Over the past few years we’ve seen some significant changes to hotel loyalty programs. Some hotel loyalty programs have upped their game, while others have gotten worse. Then you add in the pandemic, and we’ve seen even more differentiation between programs.
In this post I wanted to share why World of Hyatt Globalist is my favorite top tier hotel status, but first let me share my current overall hotel strategy.
My current hotel loyalty program strategy
There are four hotel loyalty programs I’m pretty actively engaged in, so let me share my overall thoughts on them, roughly in order:
- World of Hyatt is my all around favorite hotel loyalty program; I have Globalist status, and continue to make progress towards lifetime Globalist status
- Marriott Bonvoy is my backup program; I have Titanium status and lifetime Platinum status, I’ll continue to try to earn at least 50 elite nights per year in the program in order to be able to earn suite night awards through the Choice Benefits program, and that’s easy enough to do since I have both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review) and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (review)
- I love Hilton Honors thanks to the incredible Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (review), which earns me Diamond status for as long as I have the card; Hilton’s luxury portfolio has also been growing nicely in recent years
- IHG Rewards is my backup chain, thanks to the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review), which offers Platinum status and an anniversary free night certificate; I stay at IHG properties when I have a certificate to redeem, or when the location is the best
World of Hyatt Globalist benefits
With the above out of the way, Hyatt has some things working for and against it. In particular, Hyatt’s footprint isn’t nearly as large as that of Hilton, IHG, or Marriott. However, Hyatt has a very compelling loyalty program, to the point that I think it’s worth pursuing top tier status with the program.
What I appreciate about Hyatt is the emphasis placed on consistently delivering benefits. While no loyalty program is perfect (especially when you consider that hotels are mostly individually owned), Hyatt does the best job in this regard, in my opinion.
So, why do I like World of Hyatt Globalist status so much?
Unlimited complimentary suite upgrades
World of Hyatt offers Globalist members unlimited suite upgrades subject to availability. While execution isn’t perfect, I’ve found that Hyatt is the most consistent of any hotel group when it comes to delivering on this benefit. That’s to say that if suites are available, hotels generally proactively try to offer them.
Of course it’s important to be realistic. Some hotels don’t have many suites, some hotels get a lot of Globalist members, and some hotels have a lot of paid demand for suites. Don’t expect that you’ll receive a complimentary suite upgrade at the Andaz Maui or Park Hyatt Paris, for example. Meanwhile at some other properties, suite upgrades for Globalist members are a near sure bet.
The ability to earn confirmed suite upgrades
The area where Hyatt’s upgrade policy really shines is with Globalist confirmed suite upgrades. As part of the Milestone Rewards program, Globalist members can earn up to eight confirmed suite upgrades per year (for passing 60 elite nights in a year you receive four of these, and then you can receive an extra one for every 10 elite nights beyond that, up to 100 nights).
Each suite upgrade award can be used to confirm a suite upgrade at the time of booking for a stay of up to seven consecutive nights.
The reason I love this benefit so much is because it allows me to upgrade those stays that matter the most to me, where I really value a suite. I’ve used this benefit at all kinds of properties, including the Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Milan, and Park Hyatt St. Kitts, just to name a few.
The best status breakfast benefit
As far as I’m concerned, Hyatt offers the best top tier elite breakfast benefit of any hotel group, given that full breakfast is offered at all hotels, including tip. Marriott has excluded brands, Hilton offers continental breakfast, and IHG doesn’t offer any real breakfast benefit.
With Hyatt you get access to the club lounge when there is one. For those hotels without a club lounge you get a full, hot breakfast in the restaurant. The way this is executed varies by hotel. At some hotels you have access to the buffet, at other hotels you can get room service, and at other hotels you can order anything off the menu.
Guaranteed 4PM check-out
Globalist members receive guaranteed 4PM check-out. This benefit is subject to availability at resorts, but it’s guaranteed at other hotels. A benefit is most valuable when guaranteed, so being able to stay four to five hours beyond the typical check-out time is great.
Guest of Honor bookings
Hyatt has what’s called the Guest of Honor benefit, where Globalist members can redeem points or free night certificates for a friend or family member, and when they do, that guest inherits Globalist benefits for that stay. This is such a great reward.
Anyone who spends a lot of time on the road wants their family to travel comfortably as well, which is why I love this perk so much.
Waived resort fees on all stays
Resort fees (or destination fees, or facility fees) are one of the most annoying trends in the hotel industry. We’ve seen these added at so many hotels. The good thing is that as a Hyatt Globalist member you never have to worry about these, as you’re exempt from them, regardless of whether on a cash or points booking.
Waived parking fees on award stays
For those cases where you do redeem points, Globalist members don’t have to pay for on-property parking. This even applies if you’re parking in New York or San Francisco, where it might otherwise cost $50+. While I don’t use this benefit much, when I do, it saves me a lot of money.
Sometimes this is also the deciding factor for me when trying to choose between paying cash or redeeming points for a stay.
Two free nights annually
For earning 60 elite nights in a year (which is ordinarily required for Globalist status) you receive two free night certificates annually:
- You get a Category 1-4 free night certificate when you pass 30 elite nights
- You get a Category 1-7 free night certificate when you pass 60 elite nights
Stays at those hotels could cost up to 18,000 and 35,000 points (based on the peak pricing being introduced for stays as of March 2022), respectively, so that’s potentially a value of up to 53,000 points per year.
