Deep-Dive Into Hyatt Category Changes + Notable Updates by Property

by Shelli Stein

It’s that time of year again when Hyatt communicates its World of Hyatt hotel category changes. With Hyatt’s expanding footprint in the past few years, there are many more properties to consider and evaluate for category changes. This time around though, there are also peak and off-peak redemption rate changes, cash and points rate changes, and the addition to Hyatt’s portfolio of new Small Luxury Hotel properties.

Now that the buzz has died down, let’s paint a broad picture of the changes and dates you need to be aware of. Then, we’ll dig into the specifics of the great deals and sweet spots, as well as the hotels to book now before the rates go up.

World of Hyatt Peak Award Pricing

Peak Award pricing was announced in late 2019 for changes in March 2020. Hyatt sets peak and off-peak dates at the start of the booking window. This is a good thing and preferable to having peak/off-peak changes that occur monthly, which is what other hotel chains do. Hyatt’s set-in-stone choice for peak and off-peak dates is particularly helpful for those whose plans are not yet complete, as they can wait without risk of their property increasing in points.

Hyatt Peak/Off Peak Chart 2020

World Of Hyatt Category Changes

Hyatt property category changes totaled 217 in all, with 100 properties shifting down in category and 117 going up. Was Hyatt picking on California and Arizona? All 9 California and 4 Arizona properties that were changed went up. For ALL Category changes, look here!

Park Hyatt Aviara view from patio

Which Hotel Category Changes Are Worth Noting?

Of course, that depends on where you live and where you travel. We do think, though, that there are some notable category changes that stand out from the rest. Let’s take a closer look.

Many of us keep an eye on the Category 4 changes, as those properties in Category 1-4 are eligible for the Free Night Award Certificate that comes with having the World of Hyatt credit card. It’s worth a frown when a favorite property moves out of reach, and then a smile when a new one you’ll book comes down into Category 4. Both happened this time around!

Learn more about using Hyatt points for hotels and free night awards

Grand Hyatt Istanbul Category 3 to Category 2

Though this property was already an exceptional value, at just 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night, this category drop makes the property all the more valuable. Grand Hyatt Istanbul is one of several Hyatt hotels in Istanbul, and is my preferred hotel. Though the property may feel a bit dated, the staff is incredible.

The property also has all the amenities one could hope for, including a large, beautifully decorated pool and gym. The Grand Club, in particular, is one of the very best I’ve experienced during my travels both for breakfast and evening canapés.

Hyatt Regency Amsterdam Category 5 to Category 4

After a year at category five, Hyatt Regency Amsterdam is now returning to category four. This category decrease is fantastic news for World of Hyatt credit card holders. Last year, those wanting to use category 1-4 free award night certificates could only stay at the Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport, which is far from the city and not a full-service property. This year, though, the legendary Andaz Amsterdam remains a category 6. Certificate holders will now have the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam.

I’ve stayed at both the Andaz and Hyatt Regency, and, despite the poor location of the Regency, I actually prefer it. The hotel is newer, well-decorated, and the Regency Club offerings are phenomenal. I also felt like the staff were more friendly. Plus, with Amsterdam’s comprehensive public transportation system, the distance from the city center is hardly a bother. This is an excellent value!

Bask Bank Savings Account AAdvantage Amsterdam

Amsterdam is such a lovely destination to explore!

Hyatt Regency Sydney Category 5 to Category 4

Like the Hyatt Regency Amsterdam, this is also great news for those holding category 1-4 certificates. The only other Hyatt property in Sydney is the luxurious, category 7 Park Hyatt. The Park Hyatt requires 30,000 points, which is a steep price to pay for a single night.

This category decrease allows members to stay in Sydney for just half that point cost or use one of their certificates, meaning exceptional value is available in a city where accommodations are often expensive. Though I haven’t stayed here myself, I find their lobby to be one of the most beautiful Hyatt lobbies worldwide. Their club is also quite well-known.

Andaz Papagayo Category 5 to Category 6

Andaz Papagayo has been one of my dream properties for quite some time. Not only is it a member of my favorite Hyatt brand, Andaz, it’s also consistently praised as one of the best resort properties. This category change is interesting particularly because this property was a category 4 just 2 years ago, meaning it has gone up both of the past two award chart re-rankings.

