4 Free Upgrades Are Better Than Unlimited Suites, Really

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

If you’ve been reading OMAAT for a while, you’ve probably figured out that we’re rather big Hyatt homers around here. Ben, Tiffany, and I are longtime Hyatt Globalists, while Mike recently completed a status match. Sure most of us have status with other hotel chains as well, but I think that if you told any one of us that we could only keep one hotel status going forward, we’d all stick with Hyatt.

That said, there is one reader who continues to take umbrage with our Hyatt-ism. Perhaps the most devoted Hilton fanboy on the planet, DCS loves to tell us that we’re all wrong and that Hilton actually has the best program. He swears that he gets upgraded to a suite on virtually every stay despite the fact that the Hilton program promises nothing of the sort.

I know this has been real head-scratcher for Ben to the point that he recently matched to Hilton Diamond just to experience it for himself. Since suite upgrades are probably the single most important factor in my choice of hotel loyalty programs, I thought it might be useful to share a little of my own analysis and why we’ve stayed with Hyatt for the past several years.

Grand Hyatt Seoul Suite
Grand Hyatt Seoul Suite (as a Hyatt Globalist)

Now before I get started, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for DCS and that I have no doubt that he is telling the truth.

As a fellow academic, I really appreciate his steadfast conviction and willingness to continually defend his position in thread after thread after thread. Of course I still don’t follow his logic for valuing Hilton points, but then again, I usually need to read a journal paper at least six times before I start to understand what the hell is going on. And yes, I’m pretty sure that DCS has published journal papers on this topic. But I digress.

I’m just going to focus on the suite upgrade aspect in this analysis. That’s it. I’m not going to think about club access, breakfast benefits, late checkout, or the fact that there are about 100 times more Hiltons in the world than Hyatts.

All that matters is how often I can get a suite without actually paying for one.

First, let’s break down what the major chains say about suite upgrades for their top tier members.

World of Hyatt

Hyatt offers their top Globalist members four confirmed suite upgrades each year.

That means you can book a regular room on a revenue or cash-and-points rate, apply a Globalist Suite Upgrade, and then be confirmed in a suite at the time of booking. The hotel does need to have availability in the designated level of suite — and sometimes that suite isn’t all that great — but otherwise it’s a very legit benefit.

Note that DCS likes to play semantics with confirmed versus confirmable, the latter of which merely means that it can be confirmed, rather than it has been confirmed. Since there is no ability to waitlist for a suite in the Hyatt computers (hey, these guys can barely keep their server running), they either confirm immediately or you can’t apply it. So you either end up confirmed in a suite, or you don’t. There is no confirmable-but-not-yet-confirmed state commonly known as purgatory.

Hyatt delivers more or less what they promise

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Suite
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Suite (as a Hyatt Diamond)

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood takes a different approach to suite upgrades for their top members. They state that one of their platinum benefits is “an upgrade to best available room at check-in — including Select Suites.” That sounds grand in theory, but supposedly it doesn’t always happen. Or you have to ask. And be persuasive. Or tweet them.

They do have some version of confirmed suite upgrades for Platinum Premiers, who stay 50 nights per year. These only confirm five days prior to check-in, however, rather than at the time of booking like over at Hyatt.

In other words, you might actually call these confirmable, rather than confirmed, given that they may or may not actually, you know, confirm.

Starwood promises a lot and sometimes delivers

Four Points Penang Suite
Four Points Penang Suite (as an SPG Gold)

Hilton Honors

Hilton takes an entirely different approach to suite upgrades, or perhaps it is no approach at all. They don’t actually promise anything.

Complimentary room upgrades for Gold and Diamond Honors members may include the next-best available room from the room type booked.

Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities, or rooms on Executive Floors, as identified by each property. Room upgrades, for Diamond members only, may also include suites.

See, they manage expectations by saying may include suites. As in your upgrade may not. In which case you have nothing to complain about it.

DCS is actually very transparent about his approach and it’s actually quite simple. He just asks for the upgrade. If they hesitate, he reminds them of how great a customer he is, that if they move him to a suite they’ll have another cheaper room to sell, that his bow tie matches the decor of their largest suite, and so on and so forth. It seems that he always has some reason for why they should upgrade him. And apparently it works.

Hilton doesn’t promise anything

Hilton Queenstown Suite (courtesy of Ben as Hilton Diamond)

Pick Your Pleasure

The question then is which would we rather have:

  • Four confirmed upgrades per year as a Hyatt Diamond
  • Unlimited upgrades as an SPG Platinum
  • No promise of an upgrade whatsoever as a Hilton Diamond

I’m usually an all-you-can eat kind of guy, so SPG Platinum is very tempting. We almost always travel with our kids so having the extra space — ideally with some sort of divider… like a door — can make the difference between going to bed at 8pm and having some adult time.

We also have a lot of one night stays, way more than four Hyatt Globalist suite upgrades can cover.

At this point, you are probably screaming for us to choose Starwood.

