Dec312011

HVC sales sullies Hyatt Carmel Highlands stay

My hotel stay mistakes are relatively infrequent in recent years. The dumbest mistake I ever made was on our 1989 honeymoon in London and thinking a hotel mini-bar was free. Somehow free booze on the Pan Am flight translated in my jet-lagged head to free booze in our London St. James Court hotel room. We drank over 100£ of mini-booze for a major buzz before I finally asked a housekeeper if there was a charge for drinking all those little bottles of alcohol.

Possibly an equally big mistake occurred this week when I was pitched a Hyatt Vacation Club timeshare presentation on Christmas Day after checking in at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn.  There was a call to our room about an hour after arrival and my wife was told that I had a coupon waiting for me in the lobby. There was no mention of Hyatt Vacation Club in the phone call, but I knew that is where the desk for HVC is located when Kelley told me where to go for the coupon.

I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge and I have been haunted by Christmas ghosts all week since my stay at the Carmel Highlands Inn. I wish it were all a dream and I could repeat Christmas Day at the Highlands Inn and turn down the Hyatt Vacation Club timeshare presentation offer that sullied the ending to what was otherwise a pleasant hotel stay. $150 was not worth over two hours of our limited family time together this Christmas week during my paid stay at the hotel. I deeply regret letting the HVC sales staff intrude on our family vacation getaway.

Carmel Highlands, California

Hyatt Stay Certificates for $249 nights at Hyatt Highlands Inn

There are some good tips in this post for getting a discount on the published rates at Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn and other high-priced Hyatt hotels and resorts.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn had a published rate of $399 per night for much of the Christmas week ($359.10 AAA rate). There is a $20 daily resort fee and 10.5% tax making the daily published rate about $420 to $460 all-in per night for the lowest rates.

A two-night Hyatt Stay Certificate Elite Level brought the rate down to $269 all-in per night. I published an article on Loyalty Traveler a few weeks ago on Hyatt Stay Certificates for big hotel rate savings.

I got that loyalty traveler buzz after I booked two nights for a total room cost of $269 per night compared to the otherwise lowest AAA rate at $417 per night with breakfast. The Hyatt Stay certificate saved nearly $300 on a two-night stay and I was able to handle the entire transaction online.

Hyatt Stay Certificates are paper certificates that must be mailed. I was concerned the certificate may not arrive in time when I ordered Monday morning, December 19 for a Sunday arrival on Christmas Day.

Hyatt Stay Certificates shipping cost:

  • FedEx Express Saver shipping is $6 for a certificate order (not valid for Hawaii or Alaska).
  • FedEx Two day = $14.
  • FedEx overnight = $25.

I went with 2 day delivery on my Dec 19 Monday morning order and the FedEx delivery happened Tuesday night while I was out of the house. A signature was required so the envelope was not left on my doorstep, but FedEx returned Wednesday afternoon. My total Stay Certificate cost for two nights at Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn was $512.

Hyatt Stay Certificate

Unique Upgrade Opportunity

Even better was the message after making my reservation that I had a unique upgrade opportunity. E-upgrades are used by Hyatt as a means of upselling room reservations with the opportunity to get a room category upgrade for a small additional fee that generally results in a savings compared to the published rate for the room.

  • Big Sur Suite = $39 extra per night.
  • Ocean View Townhouse = $69 extra per night.

In my previous stays at Carmel Highlands Inn I have always received a complimentary upgrade to the Ocean View Townhouse. In 2010 I was upgraded to the Point Lobos Suite. I have never stayed in the Big Sur Suite and that is a corner room with loads of windows. I only selected the Big Sur Suite for my upgrade opportunity hoping for a chance to photograph the room.

Christmas Day at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn

On Christmas Day I checked in and received room 420 in the timeshare section of the hotel. This is the first time I have ever been given a room in the Hyatt Vacation Club section of the Highlands Inn. I was disappointed that I did not get the Big Sur Suite or an ocean view townhome.