Given the phenomenal ratings this hotel receives and a large influx of tourists into Costa Rica, this jump makes sense. Perhaps I will have to wait on this one!

Hyatt Regency Bangkok Category 3 to Category 2

The Hyatt Regency is a relatively new addition to the Bangkok Hyatt scene. It’s a hotel I’ve already booked for a future stay. My usual go-to Hyatt properties in Bangkok are the Grand Hyatt and the Park Hyatt.

However, on my most recent trip to Asia, the Hyatt folks I spoke with in both Taipei and Saigon favor the Regency! Makes me even more curious to try the Regency when I get back to Bangkok.

Park Hyatt Bangkok lobby

View from the Park Hyatt lobby. Serene sculpture keeping the hectic Bangkok energy at bay.

Park Hyatt Hamburg Category 5 to Category 4

I often say I haven’t met a Park Hyatt I did not like! There are a few that I haven’t experienced yet that come up when Hyatt loyalists start talking about Park Hyatt properties. This property is one of those. To see it go from a Category 5-4 for sure moves it higher on my next Park Hyatt to book list.

Park Hyatt Melbourne Category 5 to Category 4

This Park Hyatt is probably the most off the radar Park Hyatt I’ve ever stayed at. It can’t seem to get the love I think it deserves. The love goes to the Park Hyatt Sydney, with good reason of course. However, I really enjoyed my stay at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. The old world charm of the hotel is lovely, the rooms are huge, and the service worthy of Park Hyatt praise.

Learn more about using Hyatt points for hotels such as the Park Hyatt Melbourne

Park Hyatt Seoul Category 6 to Category 5

I was surprised to see this hotel shifting down a category. Most people who visit Seoul seem to prefer the Grand Hyatt but I’m a Park Hyatt fan in Seoul. I really like the modern, unusual design of the rooms, the staff and service are excellent, and I think the location is better than the Grand Hyatt.

Seoul, South Korea

Explore Seoul and South Korea with Star Alliance member Asiana’s many stopover offers at Incheon Airport

Moscow, Russia

Both properties in Moscow, the Park Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency, are going down in categories. I’ve not yet been to Moscow. It does seem to be a popular destination right now as I’ve quite a few friends who have visited Russia in the past several years. These kinds of changes work well if Moscow is on your radar.

Iberian Peninsula

Portugal and Spain saw three properties drop in categories. I find this curious because I’ve noticed over the past few years that hotel rates in both Portugal and Spain have gone up in price. Yet Hyatt links its category changes to average cash rates. My perception must be off.

I know properties such as the Park Hyatt Mallorca, which is shifting from a Category 6 to 5, are in seasonal locations. Yet from the inside scoop I get, it’s a very busy property.

The steep streets of Lisbon, Portugal are reminiscent of San Francisco, and the colorful street cars enhance that image

The steep streets of Lisbon, Portugal are reminiscent of San Francisco, and the colorful street cars enhance that image

Grand Hyatt Seattle Category 5 to 4

This is my go-to hotel in Seattle. Here’s my review! I am quite pleased to see the Grand Hyatt shift to category 4. We all have hotels we frequent regularly, so it’s great to have one of them shift into the realm of free night certificate award stay as a category 4 hotel.

Seattle Pikes Market

Park Hyatt Saigon Category 4 to Category 5

This hotel I simply adore. I just finished another week’s stay here and again I leave feeling like the Park Hyatt Saigon is the hotel I’d choose if I had to live in a hotel! It just seems like I never have less than a stellar stay at this property.

When I book award tickets for my travels to Asia, I always leave that part to Juicy Miles!

Going up from a category 4 to a 5 means the Park Hyatt Saigon falls from being the winner of the best use of a Category 1-4 free night award certificate. I’ll continue to enjoy this hotel even without using my free night award certificate.

Beautiful Saigon dragonfruit!

I love dragonfruit!


All hotels in Japan that shifted categories shifted upwards. Maybe due to the influence of the upcoming Olympic Games? The one that makes me scratch my head is the increase in category for the Hyatt Regency Tokyo. I reviewed the Hyatt Regency and for many reasons it wasn’t a glowing review. I do think the Regency location is excellent, and that means a lot when you choose a hotel. Many friends really favor the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo. They will be disappointed to see it go up in points needed for an award stay.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto breakfast

Delicious Japanese breakfast

World of Hyatt Cash and Points Changes

Using cash and points for a Hyatt hotel room enables us to both spend less cash and allow our Hyatt points to be stretched further. Up until 2018, it was a super deal because the cash portion of the prices was fixed based on the hotel category. The change in 2018 meant the cash portion became 50% of the all cash night fee. In most instances that meant more cash out of pocket for a hotel room.

