On my recent trip to Lexington, Kentucky, I stayed at my favorite downtown hotel, the Hyatt Regency Lexington. It's got a great central location and a decent restaurant downstairs where Hyatt Globalists can take their free breakfast, either from the buffet or off the menu.
Since award stays are now eligible for suite upgrade awards, I called Hyatt as soon as mine posted on March 1 to upgrade my room to a "Junior Suite." The upgrade was confirmed and the suite upgrade award was deducted from my account.
Now, I wasn't traveling with my extended family — I wasn't traveling with my family at all! But I was pretty excited about finally being able to stay in a suite at this property which I've stayed at umpteen times before, so I was naturally disappointed when I checked into my room and discovered it was...a standard room.
Round 1: Hyatt Twitter customer service
My friend and I were anxious to go out that evening so I sent a direct message to Hyatt's Twitter account explaining the situation. Their first reply was:
"I'm very sorry to hear that you did not get the suite that we confirmed with the front desk prior to your arrival. I attempted to call the front desk to assist with the situation, and was told that there is not a manager on duty to assist with the situation, and was unable to garner assistance from the front desk associate. I am emailing the hotel's executive management team to have them assist with the situation directly, and they should reach out to you tomorrow to assist with the situation."
I asked if they could refund the suite upgrade award, and they replied:
"At this time, we are unable to return the suite upgrade to your account, as we sincerely hope the hotel will be able to rectify the situation, and get you into your suite as soon as possible. If, in the course of correcting the situation, the hotel feels that it is best to return the award to your account, they will contact us directly, and we will return the award to your account."
Round 2: Hotel customer service
The next day at brunch I received a call from the Hyatt Regency's general manager. He apologized profusely, explaining that I hadn't received a suite because my reservation "had a lot of touches" from Hyatt central booking. He offered me two options:
- he could move me to a suite for the remaining 3 nights of my reservation;
- or he could refund me the entire points cost of my reservation (32,000 points) and give me a $50 credit in the hotel's restaurant.
After about 2 seconds of deliberation I chose the second option. For your future reference, I only used about $46 of the $50 credit and the remaining $4 was refunded to the credit card I had provided on check-in.
Round 3: Hotel follow-up
After checking out, I watchfully waited to see if the promised 32,000-point refund would post automatically. Once I saw it still hadn't after a few days, I called the hotel, and the evening manager transferred me to the general manager's voicemail. I briefly summarized the situation and asked him to let me know the status of the refund. The next day he e-mailed me that he had requested the refund of the points and the suite upgrade. A few days later, all 32,000 points had posted back into my Hyatt account.
Round 4: Hyatt follow-up
The points posted back to my account, but my account still showed 1 of my suite upgrade awards as having been redeemed and no longer available. I placed another call to Hyatt and explained the situation, and was told they would look into it and get back to me. The next day I received the strangest e-mail:
"Thank you for your message regarding your stay at Hyatt Regency Lexington.
I am sorry to hear that your suite upgrade award was redeemed by the hotel although you did not stay in a suite. I contacted the executive management team at Hyatt Regency Lexington on your behalf. By sharing your experience, you have a direct positive impact on future stays, which allows us to maintain the level of service that Hyatt is known for.
In an effort to make things right, I would like to upgrade your room accommodations for your next stay at a full service Hyatt Hotel to a suite based on availability. We ask that you make your reservations for a standard room and then call Hyatt Guest Relations at (800) 323-7249/(402) 592 6465. Provide us the reservation confirmation number, refer to case number CASxxxxxxx, and we will work with the hotel to provide an upgraded room for the duration of your stay. This offer is valid for one year and is based on availability."
In other words, instead of simply changing the "available" counter in the suite upgrade award database from "3" to "4," they decided the best method would be create and annotate a case number which I have to hope a future customer service representative will be able to locate and handle correctly.
Strange way to run a railroad.
The reason I have laid out this situation in such detail is not to complain about Hyatt or the Hyatt Regency Lexington. While their methods certainly seem odd, I have no complaints about either: I got a free four-night stay at a downtown Lexington property. I hope every hotel I stay at treats me so "poorly!"
The reason this story may be relevant to you is that it appears that when Hyatt confirms a suite upgrade award, they mean it, and they expect properties to do absolutely everything in their power to honor the upgrade or make it right with the customer, all the way up to refunding the entire cost of the stay during an extremely busy weekend (it was a race weekend in Lexington).
So use your suite upgrade awards! They'll either be honored and you'll get a nice suite upgrade, or they won't and you'll walk away with a free stay or a points windfall.