Diamond Treatment at @HyattOsaka, Regardless of Status

October 6th, 2017

Nearly five years as a Diamond member of Hyatt’s former Gold Passport loyalty program brought me great value for countless stays at places like Park Hyatt Tokyo, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Tokyo, Andaz Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Hakone, and other Hyatt properties.  Alas, the improving outlook for the hotel industry brought about higher prices and deteriorating loyalty benefits until, ultimately, I could no longer justify maintaining such status on leisure stays alone, resulting in my fall to the…ugh…”Explorist” level of their new program. Though, thanks to the loophole in their reciprocal status arrangement with MLife, I will probably remain at that level for some time, even the Club Upgrade awards do not provide a compelling reason to stay exclusively loyal to Hyatt anymore.

In some ways, this has been quite liberating. Without feeling “compelled” to stay with Hyatt, I have had new experiences at places like the Prince Sakura Tower, Sheraton Yokohama, and the Marina Bay Sands resort (all of which I’m too lazy to post about, but those following my Twitter account are made aware of such enjoyment)  These stays were all enjoyable in their own way, but little things that differed brought back bittersweet memories of the way things used to be. The last two years were rang in from a Park Hyatt Tokyo suite, with access to all the hotel’s many luxuries. But without…ugh…”Globalist” status, even the most meticulous planning would not bring such a celebration within my financial reach for this year.

That's not a tear trickling down my cheek. It's just condensation.

That’s not a tear trickling down my cheek. It’s just condensation.

But all is not lost!  There is a place that rolls out the red carpet for not only Globalists, but also well-prepared Explorists, Discoverists, and even basic Members of World of Hyatt. That place is the Hyatt Regency Osaka, a place whose praises I sang long and loud earlier this year. Here are the World of Hyatt and Hyatt Regency Osaka specific rules that allowed me to book this coming New Years bash with all the trimmings of top status on an affordable budget.

1. Suite Booking Using Points: Globalists receive Tier Suite Upgrades that can be used on most types of reservations to upgrade to a suite, but those in lower levels of the program have options to do this as well. World of Hyatt offers two options for using points to help secure a base level suite. One option is to book the stay entirely with points. The amount of points required depends on the award category of the hotel. As of this writing, Hyatt Regency Osaka is classified as Category 2, so per this chart:

Suite Award Chart

A Regency Suite at the Hyatt Regency Osaka can be booked for only 13000 points per night. Per the current World of Hyatt Terms and Conditions, a stay booked in this manner must be for a minimum of three nights, so you will need at least 39000 points on hand for this option.

If you don’t have that many points available, or only want to stay for one or two nights, the other option is to upgrade a stay booked through Hyatt at the Standard Rate or higher (sorry, no Member Discount rate) and upgrade the stay using points. This option is irrespective of award category; it is 6000 points per night for all hotels.

So could be a really good deal for a place like Park Hyatt Tokyo

So could be a really good deal for a place like Park Hyatt Tokyo

Neither of these options are available online;  you will need to get in touch with Hyatt Customer Service to make these arrangements for you.

2. Hyatt Regency Osaka Suite Benefits: Globalists are automatically conferred club lounge access on all of their stays. Explorists receive some club lounge upgrade certificates that can be used to upgrade most reservations with access. But neither of these powers are necessary when you are staying in Hyatt Regency Osaka suite, because they are included in the benefits of the suite itself.

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The complicated situation regarding Hyatt Regency’s Osaka’s club lounge arrangement is explained in my hotel review posts, but, in summary, not only do all staying guests get access to afternoon and evening offerings that exceed the new arrangement at Hyatt Regency Tokyo, they also get to have a full breakfast in the restaurant that exceeds the arrangement at Grand Hyatt Tokyo!

3. High Quality At Reasonable Rates: As I’ve said before, I feel that this hotel is of incredible quality for a Category 2 level hotel in the second most populated area of Japan. While many people complain about the location, I, in the parlance of engineers, think it a feature, not a bug. Until the Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island comes online, this is the closest thing to an actual resort hotel that Hyatt offers in Japan.

Again, something I discuss in detail in my hotel review

Again, something I discuss in detail in my hotel review

Osaka can be beautiful, but mostly so from a distance, and your suite will provide you with both the height and the distance with which to fully appreciate it.

At night, the Ferris Wheel puts on quite a light show

At night, the Ferris Wheel puts on quite a light show

A New Years Suite Stay at 13000 points a night is an absolute steal, but even the Standard Rates can be quite reasonable. Booking many months in advance, I found Standard Rates over the three nights spanning the New Years holiday for only 25000 yen a night, less than half the price of a comparable room at Hyatt Regency Tokyo over the same period.

