Just a quick note to say look closely in your email today for a targeted promotion from Hyatt Gold Passport.  I have seen offers ranging from 1,000 – 5,000 bonus points for upcoming stays.  I got one in my email that offered 1,000 bonus points after my first eligible stay from May 1 – July 31, 2014, but you can read about other versions of the offers here.  For the purposes of this promotion, MLife stays don’t count.

Hyatt Offer

When I went to register for the 1,000 point offer I received I realized it was actually addressed to my cousin who I once set up an account for (using my email address) and redeemed a stay in her name back when it was safer to transfer Ultimate Reward points to other accounts.  She has never had a paid Hyatt stay with that account, but got targeted for this.  I’ve actually only had one paid Hyatt stay this year myself, but thus far haven’t been targeted and neither has my husband who has had multiple paid Hyatt stays.  Clearly this isn’t hugely widespread, but it is still worth checking for in case you got lucky!  There is a link in the comments section where you can try and see if you were targeted.

To help with your search, the subject line of the email in my account was “Exclusive Offer: You Could Be 1,000 Bonus Points Closer to Paradise”.  Hope a few of you received some nice surprise offers from Hyatt in your inboxes!  If you aren’t sure why I would care about a few thousand extra Hyatt points, check out this post from this morning on some of the reasons why Hyatt Gold Passport is such a popular hotel loyalty program in our house.

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In case you are curious, here are the terms and conditions for the offer:

Members will receive 1,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after your first Eligible Stay from May 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014. A maximum 1,000 bonus points may be earned, regardless of the number of stays completed during the promotional period. For the purpose of this Offer, an “Eligible Stay” is defined in the complete Terms and Conditions of the Hyatt Gold Passport program, except that stays at M life resorts do not count as Eligible Stays under this promotion. Award nights shall not constitute an eligible night. Hyatt Gold Passport members will only receive eligible stay credit for their room, regardless of the number of paid rooms. Members must provide their Hyatt Gold Passport membership number at the time of check-in and choose points or miles for their stay. Hyatt Gold Passport will automatically track Eligible Stays when members provide their Hyatt Gold Passport membership number. Hyatt Gold Passport reserves the right to alter or withdraw this promotion at any time without notice. This promotion is subject to the complete Terms and Conditions of the Hyatt Gold Passport program. For complete program terms and conditions, visit goldpassport.com. Promotional blackout periods may apply due to seasonal periods or special events, and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts® encompasses hotels managed, franchised or leased by subsidiaries and affiliates of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The trademarks Hyatt®, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Park Hyatt®, Andaz®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Place®, Hyatt House®, Hyatt Zilara™, Hyatt Ziva™, Hyatt Residence Club®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation and its affiliates. ©2014 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

Posted by mommypoints | 7 Comments

We have our “biggest” trip of the year coming up very soon where my husband and I are flying literally around the world to celebrate his 40th birthday.  We are only stopping in a few cities, but we are technically flying around the world via Europe to The Maldives, and then back home via Asia.  This award was booked all in business class on Star Alliance partners including United, Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and EVA Air for 120,000 United miles (before the February devaluation) + $90 in taxes/fees each.   It’s a heck of a deal for what we are getting and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a big birthday than with a big trip.

I’ll post lots more on this trip after it happens, but today I worked on getting our seat assignments sand pre-ordering some meals.  Since I booked via United, the only seat assignments we were able to make at the time of booking were the United operated segments.  United was able to give me my Turkish Airlines confirmation number, but to get the confirmation numbers for Singapore Airlines and EVA Airlines I had to call those airlines directly and provide my name, flight number, and the date I was traveling.

Book the Cook With Singapore Airlines:

Singapore has a pretty popular “Book the Cook” program for their business and first class passengers where you can book some “off the in-flight menu” items in advance.  One popular menu item that folks seem to rave about is the Lobster Thermidor.  You don’t have to order your meal in advance, but you have more than the three or four standard selections on-board if you do choose to order in advance so it can be worth the extra time.  You can do this over the phone, or perhaps more preferably, online.  You do have to have your Singapore Airlines confirmation number to select your meal online, hence the call I had to make to Singapore Airlines to get it since United couldn’t provide it to me.