Significant luxury expansion
One of Hyatt’s biggest challenges has been its relatively small portfolio compared to competitors. Historically not only has Hyatt not organically been growing as fast as competitors, but many of its new properties have been limited service.
The great news is that Hyatt has gotten innovative in adding luxury properties:
- Hyatt acquired Two Roads Hospitality, which gives World of Hyatt members access to all kinds of awesome brands, like Thompson, Alila, and more
- Hyatt has a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, offering the ability to earn and redeem points at these hotels, as well as receive select benefits; at this point that partnership includes over 350 hotels
Hyatt also recently acquired Apple Leisure Group, though I’m less excited about this. This was a huge purchase, but I wouldn’t describe most of these properties as being luxury.
American Airlines partnership
While I wouldn’t call this a game changer, I do appreciate the partnership that American AAdvantage & World of Hyatt offer. As an elite member with both programs, I’m earning one American AAdvantage mile per dollar spent with Hyatt, and one World of Hyatt point per dollar spent with American.
For some members there are even reciprocal status opportunities. For example, historically American’s invitation-only Concierge Key members have received Globalist status for free. We’ve seen other reciprocal status opportunities as well.
The ability to transfer points from Chase
Globalist status comes with so many great perks, but one of the issues is often that you wish you had more points you could redeem so you could enjoy these perks.
The good news is that World of Hyatt is a 1:1 Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you have several additional ways of earning points. For example, you can transfer points from:
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), which offers 3x points on dining and travel
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review), which offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), which in conjunction with one of the above cards offers 3x points on dining and drugstores, and 1.5x points on all purchases
Combine points between Hyatt accounts
While this isn’t specifically a Globalist benefit, one other great thing about World of Hyatt is how easily you can combine points between accounts.
Sometimes you don’t have enough points for a redemption, and in those cases you have the opportunity to transfer an unlimited number of points to another member at no cost. There are two restrictions to be aware of, though:
- You can only transfer points to another member “in order to have a sufficient number of points to redeem a particular award”
- You can only combine points (regardless of whether you’re sending or receiving) once every 30 days
While not limited to Globalist members, this is something that adds significant value to my Hyatt stays, and which makes me choose Hyatt over competitors. With the Hyatt Privé program you can receive extra perks when booking select Hyatt properties through an eligible travel agent.
In many cases this gets me a confirmed upgrade at booking, a $100 credit, and more.
What I don’t love about World of Hyatt
The above are the biggest reasons I love World of Hyatt Globalist status, though let me also share a few of the things I don’t love about the program:
- Actual points earning rates for hotels are ordinarily pretty weak — as a Globalist member you earn 6.5x points per dollar spent, which isn’t that great (I value Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so that’s like a return of just under 10%); however, World of Hyatt does sometimes have valuable global promotions, but they’re not as consistent as you may find with Hilton Honors, for example
- While Hyatt has made huge strides when it comes to its global footprint, especially with luxury properties, Hyatt still can’t compete with the sheer number of properties belonging to Hilton, IHG, and Marriott
World of Hyatt’s credit cards
While there are some great aspects to the business card, personally I think it’s the personal card that shines, given that it has a lower annual fee, offers an anniversary free night certificate, offers elite nights just for being a cardmember (without spending), and more. The good news is that both cards make it easier to earn Globalist status. You could even earn Globalist status entirely through credit card spending, if you wanted to (though that’s not what I’d recommend doing).
Personally, I think the ideal strategy is to earn Globalist status through a combination of credit card spending and actual stays. After all, if you’re not actually staying at Hyatts much, what’s the point of earning status?
Earning Globalist status with Hyatt’s credit cards
World of Hyatt ordinarily requires 60 elite nights to earn Globalist status (and there hasn’t yet been an announcement of requirements being cut for 2022). Even award stays count towards status, so it’s awesome that redeeming points will get you closer to Globalist status.
Fortunately Hyatt’s credit cards can help you earn elite nights:
- With the World of Hyatt Credit Card you receive five elite nights towards status annually just for having the card, plus an additional two elite nights for every $5,000 you spend on the card
- With the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card you receive five elite for every $10,000 spent on the card in a calendar year
This means that if you wanted to, you could spend your way all the way to Globalist status, through a combination of the elite nights earned on both cards. In reality I don’t recommend completely doing that. Rather I think some combination of credit card spending and actual stays is the best strategy.
I find World of Hyatt Globalist status to be the most compelling top tier hotel status out there. To me that comes down to the program offering strong perks to begin with, and on top of that actually consistently delivering on what’s promised.
I appreciate that Globalist members get a full breakfast (including tip), guaranteed late check-out, waived resort fees, waived parking fees on award stays, etc. Personally I don’t count on complimentary suite upgrades, but that’s the beauty of confirmed suite upgrades, which let you lock in a suite upgrade for the stays that matter most to you.
Of course, I understand for a lot of people it’s just not practical to be loyal to Hyatt, given the group’s relatively small global footprint, though a lot of progress has been made there in recent years.
What do you consider to be the most valuable top tier hotel status?