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Does Hyatt’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith Rollout Foreshadow its Downfall?

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Nearly a year after announcing plans to acquire the boutique hotel platform Mr. & Mrs. Smith, it's live: More than 700 of these boutique and luxury properties are now bookable through the World of Hyatt program – including using Hyatt points. That was supposed to be good news, greatly expanding Hyatt's footprint with more properties in fun new places and offsetting the loss of another chain to one of its competitors.

Instead, it seems like a dud. 

The consistent award charts – the cheat sheets for what a free night will cost – and great points redemptions we've come to know and love with the World of Hyatt program are nowhere to be found here. Instead, Hyatt's new Mr. & Mrs. Smith hotels redemptions are dynamically priced: Free nights could cost as little as 8,000 points … or well north of 100,000. Getting the same outsized value redeeming your Hyatt points that you may be accustomed to at these newly bookable properties just isn't possible. 

That's disappointing enough on its own … but what's more concerning is what could come next. With a system now in place that determines how many points you need based upon the cash price, there's now framework for that to spread across Hyatt's entire portfolio. 

Competitors like Hilton, IHG, and Marriott did away with their own award charts years ago. But the transition to dynamic pricing didn't happen overnight: It was a steady, gradual shift. 

Is that what's in store for Hyatt? Gulp.

 

The Basics of Mr. & Mrs. Smith Bookings

There's one important distinction with the introduction of these Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties: Hyatt didn't actually acquire any new hotels or resorts.

Instead, it's giving World of Hyatt members access to the properties available on the Mr. & Mrs. Smith booking platform – many of which are smaller, unique luxury stays. Most of these properties are available through multiple booking channels, including online travel agencies like Expedia

 

arctic treehouse hotel mr & mrs smith
Photo courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith

 

It's quite similar to Hyatt's (soon-to-end) relationship with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), which is being stolen away by Hilton. Both platforms just serve as a marketing agency for the individual hotels, receiving a commission on each booking. Because of that, Hyatt has very little control over the individual properties. 

Here's what World of Hyatt Members can expect when booking one of these properties:

  • Earn five base points for every eligible dollar spent on the room rate
  • Earn standard tier bonus points on room rate for elite members
  • Get elite-night credit toward earning status and Milestone Rewards
  • Redeem points for free nights at participating Mr. & Mrs. Smith hotels
  • Room upgrades for Hyatt Globalist members at check-in (if space is available) 
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties are considered a new brand and will count toward Hyatt's Brand Explorer to earn more free nights. 

What's missing? Aside from the occasional upgrade for top-tier Globalist members, there's a near-total lack of benefits for World of Hyatt members. 

At other, Hyatt-branded properties, top status holders can expect perks like free breakfast, the ability to use suite upgrade awards, and early check-in and late check-out. None of that applies when booking a Mr. & Mrs. Smith property. You can't even redeem a free night award – like a Hyatt free night certificate from select credit cards or from the Brand Explorer perk – at these properties.

That's a far cry from how it worked for years at SLH hotels, where everyone – even everyday Hyatt members without a whiff of status – got complimentary breakfast for two and a solid shot at early check in and late check out, too. There's a critical difference: With SLH, Hyatt fit those hotels into its existing award chart. 

With Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Hyatt did something completely different. 

 

Redeeming Hyatt Points With Mr. & Mrs. Smith 

The most disappointing part about Hyatt's integration of these Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties is the lack of an award chart.

Instead, award rates for these properties are dynamically priced: The amount of points required for a “free” night is largely dependent on the cash price. In the searches I've run, it looks like at most properties you'll get somewhere between 1 and 1.4 cents per point at most – give or take a few decimal points. 

If we were taking about redeeming IHG or Hilton points, that would be tremendous value. But this is Hyatt, where you can book the lowest-priced Category 1 rooms for as few as 3,500 points (off-peak) – even when cash rates are through the roof. Ultra-luxe properties like Alila Villas Uluwatu or the Park Hyatt Kyoto that might cost $1,000 to $2,000 are still bookable for 35,000 points a night – maybe less. 

But with these Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, it's completely different. Let's take a look at a few examples to see what I mean. 

