Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Plans for My (Hotel) Diamonds

I have never been into airline or hotel elite status. I read the miles and points blogs, strategically use credit cards to get the most bonus points and try to maximize our vacations with free or almost free travel. We're not loyal to one hotel chain or airline--we go wherever our points will take us for little or no cost.

However, recent events have turned into a big game-changer for our travel in 2016. A few weeks ago, Hyatt was giving out Hyatt Diamond status to a few people on Twitter. Hyatt was matching people who had gold or diamond status in other hotel chains to Hyatt's most elite status to win their business. This happened shortly after the Marriott-SPG merger was announced.

I happened to have Hilton Gold status due to a credit card I signed up for in early 2014. My gold status was about to expire in early 2016, but I had used the status for free breakfast and slight room upgrades in New York City, Honolulu and Denver. I sent my Hilton info to Hyatt and waited for a response.

Meanwhile, I started reading conversations online about the Hyatt elite status match, and the discussion was heated. Some people were getting matched to Diamond status, others were not. Some current Diamond members were mad that others were getting the same status for nothing! (Normally, to achieve Hyatt Diamond status you have to have 25 paid stays or 50 paid nights per year--no way I could achieve that unless I was a business traveler).

After several days of waiting, I received an email that Hyatt matched my Hilton Gold status to Hyatt Diamond status. I was elated! Shocked! Beyond grateful! And why?

Because Hyatt Diamond status gives access to club lounges (free breakfast, snacks and drinks during the day, evening appetizers) and four suite upgrade certificates per year (bookable in advance so you know you're getting a suite, available to use on points+cash reservations). For my large family, those benefits are huge!

Based on my new status, I made a few changes/additions for our upcoming accommodations:

*  Switched from a stay at the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport (outside the airport) to the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport (inside the airport) in a one-bedroom suite.
*  Switched from a regular room to a one-bedroom suite for our short summer getaway.
*  Reserved a one-bedroom suite in downtown Denver for a visit home.
*  Picked a Hyatt hotel for a short trip this spring (I was mulling over different hotel options for our destination, but my new status sealed the deal).

Two of the above hotels have club lounges, so you can bet we will enjoy using those during our stay.

Edited to add: this benefit was eliminated for future year bookings.
But wait, it gets better....I will get another 4 suite upgrade certificates to use between March 2016 and Feb 2017. And I only have to book the suites during the time frame--the stays can be later in 2017 or even in early 2018 if available. Even though I won't still have Diamond status past February 2017, I can still book the suite upgrades and use them without the club lounge and breakfast benefits. I'm hoping to book a suite in Vancouver, Canada for our planned Alaska trip in the summer of 2017, and maybe something for a future Spring Break.

Hilton also announced that it would match Hyatt elite statuses, so as of now I am also a Hilton Diamond until March 2017. I'm not as excited about Hilton Diamond status since it doesn't have guaranteed suite certificates and I don't have any Hilton stays coming up, but maybe it will come in handy, who knows?

Have you had Hilton Diamond status? Where would you use your suite upgrade certificates?

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