Adventures in Claiming Retroactive Non-Stay Hyatt Gold Passport Points Part 1: Grand Hyatt Tokyo

October 23rd, 2015

Although I pride myself on being fairly proficient in the Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions, it wasn’t until a recent meal at the Park Hyatt Tokyo New York Grill that I realized that people can earn Hyatt Gold Passport points at restaurants even when they’re not staying at them. From the T&C:

3. Five Hyatt Gold Passport points will be awarded for each whole U.S. dollar or U.S. dollar equivalent, paid by a member for Eligible Non-Stay Charges. “Eligible Non-Stay Charges” vary on a hotel-by-hotel basis, but generally include spa and salon services, spa and salon retail items, one (1) day spa membership and food and beverage expenditures (except at outlets not operated by the hotel).

It was only by virtue of paying with my Hyatt Credit Card that that the staff noticed the membership number on it and used it to apply the credit, which showed up in my account almost immediately.

This only resulted in about 200 additional points but, after going over the past year’s worth of credit card statements, I realized that I had patronized Hyatt bars and restaurants without staying about a dozen times without receiving anything. That seemed like a decent chunk of points that I was leaving on the table, so I went back to research the T&C to see if it was possible to retroactively claim the credit.

You already know by the fact that I’m writing this that it is, but here’s the relevant text that proves it:

5. In the event a member does not provide their Hyatt Gold Passport membership number at the time Eligible Non-Stay Charges are incurred, the member must contact the hotel’s outlet directly to request retroactive point issuance. Retroactive point issuance credit timeframes vary hotel-by-hotel. Retroactive credit for which a receipt can be provided will only be awarded on Eligible Non-Stay Charges by the shorter of: 1 year from outlet visit, or the date on which the outlet began participation in the benefit (varies hotel-by-hotel). Eligible Non-Stay Charges prior to a member’s enrollment in Hyatt Gold Passport will not be eligible for retroactive credit.

It seemed like I was good to go…but first, I had to figure out what made a Non-Stay Charge “Eligible”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as cut and clear as I had thought it would be:

1. Hyatt Gold Passport members may earn Hyatt Gold Passport points for Eligible Non-Stay Charges (defined below) at participating outlets at Hyatt-branded hotels even when such charges are not affiliated with a stay at such hotel. Outlet participation is limited and this benefit may not be available at all hotels. Please ask outlet associates for participation eligibility.

To figure out whether or not a particular hotel participates in this program, see this handy link for the full breakdown. If you expand the Japan section, you will note that, while the Hyatt Regency Naha and Hyatt Regency Fukuoka are conspicuous by their absence, all of the Tokyo Hyatt hotels offer restaurant non-stay credit (and all but the Hyatt Regency Tokyo offer non-stay credit on spa visits)

Now I was finally able to start contacting each individual hotel for back credit. I started with the simplest and easiest, a single meal at the Oak Door Bar at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (the Oak Door Burger was solid, but I have to say that I prefer the Andaz Tokyo burgers at BeBu) Armed with the knowledge of the date, location, and expenditure of the meal from my credit card statement, I fired off a quick e-mail to the mail address on the Grand Hyatt Tokyo website requesting retroactive credit.

Less than a day later, I received a very nice response from a representative of the restaurant apologizing to me for the oversight, and notifying me of the immediate deposit of points from the expenditure into my account, backdated to the original date of purchase. With the 30% Diamond bonus, this amounted to a whopping 92 additional points!

The only embedded image you're getting this time. Fear the almighty wall of text!

The only embedded image you’re getting this time. Fear the almighty wall of text!

Quick and painless, the way it should be! But, unfortunately, not the way that it always is.

In Part 2, we will begin our exploration into what could go wrong, as I break down my experience claiming retroactive non-stay credit with the Park Hyatt Tokyo!

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Inside Park Hyatt Tokyo: Weekday Lunch Buffet

September 26th, 2014

Although I have eaten dinner at the Park Hyatt Tokyo‘s New York Grill on several occasions (though none since the Diamond free drinks were moved to the Peak Bar, taking away some of the fun of the NYG experience), I have never had the chance to eat this restaurant’s lunch buffet.  The hotel breakfast is quite filling, so when we stay, we always tend to have a light lunch, either through room service or one of the basement restaurant options.