You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

We actually get lots and lots of suite upgrades at Hyatt properties just for the asking.

In general, if it’s a one night stay, I don’t even bother applying a Globalist Suite Upgrade to the room unless I have certs that are about to expire. Instead, I just assume that I’ll get an upgrade at check-in — either because they have proactively upgraded me, or because I politely asked for it.

Since I usually have a GSU in my account, I figure I can always offer to use one if they get technical about it. Like if I ask for a suite upgrade, and they offer it to me for $100, I can then just tell them to deduct a GSU. The key is that it’s not all that easy for them to do that — they have to actually call Hyatt Gold Passport and have them do it. (Hyatt and IT, you know.) Plus, to my knowledge, the hotel doesn’t actually get any compensation for the GSU you used at their property, so there’s no real motivation for them to phone it in.

Crown Plaza Singapore suite
Radisson Brunei Executive Suite (as a Carlson Gold)

So what do we do with our Globalist Suite Upgrades?

We usually use our GSUs on international trips. These stays are often for multiple nights when it’s generally harder to get a complimentary suite upgrade. Or the local culture may prevent the front desk staff from upgrading you, as I’ve heard is commonly the case in Korea and Japan.

  • International or multiple nights = GSU
  • Domestic or one night = take our chances

Bottom Line

I think that top elites are similarly likely to get a complimentary suite upgrade regardless of the chain.

In the case of Hyatt or Hilton (or Marriot or IHG) you’ll probably have to politely (or persuasively) ask for it. With Starwood, you might get it automatically, or you might have to bust out the terms and conditions. But in the end, I actually think the odds are probably close to the same.

The difference then is that Hyatt also gives you four Diamond Suite Upgrades. You can use your GSUs when it really matters to you and play the suite lottery the rest of the time. It’s the best of both worlds.

And this is the part that DCS and others miss. He fixates on the four official upgrades without considering that he’d likely still get all his usual complimentary upgrades too.

And frankly, if I were only getting four suite upgrades a year with Hyatt, I’d jump ship in a heartbeat. But it’s really way better than that.

It’s sort of unlimited + four

And that’s why we stick with Hyatt (and breakfast is nice too. But I said I wasn’t going to talk about that).

What do you think? Which suite upgrade program do you find the most compelling? Do you ask for upgrades at check-in?

  1. Look I like Hyatt too typically however
    try getting a suite at the Park Hyatt New York City no matter how many nights and how much you spend with the company. They don’t give a rats ###
    They hate Diamonds and smack you in the face with the hard upsell at 400 dollars a night which is totally insulting
    I’d rather book a room on Priceline then book a room through Hyatt there
    That’s not to say Hyatt doesn’t perform better in some of their other hotels
    At the end of the day Hyatt is off to a negative start to the New Year on all counts and they need to value their customer relationships better with frequent and long time high spenders

  2. IC Royal Ambassador beats then ALL! I’m so glad bloggers rarely mention that status; leaves more for me. 🙂

  3. Hyatt’s coverage is ABYSMAL! There’s not even an argument. I agree the benefits are great at full-service hotels, but if you can’t find them on a map to begin with, they are as good as worthless. The controlling family’s shares of Hyatt are really holding it back, they need to be put in their place.

  4. Surprised he hasn’t come running to say starpoints are not the most valuable points…even though everyone would take 1 starpoint over 3 hhonors points (including him).

  5. Really, Mark O? That’s what you’ve got?

    If DCS were responding, he’d say something like, “That’s not the point. You have to consider earning. If Hilton points are one-third as valuable, as you believe, but four times easier to earn, they’re still better than Starpoints.” (These numbers are just made up for illustrative purposes only.)

    What’s the point of reading stuff if you understand nothing?

    I don’t collect any hotel points and have no opinions here at all, but at least I can read. I just care about getting a free breakfast — which you can get with an Amex Plat.

  6. I follow a similar strategy. For 3+ night stays I use a DSU generally. For 1-2 night stays where I really want a suite (like a park hyatt), I’ll use 6K points to upgrade per night, unless the daily rate is outrageous. Otherwise I take the chance. For category 7, points+cash is generally not all that much cheaper (when accounting for the value of points) than paying the base rate.

  7. I don’t understand this, honestly. I’ve been a Hyatt diamond since 2009 and have never, literally never, gotten a suite upgrade without applying a cert. Most of the time it’s just me for a night or two for business, so I don’t raise an issue about it, but I’m very surprised to see all these other people say that they routinely get upgraded to suites at Hyatts all the time. Maybe there are multiple levels of Diamonds and I’m at a lower level?

  8. I think your logic is pretty solid. I do warn you, though, that in a few years (though it’s a few years off for you, for sure!), when your kids are older and the whole family can’t be in one room, you’ll care a little less about suite upgrades. That’s been my experience, anyway. Unless we somehow magically get upgraded to a multi-bedroom/bathroom suite (which happened once at a chain that no one ever discusses but where we had high status and stayed at the same property 3-5x/year for multiple years), we’re better off just getting two rooms. And yeah, I guess we’d be cool with being upgraded to two suites, but in my experience, unless only two of us are traveling (which doesn’t happen with great regularity), we just don’t care as much.