The positive feature of the room is it probably has one of the best unobstructed ocean views of any room I have seen at Hyatt Highlands Inn. The balconies of the neighboring rooms are mostly not visible when standing out on the balcony of room 420.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Room 420 sunset view.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Room 420 daylight view.

The major negative of the room is it was the first room I’ve ever stayed in at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands without two bathrooms and the sitting room is basically shared with the bedroom. We had to move the dining table chair to partition off the bedroom from the sitting room.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn room 420.

This room is also the only room I have been in with just one TV. Once the partition between the sitting room and bedroom is closed there is no TV to view from the bed. The TV swivels and is viewable from the bed or the sitting room, but guests must choose which direction to face the TV and the bedroom partition must be open to see the TV from bed.

HVC sales teams took over Highlands Inn lobby in 2011.

Apparently I had not been to the Highlands Inn in 2011. My wife and I were surprised to see the lobby was reorganized to set up a series of timeshare presentation desks where there used to be large open space with beautiful black and white photographs.

2010 Carmel Highlands Inn lobby

Carmel Highlands Inn lobby 2010.

From the Mountains... To the Sea photo display.

2011 Carmel Highlands Inn lobby

2011 Carmel Highlands Inn features HVC sales desks on both walls of lobby.

Scenic nature photos replaced with a display of Hyatt Vacation Club properties.

There was a Christmas tree in the lobby when we arrived on Christmas Day. My family was surprised to see the tree being cut apart and removed on Monday morning. The lobby is usually a tranquil place to sit and relax and gaze out the wall-to-wall picture windows. On both mornings of our stay the seats by the windows were being used by the Hyatt Vacation Club sales force for meetings and the setting was anything but a tranquil place to relax while staying at the hotel.

Carmel Highlands Inn lobby seating by ocean view windows.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn lobby window seats.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn lobby south wall.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn north wall of lobby.

These are lovely seating arrangements, but the photos fail to show the HVC sales desks located off to the sides. From my observations during our stay there is a good chance there will be a timeshare sales pitch happening a few feet from these seats.

The largest pod of gray whales I have ever seen were spouting in probably ten or more places as I sat in the lobby gazing out the window. My sister tried to sit in the lobby and enjoy the scenery, but she went back to the room to get away from the three timeshare conversations happening simultaneously in three sets of window seats.

I had never even encountered the HVC sales staff in several previous stays at the Carmel Highlands Inn. In 2011 there was a major conversion of the hotel property with the former Hyatt Vacation Club offices being converted into the Fitness Room and the HVC offices being moved into the lobby. My sister wondered why they didn’t use one of the conference rooms on the floor below the lobby for the HVC desks? That is a good question.

Grand Piano in lobby.

The old Hyatt Vacation Club office was located in the timeshare section of the property and the small fitness room for the property was located beneath the lobby. The larger fitness room is now located in the former Hyatt Vacation Club office and is a great improvement, however and unfortunately, the HVC sales team has taken over the Hyatt Highlands Inn lobby.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn fitness room is former location of HVC office.

 

Upstairs bedroom in townhome unit.

Bedroom view from one-bedroom townhome unit.

Sitting room in HVC townhome.

Kitchen in HVC townhome.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Pacific's Edge Restaurant.

Hyatt Highlands Inn is a beautiful place to stay. My past stays have always left me desiring more.

This Christmas week stay ended badly for me by participating in a Hyatt Vacation Club timeshare presentation. I sold out my family time for a $150 credit on the hotel bill.

Merry Christmas folks!

I scrooged you again for the Christmas holidays.