I did such a good job of divesting points ahead of Diamond demotion that I had to use this option

I did such a good job of divesting points ahead of Diamond demotion that I had to use this option

Of course, this plan is dependant on being able to find Regency Suite availability, and, of course, it is no longer available for NYE 2017 this late in the game. But I like planning things well in advance, and I was able to pull this off back in March with no problem.

I’m no longer a big shot with Hyatt. But, thanks to the Hyatt Regency Osaka, I’m going to be treated like one, one more time.

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5000 yen cashback on Japan Hyatt stay through February 28th, 2017

December 7th, 2016

For a limited time, American Express is offering a 5000 yen cashback credit on stays at Hyatt hotels in Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. The offer can be reached from this site:

https://offerenroll.americanexpress.com/enroll/EnrollmentSitePage?offer=24489JPHYATT&language=ja-jp

Unfortunately, the site is all in Japanese, but it is a simple form to fill out.  Here are the fields you will need to fill out on the form, with English annotations and sample entries provided:

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When finished, you will need to click on this button on the bottom right of the page:

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And that’s it!  You’ll receive a lengthy Japanese mail to the mail address you entered above, explaining the details of the offer, a summary of which is as follows:

  • Offer good at all Hyatt Hotels in Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore, for stays exceeding 25000 yen.
  • Payment must be made with the American Express card that you registered with.
  • The offer is good once per country. So if you could get the cashback a maximum of three times with stays in all three countries.
  • The offer expires February 28th, 2017.
  • The offer is limited to the first 20,000 people that register. As of yesterday, it was still possible to register.

If you have a Hyatt credit card, you’ll need to weigh the benefits of the 5000 yen cashback against forgoing the Hyatt points.  Fortunately, with the impending introduction of World of Hyatt, that decision has gotten a lot easier for me to make.

 

 

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Hyatt’s Invalid Hyatt Gold Passport Termination, And What You Can Do About It

November 6th, 2016

By now you’ve probably heard the announcement that Hyatt is eliminating the Hyatt Gold Passport program and replacing it with the World of Hyatt program (rendering much of this website obsolete in the process)

But did you know that the manner in which this was done was a violation of Hyatt’s own Gold Passport Terms and Conditions?

These Terms and Conditions clearly state that six months prior notice is required to terminate the Hyatt Gold Passport program:

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-12-16-32-pmThe mail regarding the change to World of Hyatt was received by me on November 1st, 2016;  by their own Terms and Conditions, they should not have to ability to terminate the Hyatt Gold Passport program until at least May 1st, 2017.  As I have yet to receive a valid notice with proper notification, that date as of this writing is now May 5th (and counting)

When asked about this, a Hyatt Representative attempted to claim that this was merely a “change” to existing loyalty program, not a termination, so the above clause does not apply.  However, this goes against all communication sent out by Hyatt up to this point, including:

1. The original mail notification of the changes, clearly showing that World of Hyatt is a “new” loyalty program.

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This message also exists on the World of Hyatt program website referenced in the first paragraph of this post.

2. The press release announcing the change, stating that World of Hyatt is “a new global loyalty program” and that Hyatt Gold Passport was ending on February 28th, 2017.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-12-26-51-pm3. The notice from Jeff Zidell, VP of Hyatt Gold Passport, on Flyertalk, announcing World of Hyatt as “your new loyalty program, which will replace Hyatt Gold Passport® on March 1, 2017″.

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4. The World of Hyatt Terms and Conditions, which clearly delineates Hyatt Gold Passport and World of Hyatt as separate programs.

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How Will This Change Affect You?

As the full changes to Hyatt’s are long, complicated, and beyond the scope of this article, I will for now simply focus on the case of Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members being transferred to World of Hyatt Globalist membership.

While there are several disadvantages to this conversion, the two biggest ones from the standpoint of former Diamond member are:

1. No more 1,000 point per stay Diamond amenity

2. Much tougher requalification standards. While Diamond members require only 25 stays or 50 nights within a calendar year to requalify for the status, Globalist members require either 60 nights or 100,000 base points, both significantly higher hurdles.

So a former Diamond member will, over the course of 25 stays that does not meet either of the new Globalist requalification requirements, lose enough points for a free night’s stay at Andaz Tokyo AND enjoy considerably reduced benefits the following year compared with what a Diamond member would have received.