    Obviously, this isn’t totally relevant to your post, but I’m just pointing it out!

  9. I am have been a SPG Plat for the past 2 years. I travel about 75 nights/year for leisure. My suite upgrade success has been about 90%. Sure, I ask sometimes, but its easy. And these are almost all award redemptions and I barely used my SNAs. To me it beats 4 times a year that you have to pay for. But once Marriott takes over, my suite life will end.

  10. I’ve received comped suite upgrades at HR Miami, HR Monterey, and Andaz San Diego. I don’t stay at Hyatt all that often, but I mattress run for Diamond because for the few instances every year I do stay, it would cost more for upgrades and club/breakfast than it does for the run.

  11. Overall not a bad piece… 😉

    The problem with having the 4 DSUs enshrined in the T&C is that it gives properties a reason not to give complimentary suite upgrades. @Corey just wrote up thread: “I’ve been a Hyatt diamond since 2009 and have never, literally never, gotten a suite upgrade without applying a cert” and I have seen similar complaints around the web. Most properties will upgrade elites who are their frequent guests [I now practical “own” Conrad Hong Kong and no longer have to request upgrades there; they just happen], so that many HGP Diamonds may be upgraded at properties where they stay frequently. The real advantage a HH’s “no promise” Diamond suite upgrades is that it leaves a lot room for “creative” individuals — like yours truly — to get upgraded again, and again, and again, regardless of the type of cheap room booked and including on award stays. For HHonors, there is no practical difference between a paid or award stay once a room has been booked… which is absolutely great for getting upgraded even when I pay nothing for a room.

    Enjoy your 4 “confirmed” DSUs [especially now that they just tons of them away to “unowrthy” Diamonds], and I will keep enjoying my UNLIMITED, EVEN-ON-AWARD-STAYS complimentary upgrades, of which I have cleared >90% since 2012.


  12. But the Hyatt footprint is just so limiting. Huge areas with no Hyatt and I don’t want to pick a destination because of the hotel. Obviously, this blog covers what it wishes, but there are probably plenty of us who would welcome greater variety in the points hotel coverage. Maybe now that some of you are Hilton Diamond?

  13. I am probably the only person letting my Hyatt Diamond status lapse. Hyatt’s footprint is too small and I can never renew Diamond without mattress running in Las Vegas. I travel a lot join Asia and the Starwood Hotels treat my like a king without using my suite upgrades.

    Can’t remember a suite upgrade without a cert in the four years I was Diamond.

    To me Hyatt has been overrated by the blogosphere big time…maybe in small part to the perks given bloggers.

  14. @Kate — I have never understood the travel bloggers’ fascination with Hyatt Gold Passport, which, as a loyalty program, I consider a work-in-progress, at best; a joke, at worst. On the other hand, I can understand someone being fascinated with Hyatt, the hospitality company, which, while having a very small footprint, especially in the US, has some of the most tastefully done hotels in major cities around the world.

    I am a HGP Platinum, which is an elite status in name only, but I enjoy staying at Hyatt property even without status because of the quality of their hotels, with service that is second to none. Just last month, I stayed at Grand Hyatt Erawan BKK (no suite upgrade), even thought I had enough HH points to stay at nearby Conrad BKK, where I’d stayed twice before and was upgraded to a suite each time. I was also in Singapore for the NYE festivities and stayed at Grand Hyatt Singapore, where I asked for a larger corner as a HGP Plat and found myself in full suite instead! Then from Jan 2-5, 2016, I stayed at Park Hyatt Siem Reap for the 3rd year in a row, loving it each time.

    So, I am now as wedded to HH as people think, nor am I anti-Hyatt. I simply do not think that the HGP Diamond status as exceptional as Hyatt kool-aid-drinking bloggers make it seem. I consider HGP Diamond, at best, as good as HH Gold, i.e., lower than HH Diamond, which is why I have never gone for HGP Diamond status match…


  15. @Mark O sez: “Surprised he hasn’t come running to say starpoints are not the most valuable points…even though everyone would take 1 starpoint over 3 hhonors points (including him).”

    In 2015, I earn over 1M HH points, ~75K Hyatt GP points, 108K Marriott Rewards points, and just 12K Starpoints. No, I would NOT take 1 starpoint over 3 HH points because I do not believe starpoints are worth what bloggers claim, once you take into account how hard they are to earn.

    In short, do not talk about things you do not understand. I will illustrate what I mean by borrowing from a blogger who actually consistently “gets it” and just wrote a post titled “The Complete Guide to Transferring Hotel Points to Airline Miles” in which he has this example that will blow your and other bloggers’ minds away:

    “Well, I think Starpoints are worth about 2.5 cents each, so $25 in
    points gets me 1,250 miles — a “cost” of 2 cents per mile. Marriott
    Rewards points are worth maybe 0.7 cents each, so $7 in points gets me
    357 miles — just under 2 cents per mile.