My Singapore business class flight from Male – Singapore doesn’t have the “Book the Cook” option, but we were able to get our seat assignments, and I ordered an “Oriental Vegetarian” meal, because why the heck not.  I often have good luck with vegetarian special meals that are ordered ahead of time for flights.  Given our weird middle of the night flight times, I doubt we will really care about eating anyway on this flight regardless of what was served.

For what it’s worth, they also have some “Yummy” kids meals that you can also pick from online.  This is waaaay better than with US airlines where you can request a child’s meal for some flights, but you don’t get any input or information about what it might consist of ahead of time.

EVA Air Pre-Order Meals:

EVA Air also allows their premium cabin passengers the opportunity to select their main course entree online from 24 hours – 21 days in advance of the flight.   We have several meals in the sky with EVA, so we got to pick from the following selections online.  The selections with the * are the ones that can only be ordered in advance.

EVA Meal OrderDinner:

Pan Fried Prime Beef Fillet Steak with Rosemary Mustard Brown Sauce,Vegetables,Gratin Red Skin Potato
Steamed Cod Fillet with Nori Paste Sauce,Vegetables and Egg Noodles
Stuffed Chicken Wing with Bamboo Shoot, Shiitake Mushroom and Ham in Superior Soya Sauce, Vegetables and Steamed Rice with Pearl Barley
*Rack of Lamb Cutlet Coated with Lime Herb Crust with Rosemary Sauce serve with Parmentier Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables
*Pan Fried Duck Breast with Dark Cherry Red Wine Sauce and Asparagus Rolled with Bacon,Roasted Potato
*Pan Seared Salmon Fillet and Cold Smoked Tuna Coated with Spinach and Sesame Delight Salad
*Braised Bean Curd,Burduck,Buttum Mushroom with Monascus Purpareus Sauce in Baby Pumpkin,Five Grain Rice
*Sauteed Scallop and Prawn with Herb Cream Sauce serve with Charcoal Noodles Tossed with Olive Oil and Buttered Vegetable

Breakfast:

Taiwanese Plain Congee Served with Cold Delicatessen, Scrambled Egg with Scallion and Carrot, Shimeiji Mushroom with Green Beans and Water Bamboo Shoot
Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Udon Noodles Served with Traditional Delicatessens
Asparagus and Red Capsicum Egg Frittata Served with Pan Fried Chicken Sausage

As you can see for dinner your choices on board will be chicken, beef, or fish, but if you order in advance you get to throw in options like lamb, duck, salmon, scallops, and more.  This also gives you the chance to google some menu items you may not be as familiar with. 

Always Check Your Partner Flight Reservations Carefully:

Whether you care about making your menu selection in advance or not, it is still a very very good idea to check your reservations with partner airlines carefully and directly before departure.  It is quite likely in some situations that you won’t have specific seats assigned until you contact them directly, and knowing that the ticket is issued correctly is a nice feeling as well….because it isn’t always done perfectly and you want to be aware of any of those issues well before you go to check-in at the airport and can’t because the reservation was never actually ticketed.

Do you take the time to order meals ahead of time or double check seat assignments, especially with awards involving multiple partners?

Posted by mommypoints | 13 Comments

This week I got an email from a reader newer to the miles and points world who is starting the planning process for some vacations before deciding which hotel programs they are going to focus their earnings in.  For the record, this is the right way to start your miles and points journey.  You will come out better if you decide how you want to use your points before you get too far into earning them, at least in the beginning.

