Hyatt Underwhelms

Believe it or not, this past weekend was my very first stay at a Hyatt in the United States.  Yep, I’ve only ever stayed at Hyatt in Korea and Thailand. As a Platinum member of Hyatt’s reward program, my expectations had been set based on my experiences overseas.  Perhaps I should have gone in with no expectations because  I left quite disappointed.

I arrived at Tampa International Airport after traveling 36 from Bangkok. With luggage in hand, I called for the hotel shuttle.  It arrived very quickly (within 5 minutes) and when the doors opened I wheeled my bags over.  I was struggling to get my bags on the bus as they were heavy and my hands were full.  I expected that the bus driver would offer assistance, but that offer never came. The bus driver just sat there looking at me.  Finally another guest who had walked up behind me offered to help me.  I was very relieved.   A short ride and we arrived at the hotel, again, the driver made no effort to help with anyone’s bags.  The man who helped me earlier also helped me with my big bag.  I told him I should probably tip him and he laughed.

There were no bellman or any staff members at the doors to greet guests so I wandered into the hotel to find reception.  Someone vacuuming the floors finally pointed me in the right direction. Reception wouldn’t have been that hard to find except it was tucked around a corner that you don’t see when you first enter the hotel.

I was exhausted when I had arrived and just wanted to get to my room.  The agent greeted me and asked for ID and a credit card. She told me they had me in a room with two double beds. I mentioned that I had received an email confirming an upgrade and she said that unfortunately the hotel was full and there was nothing she could do that night. Even after mentioning that I had gotten an email confirming an upgrade, there was absolutely no mention of any Platinum Benefits. In fact, I wasn’t even recognized as a member of their rewards program.   Since I felt like a zombie at that point, I just took the keys and headed up to the room.


The room had two double beds, a chair, a chaise lounge, and a desk.  The lighting in the room was good, which I do appreciate and there were plenty of outlets near the bed.  I was starving at that point, so I decided to order a quick meal.  It was delivered very quickly and the man who delivered it was very helpful.  The food was good, not outstanding or great, but good for room service.  And I actually didn’t think it was outrageously expensive.

As I ate I called down to the front desk to ask about benefits.  I was told that with my corporate rate I had access to the Grand Club, but that it was closed on the weekend. I asked about internet and she confirmed that it was free with my platinum status.  I asked about breakfast or any other benefits and she said there were none for Platinum members.

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The bathroom was clean, but had a bathtub shower combination and I tend to prefer a stand-alone shower.  There are June Jacobs amenities in the bathroom which were nice.

I got a good night sleep and when I woke up the next day, I called the front desk to confirm that the rooms my family had booked would be exactly what they had booked and that they’d be ready at three.  The front desk manager, Sheala, confirmed that my family would have two adjoining rooms and they would be ready by 3pm.   I had no car, and couldn’t really go anywhere, so I decided to eat at the hotel bar.  The service was very good and the food was okay.   After lunch I swung by the front desk to double check the status of the rooms and they confirmed that they’d be ready at 3pm.

Why was 3pm check-in so important? We were there for a wedding and those of us who were in the wedding party had to be dressed and ready at 4pm for photos in the hotel. At 3:10 when my family arrived at check-in they learned that only 1 room was ready – even though I had been told twice that both would be ready at 3pm.  So my family went up to the clean one to start getting ready.  About 15-20 minutes later the second room was ready and someone brought the key to the room.

That evening we all went to the wedding in the hotel’s grand ballroom.  The wedding was beautiful and the room looked amazing.  Having worked in the Tampa Bay area for many many years I was very familiar with the Hyatt’s catering and banquet facilities.   Throughout the night, the service from the banquet team really lacked.  Servers were rude, it was hard to find anyone to get a refill on water, they cleared plates before even asking if the guest was done with meal and were very, very slow.   There were only two bright spots in the service – a supervisor got me two plastic cups for the children at the table (the glasses were too heavy for them) and later in the evening, a hotel concierge got me a ton of safety pins because one member of the wedding party had split his tuxedo pants!!  Other than those two helpful moments I really felt like we were at a 3 star hotel vs the five star hotel the Grand Hyatt Tampa claims to be.

I can live with no upgrade – I understand that the hotel was quite busy (there were two weddings and a convention at the hotel) but I really don’t understand how the overall service could be so bad.  From the front desk team, to the bus driver, to the banquet servers, no one seemed to want to provide service with a smile or even just do their jobs well.  If there wasn’t a huge sign that said Hyatt, I could have easily said I was at a Holiday Inn or Hilton Garden Inn vs a Grand Hyatt.  One blogger said “If it’s not a Park Hyatt or Andaz don’t expect anything special

My first impression at a Hyatt in the United States left me wishing I had stayed across the street at the Westin hotel.  When I tweeted with @HyattPR and some other travel bloggers about Hyatt benefits everyone confirmed that Platinum really gets you nothing. Hyatt tweeted that “the more you stay the better the benefits.

Hyatt tweet


There’s only 1 level above Platinum, and in my personal experiences, most chains treat their second to top tier members a little bit better than Hyatt!