    It’s a slightly better deal to exchange Marriott Rewards points for
    American Airlines miles rather than SPG Starpoints. Many people would
    have picked Starwood by default because of its reputation as a good
    transferable currency, but Marriott is a competitive alternative.” [1]

  16. @DCS my problem with you has always been with spending non bonus spend on a credit card. This is where you most likely show up complaining about starpoints when people say that it is a good card for non bonus spend. You then say it is easier to earn hhonors for PAID stays. This is comparing programs for paid stays…most people get their miles earning from credit card spend and not paid stays. I know you are not one of these people but for the majority of people this is the case.

    So let’s say you had a 10,000 renovation on your house and you wanted to put it on a credit card which would give you the best return for your spend?

    SPG card and 10000 starpoints ($250)
    Amex Surpass and 30000 HHonors points ($150)
    Marriott and 10000 marriott points ($70)

    Which one would you choose to give you the most value/return for your spend?

    This is the only problem I have because when they say SPG is great for non bonus spend you seem to take issue with it. Even if it is cheaper to transfer marriott points to airlines as a theoretical cost perspective after spending $10000 would you rather have 12500 miles or 3570 miles?

  17. @ DCS
    “The problem with having the 4 DSUs enshrined in the T&C is that it gives properties a reason not to give complimentary suite upgrades”
    Have to give you credit where credit is due. You know your stuff my friend. A lot well said
    Not sure why folks get so upset with you. Much of your information is spot on.

    I saw Hyatt get much worse with their in house business culture after the suite upgrade was introduced
    On one hand some properties who would never upgrade to suites now did so that was a good thing on the other hand other properties that did routinely stopped upgrading to suites
    But the worst thing to occur was true suites in a number of properties renamed corner rooms studio suites by adding a cramped couch to the other side of the bed and justifying it as a suite
    To pull off on unsuspecting customers
    Having said that I still occasionally see a hotel doing a great job with the upgrade

    But indeed the well has to some degree been poisoned and Hyatt corporate folks seem scared to
    intervene at the hotel level and set the properties straight
    And many hotels seem to try to game the system with award inventory and suite upgrade availability
    Having said that Hilton has been guilty to some degree too with making standard rooms available.
    I for one enjoy reading your posts. A fair amount of your information is far more accurate in assessment then some of the so called expert bloggers.
    Thank You

  18. “-it gives properties a reason not to give complimentary suite upgrades.”
    Ok, I see your point. To the same degree though, just because they have the reason doesn’t mean they use the reason. Ultimately though, even at your 90% success rate, it still comes back to YMMV… practically at any property, Hyatt or Hilton, you may or may not be upgraded… I mean, if theyre sold out, theyre sold out. You may always get comped upgrades at Hilton and never at Hyatt, while the next person has the opposite experience. In the meantime at least there are the 4 DSUs for Hyatt.

    But in honesty, I’m obsessed with planning, so being able to count on having a suite is all the more valuable to me.

  19. I’m a Hilton Diamond and I actually prefer Hilton but have nothing at all against Hyatt as I love Hyatt properties. It’s just that Hiltons are everywhere and Hyatt’s footprint is small, and when there is a Hyatt it’s usually 20-30% more in price than the Hilton. I earn over 1.5 million points a year (actually close to 2 million) this year, so I can pick and choose where I stay. I simply prefer Hiltons because you can find them everywhere and you always have a choice – with Hyatt, it’s usually just one hotel in the city and the location might not be in the area where you want to stay. So you end up staying further out which just increases your local transportation cost. Yes, the Hilton upgrade policy isn’t the friendliest. An example: was in South America last week and as I’m in the taxi heading to the hotel, I checked the hotel’s availability. All suites open for booking during my entire stay. Went to the Exec Lounge to check in and the agent said sorry, we don’t have any suites available. I said hmmm, then said “don’t check me in quite yet, I want to check with my wife”. I then took my luggage and went to the regular front desk to check in. As the agent was checking me in, I kindly let her know I’d really like an upgrade to a suite as I see they are available and I reminded her it was my 3rd time at that property. After hemming and hawing, she said sure, I’ll upgrade you to a Junior Suite. I said I would really like the Master Suite since I see at least two available during my stay. She said sorry, they are booked. I know they weren’t since I could book them, but obviously they wanted to keep them open for revenue purposes. So the back and forth game with the check in agents isn’t fun, but it’s the larger footprint/cheaper pricing is what I prefer so I’ll deal with the back and forth mind games.

