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At the risk of drawing the ire of one particular Hilton fanboy, I’m going to go ahead and say that for top-tier elites, the World of Hyatt is the best hotel loyalty program out there. It’s also the best by quite a distance and I love it.
There are a few obvious reasons why Hyatt Globalist status is so nice to have – excellent suite upgrades, waived resort fees on cash and award bookings, 4 pm late check-outs, free parking on award nights, etc… – but none of these is the reason I’ve got extra love for the World of Hyatt program right now.
For me, it’s all about the extra effort that I often find that Hyatt employees put in to make my stays and experiences of Globalist status as good as they can be, and right now, I’m incredibly grateful to the “My Hyatt Concierge” team who have come through for me in a simple but special way that I wasn’t expecting.
A bit of background
Joanna and I are coming up on a milestone birthday and to celebrate this event we’ve decided to enjoy an extended trip around my home state of California next year.
We had a lot of options open to us that probably would have provided some incredible moments, scenery, and memories (Bora Bora, Maldives, Seychelles, Australia, BVI, a safari, etc…) but apart from the fact that we’ve already checked some of those trips off our travel list at least once before, we decided that it was time to make sure that we had really seen the best that California has to offer…and there’s a lot!
Most of the accommodation on this trip will be booked using various loyalty currencies but the currency that we’ll be using most belongs to the World of Hyatt.
Thank you Hyatt Concierge
Because I credited 60 elite nights to the World of Hyatt program at the start of 2020, not only do I have Hyatt Globalist status through February 2023 but I also have access to the “My Hyatt Concierge” team (I have a dedicated concierge to whom I can direct my questions and requests but I’m also often helped out by other concierges working alongside her).
Until recently, most of my questions and requests to the concierge team had been pretty straightforward so while the team has been incredibly helpful and useful to me, I couldn’t really claim that I’d seen it come through with a truly impressive result.
A few weeks ago, that all changed.
As some of you have probably guessed by now (either from this article’s featured image or because I’ve already said that Joanna and I will be using World of Hyatt points as we travel around California for a special occasion), one property that we are very keen to try out on our trip is the Alila Ventana Big Sur – the most aspirational US property in the World of Hyatt portfolio and possibly even the most aspirational World of Hyatt property in the world.
The problem is that this particular property likes to play games with award night availability (the property doesn’t always release entry-level rooms for cash bookings which allows it to circumvent the World of Hyatt rule that states that any entry-level room that can be booked with cash must also be bookable with points) so booking a standard rate award can be incredibly tricky.
To try and give us the best chance of booking a 4-night stay at this Alila property using points, I started to search for award availability on the days that the property releases rooms for sale but even though I was trying to book 13 months out, I kept running into the same problem – the Alila wasn’t releasing entry-level rooms for sale.
After a few days of banging my head on my desk in frustration, I remembered that the Alila’s policy of not releasing entry-level rooms is a little more nuanced than I was giving it credit for because while entry-level rooms at the property are often not released for single night bookings, they can sometimes be found when searching for a multi-night booking.
A number of searches then followed until, miraculously, I stumbled upon a 3-night stay that was bookable for 45,000 points a night. I was delighted…but I was also a night short. Ideally, we want to relax at Big Sur for 4 nights before tackling all that Yosemite has to offer (yes, I know, 1st world problem).
Over the next few days, I continued to search for award availability for the 4th night and I continued to search for any period of 4 nights (in the summer of 2023) where the property had opened up entry-level award availability. I was out of luck. The Alila was stubbornly refusing to release entry-level rooms and I was stubbornly refusing to pay 66,000 points for a suite that we didn’t need (we need all the Hyatt points we can get for other bookings on this trip).
As a last throw of the dice (before conceding defeat and accepting that we were super-lucky to have found a 3-night stay that could be booked at the standard award rate), I emailed the Hyatt Concierge team. I explained the situation (in brief) and asked if they would contact the property to see if a 4th night could be added to our booking at a cost of 45,000 points. It was a shot in the dark.
3 days passed without a reply (all of my requests/questions usually get replies within 24 hours so I had started to think that I had asked too much) and then, 4 days after I had sent my email, a joyous reply dropped into my inbox:
“Good Evening Ziggy,
I was able to update your reservation at Alila Ventana Big Sur. I have you checking in on XX and checking out on XX [a 4-night stay]
The confirmation number has stayed the same.
Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you. Thank you.”
Thanks to all my searches I knew that the 4th award night that we needed had not been made generally available by the Alila Ventana Big Sur (either for a single- or multi-night booking) so this had to be a case of the concierge team somehow persuading the property to give us that 4th night.
That’s incredible service.
The concierge team didn’t have to do this. There’s nothing in the World of Hyatt rules that says that the concierge team can (or will) get extra award availability released for Globalist members and the team members knew that they didn’t have to bother to try to help out if they didn’t want to – they could have waited a day or two, not contacted the property, and then replied with a “sorry but we haven’t been able to help” message and I would have been none the wiser.
But they didn’t. They went above and beyond what can be expected of them just to give Joanna and me the stay that we wanted. That’s very, very cool.
I have been a top-tier Marriott elite for longer than I care to remember and for every night that I’ve stayed with Hyatt I’ve stayed ten nights with Marriott, but as I look back through all those years of Marriott stays, I’m struggling to recall even a single instance where I felt that someone at Marriott had really gone out of their way to make a stay better or to go above and beyond what is required of them – I can’t even get myself upgraded to a Junior Suite with Bonvoy Suite Night awards at a standard city-center Renaissance property!
And yet here I am in just my second consecutive year of Hyatt Globalist status (3rd year in total) with no obvious chance of retaining that status and I have the Hyatt Concierge team doing its best to make my trips fantastic.
That’s what “service” looks like.
Some people reading this will probably think that I’m making a big deal out of something that isn’t really that big at all (maybe I am)…but each to their own.
For me, being able to give Joanna the perfect length stay at what is reputedly an amazing property during our ‘special event’ trip was important (she puts up with all of my traveling and nights away from home so it’s always nice to be able to give a little back) and while she and I would have been more than happy with the 3-night stay that I had managed to find, the fact that the Hyatt concierge team went out of their way to make that “perfect length” stay a reality is hugely appreciated.
Moreover, as I have yet to see any first-hand evidence that any of the other major loyalty programs would have made the same effort had I been trying to book an aspirational property at one of their properties, this is yet more proof (for me) that World of Hyatt Globalist status is the best top-tier status to hold…I just wish I could find an easy way to hold on to it!