2016 Review: Hyatt and Hilton

First in a mini-series of 2016 capsule reviews, from my travels to news that shifted travel, miles and points.

Hyatt and Hilton are a natural fit because both gave me Diamond status that was a the work of a few moments online.

Hyatt in 2016:

Let’s hope such generosity continues. That doesn’t appear to the be the case with Hyatt. In a year of few promotions, Hyatt closed out the year by doing away with Gold Passport in favor of the new World of Hyatt. You can’t even show off your elite status because no one can keep straight the order.

Hyatt retains the ability to make people in this hobby completely lose their heads.

My year as Hyatt Diamond: 0 nights of paid stays.

Well, not correct, we did have a JetBlue flight cancel out of Boston and, relying on Citi Prestige’s generous trip delay benefits (which turned out to a be a battle), I used a RocketMiles sign-up bonus for United miles to stay at the Hyatt Regency Boston. They did honor the Hyatt Diamond breakfast benefit. I did not previously know that ‘Hyatt Has It‘ is optional for hotels to participate.

We used our Hyatt credit card anniversary nights at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Excellent location. Small rooms. My wife loves the pillows. So-so lounge. Diamonds need to pay extra to eat the excellent breakfast at the lobby restaurant. We had some comical service inconsistencies, such as a Hyatt Asia Pacific Board of Directors Meeting in the penthouse above us producing high heel clicks on the wood floor from 7 am to midnight. Magnificent holiday weekend dinner buffet.

Grand Hyatt Melbourne Dessert

Most of my travel is international. Where Hyatt does have properties they are priced way out of my range. I am a guy who wants to get $100 value and only pay $50. Hyatt is for people who want $400 value and pay $200.

Hilton in 2016:

Hilton is a public company again and has played it steady with few changes and ever-extending bonuses of double base points/triple base points when using their app to book. The Visa 5,000 point per stay promo stacks continues through January 2017.

All these promos combined with Diamond status and some great sale rates have seen an uptick in my [paid Hilton stays, which is to say, more than none. My points balance is depleted from prior years and the tightening of Amex and Citi on credit card bonuses has hindered their replenishment.

Hilton Brisbane – good city option, lots of sale rates, nice executive lounge though watch out how much ginger Jessica encourages you to add to the juicer (note: Aussies dress up for hotel lounges). two stays this year.

Hilton Brisbane Executive Lounge

Hilton Malabo – that’s Equatorial Guinea for you. Better to use points for this quality hotel rather than absurd-o-priced hotels in the city center. Walkable from the airport, though they don’t provide a shuttle. Watch out that they try to add tax and service fees on points stays that should be all-inclusive. Hang out with oilmen on R&R. Air conditioner runs on high blast and cannot be disabled.

Hilton Malabo Pool

As I pulled out the airport in N’Djamena, Chad, I saw the Hilton N’Djamena. D’oh! The only country I did not check for a points hotel.

Upcoming stays:

  • Hilton Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport – because it is in the cluster that do not require unreliable shuttle buses (heck, even inside the airport the terminal transfer buses are a mess).
  • Hilton Dublin Airport – booked a good prepaid rate, then found how poorly it is reviewed, with no Executive Lounge and remote location.

Readers, what are your Hyatt and Hilton 2016 memories?

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  • What was the fight with Citi Prestige?

  • I have been meaning to write it up now that it is finally settled. This was my first Citi Prestige trip delay claim. To my disbelief, their benefits administrator denied twice and all the way up the chain that my claims was invalid because my trip was cancelled prior to a 3-hour delay, even though my who trip was delayed 18 hours. “Management decision” to interpret the terms counter to how they are written. The maintained the original flight had to be delayed 3 hours prior to any cancellation or rebooking, regardless of how long totally delayed to reach destination. I got Citi involved, this company told Citi the same thing on the phone, to Citi’s disbelief. Citi immediately credited me the amount and last I heard from them was that “this issue has been escalted to the product manager and has received a lot of executive attention.” I hope that put an end to it. I don’t know when they started doing that. My supposition is the 3-hour is so generous (I used to work in the same business for a competitor of that insurer/administrator) that they were paying more claims than they had budgeted and were trying to aggressively deny claims in the hope customers would give up.

  • cj

    2016 I switched from Hilton being my # 1 go to hotel – even though I had 68 nights down from 104
    This year I had 101 nights at Choice Hotels – 10 nights with club Carlson and IHG not sure about 10 to work the promos and Hyatt 4 nights all reward stays
    I live full time on the road and i’m in my 6th year of 365 days of travel a year but this year I think I’m going to switch the way I stay to more Airbnb stays as promotions are weaker and weaker but I still like Hilton,choice,and IHG as there promotions are still workable
    best of 2017 always love your travels and enjoy hearing you at FTU and chicago

  • William Schelling

    Well I was actually sitting in the Hilton in Chad yesterday morning. Wonderful hotel great service and food especially considering the location. I used points here and in Malabo a year ago, party because they don’t accept Amex Surpass Hilton card.
    I find it hard to compare the two chains mainly because of footprint. Hilton is good for foreign travel, Hyatt not so much.

  • How was the New Year’s celebration in N’Djamena?

  • Any Choice tips to share? Using points for multi-bedroom stays for families is an underappreciated benefit.

  • billybethel

    What does this statement mean,”Hyatt and Hilton are a natural fit because both gave me Diamond status that was a the work of a few moments online.”? It doesn’t make any sense to me

  • billybethel – over Thanksgiving 2015 Hyatt suddenly started giving Diamond status matches via twitter for all kinds of hotel status like IHG Platinum. It didn’t last long. From there Hilton matched Hyatt Diamond to Hilton Diamond.

  • cj

    I just posted to my facebook page a video of my favorite stay in 2016 at choice hotels – roatan,hondruas amazing for 42,000 choice points for the week. you can view on – 12 step nomad – on facebook hopefully have website up and running in a few weeks.
    Family’s not sure if this helps but how I work choice rewards is when they have a stay twice get 8,000 points .They run the same promotion 3x a year but call it different names,
    ill pay for stay’s in the states but my best use of choice points are to redeem in Europe and especially Norway,sweden there you can get amazing deals and some include free dinner and when in those counties that comes in real handy .
    especially when a good burger will run 30.00 and choice also has 2 bedroom rooms and at the same reward price
    Every year I spend 3 months in Europe and between choice and my friends lodging is close to free

  • Stefan, yeah, that’s what many insurance programs do – in hope that the customer will go away. Have you written it up yet?