At Hilton’s mid-tier status, gold, you get free internet access, space available upgrades to better rooms and even club rooms with access to the club lounge.If a club room is not available, you get complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

Marriott offers free internet for Gold members worldwide. As a Gold member you get a space available upgrade to the best available room. You are guaranteed access to the club lounge and if the club lounge is closed or the hotel doesn’t have a club lounge, you get complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel.

Starwood gives gold members a 4PM late check-out option and space available room upgrades. Gold members also earn three points per dollar spent, as opposed to the normal earning rate of two points per dollar. Gold members also have the option to select one check-in amenity which can be breakfast, free wifi or points and you also get a complimentary drink.

Kimpton In Touch members get free wifi, space available upgrades, $30 In-Room Spa Credit (where available), and Raid the Mini Bar ($10 of free mini-bar goodies, $15 in NYC).

Personally, I’m not sure that Hyatt is the best backup program – other than it’s the easiest to requalify for. I’d prefer a backup hotel chain that offers its mid-tier members better benefits.  Judging Hyatt by my first stay in the US, I’m not impressed.  I will likely choose another backup brand the next time there are no Starwood hotels in the area.


14 Comments on "Hyatt Underwhelms"

  1. Any tier below top tier is normally underwhelming… Hilton Gold is an anomaly, and Marriott requires 50 nts to get to Gold, although some may be taken care of by credit cards. I don’t think SPG Golds have a breakfast option. Hyatt Plats should also get 2pm checkout if available, but I don’t expect much on status that is given away with various credit cards. (“Hey!” said the Priority Club Plat, Hyatt Plat, and SPG Gold cards.)

    But yes, Hilton Gold is the best mid-tier status to have, but that’s probably b/c most HH props are mid-tier.

  2. “There’s only 1 level above Platinum…”

    There are also zero levels below platinum. The other programs you’re comparing to mostly have a lower tier, too. Hyatt doesn’t. This is their bottom tier. Think of it that way. Makes a bit more sense, actually.

  3. Your expectations for platinum status are a bit off, and the post is a bit misleading in suggesting you were entitled to certain benefits. Platinum status comes with Hyatt’s basic credit card, and you were expecting an upgrade and breakfast? Those are not published benefits. Note that SPG Gold rarely gives an upgrade and never breakfast, and that isnt handed out quite as easily. Hyatt Platinum is closer to Marriott or Hilton Silver. It’s actually better, as it gets you free internet.

  4. Plat statis with Hyatt is like HH Silver (or whatever they call it) or Marriott Silver. It only requires 5 stays or the credit card. Frankly free internet is a decent benefit to get just for carrying the credit card. The only other benefit is a slight boost in earnings for stays.

    There’s no mid-tier equivalent at Hyatt, since it only requires 25 stays to make it Diamond. Do a diamond challenge and try a decent property next time (you will get diamond benefits and the 4 suite upgrades at the beginning of the challenge)

    I never liked that Tampa property very much either. Was that the Grand near the airport?

    And the world traveler in you really didn’t know this?


  5. To clarify, breakfast is not an option for an amenity from SPG Gold. The options are internet, 500 points, or a welcome drink.
    Upgrades are not part of the listed benefits — only “enhanced” rooms, which are usually higher floors within the booked category.

  6. @Wandering Aramean, that does make more sense looking at it that way. It’s kind of funny to call that level “platinum” being their bottom tier. But it does give better perspective. I know I’m also spoiled by hotels in Asia that do much more for their members.

  7. @Adam In Asia, Gold guests do get to choose that, but I realize Asia is quite different.

  8. Hyatt in Tampa doesn’t really compare to Hyatt in Asia. But then the Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport doesn’t compare to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, either 😉

    And Starwood Gold has an upgrade benefit similar to Hyatt Platinum. While Hyatt Platinum gets late checkout, indeed Starwood Gold’s late checkout benefit is better.

    Hyatt Diamond is outstanding, Hyatt Platinum is a giveaway level (it comes bundled with their credit card for instance). Hyatt in-hotel points earning via spend is much better than Starwood.

    Each program has its pluses and minuses, as does each property.

    You might have expected a little bit much from this one.

  9. @LIH yes, I really didn’t know that…shocking 😉 I have only ever stayed at Hyatt’s in Asia and they really treat guests differently so I had a different expectation based on those experiences.

  10. @Gary Leff, yeah, I think Thai hotels have me too spoiled. Bad expectations. However, the service was still bad…that I didn’t expect.

  11. I’m curious how they’ll treat me in HKG…..I made the res. as a diamond, used my last suite upgrade, and will be checking in as a platinum. hmmmm. Though Hyatt has treated me very well as a diamond, I’ll see how they treat “steerage”!

  12. Actually there is one level lower than Platinum and that is Hyatt Gold Passport general member.

  13. Is this the same hotel that FTU is being held at in the Fall? I hope not.

  14. @Mr Pickles, yes, it’s the same! However, there’s a Westin about a 3-5 min drive away!

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