However, after reading a follower’s review of the lunch experience, I knew that this was something that I would have to experience for myself.  A month later, the stars finally aligned enough for me to take a late lunch from work to check it out!

I can’t compete with Ms. Sakamoto’s excellent review (she does food and picture taking far better than I), so I will just fill in some of the blanks.  First off, the menu:

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

I didn’t quite get the price in that picture, but the base price for the appetizer buffet, dessert buffet, and main course is 5,000 yen.  This includes neither the 13% service charge nor the regular 8% tax (sadly, Park Hyatt Tokyo has chosen to post tax exclusive prices, which Japan law has allowed since the sales tax increase from 5% to 8% on April 1st), pushing the actual minimum cost to just over 6,000 yen.  While I would have liked to have tried a beef dish, all of them would have incurred extra cost that would have pushed my lunch into five digits.  Ms. Sakamoto’s review already shows the chicken and the lamb, so I decided to order the penne.

The appetizer buffet is set up at the large table in the New York Bar:

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime...

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime…

There are many different kinds of cold meat and vegetable dishes to choose from, but it was hard to distract me from the shrimp cocktail:

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Shrimp cocktail like this is quite rare in Japan, and usually quite expensive.  I have paid upwards of 1500 yen for just six shrimp of these size, so at this point I was already feeling like I was getting my money’s worth.  And this cocktail sauce was awesome…not quite “homemade ketchup that comes with the duck-fried french fries awesome”, but still among the best I’ve tried…tangy, a little bit spicy, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor of the shrimp.

Of course, man cannot live on shrimp alone, so I picked up a few other items as well.  My favorite of the rest was the Caesar salad…tasty crispy bacon, plenty of Paramasan cheese, and a bold dressing that puts the store-bought varieties to shame.

When I returned to my table, I was pleasantly surprised to find the freshed baked bread that I often enjoyed at dinner.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

After two such heaping helpings of appetizers (27 shrimp in total!), the penne arrived:

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Penne Rigatte Gragnano

To be honest, I was underwhelmed with this.  It seemed to be technically well-executed, but I’m not a big fan of Arrabiata sauce to begin with.  I wish they had two different kinds of pasta to choose from, a tomato base and a cream base.  Actually, I wish they had an option to do without the main altogether;  I would have been happier going back for another round of the appetizers.

But at this point I was already quite full, so I had to turn my attention to the dessert:

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

I couldn’t quite try everything, but everything that I did try was marvelous.  My favorite three were:

3. Key lime pie.  I’ve been a key lime pie fan since I was a kid, so I’m fairly fussy in this regard.  This was a bit lighter than I’m used to in a key lime pie, but the flavor was well-balanced and quite delicious.

2. Chocolate brownie: Thick, moist, and fudgy. Perhaps my favorite brownie in Japan.

But number one, by a large margin, was the strawberry ice cream:

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

I do not know if this was their own special recipe, but I do know that I cannot go back to eating Haagen-Daaz after knowing this.  So fresh.  So creamy.  So strawberryey!  My words can’t do it justice.  Next time I stay at this hotel, I am definitely ordering this ice cream again from room service, regardless of what it costs.

The staff certainly does its best to earn their 13% service charge.  They brought me a newspaper without asking, water was always refilled quickly, and no matter how many times I went up to the buffet, somebody was always waiting to tuck in the table cloth for me when I returned to my seat.  Unfortunately, the only hiccup was a significant one for me;  it took over 20 minutes for the check to arrive once I asked for it, delaying me from getting back to work quite a bit later than I was hoping for.  But it’s hard to hold this against them;  they certainly aren’t gearing their services to the salarymen, and the rich Japanese housewives that seem to make up the majority of their clientele probably couldn’t care less about extending their time in the restaurant…I certainly would if I could!

Delay aside, the New York Grill lunch buffet was a wonderful, luxurious experience.  Not something that I could pull off everyday, but it would be great way to celebrate such accomplishments as discovering gold in Shinjuku Central Park or defeating the Kraken.

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