The newest change creates a potential rate of 50-70% off standard room rates. I wondered about hotel cash prices fluctuating with award category changes. I reached out to Hyatt and here’s what they told me:

“Hotels do not have the ability to adjust the point requirements. The point requirement will continue to be 50% off the daily standard room (standard suite or premium suite) free night award Peak, Standard or Off-peak point requirement. Hotels will have the ability to set the percentage off for the paid/rate portion of the award. Hotels are allowed to set a minimum of 50% and a maximum 70% off the standard rate of the day.”

Speaking of spending cash, I noticed Hyatt offering what they call “Hot Deals”. These prices seem to be around $20 or more lower than any other cash rate. Keep your eyes open for these deals.

If I’m paying cash for a hotel stay, I always use Pruvo to monitor for price drops!

For sure the cash and points rates became less popular in 2018 when the 50% off the cash rate change went into effect. It often meant that the all points rate was a better deal.

That being said, for many who don’t have a big stash of World of Hyatt points, cash and points rates means less cash out of pocket. Run the numbers when you’re looking at which rate to apply for a Hyatt stay. Remember when paying cash and points rates, be sure to add in taxes and fees.

More Small Luxury Hotels Added to WOH

Hyatt continues to deliver excellent benefits to their members through the Small Luxury Hotel partnership. This year, between categories 3-8, Hyatt is adding nearly 50 properties to its portfolio.

One concern many people had with the partnership was that the introduction of category 8, which requires 40,000 points per night, would also extend to other Hyatt properties. Fortunately, Hyatt has confirmed that category 8 will continue to be reserved for SLH and Destination Brand hotels only; Hyatt-operated hotels will not exceed category 7.

My favorite part of the SLH partnership is the expanded access to smaller markets around the world. Hyatt’s biggest weakness as a major hotel brand is their small footprint. This partnership expands Hyatt’s footprint in large cities and adds hotels in smaller towns that their competitors don’t even serve.

This year alone, Hyatt’s SLH partnership will allow them to enter Israel, Montenegro, and Mongolia, plus dozens of new cities. SLH makes Hyatt a much more competitive player. I’m excited to see how the SLH partnership continues to grow in the next few years. I’ve outlined some of the most notable additions below.

Opus XVI Bergen (Category 5)

As a Norway-phile, it disappoints me that Hyatt has no Norwegian footprint. I often stay at Radisson properties in Norway, as they are usually the best value. Fortunately, one of the new properties in this year’s Small Luxury Hotel release is the OPUS XVI in Bergen. Bergen is a smaller city located in the Northwest part of the country. This hotel is right in the city-center, with easy access to all that Bergen and the surrounding areas have to offer.

Opus XVI hotel lobby

This property is joining as a category 5, meaning it will cost 20,000 points or one category 1-7 certificate per night. Though this is steep, having a points option in Bergen is brand new and certainly worth considering given the high accommodation costs!

Hotel Schweizerhof Zermatt (Category 6)

Are you an avid hiker? If so, you likely have Zermatt, Switzerland on your bucket list. This new World of Hyatt partner property allows members to use points to make their dreams come true! Hyatt’s footprint in Switzerland is also rather small, even in larger cities. This inclusion presents a strong increase in value for Hyatt members looking to visit the most expensive country in the world.

Hotel Schweizerhof Zermatt

It’s Easy To Earn Hyatt Points

Hyatt points can be earned directly by spending on a World of Hyatt credit card.

Hyatt points can also be earned through using a Chase credit card. Chase’s Ultimate Reward Points can be easily transferred to Hyatt and then used to book hotel stays. Some of our top picks for earning Chase Ultimate Reward points are: Chase Ink Business Cards (learn which business card is right for you) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

Final Thoughts

Dear Hyatt,

This is how you do a re-categorization right. Though more properties went up in category than down, you gave us plenty of notice to plan for the year ahead. Gladly, many of my favorite Hyatt properties were not touched. I’m not going to mention them or give you any ideas!

Best wishes, Hyatt fans S&J

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