  20. Anyone successful using a Hyatt Suite upgrade anywhere in Australia? For a family of four with room occupancy of 3 it sucks being Hyatt Diamond (and no the Hyatt Diamond desk can not help) and this is for May 2016 not even high season…

  21. Anyone who claims to “own” a hotel due to supposed upgrades (glossy copy of T&Cs in hand) is about as much a mega-douche as possible

  22. A few points:

    1. I don’t travel as much as some of you.
    2. If I get top-tier status, it’s just barely.
    3. I have occasionally gotten upgrades without applying a DSU when Hyatt Diamond through a challenge.

    This year I had a lot of travel in the early months. Between Jan 15 and Feb 15 I’ll probably spend 19 nights in hotels. However:

    6 nights are at hotels where, for work related reasons, I won’t earn points
    8 nights I’m paying for the hotel — but on each of those nights, I’m traveling with a co-worker and I’m paying for the room.
    5 nights are on an award stay.

    With Hyatt I’d earn 8 nights of credit. But with SPG, I’ll earn 21 — 8 for my nights, 8 for my co-worker’s, and 5 on the award stay. Add in 5 nights’ credit from the SPG Amex and I’m at SPG Gold in a month rather than languishing with just 8 nights with Hyatt. In principle I agree that Hyatt’s 4 confirmed DSUs are preferable but, in my particular case, since it will be close if I requalify, I decided to aim for SPG status. My travel plans for the rest of the year aren’t set so we’ll see what happens…

  23. We don’t spend 5 figures of our (or employer’s) money to be forced to grovel at the front desk for upgrades. Elite status should mean never having to beg.

  24. 1. Agree with Tommy. I abhor having to ask at all and will NOT beg, much less use any version of dykwia. If the suites go to the sweet talkers, I will never have one (+1 for hyatt).
    2. But, my compaint with Hyatt is that there are no confirmed upgrades for points only rooms and points + cash rooms can be as scarce as hen’s teeth, meaning the only use for the upgrades are paid rooms, which I generally try to avoid. (-1 for Hyatt ).
    3. For any regular blog reader, the problem with DCS is not his blind loyalty and boosterism for Hilton, but his smug, long-winded hubris-infused diatribes. I can always tell in the first sentence when it is his post, and can almost always predict when he will reply to a post when he has not yet done so. He’s easier to bait than a starving rat.

  25. This post makes sense. Sometimes I reach out to a group of hotels via email, tell them I am weighing my options and what elite status I am, and let them bid.

  26. I understand the appeal of Hyatt, which is heavily implied in this article. I’ve been a diamond for three years (all recreational stay), and while it’s difficult to swing that based on how many vacation days I can get: I do it for the breakfast.

    I stayed in Conrad New York back when they opened in 2012, and I had Hilton Gold then. What was my breakfast benefit?
    Day 1: Pastries
    Day 2: Pastries
    Day 3: Pastries
    (…all the way until day 7, although I stopped consuming the free breakfast on Day 4).

    They were fancy pastries, and they came with OJ and coffee. But I got exactly the same thing at crappy Hilton Checkers Los Angeles, Hilton Palm Springs, wherever. I still hate pastries based on maintaining Gold for two years.

    To be fair, Conrad NY *did* provide a complementary suite upgrade into their nice corner room. (After polite asking.) So, that’s a data point in DCS’s favor.

  27. @Travis — get with the game man! You missed the opportunity to PUMP-PUMP-PUMP at least five revenue-generating links for credit card referrals!

    @DCS — methinks they should be cutting you a check at least for a percentage of the page views!

    Ok, I’ve been a Hilton Diamond since 1999 and a Hyatt Diamond since 2009 and, in most years, qualify on both nights AND stays and many years with Hilton, also on points (the so-called “triple qualifier”). I personally pay for ALL my stays — and average about 180 nights each year in hotels of all varieties.

    Everyone has different expectations from their program and, unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of what so many of you now call “The Hobby”, those expectations have – or are – becoming unmanageable. The proliferation of “instant” status, whether via “status match”, having a shiny piece of co-branded plastic and/or “spend” on same, has lead to a plethora of self-important entitled “Hobbyists”. The programs are culpable and so are the titanic bloggers who shamelessly flog “The Hobby” in search of the next shiny piece of plastic referral conversion.

    The thing is, the better managed hotels are hip to your “game”. You bring your comped status to the front desk at a Hilton expecting a suite because, “DYKWIA-Diamond” should be treated like royalty, right? You read about it in Rolling Stone or something, right?

    Well, the On-Q system has an interesting feature that shows lifetime stays/nites/points within the program. IF the hotel has suites available, and they see your lifetime stats resemble the final score in a soccer match, you’re probably SOL, even if you did read about it in RS! The rooms manager at that property has already reviewed the (DYKWIA) Diamond arrivals for the night and, if anyone is being upgraded to suites, has determined that a Diamond with 300+ stays, 700+ nites, and over 5 million base points, is going to enjoy their stay in a suite. No amount of whining is going to change THAT reality.


    Here’s a clue for all of you if a suite is really important to you: BUY the f’ing thing! Pay money! Do not count on your comped Hilton Diamond status that you got from your comped Hyatt Diamond status that you got from your comped Club Carlson status to put your head in a bed in a suite!