Anyway this reader wanted to know how I pick which hotel rewards programs to focus on for my family.  I thought this was a great question and I started to answer it all in one post, only to realize the post was turning into an epic novel.  Instead, I am going to devote a series to the topic by focusing on the pros and cons of one hotel program at at time.  I’ll then do a wrap-up post at the end for those who might not need quite as much info on the programs.  What better program to start with than Hyatt Gold Passport, so here we go.

Hyatt Gold Passport Excels for Top Tier Redemptions, Family Centered Resorts:

Hyatt is one of my very favorite hotel chains and award programs in large part due to the redemptions we are able to make for their top-end properties in great locations, as well as for their family-centered resorts.  I have been able to use a reasonable number of points to stay in amazing hotels like the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Tokyo, and other pretty high end and amazing properties that I would not be able to afford with cash.  I think this is an area where Hyatt excels thanks to the two free nights with the Hyatt Visa, as well as the award chart topping out at 25,000 and 30,000 points for Category 6 and 7 hotels.

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Suite at Andaz Maui

The other type of Hyatt redemption that we think is very strong are their family oriented resorts.  Properties such as Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, Hyatt Hyatt Grand Cypress, Ziva Los Cabos, and Hyatt Regency Aruba cater to various members of the family in gorgeous settings and with activities and amenities that are pretty high end as far as resorts go.  Since these are all locations that are popular with families, the cash prices during school breaks can get crazy…and that is exactly when we use points.  Assuming there is a standard room available for sale, you can book it with points for the same points price, regardless of demand periods.  These Hyatt resorts are usually in the Category 5-6 range for 20,000 – 25,000 Hyatt points per night.  Many of them also have Regency Clubs that you can visit to get snacks and drinks thanks to either having Diamond status, or via spending some additional points or cash to upgrade.

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Grand Hyatt Kauai is a family paradise

Hyatt Okay for Mid-Range Properties at Fair Point Prices:

I think Hyatt’s real strength is at the top end and their resorts, but they are a decent option in the mid-range or even for their family friendly Hyatt Place/Hyatt House properties.  Some of their Hyatt Regency type properties in medium-sized cities can be a little sterile, but that’s okay if all you are looking for is a clean and affordable place to sleep at night.  Category 1 properties start at just 5,000 points per night, and they can be totally decent properties such as the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

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HR Wichita is not bad for 5k points per night

Hyatt’s footprint is relatively small compared to other major chains, so you won’t find a Hyatt everywhere (especially in small towns or outside the United States), but if there is a Hyatt, it is likely to be priced for a fair number of points.  For example, the Hyatt Regency Austin in downtown Austin is 15,000 points per night whereas the W Austin a few blocks away is 20,000 – 25,000 SPG points per night.  The Hyatt may not be as “stylish or hip” as the W, but it is a much more reasonable number of easier to obtain points.

 Hyatt Diamond Status is Very Rewarding:

If you travel pretty frequently, it is worth noting that Hyatt Diamond status is very rewarding, even when you are traveling on points.  Earning Diamond status requires 25 annual eligible stays or 50 annual eligible nights.  Starting this year cash + points nights will count toward elite status qualification, but pure award stays still do not.  If you are fortunate enough to achieve Diamond status you will: earn 30% more on base points, get a choice of 1,000 points or a food/beverage amenity at full service Hyatt hotels on each stay, earn four confirmed suite upgrades per year (you can even use them on cash + points reservation), and get club access or full breakfast for all registered members of the room each day.

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Room service breakfast at Park Hyatt Paris Vendome = free for Diamond guests

Hyatt Diamond status is by far the most rewarding hotel elite status for families thanks to the breakfast/club access benefit and the confirmed suite upgrades.  It makes family vacations more comfortable and enjoyable thanks to being able to have some extra room to spread out, and be able to eat breakfast on property without spending any extra money.  Hyatt even offers a “Diamond Challenge” that gives you temporary Hyatt Diamond Status (complete with the four suite upgrades) for 60 days.  You  get to keep the status if you complete 12 eligible nights in those 60 days.  You do need to have elite status with a competitor such as Hilton (Gold or Platinum), SPG (Platinum), Marriott (Gold or Platinum), or IHG Rewards (Platinum) to request the challenge.  You can send an email to goldpassport at hyatt.com to request the challenge.

