Points and miles make it possible for ordinary people to experience extraordinary things. For me this has meant flying some of the most luxurious flights imaginable (such as Etihad Apartments), and staying in wonderfully luxurious hotels and resorts (such as Ventana Big Sur or even Necker Island). These are crazy-expensive experiences that I would never pay cash for, but they are accessible to those with points. On the luxury lodging side of things, World of Hyatt has been my go-to program ever since IHG, Hilton, and then Marriott moved to dynamic award pricing. Dynamic award pricing means that the top-end most expensive hotels can sometimes charge nearly unlimited numbers of points. Hyatt, meanwhile, has kept their award chart and so there’s a cap on award pricing. Even the most expensive Hyatt hotels (not including some all-inclusives that have their own award chart) won’t charge more than 45,000 points per night for a base room. And this is why I’m super excited about Hyatt purchasing Mr & Mrs Smith…
Hyatt to acquire Mr & Mrs Smith
Last week Hyatt announced the agreement to purchase Mr & Mrs Smith:
CHICAGO (April 28, 2023) – Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) and Mr & Mrs Smith today announced an agreement for a Hyatt affiliate to acquire London-based Mr & Mrs Smith, a platform offering direct booking access to a carefully curated and growing collection of over 1,500 boutique and luxury properties in some of the world’s most desirable locations. Hyatt will acquire 100 percent of the asset-light Mr & Mrs Smith platform for an enterprise value of £53.0 million in cash consideration.
Mr & Mrs Smith isn’t a hotel chain. They don’t manage any properties. Instead, Mr & Mrs Smith is a hotel booking platform that specializes in boutique luxury hotels. It’s like a luxury hotel travel agency. Hotels booked through Mr & Mrs Smith provide an extra perk for your stay such as a bottle of champagne, a free massage, a picnic lunch, etc. Properties bookable through Mr & Mrs Smith are also bookable through other channels. I imagine that it is always possible to book these hotels directly and often possible through third party travel agencies (like Expedia), and sometimes through other similar platforms like Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Preferred Hotels, etc.
What will this mean for Hyatt members?
We really don’t have any details yet about what this acquisition will really mean, but there are some clues in the announcement:
The transaction is anticipated to close in the second quarter of this year, subject to customary closing conditions. At a later date following the closing, Hyatt plans to unveil direct booking access to properties within the Mr & Mrs Smith platform through Hyatt’s distribution channels, including Hyatt.com and the World of Hyatt app. The anticipated move will have the potential to unlock access to more than twice the number of global boutique and luxury properties within Hyatt direct booking channels, and Hyatt is exploring ways to enable World of Hyatt members to earn and redeem points across eligible hotels in the Mr & Mrs Smith collection. World of Hyatt members are some of the most valuable travelers in the industry who spend more and stay more, generating high-quality revenue for hotel owners.
I think its fair to assume the following:
- Mr & Mrs Smith properties won’t automatically become full fledged Hyatt properties. Sure, Hyatt might buy some of them individually down the road, but short of that, we can expect that Hyatt will continue to operate Mr & Mrs Smith as just one of several booking platforms for these properties.
- Sometime after the deal closes, some but probably not all Mr & Mrs Smith properties will become bookable through the Hyatt website and points-booking should become available at the same time or soon after.
- Hyatt will probably follow the same model that they did with their SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World) partnership. There, many SLH properties became bookable through Hyatt. Over time, more and more SLH properties became bookable but still not all of them. All SLH properties bookable through Hyatt were assigned categories and became bookable with Hyatt points accordingly. I bet we’ll see a similar thing with Mr & Mrs Smith.
- Some Mr & Mrs Smith properties may never become bookable with points. For example, it’s currently possible to book Moskito Island through Mr & Mrs Smith starting at only $20,250.00 per night (including a free rum tasting for booking through Mr & Mrs Smith). I highly doubt properties like this will ever become bookable with Hyatt points.
What about IHG?
IHG currently has a deal with Mr & Mrs Smith where many Mr & Mrs Smith properties are bookable with IHG points. My assumption is that Hyatt’s deal means that IHG will have to abandon this partnership.
In the meantime, the advantage of booking through IHG is that you can take advantage of the following:
- The ability to buy points for half a cent each during point sales. This sometimes makes it possible to save money on a hotel you would have paid more for. For example, the property above shows that it is bookable for 115,000 points, which can be bought for $575 when points are on sale. If the cash rate for the stay is much higher than that, then buying points can be a great deal.
- Fourth night free awards, if you have one of several credit cards that offer that feature
- 10% back on award stays if you have the old IHG Select card
The downside is that IHG doesn’t have an award chart and so the most expensive properties tend to cost a huge number of points.
I reached out to IHG for information about the future of IHG and Mr & Mrs Smith. Here’s the response:
We have enjoyed a good relationship with Mr & Mrs Smith since we announced our loyalty partnership in September 2019. We see value in their platform offering IHG One Rewards members direct booking access to the Mr & Mrs Smith properties currently listed on IHG channels.