  28. @UA-NYC continues to prove what an arse he truly is: “Anyone who claims to “own” a hotel due to supposed upgrades (glossy copy of T&Cs in hand) is about as much a mega-douche as possible.”

    A real “mega-douche” is any moron who is too stupid to know that a word in quotation marks — e.g., “own” — is not to be taken literally.

  29. I’ve been a loyal Hyatt for 6 years now and I have never asked for a free suite upgrade without a DSU or points per official t&Cs. I often receive a suite upgrade anyways.

    One thing I want to mention is revenue. A lot of folks think the revenue requirements for lifetime diamond are unatainable based their claim of $150/night rates. This may be true but my travel is primarily for work and the end of a day I’m almost always too tired to go out to eat so I eat at the hotel. On leisure trips I still eat at the hotel but also often get massages at the hotel spa. This Extra spend adds up. I think this is part of why I get upgrades that I don’t have to ask for. It also seems to happen at properties that I stay at repeatedly like the park Hyatt in san Diego – where my free suite upgrades without a dsu have been better than those where I did use a dsu at that same property.

    I also think a lot of times it’s an op-up where lower room categories are over sold so they bump high revenue or repeat customers up into Empty suites.

    Also while I admit Hyatt has a smaller footprint but it is getting better. I use Marriott as a backup and in 2015 I only had to do that once – in St john’s newfoundland.

  30. @DCS do you think I think you LITERALLY own the hotel you keep bragging you “own”? No, you are just being a pompous douche – you are truly clueless, ALL programs are easy to get upgrades in Asia. I get upgraded every single time at the SGS BKK, but I don’t act like a d**k about it like you manage to.

    Your braggadocio and general cluelessness is why everyone here piles on you. Keep it up, it’s always entertaining – g’day! LOL.

  31. @UA-NYC I don’t think DCS exists, at least not in human form. DCS appears to be a character invented by the management of Boarding Area, intended to bring humor to an otherwise serious conversation. Let’s face it, many of us read the Boarding Area comments before all other blogs just to see what ridiculous comments will be posted by DCS. Creating this character for the readers to laugh at was a stroke of genius.

  32. @Mark O — I have written about the relative “value” of points ad nauseam, That you still want me to address this again supports my statement that you should just stop talking about things that you do not understand. Starpoints are NOT “the single most valuable points currency” as bloggers have continued to claim, even long after the SPG AMEX was superseded by much more valuable loyalty/travel cards. Since you clearly drank that kool-aid, then by all means continue earning starpoints. However, in case you did not get the memo, you should know that starpoints became so valuable that they will soon cease to exist, after they are swallowed by a lesser points currency (BTW, do you believe in reverse Darwinism, i.e., the survival of the weakest?). The demise of the starpoint, in fact, is another reason why I no longer wish to waste my time on this.


  33. @Ken on January 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm and @ UA-NYC — I envy you both for being so completely free of the “ravages of intelligence”…

  34. I’ve got it! Not only is DCS made up, he is “voiced” by The Donald. Think about it–there can’t be TWO men so full of themselves in one country.

  35. @mbh — Do you have anything substantive to say that one can actually address or are you limited to uttering puerile schoolyard ad hominems? I am asking because when you do stop the insults long enough to say something somewhat coherent, you actually make — from a firsthand experience — my broader point about just how limited/restricted the purported “confirmed” DSUs can be, as you did up-thread on January 22, 2016 at 11:39 pm: “But, my compaint with Hyatt is that there are no confirmed upgrades for points only rooms and points + cash rooms can be as scarce as hen’s teeth, meaning the only use for the upgrades are paid rooms, which I generally try to avoid. (-1 for Hyatt ).” See? Q.E.D


  36. So in DCS’ Ivy league world 3570 miles are worth more than 12500 miles…I guess baker college is now the ivy leagues in the world of DCS.

    The delusions are strong in this one.

    While buying miles with marriott points may be cheaper from a cost perspective when taking into account the percieved points value it does not make them more valuable then starpoints….they are still worth .7 a piece and starpoints are worth 2.5 a piece. So when charging non bonus spend why would anyone want 1 marriott point instead of 1 starpoint? Because they buy miles cheaper? Even though you will get less of them? Sounds like your school employs a fool.

    Remember DCS we are NOT discussing program earnings or paid stays here (where you do actually have a point) but we are discussing non bonus spend where starpoints are king and where a majority of peoples spend lies…medical bills, car repairs, renovations, electric bills etc…please tell me you put this spend on your amex surpass like an idiot would!!!!!

  37. @Mark O — You have no clue what you are talking about and I am not likely to change that, but more to the point is that I am done discussing a program that’s gone belly up precisely because it was not structurally sound. R.I.P SPG/starpoint.

    The soapbox is yours; knock yourself out.


