The Best Hotel Loyalty Program for Luxury Family Travel
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
If you ask me what the best hotel loyalty program for luxury family travel is, I will pick World of Hyatt without any hesitation. I choose Hyatt because it allows me to get the best bang for my buck and therefore enable me to show my family more of the world with the savings I get from Hyatt. However, if you aim to get the most of what World of Hyatt can offer to luxury family travel, you should seriously consider achieving the top-tier membership of the program, Globalist.
I have been a Hyatt member for almost ten years and a Globalist member (Diamond member before the program change in 2017) for the four out of the past five years. My current work no longer requires many travels, so I have to rack up my night/stay credits with my own time and money. However, since the benefits of being a Diamond/Globalist surpass the cost, I keep coming back and trying to maintain the top-tier membership level with Hyatt year after year. Globalist status requires 60-night stay credits at Hyatt per year. It is not easy to get but certainly do-able with some planning and tricks, which would be a good topic for another blog entry. Today I will focus on showing you some excellent value provided by the Globalist status from World of Hyatt to the luxury family travel.
You can take a look at the World of Hyatt member benefits in details at your convenience. In the post, I will only discuss the benefits that I value the most. Here are the top 6 World of Hyatt Globalist's benefits.
1. Suite Upgrade Awards - Upgrade to Suite 12 Months Before Check-in
Yes, nowadays, many hotel loyalty programs offer room upgrade to their top-tier members, including the upgrade to a suite. However, as I know, almost all these upgrades are subject to availability. In other words, the suite upgrade is not guaranteed.
With World of Hyatt Globalist status, the suite upgrades are much easier to reach because you can confirm your suite upgrade 12 months ahead of your check-in date. It is my understanding that I can only book stays at Hyatt website 12 months ahead of time. Other hotel programs are not that generous. For example, Marriott offers Suite Night Award as well, but their upgrade can only be confirmed 1 week ahead of the actual stay. 12 months vs. 1 week - it is an easy math problem.
World of Hyatt gives its top-tier, Globalist member, 4 Suite Upgrade Awards per year and each Award can be used for upgrading to a suite for a stay up to 7 nights. So if you plan accordingly, you can stay in a suite for 28 nights in a year, only paying the rate for a standard room.
For my recent vacation during the 2018 holiday break, this benefit allows me to upgrade my nine-night stay at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar 12 months before my check-in date. (Yes, I do plan my family travel early, sometimes really early.) Of course, this upgrade is subject to hotel availability as well. But the suite is usually available if you book early. In this case, I know that my family will be, for sure, staying in a spacious true suite for nine nights. Guaranteed! No more needs to pray or try my luck at check-in for the hopefully available suites. In the real world, popular resorts rarely have suites available for an extended stay during the holiday season. It is very unlikely to get a complimentary upgrade to a suite, at least not for a 9-night stay. As a matter of fact, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar was on a sold-out stage for most nights of my stay. You could not even get a standard room - not to mention a free suite upgrade.
How much value did I get from the Suite Upgrade Awards last year? Thousands of dollars. Taking this past Grand Hyatt Baha Mar trip as an example, the price difference between standard room and the One-bedroom Ocean View Residence Suite we stayed in is at least $500 per night, if not more. In this case, after adding in the taxes and fees, we got well over $5,000 in terms of luxury travel. For all the other hotel programs, theoretically, top-tier members are entitled to similar benefits. The problem is, due to the almost-never-existing availability during the holiday season, the top-tier member can probably never get his suite upgrade.
Another beauty of this benefit is that the Suite Upgrade Awards is good for both award stay and eligible rates, including cash+points, the member discounted rate, the advanced booking rate or any rates you can find on the Hyatt website. No strings attached - just wonderful!
For the past year, the value I got from using the 4 Suite Upgrade Awards is around $7,500.
2. Free Full Breakfast for the Family
Another wonderful benefit is the free breakfast for Globalist. This is great for our family of four because the free breakfast is for each registered guest, up to 2 adults and 2 children. Other hotel loyalty programs also offer free breakfast to their elite member but usually only to the first 2 guests in the room. Hyatt is my preferred program because it covers breakfast for my children as well. This makes a huge difference and definitely saves me a lot of cash at breakfast. Taking my stay at Park Hyatt Chicago as an example, one delicious breakfast for my family of four costs about $250. (Yes, we eat a lot for breakfast!) If only the first 2 guests were covered, we would have to pay $125 out of pockets. With Hyatt, our cost is $0.
Plus, at Hyatt locations without a Club lounge, Globalist can enjoy complimentary full breakfast. Full breakfast for a family of four can easily cost over $200 at Park Hyatt locations and over $100 at Hyatt Centric and Andaz. In contrast, most other hotel loyalty programs only offer continental breakfast when a Club lounge is not available or closed.