BUT…if the termination of Hyatt Gold Passport is invalid, it stands to reason that you will still be entitled to those benefits until a valid termination of the program takes place.

This is just one example.  I would suggest that you review Hyatt’s Gold Passport and World of Hyatt websites to review the changes and determine how they will affect you

What Can I Do About This?

For now, nothing has changed, so there is no reason to do anything drastic. What you can do is express your concern with how this change was given without proper notice, in a respectful email to the Hyatt Gold Passport folks at goldpassport@hyatt.com.  Additionally, Gold Passport Vice President Jeff Zidell has published his email address on Flyertalk, so you may also make your concerns known to him as well.  Hopefully, Hyatt will hear our collective voices and make this right.

However, if things have not changed come March 1st, 2017, then that is when these invalid changes will begin affecting us.  From that point on, you should keep track of all of the benefits that you should have received under the Hyatt Gold Passport program for your stays (e.g. 1000 point Diamond stay amenities, qualification towards Diamond tier for the following year, etc.) and continue requesting that Hyatt honor the old program that had not been terminated.

If you have sustained tangible losses, and have exhausted all efforts to resolve the issue with Hyatt directly, you have two options to pursue the matter further:

1. Hyatt Hotels Corporations is incorporated in Delaware, so you would need to file a Small Claims suit in the state of Delaware.  While it is possible to file by mail from out of state, you or your counsel will need to appear in a Delaware court for the case.  More details on how to proceed can be found here.

2. If it is too difficult to bring the case to a Delaware court, you may be able to use the Better Business Bureau to arbitrate a settlement. There is no cost to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and everything can be done online.

I do have faith that neither of the above actions will be required of us. In my experience, Hyatt has always been fair and reasonable about acknowledging its mistakes and rectifying them.  So if enough of us bring the matter to Hyatt’s attention, I am sure that we can make the transition to the new loyalty system fairer for everyone.

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Andaz Tokyo: Choosing Between Points + Cash and All Points Award Reservation

April 13th, 2016

Generally, the choice between booking a Points + Cash or an All Points Award reservation is a no-brainer in favor of Points + Cash. The reasons for this are:

  1. Points + Cash stays count towards qualified nights and stays for tier renewal
  2. Points + Cash stays can generally be combined with a Diamond Suite Upgrade
  3. The “cash” portion of Points + Cash allows one to effectively buy points at a very attractive rate.

For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume that the benefit of a qualified stay is negligible.  If you’re cutting it that close on stays, then there are a lot better mattress stay options available than Andaz Tokyo.

Let us consider the Andaz Tokyo at this particular point in the space/time continuum that I am posting this (sadly, most of my previous articles are now woefully outdated…one of many reasons why actual posts here have become so infrequent)  First, the regular rates at this hotel have become so high that it is always a good value to use points towards a reservation. Unfortunately, Andaz Tokyo is one of the exempt hotels that do not allow the use of Diamond Suite Upgrades (a pity, because they are REALLY nice!)

And now, for some of you that have purchased points in the past, there is another way to buy points and a very attractive rate:

Darned right my loyalty deserves to be rewarded…

With this new promotion, let’s crunch the numbers and see what happens.

First, the Andaz Tokyo Points + Cash reservation.  As a Category 6 hotel, the cash portion of the Points + Cash rate at Andaz Tokyo should be $150;  HOWEVER, as the hotel charges in yen, Hyatt uses it’s own exchange rates to give us 17,785 yen:

Because $150 * 109 yen = 16...wait, what?

Because $150 * 109 yen = 16…wait, what?

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!  Because Andaz Tokyo also charges the following on all paid rates (whether they’re supposed to or not):

There's even a tax on tax!

There’s even a tax on tax!

Putting my degree in nuclear engineering to good use, I calculate the total total of the cash portion of this stay to be…22554 yen.

Whereas, if you can participate in the 40% point bonus promotion, then you can purchase the additional 12,500 points needed for a full award stay (plus an extra 100) for $216.

You have more control of the exchange rate with this purchase.

You have more control of the exchange rate with this purchase.

Using a generous exchange rate of 109 yen gives us a total of 23544 yen.

So, even with all of the Andaz Tokyo tomfoolery and a 40% point bonus, it’s still a slightly better value to book a Points + Cash rate. However, given the scarcity of Points + Cash rates that are actually available at Andaz Tokyo these days, there’s no need to feel bad about topping off your points with this sale to book an all points stay and experience the fizzy jacuzzi at a discount.

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