 

Related Loyalty Traveler posts:

In the Heart of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn (January 5, 2009)

Why visit Monterey and Hyatt Carmel Highlands in December? (Dec 6, 2011)

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. While I agree that in your case it wasn’t worth it, I’m still laughing about what happened when we checked into the New York Hilton last February for a free overnight stay (for which we didn’t even have to use points due to some promotion) We were offered $125 to attend a timeshare presentation the next morning. Since we weren’t tourists (we live an hour from NYC) and had no AM plans, we figured why not? It was pretty cool earning money on a free stay. The look on the saleswoman’s face when we told her we had over 400,000 Hhonors points and could thus stay in NYC free almost anytime we wanted was priceless.

  2. Made a similar mistake at the Westin Rancho Mirage last November. The 10K SPG looked pretty appealing for a 2 hour presentation. 3 1/2 hours later, not so much. Never again.

  3. @Aeneas if you were told the presentation was 2 hours why didn’t you leave after 2 hours? If they said they wouldn’t give you the points, I would have filed a complaint with corproate. You were promised something for 2 hours of your time, and after 2 hours of your time you expect it.

    @Ric what was it about the timeshare presentation that spoiled the trip? Was this presentation somehow different/unique, or just feeling like you wasted some time that could have been better spent?

  4. Thanks for sharing the info on this property. Sounds like it should be avoided by guests not interested in timeshare pitches. Maybe some of the Hyatt execs that read your blog will take your comments under advisement for changing the future guest experience.

    Enjoy reading your blog and hope you have a Happy New Year!

  5. My vacation time is worth more than $75/hour. Will never participate in one of those.

    And seriously, they removed all those beautiful b/w photos!? How sad.

  6. I was offered 2 nights at Time Share property for $199 if we want to see the presentation I declined.
    If the two nights in townhouse I might be able to spare our 2 hrs. 🙂

    Happy New Year Ric

  7. @Gary – the problem with the timeshare presentation is I used up nearly 2.5 hours on the last day of my family’s visit to the Monterey Peninsula to listen to a timeshare presentation.

    I have never attended a timeshare presentation before and I quickly analyzed the exchange data based on annual points earned as a timeshare owner and the exchange rates for other properties.

    The annoying part was after 90 minutes, the stated length of time for the presentation, there was still no information given about the cost and the availability of properties at Highlands Inn. Nearly all the conversation concentrated on how you could trade the week at Highlands Inn for other properties.

    It would have taken over three hours to get the information I really needed if I were to buy. Poor time management on their part. And I wasted precious hours that could have been spent with my family while they were here on the Monterey Peninsula on a gorgeous day.

    This was the first time most of us have been together in Monterey in over 15 years. Hyatt didn’t do anything wrong. They pitched me $150 and I went for it. My mistake.

    I hope they sell all the timeshares soon and return the lobby to a guest-centric environment.

  8. @Gary, Since we had never attended a timeshare presentation before, we were interested in learning about it, but as we made clear to the very pleasant lady, not willing to take the plunge without some consideration. That was the first 2 hours. Then we were turned over to a very pushy woman who bullied us until we said we’d had enough and were leaving. That was met by feigned shock, and we were turned over to a man from “corporate” who was supposed to soothe our ruffled feathers, find out why we were upset, and issue us our points. It turned out he was just another shill and tried to sell us a third time. Finally he grudgingly issued us the points, but we were left to walk the 20 minutes back to our unit at the other end of the resort (we had been picked up and driven to the presentation). Shabby treatment, and soured us on the place.

  9. Amusing reading about these “outrages.” What usually happens with these offers is that it is made clear that to get the coupon/discount the sales pres MUST be attended in its entirety by BOTH husband and wife. What you experienced is par for the course — I have attended many. BTW the sales office used to be a 8 minute drive back up to the shopping center. These rules should be a warning to all. My guess is that the unexpectedness was worse then the actual indignity. That said, get over it. Highlands Inn is one of the most beautiful places on earth — have stayed there often –and I would go back there anytime I could.

  10. @James – the real kicker to this timeshare deal was realizing last month that I never spent the $50 certificate and only the $100 certificate for attending the presentation. The $50 certificate expired in March.

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