Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Terms apply to all credit card welcome offers, earning rates and benefits and some credit card benefits will require enrollment. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
When it comes to award night availability, the World of Hyatt rules are simple – if a property is selling an entry-level room for cash, that same room must also be made available for award bookings. This is part of the ‘no blackout dates’ policy enshrined in the World of Hyatt terms and conditions and it’s one of the things that a lot of us really love about Hyatt’s loyalty program.
Unfortunately, over recent years, a number of Hyatt properties have garnered a reputation for playing around with this rule (or ignoring it completely) and effectively blocking World of Hyatt members from booking awards that they should be able to book.
Properties like Hyatt Regency Jersey City, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, the Andaz Maui and the Andaz West Hollywood have all been guilty of playing around with this key World of Hyatt rule at one point or another and now it looks like we can add the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill to that list as well.
How the Churchill appears to be ignoring award availability rules
A few weeks ago, I was on the Hyatt website hoping to book the Churchill for a couple of nights this summer and because the room rates in London are currently astronomically high, I was hoping to book a room using World of Hyatt points.
Unfortunately, my search at the Churchill revealed that for the dates I was hoping to stay, there was no award availability.
With no award bookings on offer and despite knowing that the Churchill was probably charging cash rates that were far in excess of what I would be comfortable paying, I decided to see how amusingly ridiculous the cash rates were for my chosen dates… just out of interest.
This is part what the search revealed:
I wasn’t particularly surprised to see the Churchill charging £696 (~$860) per night as that’s just how ridiculous some London prices have now become, but I was more than a little surprised to be offered a “1 King Bed” or “2 Twin Beds” because I was pretty sure that those are entry-level room categories at the Churchill.
Here’s what you’ll see if you head over to the Churchill’s website and look up the types of room (excluding suites) that the property offers:
From what this page displays, it’s hard to reach any other conclusion than the one that says that either the “1 King Bed” category or the “2 Twin Beds” category is the entry level category at this property (perhaps both are entry level categories), and yet the Churchill was very clearly not offering award availability on the dates when these rooms were bookable with cash.
Whichever way you look at it, that appears to be a clear breach of the World of Hyatt rule that states that where an entry level room can be booked for cash, it must also be made available for award bookings.
After noting this, I emailed my Hyatt Concierge and asked her to find out what the Churchill was playing at and to ask the Churchill to release its entry level rooms for award bookings.
It was at this point that things got a little strange because at the same time that my concierge confirmed that the Churchill was not responding to her emails, she also wrote this:
“Unfortunately we don’t show the standard rooms in our system so we can’t do anything on our side, if we did see it we’d be able to but because it is only showing standard room at a rate on the website and not at rate for us, our hands are tied”
What followed was a two week email exchange during which time I never got a satisfactory answer as to how Hyatt.com could show availability that the concierge team couldn’t see, and during which time the Churchill never (apparently) responded to the concierge’s messages.
Approximately 18 days after I first raised this as an issue, the 1 King Bed and 2 Twin Beds options disappeared from Hyatt.com and that was the end of that. Awards were never opened up.
Overall, this was a disappointing experience and one which left me wondering if, going forward, there was any point in raising issues such as this one with the concierge team?
Why bother when it seems like (a) hotels can choose to simply ignore a concierge, (b) the concierge team doesn’t appear to have any way to escalate an issue (or doesn’t want to escalate an issue) if they’re being ignored by a property, and (c) the concierge team doesn’t have access to the same reservations system that the rest of the world has access to (what’s that about?)
It also left me wondering if this is more evidence of the “Bonvoyification” of Hyatt.
Over recent years, we’ve become accustomed to Marriott caring a lot more about the wishes and feelings of hotel owners rather than the guests that it sends to those owners so it has been nice to have the relatively safe sanctuary of the World of Hyatt program where the same didn’t seem to be happening.
Over recent months, however, I’ve read an increasing number of reports (e.g. on Flyertalk) that appear to suggest that we’re seeing more Hyatt properties choosing to play fast and loose with certain elements of the World of Hyatt program, and where in the past someone at Hyatt usually stepped in to pull the property back into line, that appears to be happening less and less now.
Obviously, this could be just my perception of how things are and Hyatt may not be going any easier on rogue properties than it was two or three years ago… but perceptions can matter.
If I’m starting to think that Hyatt is letting properties get away with more and more then there’s a good chance that quite a few others are feeling the same way, and as good as the World of Hyatt program may be, Hyatt isn’t big enough to be able to afford to be as uninterested as the likes of Marriott, Hilton and IHG can be when it comes to what guests’ perceptions are.
For a lot of people, the World of Hyatt is a key differentiator when it comes to choosing which hotels to book and it’s a key reason why they choose Hyatt over the larger chains, so if Hyatt takes its eye off the ball and allows properties to dilute what makes the World of Hyatt special, it won’t be long before the exodus will begin.
I had this exact same problem a few times in Europe in Frankfurt. The Hyatt concierge totally useless to resolve.
So the “no blackout” policy is a lie. simple!!
Same with the Globalist suite upgrade as many Hyatts now classify many of their suites as Premium so not available for globalist upgrade. I get better suite upgrades in Europe at marriot with Titanium status,
So I dont bother with hyatts any more
Where is there a regular full service Hyatt in Frankfurt? I stayed at the Hyatt in Mainz outside Frankfurt last month and they didn’t play any games.
This doesn’t answer your question but by coincidence, Hyatt has just announced that a new Unbound Collection property will open in Frankfurt later this year.