Another relatively new elite perk for both Platinum and Hyatt Diamond members is access to the “My Elite Rate” which is 20% off the daily rate, and is often the lowest rate when it is offered.

Hyatt Points are Relatively Easy to Obtain:

Another thing that makes Hyatt a big winner in my points-obsessed mind is that the points are relatively easy to earn for those of us with access to rewards credit cards.  At Hyatt hotels you earn five Hyatt Gold Passport points for every eligible dollar spent at Hyatt at their spas, in their restaurants, or on your nightly hotel charges.  Platinum members can earn a 15% point bonus and Diamond members a 30% bonus on those amounts.  Diamond members can also get a 500 – 1,000 Diamond amenity bonus per stay.

If you have the Hyatt Visa you earn 3 points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties, 2 points per dollar at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies, and 1 point per dollar on most everything else.  This means that if you had a $150 hotel night as a Diamond member with the Hyatt Visa you would earn 750 base points + 225 bonus points + 1,000 bonus points from the Diamond amenity + 450 points for using your Hyatt Visa to pay.  That is a total of 2,425 points for a mid-range stay, and that is before any promotions are considered.  Without any elite status or Hyatt credit cards the earning would just be the 750 base points.  Hyatt usually has a couple of promotions each year that make earning points on eligible stays a bit easier.

The good news is that since Hyatt is a 1:1 transfer partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards you don’t have to have lots of Hyatt stays in order to rack up Hyatt points!  Cards like the  Ink Plus® Business Card,  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Ink Bold® Business Card rack up Ultimate Rewards that can be instantly transferred to Gold Passport.  The Chase Freedom®  also earns points that transfer 1:1 to Hyatt as long as you also have one of the above mentioned Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards.  What makes this really handy is when you are taking advantage of the 5x and 2x bonus earning categories on these cards, as that makes the earning add up in a hurry.  For example, just $1,000 in spending a month on a card like the Ink Plus or Ink Bold in their 5x bonus categories such as cell phone expenses, internet, landline, cable, or office supply stores results in 5,000 Ultimate Reward points that can be transferred to Hyatt.  Compare that to the number of points earned for a typical Hyatt stay, and you can see how powerful and relevant these cards are to Hyatt Gold Passport.

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Use points to float the river at Hyatt Lost Pines

Save Money on Hyatt Stays:

In addition to the My Elite Rate for Hyatt elites, you can save money pretty easily on Hyatt stays by booking your reservations by going through Ebates or TopCashBack to get anywhere from 2% – 5% cash back on your reservation.  Note that these don’t always track perfectly or work with all rates, but it is nice when it works!  You can also get 5% back in a statement credit on eligible stays via the American Express OPEN program and when you use cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.  This is valid at select Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt hotels within the U.S.  I will also add that the 5% statement credit is reported to work when buying Hyatt gift cards online…

Using Hyatt Points:

Hyatt has seven categories of hotels that range from 5,000 – 30,000 points per night for a standard room.  You can also use a higher number of points each night to secure a club room or a suite.

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Grand Club at GH Kauai

Category 1:

5,000 points for standard room

7,000 points for a club room

8,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 2,500 points + $50

Category 2:

8,000 points for a standard room

12,000 points for a club room

13,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 4,000 points + $55

Category 3:

12,000 points for a standard room

17,000 points for a club room

20,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 6,000 points + $75

Category 4:

15,000 points for a standard room:

21,000 points for a club room

24,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 7,500 points + $100

Category 5:

20,000 points for a standard room

27,000 points for a club room

32,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 10,000 points + $125

Category 6:

25,000 points for a standard room

33,000 points for a club room

40,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 12,500 points + $150

Category 7:

30,000 points for a standard room

39,000 points for a club room

48,000 points for a suite

Cash and points for standard room 15,000 points + $300

The all-inclusive properties and Hyatt Residence Club properties have their own award charts that can be found here.  Another potentially good use of points is paying 3,000 points per night on top of your paid rate to upgrade to a club room or 6,000 points per night on top of a paid rate to upgrade to a suite.  There are some nuisances about eligible rates that can be found here.

