Ben over at OMAAT wrote earlier today about the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi and how it is no longer accepting reservations and not providing much information.
I’m fresh off a weeklong trip to the Gulf, where I actually had a stay booked at the GH Abu Dhabi. Our reservation was cancelled abruptly and, disappointingly, we were provided very scant information. After a number of conversations with Hyatt employees, however, we learned some interesting but unfortunate information.
Background On Hyatt In Abu Dhabi
Hyatt has three properties in Abu Dhabi:
- The Park Hyatt on Saadiyat Island
- The Andaz (née Hyatt) Capital Gate located in the diplomatic quarter of the city (close to the Aloft Abu Dhabi, which I’ve visited previously)
- The newly opened Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl, located right on the Corniche across the street from the Emirates Palace hotel.
Of these three properties, the Grand is far and away in the best location. The Park Hyatt on Saadiyat Island, intended to have a getaway resort-like feel and is by design, not particularly close to most points of interest. The Andaz Capital Gate is located in the interior of the city, away from downtown and the Corniche.
Our Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi (Mis)Adventures
We had a one-night stay in Abu Dhabi and were eager to experience the property, which has been open for only about six months. Reviews online have been glowing, and even various Hyatt employees have commented on how nice of a property it is. We booked an award night several months ago and were able to apply a Globalist Suite Upgrade with no issue at time of booking.
Fast forward to March 12th, only three days before our stay, when we received an alarming and puzzling email from an assistant manager at the property:
Just three days before our stay, our reservation was cancelled, with no explanation. The only information given was that from March 10th onwards, the hotel was not accepting reservations.
Trying To Get Answers
We reached out first to our Hyatt Globalist concierge, who had no additional information. After playing phone tag with a couple of managers at the property, we were able to get on the phone with one of the general managers, who apologized profusely and, like in the email above, stated he would try to accommodate us at either the Andaz or the Park Hyatt. When pressed for more information about the cancellation, the manager stated only that they had run into some issues and were working quickly to resolve them. He even stated that he would be our personal point of contact for any future bookings we had at the Grand Hyatt.
Despite the suboptimal location of the other two properties and our original intention of specifically trying out the Grand, we agreed to be re-accommodated at the Park Hyatt. Frustratingly, we were told at this point that they were unable to cancel our reservation and that we would have to cancel on our own and then rebook an award night at the Park Hyatt. To make up for the additional 5000 points per night that the PH required, the manager at the Grand Hyatt deposited 5000 points into my partner’s Hyatt account, but nothing extra for the inconvenience.
After I expressed my frustrations, the manager at the Grand spoke to his colleagues at the Park Hyatt and confirmed a suite upgrade at the PH while redepositing the upgrade certificate we used at the GH back into our account. While a nice gesture, this ultimately was a moot point as plenty of suites were still available for sale when we checked into the Park Hyatt.
The Truth Comes Out
Our stay at the Park Hyatt was uneventful (review forthcoming) and though we were perplexed and frustrated by the late notice and poor communication, our time in Abu Dhabi was enjoyable. We actually stopped by Grand Hyatt while hanging around the Corniche and found the property to be completely quiet, with the entrance blocked off and no one inside/around save for a security guard patrolling the entrance ramp.
It wasn’t until a few days later in Dubai after we spoke to several Hyatt employees that we learned some unfortunate news. A Hyatt employee unofficially told us that the owners of the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi had somehow run out of funding and could no longer operate the hotel.
Hyatt, as such, is in the process of terminating its contract with the property and its owners. As with most hotels affiliated with large loyalty programs, the GH Abu Dhabi is not actually owned by Hyatt but rather owned and operated independently and simply contracts with Hyatt for marketing purposes; and thus Hyatt likely had nothing to do with the property running out of money. While this information was provided unofficially and Hyatt has yet to provide any substantive information, this would explain why reservations are being cancelled and new reservations are not being accepted.
The information given to us by the Hyatt employee, if true, is quite unfortunate. Assuming it is true, the whole situation really is bizarre and opens up a number of questions.
- How, for starters, could the owners of the property run out of money in less than a year? Surely if one plans to build and operate an undertaking as large as a luxury hotel, a coherent business plan would account for expenses and losses within the first several months before the hotel reaches profitability.
- Moreover, if the property owners have indeed run out of funding, why are Hyatt and representatives of the hotel hiding this information from guests and cancelling reservations at the last minute (and why did the property’s general manager reference future bookings)?
- Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but if you’re going to cancel my reservation three days before my stay (even if this was an abrupt development, being notified on March 10th–when they stopped accepting guests–would have better than two days later), I’d at least like to have an inkling of an idea why that happened.
This entire ordeal has left me both frustrated and a little sad for the hotel’s sake. The Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi looked like a fantastic property, and reports from those who were able to stay while it was still open were very positive. It’s disappointing to see that such a nice and new hotel will be leaving the Hyatt program and may be closed indefinitely.
Moreover, the way that our cancellation was handled made a pretty poor impression. I’m certain employees at the GH Abu Dhabi are scrambling to rebook those whose stays were cancelled, but I’m still leaning towards pushing for some sort of compensation. In my book, cancelling a stay just a few days beforehand and simply providing the points to book somewhere else isn’t quite enough. At any rate, I’ll be watching the situation closely to see if and when Hyatt makes an announcement but also to see what the ultimate fate of the hotel is, i.e., whether it’s picked up by another hotel chain, closed indefinitely, or something else.