We did not spend many nights at Park Hyatt, Andaz or Hyatt Centric last year, so my estimated value from this benefit is around $1,500. If we count all my stays at Hyatt locations with Club lounge, where we can have breakfast and nightly snacks, the total benefits we got from free foods should be well over $3,000.
3. Guest of Honor
Guest of Honor is a unique top tier benefit for World of Hyatt Globalist member. As far as I know, no other hotel loyalty programs offer it. The Guest of Honor benefit gives Hyatt Globalist the privilege to share the in-hotel benefits with his or her family and friends via any award stays. For instance, I can book an award stay and assign my parents as my Guest of Honor. When my parents check in at the Hyatt location, they will entitle all the Globalist benefits, including access to the lounge, free breakfast, late check out, and room upgrade. There was one time that my parents even got upgraded to a true suite for a week-long stay. Isn't that great?
The value I can get from this benefit depends on how often my family and friends want to utilize this privilege. As for the past year 2018, I was able to use this benefits for over 20 nights. Since I don't have all the details on how the Guest of Honor benefits was used, I can only estimate that the value provided to my family and friends is well over $1,000.
4. Complimentary Resort Fee and Parking on Eligible Rates
Resort fee and parking charge are very annoying. If you have been to Vegas, you understand why I am saying that. In Vegas, people can find dirt cheap hotel rates for under $50 a night. However, they will need to pay resorts fee, which runs from $20 to $40 per night on top of the cheap night rate. If they drive and need to park their car, the parking charge will be another $10 to $45 per night. Hyatt charges those fees as well. For instance, the parking at Hyatt Indianapolis, which is a relatively inexpensive hotel, will cost you $35 per night for self-parking or $45 using Valet. As shown in the screenshot below, Andaz Maui charges $45 resort fee per night. That is definitely a big number in my book. Those fees do add up quickly and eat up our limited travel funds.
As a World of Hyatt Globalist, however, I have options to avoid all of those hefty fees. Hyatt Globalist members don't pay any resort fees on free night awards and eligible rates. My own experience is that I have never paid resort fee even when I am not staying on an eligible rate, such as point and cash rate. For Globalist member, some Hyatt resorts will even waive the service fee/charges, another mandatory fee charged at some Hyatt resort locations.
As for parking charge, Hyatt Globalist can enjoy complimentary parking on free night awards (available where parking can be charged to the room). Since each Hyatt hotel handles the parking differently, I would recommend calling the hotel to find out if the parking can be charged to the room and if the parking is complimentary. Another tip I can share is that it is possible that the front desk clerks would be willing to give out free parking to Globalist if you ask politely.
The value I got from the complimentary resort fee and parking in 2018 is also over $1,000.
5. Late Checkout at 4:00 PM Upon Request
The regular checkout time is 11:00 AM. The cool part of the late checkout for my family is that we can sleep late on the checkout day, enjoy a relax free breakfast, watch some TV or kill time with other ways we like, and then check out and head home. Think about this - there is total of 5 hours between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. The check-in time for most hotels is 3:00 PM. If you stay for only one night, checking in at 3:00 PM and out at 11:00 AM the next day, the total hours of the stay is 20 hours. With the late checkout, I will be able to get an extra 5 hours in addition to the 20 hours. It is about 25% more value for your hotel money!
The great part of Hyatt late checkout policy is the key word here, "upon request", meaning that you will get it as long as you request it. From my personal experience, this is the case and 4:00 PM checkout is pretty much a guaranteed benefit. Of course, according to the World of Hyatt terms, the late checkout will subject to availability at some Hyatt locations. But for me, the late checkout is always available. As far as I know, other hotel programs' late checkout benefit is always subject to availability.
It is hard to put a price tag on the extra relaxing time we get from the late checkout. However, if we have to, the value can be calculated as the 25% of the last night rates of all of the stays that I utilized this benefit. I probably used this benefits on half of my stays and my estimated value for late checkout is around $500.
6. Gold Status with M LIfe Rewards (and Possible NOIR Status!)
The last but not the least benefits of my top 5 is matching to the M Life Gold status. Thanks to the partnership between World of Hyatt and M Life, I, as a Globalist, was able to match to the M Life Gold status. The Gold status provides some nice perks such as hotel discounts, cruise discounts, 20% more points earning and express Comp earnings, etc. For me, the most valuable benefit I have taken advantage of last year is the free valet parking at MGM hotels. The valet parking at some of the MGM resorts like Bellagio and Aria runs at $21 for two hours and $30 per night.
For my 2018 Vegas trip, I saved over $100 on the valet parking alone.
To my surprise, I was recently matched to M Life NOIR tier till September 2020. Nobody knows why M Life did this. The NOIR tier is by invite only. At my play level at MGM property, I would not even think of the possibility of getting invited to NOIR member. My guess is that M Life expects me to increase my play in the coming two years. Anyway, thanks a lot M Life! It is probably time to plan another trip to Vegas!