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Little C using the “bath phone” to express her happiness with the Andaz 5th Ave Suite Upgrade

Hyatt doesn’t have a 5th night free, discounted weekend point rates, or “nights and flights” option the way that some hotel programs do, but instead they offer fair point prices 365 days a year.  I find their customer service to generally be very good, and the folks running the Gold Passport program seem to be very interested in keeping the program great.  The addition of the cash and points award chart this year has been good, though it will be better when availability can be searched online instead of having to call.  I love that you can use a Diamond Confirmed Suite upgrade on a cash and points reservation – especially for some of the very nice Category 5 and 6 properties.

The exceptional family resorts and high end properties, the ease at which points can be earned (especially through Ultimate Rewards), the customer service, elite status perks, and fair redemption prices make Hyatt Gold Passport a very popular hotel rewards program within my family.

Does your family utilize the Hyatt Gold Passport program?  What features make it a winner (or loser) for your family?

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a rewards credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support.

Posted by mommypoints | 11 Comments

Here are the basics on two promos that are out right now and might help a few of you stretch your points or even earn a few extra ones! Hilton HHonors Double Points or Double Miles Spring/Summer Promo Launched: From May 1 – July 31, 2014 you can earn Double Points or Double Miles at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio.  You do need to register for the… Read the Rest.

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This morning I read a post on View From the Wing about whether coach customers should be able to use the first class lavatory on the plane.  My thought is that most of the time you should use the restroom in your ticketed cabin as you are usually instructed to do during the announcements, but like with almost anything, there should be some exceptions to the rule.  Here’s what I… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 30 Comments

My family collects airline miles so that we can pay for flights we otherwise couldn’t afford to buy with cash and make certain flights far more comfortable than they otherwise would be.  However, not every single flight we take is paid for with miles, so we have to decide which ones get paid for with miles and which ones get paid for with cash every time we book a trip…. Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 9 Comments

Apologies for keeping this quite short (Easter Bunny duties are calling), but wanted to mention that the IHG Rewards promo that is giving 50% the points price at select hotels promo is live!  You can see some of the details below, or read the previous post on the topic for more info.  Half-off the points price for these hotels makes them quite affordable in many cases! WHAT: Get 50 percent off… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 3 Comments

To conclude the write-up of our recent ski trip to Whistler, I want to share five tips for families who plan to visit Whistler for a ski trip in the future.  If you are interested in Whistler, then here is our report on the Westin Whistler (complete with video review) as well as info on flying into and staying near the airport in Vancouver.  Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

I’m pretty easy going with a lot of things in life (or at least I try to be), but like with most people, there are some topics that I’m pretty passionate about.  Given what I spend my time writing about, it shouldn’t be a shocker than family travel is pretty high on that list.  I’m passionate about the role that travel can play in the development and connectedness of all… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 48 Comments

In recent months IHG Rewards has taken to giving several bloggers the head’s up that various promos are coming, and I think that is super helpful so we can pass that along with readers who want a little extra time to be ready to pull the trigger when offers launch.  Today they shared info that beginning on April 20th you will be able to book reward nights for 50% off… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 3 Comments

Hope you are all having a good Friday whether or not you celebrate Good Friday!  I guess Rocketmiles decided this was indeed a good Friday to announce their new partnership that allows you to earn Southwest Rapid Reward points when making your hotel reservations via Rocketmiles!  Southwest joins the over one dozen different types of airline miles you can earn via Rocketmiles.  Other options include: United, American Airlines, US Airways,… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

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