  38. @mbh & DCS, your recent comments indicate a lack of understanding of the HGP program. I will address the issue of points + cash rooms being as scarce as hen’s teeth. Offering a points and cash rate is optional to each hotel. Certain hotels have chosen not to participate in that program. Those hotels that have chosen to participate in the points and cash program generally have very good availability. I book the majority of my rooms using points and cash and have never been unable to apply a DSU. The points and cash rate may indeed be scare, actually non-existant at certain hotels, but has great availability at those hotel who have opted into that program. Often times, particularly on weekend stays, various Hyatt hotels offer a cash rate that is so low that it is more advantageous to use the cash rate and save the points for when you will receive a higher rate of return. Hyatt uses a different method to confirm suites for guests paying with points. Each room category for rooms purchased with points has 3 prices available. a standard room in each category can be purchased and confirmed for one number of points, a club floor room can be purchased and confirmed for a slightly larger number of points, and a suite can be purchased and confirmed for a slightly larger number of points than what is needed to purchase a club room. Any HGP member, not just elites, can CONFIRM a suite. I might point out that the number of points required to purchase a confirmed Hyatt suite, is substantially less than half of the number of limited value Hilton points required for a basic room in similar level properties. I acknowledge that at Hilton you earn 15 points per $ spend on your hotel expenditures, where as you earn only 5 points per $ spend at Hyatt. However to earn enough Hilton points for even one reward night in an upscale hotel through hotel spend requires a tremendous amount of hotel spend. Most of us earn the majority of our points through CC spend. Both Hilton & Hyatt CC’s provide 1 point per $ for general spend. This is where the limited value of each Hilton point really punishes the Hilton cardholder.

    DCS goes on and on and on about there being no value to CONFIRMED upgrades. Hyatt issues for FREE 4 of those CONFIRMED upgrades each year to a HGP Dimond member. Although DCS considers CONFIRMED upgrades to have no value, his beloved HH program SELLS for points CONFIRMED upgrades to their members, including Diamond members. I would like to tell you exactly how many tens of thousands of points it requires to buy a confirmed upgrade, but it was Hilton who taught Delta Airlines how to rip off their loyalty members by having variable point award redemptions. The only time Hilton comes out as the better deal is to those people who believe that a Doubletree Hotel is roughly equal to a Park Hyatt Hotel. Should DCS attempt to apply his value concept to identical items, such as airline point redemptions, he will be embarrassed.

  39. @Mark O Congratulation Mark, you used facts to prove what a fool DCS is, and he’s picked up his marbles and is going home rather than let you and the facts further embarrass him.

  40. @Ken — Every once in a while we have someone show up here and claim to know a great deal about the relative value/worth/merit of various hotel loyalty programs. Invariably, however, they get it all wrong — as you just did. The “spend per free night” (i.e. the cost of an award) for Hilton is almost exactly the same as those for Hyatt and Marriott. Club Carlson and IHG have the least expensive awards, while SPG has, BY FAR, the most expensive awards in the business.The math is trivial and I did it so that you would not have to:


    Check that out and call me in the morning. I am sure you’ll love the glossy and easy to understand charts (chart #3 is the one you want to focus on).

    One easy way to see that your claim has no basis in reality is that a top (Cat 7) Hyatt award costs 30K points, while a top (Cat 10) HH award costs 95K. As you stated correctly, a HH Diamond earns about 3 times more HH points a pop than a HGP Diamond earns HGP points. The ratio of awards 95K/30K is ~3, which is exactly the same as the HH:HGP earn ratio, meaning that the top awards for the two programs cost exactly the same when one adjusts for the relative earn rates. The glossy chart #3 at the link I provided shows it graphically; it also shows the effect of taking into account the earn from the co-branded CCs (it makes HH awards just a bit cheaper than Hyatt’s or Marriott’s).

    As for the shortcomings of the purportedly “confirmed” HGP DSUs, there have been enough firsthand accounts by HGP loyalists supporting my basic premise in this thread that I will just let that stand as my proof.

    All else is just noise.


  41. Yup starpoints is going belly up because it is not sound and not valuable…has nothing to do with the fact that it was a smaller program?

    And a company, looking to make profit, buys another company with it’s own rewards program….would it keep the more expensive or less expensive rewards program? Maybe Starpoints are going away because the SPG program is more costly to the hotels and the perks are better??? Nope that is not the case…a business would love to keep the more rewarding more expensive program running.

    The fact is SPG had to have a better program then Marriott because of it’s smaller footprint…Marriott is large enough that they don’t need to offer as rewarding of a program and that is why SPG will die.

    Also I love when you rag on gold passport for giving out Diamond to only SPG Plats (after the first day) when Hilton Diamond was offered to anyone with a pulse. If it was so rewarding then why would they give it out like suckers after a dr visit? They REALLY value you and your spend. Not even sure the point of Diamond since I can get almost the same value by paying $75 for gold…but we will see as a newly minted Diamond…damn do I need to get my glossy terms????


