9 weeks a year and the fees I save with Hyatt and Globalist status is worth it.
I can certainly understand why one would think Hyatt is overrated but if one travels frequently, especially is bigger cities, and tends to travel by way of car rentals upon landing, Hyatt and their Globalist tier is hard to beat.
All good points. And yes, I too love no resort fees from Hyatt on award stays (similar to Hilton).
Benjy, I understand all of your points, but my wife and I love Hyatt. We value them as a Chase transfer partner, and we also enjoy their hotels. Our favorite brands are Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, and Hyatt Regency. Sure, we wish they had a bigger footprint, but when we stay at a Hyatt property, it’s usually a positive experience.
Great – I’ve had many positive experiences, as well. Lately, they’ve taken a turn based on our travel needs. Those may positively shift back when we’re in more Grand Hyatt and Regency properties again.
I’m a Globalist and am writing from the PH St. Kitts. Yes, I wish Hyatt had a larger footprint. However, Marriott would have never given me a confirmed upgrade 1-2 months prior to arrival. My recent breakfast at a lower tier Marriott was quite comparable to a breakfast at Hyatt House earlier this year. If you think Hyatt is playing games with availability, then Marriott pales in comparison. I’m incredibly happy with Hyatt.
Thanks for the perspective!
Benjy, the cat 1-2 awards are a steal for when you just need a place a to crash overnight and you get free breakfast on your way out. Hyatt Globalist at 30 nights was definitely worth it for me with the upgrades I got but probably won’t chase the normal 60. That said, they’re the only hotel points worth collecting. Marriott and Hilton points not even close to worth collecting given their dynamic absurd points pricing. Also, given the state of Bonvoy, you’d have to be an idiot to chase their elite status or worse transfer points to them.
You bring up great points about category 1-2 properties and where they come in handy. I now consider category 1 domestic properties to be flophouses for certain trips. They can serve a purpose while I manage my expectations.
I checked in for my 10 night mattress run at the Hyatt House Houston Energy Corridor. I got a BRG price of $57 per night. $66.71 all in. This will give me 60 nights and the benefits describe in the photo below, which I value far higher than the $667.10 hotel bill. In addition, I will earn at least 6000 Hyatt points for this stay, plus more from promos which I can’t remember. I register for all of them. This is a category 1 Hyatt property, however it shouldn’t be a Hyatt property at all. Great for mattress runs, but nothing else. Besides the musty smells throughout, deferred maintenance in every corner and abundance of signs which say, “Don’t leave valuables in your car”, frankly this place screams Section 8 Housing!!! If you need to stay in this area, there are so many better options, but if you need some elite night credits, it’s perfect! With all this in mind, my return on investment will be huge. Perhaps $15K in a category 7 night and suite upgrades at places like Grand Hyatt Kauai. Is Hyatt overrated? That strictly depends on your point of view.
@Brant – how are you able to get 60 elite nights from a 10 night stay? I assume 5 nights are from the WoH card, but what Hyatt promo is this?
I’m glad you could make the terrible HH work to your advantage!
Overrated? Really depends on who is doing the rating and what rating they are giving it.
For me, the leisure traveler and for the places I would stay at, my rating is they “meet expectations”