The Argos in Cappadocia is a 51-room boutique hotel that looks like the perfect home base for anyone planning a bucket-list hot air balloon ride over Turkey. This independent hotel is available through Mr. & Mrs. Smith and can now be booked with Hyatt points. A five-night stay in September is currently pricing out at 40,500 Hyatt points per night – on par with what Hyatt's priciest Category 8 properties cost each night. 

 

Argos in Cappadocia (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) Award Booking

 

If you would instead book a similar room with cash through Hyatt, you'd be on the hook for more than $2,700 in total or nearly $550 per night. That's by no means cheap … but it's a lot less than what you can expect to pay at top-level Park Hyatts around the world. 

 

Argos in Cappadocia Cash Booking

 

By using points instead of cash to book a room at this property, you're getting 1.33 cents per point in value. If you're typically transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, that's better than booking through the Chase Travel℠ portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point with the *chase sapphire preferred* … but not quite as good as the 1.5 cents per point you'd get with the higher priced *chase sapphire reserve*.

And in either case, it's nowhere near the outsized value you can get redeeming points at other Hyatt properties. 

With Hyatt's traditional Category 1 through Category 8 award chart, you could alternatively get a free night at a property like the Alila Ventana Big Sur where cash rates routinely go for north of $2,000 per night. Or … if you're really lucky, you might even be able to score a night on your own private island at that same price point. For a very brief period last summer, we saw Hyatt release standard room award availability at the exclusive Calala Island in Nicaragua.

 

calala island booking

 

If you were to book one of these all-inclusive villas with cash, you'd be looking at a cost of more than $3,000 per night. In that case, you'd be getting more than 7.5 cents per Hyatt point. That's an extreme example, but it also underscores what's possible at Hyatt properties … and what's not at a Mr. & Mrs. Smith property. 

None of this is to say that booking the Argo in Cappadocia is a bad move – or any other Mr. & Mrs. Smith property, for that matter. But it illustrates that compared to other redemptions, it's a relatively poor use of Hyatt points.

 

Is Hyatt Set to Go Fully Dynamic?

This is the question on everyone's minds – and understandably so. The fact that Hyatt has begun dynamically pricing redemptions at these Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties is troubling in its own right. But is another shoe set to drop? 

Many will surely point to the fact that all of these hotels are independent properties – with no direct affiliation with Hyatt – as evidence that it's not a sign of what's to come. But the truth is, Hyatt owns very few of the properties bearing its name. 

At the end of the day, you'd think a global hotel chain like Hyatt could find a way to slide this latest crop of hotels into its existing award charts in a way that worked for everyone, if it really wanted to. After all, that's the way it worked with a similar portfolio of SLH properties. 

This is a major departure for the hotel chain that's almost universally beloved for predictable and solid points redemption – long after the likes of Hilton, Marriott, and IHG moved away from that model. But in some ways, it's just another step in a journey Hyatt has already been on.

 

alila villas uluwatu

 

Hyatt finally made a major move a few years ago with peak- and off-peak award pricing, with higher award rates during busier times (or lower when things are slower). And each year the chain reshuffles its award chart, it has eroded the value of booking its all-inclusive portfolio as well as top-tier Park Hyatts and other pricey resorts. Could moving to a fully dynamic award pricing model be next?

Not so fast, Hyatt says. That's not happening. Not yet, anyway.

“This is not a move towards dynamic pricing and hotels in the Hyatt portfolio will continue to fall in either the standard or all-inclusive award charts,” a company spokesperson told Frequent Miler, further explaining that “we think about the redemption values of newer Hyatt offerings like Mr & Mr Smith, the FIND Experiences Platform and Homes & Hideaways by World of Hyatt differently from the 1,300+ hotels in the Hyatt Timeless, Boundless, Independent and Inclusive Collections.”

It might not happen tomorrow or even next year. But with a new addition of 700-plus hotels now pricing out award rates dynamically based largely upon the cash cost, it's clear Hyatt is inching closer.

 

Bottom Line 

Hyatt recently folded in more than 700 Mr. & Mrs. Smith boutique and luxury hotel properties to the World of Hyatt loyalty program. With this addition, you can now earn and redeem points at nearly half of Mr. & Mrs. Smith participating hotels.

Just don't expect to get the same value you do redeeming Hyatt points at other properties – not even close. And in our eyes, that alone is cause for concern.

 

 

Lead photo courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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