As I wrote about a couple months back, getting loyalty status with various travel brands can certainly make frequent travel a lot easier. Sometimes, it also makes it a lot more luxurious!
Seeing as how I recently acquired Hyatt Diamond status for free, I figured it was high-time to take advantage of it. And since our anniversary was also coming up, I decided to see if I could book a nice room on the Riverwalk for little-to-no out of pocket cost using my points + status for our anniversary weekend.
There are two Hyatt properties right on the riverwalk in San Antonio – the Hyatt Regency San Antonio (which is older, but in a prime location) and the Grand Hyatt San Antonio (which is huge and new, but in a quieter section of the Riverwalk). Standard room rates for both properties during the timeframe we were looking started around $229 a night, which was a little steep for a last-minute getaway.
We looked at doing a pure points booking, but at 12,000 points per night, that only came out to a redemption rate of 1.9 cents per point. Given that we’d be transferring points over from Chase Ultimate Rewards into my Hyatt account, that’s not a very effective redemption rate. (Chase Ultimate Reward points are roughly valued at about 2.1 cents per point at present; trading in points for a lower redemption rate is considered a poor use of points.)
So, things weren’t looking great – until, that is, we looked at the points + cash rates.
One of the properties, the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, was offering a points + cash rate of 6,000 Hyatt points + $75 a night for the dates we wanted. That meant the points portion of the stay would jump up to a 2.6 cents per point redemption rate – a pretty nice value for the Chase points we’d earned with our Chase Sapphire Visa.
However, my Hyatt Diamond status also comes with four “Suite Upgrade” certificates each year, delivered around the first of March. Each certificate is good for upgrading any regular room booking to a suite for up to a seven-night stay at any Hyatt property, and can usually be confirmed at time of booking. The certificates are only valid on paid stays, but lucky for us, points + cash rates count as a paid booking for suite certificate purposes!
Combining the cash + points rate with a suite certificate, we were able to secure what we thought would be a “Regency Suite,” as that’s listed as the lowest level suite for the hotel on the Hyatt website. Hyatt doesn’t advertise the rates for suites at this property, but compared to other comparable Hyatt properties, it probably averages about $400-$500 a night for a cash booking.
Unfortunately, when we showed up, we weren’t placed in a Regency Suite, but in an “Atrium Suite”. Fair warning – these may be considered “suites” because they have a separate bedroom and living area but they’re AWFUL. Seriously. You’re better off in just a standard room, as these have no windows, zero natural light, the world’s worst balcony…just…yuck.
Not wanting to ruin our anniversary weekend in such a horrible room, we returned promptly to the front desk and asked if they had anything else. They said their suites were sold out, so they offered us an “Executive King with Partial River View.” Disappointed, we took the offer and went to check out room #2.
Our second room was definitely an improvement over the Atrium Suite (if you’re listening, Hyatt, you should seriously get rid of those rooms altogether…) but wasn’t what we were expecting either. It was a small room with no couch, only one chair (with a mismatched ottoman) and a small desk. Overall, still quite a disappointment from what we thought we had reserved.
So, we took to social media, and messaged the Hyatt Facebook account. Hyatt is pretty legendary for their customer service, and has even won awards within the social media industry for their world-class social customer care programs. And they did not disappoint. Within 2 minutes of sending my first message, they had responded to request additional information, and within 30 minutes, had managed to reach out to the hotel manager to make things right.
When we returned down to the hotel lobby for the second time, the manager greeted us by name and apologized for the mix up, then offered us a “Riverbend Suite” — the nicest suite they have at this property, with a separate bedroom, two bathrooms (!!!), and a fantastic river view.
Third time was indeed a charm, and our final room was FANTASTIC. In fact, we liked it so much, we immediately called room service and asked them to send up a bottle of champagne so that we could toast the start of the weekend and do a little people watching of those down below on the Riverwalk.
All in all, we ended up spending just $150 out of pocket (plus taxes) for two nights in the Hyatt’s top level suite, which would have surely cost well over $1,000 if we’d booked the same with cash. For the points-aholics out there, it was essentially like getting a 7 cents per point redemption value. That’s a points + status win if I’ve ever heard one. 🙂
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you part two, and detail all the things we saw and (more importantly) ate in San Antonio, so stay tuned!