Thank you for naming and shaming them! All of the properties that do this should be called out.
Were you able to find an appropriate Hyatt property in London on points?
The Andaz was available, but I ended up booking away from Hyatt for this stay.
Hyatt Place Champaign IL pulls this all the time. The charge $500+ a night for football weekends and remove the point option. If you think $800 a night is bad for a London luxury hotel, this is egregious…
I booked the Churchill a week ago with no issues on points.
I speak as a former employee at this property. Entry level rooms are indeed the standard 1 King and 2 Twin bed category rooms without a view of Portman Square (Garden view). There are 20 King/Twin Garden view rooms on each floor (2-8) and double that amount with entry level King/Twin rooms on each floor (except 9). Previously the Club floors were designated 8 and 9 with all rooms on both these floors coming with Club Lounge access. These rooms all had Molton Brown toiletries as standard. The hotel wants to maximise revenue and now designates any entry level or Garden view room as a Club room on payment of the Club supplement for lounge access. Molton Brown is supplied to Suite category rooms only. You should be entitled to award nights on entry level rooms which are selling as standard King/Twin non view. Contact the hotel directly and complain to Corporate in Chicago if the hotel is not adhering to World of Hyatt Gold Passport rules.
I booked the Churchill a week ago on points, no issues.
I ran into a similar situation and was equally as frustrated. Glad I’m not the only one. I ended up staying in the Andaz Liverpool Street and was happy enough.
Waltham, MA is too. Probably because they were lowered one category.
especially if you need an accessible room
Hyatt’s award availability is getting steadily worse, in virtually every urban and/or desirable location, and it’s not just the aspirational properties anymore. It is, however, virtually the same with Hilton and Marriott, though. On this trajectory, these points will be essentially worthless in a few years. Caveat emptor! DON’T bank points counting on their use in more than 12 months or so, no matter how cheaply you accumulate them.
A lot of the Secrets in Cancun were playing the same game before the devaluation in late March. I think “shaming” Hyatt and these properties is the only way to initiate change. Social media is a powerful force and if we continue to complain someone might start listening.
Same issue exactly with the PH Vienna for single nights in the whole month of December.
My globalist concierge at first confirmed that standard rooms were available at the cash rate and should be bookable with points After checking with the hotel the answer changed to they are fully booked. They still aren’t for the night I’m looking at (the 16th) since I can see that from the app and website.
Frustrating thing for me was the lack of a straight answer. I’m pretty dense and it took a few tries before it actually registered: they understood the question, there are blackout dates regardless of what the T&Cs say, and that I should figure out something else.
Booked Churchill on points + suite upgrade a few weeks ago. Excellent stay completed.
As a property to stay at, I’m a big fan of the Churchill. I’m just not a fan of whoever is in charge of releasing award inventory at the property.
Just did a quick 5-night search for next week, and the hotel is availbale for 25k per night. Maybe your stay wasn’t meeting the minimum seat requirements?
I’m not suggesting that you can never get an award booking at the Churchill, just suggesting that it plays games with availability when it suits.
As for the minimum stay requirement (which I’m guessing is what you mean), that doesn’t come into play because in the example I gave, there was clearly an entry level room available to be booked with cash.
Yes, stay not seat. Auto-misspell strikes again! FWIW, this was the first random dates I selected, so either I am lucky or this issue isn’t as widespread as this article seems to imply.
The issue shouldn’t be happening at all. And regardless of how often or not this is happening, the fact that the property chose not to respond to me or to a Hyatt concierge when challenged, doesn’t put it in a very good light.
It’s pretty clear what happened here. The bundled the base room with a breakfast offering, thus only sell it as a package. As a result it doesn’t show any actual standard rooms for sale and thus no points booking available. It totally stinks and Hyatt should not allow them to play their games.
I *think* the same rooms were also available when the other rates were selected (I don’t have a screenshot to prove that) so while that’s definitely a plausible explanation based on the evidence in the article, I’m not sure that’s what The Churchill was using to wriggle out of its obligations.
I’m pretty sure that is what they were doing as well. I ran into the same issue trying to book here a few weeks ago. If you look at your screenshot you can see all the other rates are more expensive, hence likely not base rooms. I know for sure that all kinds of dates were that way when I was trying to book. I spent a lot of time looking and there were entire months set this way. It was 100% the breakfast bundle for me. They have since fixed the issue. I’m hoping because Hyatt forced them to, but we will never know. Definitely need to watch this property in the future.
In the screenshot, the price difference between the cheapest room on offer at each rate is between £4 and £16 (excluding the “Member Rate”). The screenshot also shows that the price difference between a standard room and the cheapest non-standard room for the “Member Bed & Breakfast” rate is £132.
That would suggest that there’s a very good chance that my recollection is correct and that the cheapest rooms being offered under the “Members Advanced Purchase” rate, the “Advance Purchase” rate, and the “Members Save 10%” rate are also standard rooms.
If only non-standard rooms were being offered at those rates I’d expect the cheapest prices to be higher.
I just booked Churchill in July. Has no problem use points
As a former concierge for Hyatt, no they wouldn’t have any influence on changing room availability. You would want to speak with a front office manager or central reservations. At the Churchill, the concierge desk is about 10 feet away from the check in desk so I don’t know why they couldn’t have at least passed this along to someone who could have opened room availability.
Concierge is a waste of time. Call globalist line and they will escalate with the hotel. You could’ve booked this room immediately if you hadn’t relied on concierge.