Hyatt Gold Passport answered Loyalty Traveler’s call for helping Passports with Purpose build a school in Cambodia by generously donating 50,000 points as a raffle prize donation. All you need is a single $10 raffle ticket to enter at the Passports with Purpose Donation page for a chance to win 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points.
You can actually enter the raffle for free, but I’m not promoting that option. Go to PassportswithPurpose.com and read all the fine print if you want to know the route to free entry. Building the school takes money and the money comes from the $10 raffle ticket donations.
As I read through travelbloggers’ prizes linked through Passports with Purpose I am struck by the number of travelers who have been to Cambodia. I have been to Bangkok, Singapore, and Bali in the past ten years. My connection to Cambodia is based on my graduate studies in child labor while at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. All the more reason why I feel a drive to support the building of a school as a route to better opportunity for children faced with many dangers growing up in Cambodia.
Thinking of better memories leads me to a story of a trip I made in 2003. During the long transPacific flight on United Airlines from the US to Tokyo, destination Singapore, a last minute decision took me to Bali instead. On a transit stop in Tokyo I checked in at the Red Carpet Club in Narita Airport and asked about booking an award on Singapore Airlines in Business Class to DPS airport in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
During a one hour layover, I put together a free vacation in Bali flying Singapore Airlines in Business Class for 30,000 miles and using hotel points for free nights at Starwood’s Luxury Collection Laguna Resort & Spa in Nusa Dua, Bali, for 4,000 points per night. The cost of these last minute bookings would have been over $1,000 for airfare and $150 per night if I had paid cash for the same reservations.
So why am I telling about my hotel stay in a Starwood property for a Bali vacation when I titled the piece Hyatt Hotels in Bali? Stick with me and I promise to get to the Hyatts in Bali.
The value of hotel points and airline miles is the ability to book nights and flights at will regardless of price. One of the highest returns on investment with a hotel loyalty program is the option to use points for a hotel stay at the last minute when rates are more than you want to pay.
Hotel Points Inflation
The problem with loyalty programs is inflation. The points you have today will almost certainly have less value at some point in the future.
The Starwood Laguna Resort & Spa was only 28,000 Starwood points for 7 nights when I stayed there in 2003. Today this hotel property is 60,000 points for a 7 night stay. A weekend night was only 3,000 points per night and 4,000 points for weekdays in 2003. Today the hotel is 10,000 points per night. That is some serious points inflation over 6 years. The room rates I checked at this hotel are around 20% higher than 6 years ago.
Hotel loyalty programs designate a hotel in a specific category level and the cost of a free night using hotel points is determined by that category level. The points required for a free night in a specific hotel category rarely change. Starwood has charged 7,000 points for a Category 3 hotel for the past decade. Hilton has charged 35,000 points for Category 5 hotel for the past decade. The number of hotel categories in a loyalty program seldom change except when there is an addition of a new highest category level.
All five loyalty programs of the major upscale hotel chains have added a new highest tier hotel in the past few years.
Hyatt up 20% in 2007 from Category 4 (15,000 points per night) to Category 5 (18,000 points)
Starwood up 50% in 2007 from Category 6 (20,000 points) to Category 7 (30,000 points)
Marriott up 14% in 2009 from Category 7 (35,000 points) to Category 8 (40,000 points)
IHG up 33% when InterContinental went from 30,000 points to 40,000 points for select hotels.
Hilton up 25% in 2010 from Category 6 (40,000 points) to Category 7 (50,000 points).
For most frequent guest loyalty program members these changes to the top tier hotels really have little impact on their points. Most members do not redeem their points for the top category hotels in a hotel chain.
Intra-Category Movement of Hotels
The less obvious, but far more significant route to points devaluation affecting most members in hotel loyalty programs is the shuffling of hotels within the lower hotel reward categories as shown in my Bali example for the Starwood Laguna Nusa Dua Resort.
The Luxury Collection Laguna Resort was a SPG category 2 hotel at 3,000 points for a weekend night in 2003. The hotel increased to 7,000 points as a category 3 award in 2006. The hotel was moved up to a category 4 hotel in 2008 and currently costs 10,000 points per night. A weekend night at this resort hotel has more than tripled in cost over the past six years when using points for a free night. The room rate using cash has increased at a far lower rate than the increase for free nights using points.
Hyatt Gold Passport has held points inflation in check better than any other major hotel loyalty program over the past few years. Most hotels in the Hyatt chain have not changed category level over the past few years.
The biggest change with Hyatt Gold Passport was increasing the reward cost 20% three years ago with the addition of a category 5 level hotel at 18,000 points per night. Currently the highest category 5 level only includes about 6% of all properties in the 400 member Hyatt hotel chain. Hyatt has 60% of its hotels in the two lowest categories for free nights. Hyatt has among the lowest intra-category shifting of hotels among the major hotel loyalty programs and the highest proportion of hotels in the lower categories.
Hyatts in Bali
Hyatt Hotels has two properties in Bali – Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua and the Bali Hyatt. These two hotels are a bargain using points. Both of the Hyatt properties in Bali are in the lowest hotel category for Hyatt Gold Passport and available for just 5,000 points per night. Category 1 does not mean these hotels are inferior in any way. The Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua is in the same Bali location of luxury resorts as the Hilton Conrad, Starwood ‘s Luxury Collection Laguna Resort, and the Westin Nusa Dua. The Hyatt properties receive overall high TripAdvisor.com ratings. Hyatt Bali is rated #3 of 51 hotels in Sanur, Bali. 270 out of 336 reviews rate the hotel as very good or excellent. Fewer than 10% were unfavorable and that is a pretty good indicator on TripAdvisor. Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua is rated as very good or excellent in 213 of 284 reviews on TripAdvisor and ranks #14 of 22 hotels in Nusa Dua. The competition in the luxury resort enclave of Nusa Dua is tough and this is quite a respectable showing.
Suite Beach Dreams
A Category 1 Gold Passport hotel resort offers the member an opportunity to book a confirmed suite using points for just 8,000 points per night. A 6-night stay in a hotel suite on the beach in Bali, Indonesia is possible for 48,000 Hyatt Gold passport points.
Right now you have the chance to win 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points in the Passports with Purpose raffle. For sample dates I checked in January, room rates for a suite at the Grand Hyatt Bali are over $400 per night. $10 for a chance to win a $2,400 vacation week in Bali.
What are your odds? The number of people who have used their $10 raffle ticket for a chance to win the 50,000 points is not information I know. A guestimate can be made based on the total fundraising amount on the PwP fundraiser scale.
I would like to think we could get 200 tickets entered into the 50,000 Hyatt Gold passport points prize. The odds on the back of a lottery ticket are nowhere near that good for a prize that can be turned into a $2,400 exotic beach vacation value.