The New Best Hyatt Category 1–4 Hotels for Family Vacations
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Hyatt’s annual category changes just went into effect and while many properties got a little more expensive with points, there is a silver lining: 12 properties moved down from a Hyatt Category 5 to a Category 4. For many, Hyatt’s Category 4 properties serve as the “sweet spot” for awards redemptions. This is because they are the highest tier level for which you can use your World of Hyatt free night certificates.
You can earn World of Hyatt Category 1–4 free night certificates three different ways:
- On your card member anniversary for World of Hyatt Credit Card members
- When you spend $15,000 annually on your World of Hyatt Credit Card for a second award night
- By staying 30 nights or earning 50,000 base points at Hyatt properties
Even if you don’t have a Category 1–4 award, 15,000 points per night is a nice award-chart price. Not only could you earn bonus points with the Hyatt credit card, but the 60,000 point sign-up bonus (after $4,000 spent in the first three months) from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card could be transferred to Hyatt in order to book four award nights.
Although there are 12 properties that have moved down to the Hyatt Category 4 level, there are three family-friendly destinations to pay special attention to when planning your next vacation.
Andaz and Grand Hyatt in San Diego
If San Diego is on your radar, there are now two high-end properties in the Category 4 bucket. You can pick from the Andaz San Diego or the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. The Andaz is a small boutique hotel in the historic district, where you’ll receive complimentary snacks and beverages from the minibar. The Grand Hyatt, on the other hand, is a much larger complex closer to the waterfront. While you won’t have a free-for-all with the minibar, you’ll have access to a pretty great concierge floor if you have World of Hyatt Globalist status or if you redeem a Club Lounge award.
You’ll notice that the Grand Hyatt offers rooms with two queen beds where the Andaz only offers rooms with two double beds. For many families, this can be a deal breaker, so it is something to consider. For the kids, both hotels have pools, both are also close to the San Diego Zoo and both are only a short ride away from SeaWorld.
Visit New York City — Sleep in Jersey
New York City is never cheap — even when you use points. Hyatt charges you 20,000 to 30,000 points a night to stay in NYC, depending on your desired property. That is a ton of points to spend on a small hotel room while you spend most of your time away from the property exploring the city.
Fortunately, visiting Manhattan just became a little cheaper — at least on points. Both the Hyatt House Jersey City and the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson now only cost 15,000 points for a free night stay. Yes, these two properties are in New Jersey, but do not let that scare you. In just four minutes, you can be in downtown Manhattan at the World Trade Center via the PATH train under the Hudson River.
The Hyatt Regency is next door to Exchange Place, where the PATH is located. If you choose the Hyatt House, you are just a few minutes’ walk away. All in all, it is a short door-to-door commute that can save you points and score you a larger room than you would get in Manhattan. Plus, at the Hyatt House breakfast is free.
If you want to take a break from exploring New York City for the day, you can check out Liberty Science Center, right in Jersey City. This is a great center, with an aquarium, a 3D theater and, best of all, the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.
And as an added bonus, from Jersey you’ll actually get some of the best views of New York City.
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort
There are not many Hyatt resort properties on the East Coast and most are pretty far south. However, there is an exception: the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland. This is a true resort on 342 acres of land that is now a Hyatt Category 4 property.
Although the property dropped from a Category 5 to a 4, it didn’t get any less desirable. In fact, it recently went through a massive renovation and even updated the guest rooms from two double beds to two queen beds. It’s surprising that it went down in points requirements, but that is a big win for World of Hyatt members.
This property is along the bay where you’ll find a marina, golf course and a small beach area (although most months you’ll find jellyfish in the water). It also boasts an indoor pool, two outdoor pools (with a waterslide) and a hot tub. The pool areas are incredibly kid-friendly with floats, basketball hoops and even large chess games on the pool deck.
There are also many family-friendly activities — everything from arts and crafts to Popsicles at the pool to cooking classes to “dive-in” nightly movies. For the entire family, there’s the Family Iron Chef competition, nature walks and mini-golf. Best of all, most (although not all) of the activities are included in the resort fee that is waived when you use points or a free night certificate. There is also a Camp Hyatt for a nominal fee.
This hotel is less than two hours from Washington, DC, so while it is probably not a fly-in destination, if you are spending extended time in the DC area, this might be the perfect resort for a few days out of the city. Or for those living in the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia area, it is a fantastic long weekend destination for just 15k points per night or Category 1–4 awards.
Other Hyatt Properties to Consider
On the new Hyatt Category 4 list, you’ll also find the Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile, Hyatt Centric The Loop Chicago, Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, Park Hyatt Istanbul – Macka Palas, Hyatt Regency Kiev, Park Hyatt Zanzibar and Park Hyatt Hangzhou.
You might be wondering why the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach isn’t on my top 4 list? The reason is that you can stay at the nearby Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach from only 12,000 points, which is far less than the Hyatt Centric. The two properties are close to one another, and based on TPG editor Zach Honig’s recent stay, the Hyatt Centric doesn’t seem to be worth the extra points in most cases.
While annual category changes always take time to get used to (we’re still grieving the Andaz Costa Rica and Hyatt Regency Coconut Point moving up from a 4 to a 5), a new batch of properties have landed in Hyatt’s Category 4 award chart sweet spot.
What new properties will your family be exploring with the category changes?
Featured image Hyatt Chesapeake Bay
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