  42. @DCS you state that “Every once in a while we have someone show up here and claim to know a great deal about the relative value/worth/merit of various hotel loyalty programs. Invariably, however, they get it all wrong” You just provided an excellent and amazingly accurate description of yourself. I certainly don’t claim to know a great deal about the various programs. I am a CPA and my training is to audit the claims of others. This entails researching the terms of the various programs as they effect the claims being put forth by the self proclaimed experts. Your responses to those that disagree with you is to first impugn their intelligence, next restate, as your own commentary, those issues that they raised that don’t negatively reflect upon your views, and lastly dismiss as unimportant those areas where your chosen program is inferior. This is a personality type that is often encountered. Obviously you use this personality defect to your benefit when dealing with hotel desk clerks. By being persistently obnoxious, you wear down the poor desk clerks and obtain the desired suite. I congratulate you on your success. You are also more than willing to accept as program limitations the poor results of others, that are due only to their lack of understanding of the program. Of course when the program in question is HH, it is not a program limitation, it is the stupidity of the person reporting. I today received an email from Marriott congratulating me on my 31st anniversary with Marriott Rewards. My history with HGP is even longer and my history with the various Hilton programs, including those that failed, is approximately the same length. Each of these programs as well as the many other hotel programs in which I participate has their own strengths and weaknesses. Unlike you, I have not locked onto one program and then denied and refused to acknowledge the strengths of other programs.

    I await your response.

  43. @Ken — Here is my response and then we are done.

    (1) I sent you to the math to show that your claims were wrong, and all you did was you respond with psycho babble.

    (2) Can you HONESTLY deny that ” [with Hyatt] there are no confirmed upgrades for points only rooms and points + cash rooms can be as scarce as hen’s teeth, meaning the only use for the upgrades are paid rooms”? That’s my main claim against HGP DSUs and for HH Complimentary SUs. The latter are good on ANY eligible stay — revenue. C+P or points-only awards. My beef with many HH Diamonds who bitch about failing to clear upgrades is that they think it is beneath them to have to ask for them, when the program says nothing about the upgrades being offered proactively. In fact, I am sure that the tacit rule is that upgrades should not be given unless explicitly requested by a member. It sucks but for someone like me who is willing to play game by their OWN rules, that’s great because it increases my chances since the fewer the upgrade requests by others, the more for some of us who do request them.

    I am done here.


  44. @DCS, As an HH member who does not book Hyatt rooms, you fictitiously claim that points & cash rooms can be as scarce as hen’s teeth. I have had only 2 instances where a points and cash rate was unavailable. I suggest that you sign into the Hyatt reservation system, pick hotels and dates of your choosing, and see if the system shows a points and cash rate available. Assuming that you know how to request a points and cash rate in the Hyatt reservation system and keep an honest count, i am confident that you will find the points and cash rate available well over 90% of the time. Maybe hen’s do have teeth! A DSU CANNOT be used with an all points stay. However for those inclined to pay only with points (not me, I ALWAYS book the supposedly rare points and cash rate, unless there is a deeply discounted all cash rate available), Hyatt allows suites to be booked with points only, even for non-elites. You make a big deal of receiving space available suite upgrades at checkin and claim that is better than HGP DSU’s. I have saved my 2015 DSU’s for a major trip that I am taking in late 2016. I have already booked 4 of the hotels mostly PH’s for that trip using points and cash and applying my 2015 DSU’s. The only 2015 Hyatt stay where I was not upgraded to a suite was the Concourse Hotel at LAX. I never had to ask, it was always automatic. So, in my experience, I receive the same benefit from HGP as you receive from HH, plus I receive DSU’s. Hotel computer systems easily separate the frequent guests from the guy who matched his way into status, and they allocate perks accordingly.

    As for the math that you sent to me it only supported my original statement, tha each HH point has very little value, but that you earn 15 HH points vs 5 HGP points per $ expended at the respective hotels. The HGP advantage goes only to those who use the branded CC for non hotel spend.

  45. LOL!

    “you fictitiously claim that points & cash rooms can be as scarce as hen’s teeth”

    The claim was not mine. I’d quoted a HGP loyalist, who is, in fact, one of my detractors. However, he is not the only one who has made that claim; the scarcity of HGP C+P awards has become even clearer after they became searchable online. Folks have reported in several forums that they’d tried finding C+P awards online, but kept finding them as often as, well, a “hen’s teeth.”

    Good bye, Ken. Enjoy your 4 “confirmed” DSUs; I will stick with my unlimited, good-on-any-type-of-stay HH CSUs.

    Like I said, we are done here; my position on all the other noise you made is well established.

  46. I’m a Hyatt Platinum member, so don’t qualify for any upgrades. If I wanted a suite, I’d probably just book one, but apparently I don’t know how to play the system (yet).

    I used my two free nights at the Park Hyatt in Sydney when I got the Hyatt CC, and was thrilled to have an Opera House view room (without asking), but would have been probably just as happy with any room.

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