If you’re fairly far along in your US credit card journey, chances are you’ve already gotten your individual tax identification number (ITIN) and at least a couple US issued cards from American Express. From there it’s on to Chase and their incredible ecosystem of Ultimate Reward earning and exclusive co-branded credit cards.
Why is this so important? Because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the only transfer partner of the World of Hyatt program, widely regarded as their best partner, and the only meaningful way of really accumulating enough World of Hyatt points to enhance your next trip. This is especially important for Canadians since we have significantly fewer options than our neighbors to the south for co-branded hotel credit cards.
Furthermore, World of Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status is also considered by most points enthusiasts to be the best, due to their excellent elite recognition, which includes early check-in/late check-out, generous upgrades, lounge access, and full complimentary breakfast.
Last but not least, Hyatt is one of the last major hotel loyalty programs that still publish an award chart, so you’ll at least have the peace of mind of knowing exactly how many points your stay will cost without having to worry about dynamic pricing spoiling your plans.
Though unlike Hilton and Marriott, which offer instant Hilton Diamond status and Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status respectively by just holding one of their premium co-branded hotel credit cards from American Express, Hyatt doesn’t offer a way to instantly fast-track your way to a higher status. Aside from the occasional promotion or spend-based threshold on the Chase World of Hyatt Visa card, you actually have to stay the required 60 nights to reach Globalist status.
With World of Hyatt Globalist status being out of reach for many, we’re going to look at Hyatt’s partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) and why it may be the best way to push the value of your Hyatt points further.
What is Small Luxury Hotels of the World?
For many years, Hyatt’s biggest deficiency has been its number of properties and worldwide footprint versus its competitors, Marriott and Hilton. To give some context, Marriott has over 8000 properties, while Hyatt has only recently broken 1500.
Though this gap has been steadily shrinking with Hyatt’s purchase of 100+ all-inclusive resorts and their partnership with SLH which saw the addition of nearly 400 properties in the past few years, they still have a long way to go.
SLH is a collection of independently unique boutique hotels that have chosen to partner with Hyatt for greater exposure and to leverage World of Hyatt’s large membership base. With an average of just 50 rooms per property and an emphasis on the highest standards of luxury, SLH brands itself as ‘anti-chain’ and an expression of their locality.
So, if you’re looking to break away from the cookie-cutter style hotels that dominate the loyalty landscape in most major cities, this collection might have something for you.
It should be noted that Hyatt does not own or operate any of SLH’s properties. Their collaboration is more akin to an airline alliance in some ways. Just as Air Canada has a partnership with the 26 other Star Alliance member airlines, it allows Air Canada to greatly expand their network to offer more destinations and grant reciprocal benefits to elite passengers while allowing their members to earn and redeem points with any member airline.
The same can be said for Hyatt and SLH with this alliance. Hyatt expands its worldwide footprint greatly in many of the most popular vacation destinations it was absent from and SLH gains the immense marketing and brand recognition that Hyatt is able to provide. Hyatt members can earn and redeem points while receiving some very tangible benefits when booking through World of Hyatt.
Of the 520 properties in Small Luxury Hotels of the World, roughly 400 participate in the World of Hyatt partnership.
One of the reasons this partnership is so beneficial to Hyatt members is that the footprints of each of the two companies have very little overlap and complement each program perfectly, making it easier to earn and redeem in more places. At the time of their merger, nearly all of SLH’s properties were in locations that Hyatt properties did not currently occupy.
You’ll find participating SLH properties in over 90 countries. The vast majority, over half in fact, of SLH locations are in Europe, though they do cover Asia and the Caribbean reasonably well in many of the most popular tourist destinations. Africa, the Middle East, and Australia are notably lacking though, with only a handful of properties in each region.
Earning World of Hyatt points at Small Luxury Hotels of the World
When booking through the World of Hyatt program via the Hyatt Website for any stay at an SLH property you earn points based on an earning structure that is nearly identical to if you were staying at any other Hyatt branded hotel, with one exception. Only your nightly rate is eligible to earn Hyatt points. Incidentals such as dining, parking, and spa treatments are ineligible for earning any points.
With that said, if you decide to book a cash rate rather than redeem points, you’ll earn:
- Five base World of Hyatt points per USD spent on an eligible room rate.
- One Tier-Qualifying Night for every night a member stays.
Also, any member who has obtained a higher tier of status will earn the associated bonus points based on their level.
Redeeming World of Hyatt Points at Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Redeeming World of Hyatt points at Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties is subject to the standard award chart, which also includes off-peak and peak pricing:
Since nearly all SLH properties have less than 50 rooms, award rate inventory can be limited during the peak travel season. Also worth mentioning, is if you have a World of Hyatt Category 1-4 or Category 1-7 free night awards, they may be redeemed at SLH locations.
While looking at SLH properties for an upcoming trip to Europe, I’ve found most SLH free night awards to be priced quite favorably. I’ve had no trouble getting what I consider fantastic value for my World of Hyatt points, easily eclipsing 3+ cents per point. This is all that much sweeter when we consider the benefits provided when staying at SLH, which we’ll look at next.
Benefits While Staying at Small Luxury Hotels of the World
The most compelling reason for someone to consider a stay at SLH are the on-property benefits provided, regardless of your status.
When booking through Hyatt you’ll receive the following benefits:
- Complimentary continental breakfast for two
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Early check-in at 12:00 p.m. (based on availability)
- Late checkout at 2:00 p.m. (based on availability)
- One category room upgrade (based on availability)
A pretty great suite of benefits if you ask me, especially if you consider that booking directly with SLH’s own program won’t even get you all that’s offered here.
I know some seasoned travelers might bristle when they see the words ‘continental breakfast’, as it may conjure up images of prepackaged pastries and maybe a fruit basket if you’re lucky.
This is totally understandable and very much what you should expect if you’re anywhere in North America, but I’ve found once you take your travels further afield, continental breakfast is often much more extensive. I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable to have modest expectations if you’re in Europe or Asia.
With status from Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors being relatively easy to earn, I grapple with the conflict of branching out to another hotel loyalty program where I hold no status at all. It’s understandable to have that feeling, I was faced with this exact situation when researching hotels for an upcoming trip to Europe. I just defaulted to looking at Marriott and Hilton out of habit.
What I came to find though was that the only Marriott property in one of our destinations is a brand that doesn’t fully participate in the Bonvoy program, which meant no breakfast, upgrades, etc. Not to mention, both Hilton locations left me similarly uninspired, wanting $50 CAD per night to park our rental car. In comes SLH, with its host of benefits and uniquely local boutique hotel properties, making our decision a no-brainer.
SLH has some truly incredible looking properties that would have been otherwise inaccessible without their alliance with Hyatt. Hopefully, we’ll see more locations join as the program evolves. Especially if they keep their reasonable nightly award rates and great benefits, Hyatt and SLH are a winning combo.
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