We will evaluate our options following this announcement but at present there is no change to our loyalty partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith. Guests can continue to earn and redeem points at those select boutique and luxury hotels on our platforms.
Why I’m excited
Given that we can already book Mr & Mrs Smith properties with IHG points, it might seem strange that I’m excited about the possibility of booking with Hyatt points. The excitement comes down to one thing: Hyatt still maintains award charts. Except for certain all-inclusive Hyatt properties, the most expensive properties in the world bookable with Hyatt points (including SLH properties), never cost more than 45,000 points for a base room (see Hyatt’s award charts here).
Mr & Mrs Smith’s website shows one hotel starting as high as $20,250 per night (Moskito Island), and then a number of hotels ranging from around $4,000 to $10,000 per night. While I’d love it if Hyatt makes these bookable with points, I’m doubtful. But the vast majority of Mr & Mrs Smith hotels cost $3,000 per night or less. Now we’re in range of hotels that Hyatt already offers with points. Examples of expensive hotels currently bookable with Hyatt points include Calala Island which usually costs over $3,000 per night, Alila Ventana Big Sur which usually costs over $2,000 per night, Eichardt’s Private Hotel which usually costs over $2,000 per night; etc.
Let’s take a look at some of the pricey Mr & Mrs Smith properties that just might be bookable with Hyatt points in the near future, and I’ll explain why I’m excited about each…
Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur California is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s strikingly beautiful and rugged, with ocean on one side of the road (Highway 1) and mountains covered with giant redwood trees on the other. Hyatt’s Alila Ventana Big Sur is a fantastic oasis on the mountain side amidst the redwood trees. And right across the street, on the ocean side, is an even more exclusive resort: Post Ranch Inn. I don’t know much about this property except that I remember one time when the road had become inaccessible (which happens fairly often unfortunately), I read that the Post Ranch Inn was flying all of their guests in and out via helicopter. Wow. I didn’t think I’d ever actually stay there, but if this Mr & Mrs Smith property becomes bookable with Hyatt points, I’ll definitely try it out!
Virgin Limited Edition
I’ve long been interested in staying in one of the Virgin Limited Edition properties in Africa which include 2x daily safari outings: Mahali Mzuri in Kenya, and Ulusaba in South Africa. Both of these properties have long been bookable with Virgin points, but neither was a particularly good deal with points. But, since both are listed under Mr & Mrs Smith, there is a chance that they’ll soon be bookable with Hyatt points!
25 Six Senses resorts are listed on Mr & Mrs Smith. IHG bought Six Senses luxury resorts several years ago and has been slowly incorporating them into IHG 1 Rewards. For a while, some of the Six Senses properties were bookable with a reasonable number of IHG points, but that has since changed. Prices now are sky high. It’s very unlikely that IHG will let Hyatt list Six Senses properties through Mr & Mrs Smith, but you never know. If they do allow it, it could be a great way to book these desirable resorts.
Aman hotels and resorts
I’ve never stayed in one, but Aman hotels and resorts are known to be among the most luxurious hotels in the word. Mr & Mrs Smith lists 35 Aman hotels and 2 Aman villas.
Like Aman, Belmond is a luxury brand that I’ve heard of but never tried. If things go as expected, that will change!
Rosewood is yet another highly regarded luxury brand that I haven’t tried, but Mr & Mrs Smith lists 12 of their hotels and 10 villas!
Miscellaneous hotels and resorts
I don’t have any particular reason to call out the following properties except to say that they caught my eye…
With Hyatt’s acquisition of Mr & Mrs Smith, a huge number of top-end luxury hotels may become bookable with Hyatt points. If that happens, chances are that Hyatt will slot them into the current award charts and that will mean that we will be able to book many of these amazing properties with reasonable numbers of Hyatt points.
All of this is just conjecture at this point, but it seems likely enough to happen to make me very excited about the possibilities! OK, enough dreaming. Time to get back to the important stuff… earning more Hyatt points.
I won’t get too excited for the Hyatt point value on MMS properties – From the brutal devaluation this year, especially on all-included ones, I don’t think value will exceed IHG.
Hopefully this isn’t foreshadowing for Hyatt points availability. But I recently did a trip to Fiji and none of the 6 beautiful MMS hotels were bookable with IHG points. Looking a various dates, still none available.
Is $3000 really a realistic cutoff for Hyatt points bookings? I have my eye on The Brando in French Polynesia, it’s just north of a $3000 a night. Wondering if it’s worth hoarding UR/Hyatt points and waiting for it to open up?
I don’t know. I’d give it maybe a 50/50 chance.
how many virgin points are needed to book Mahali Mzuri (Kenya) and Ulusaba (South Africa)?
Depends on the number of nights. Details are here:
Wow. 950k for 5 nights!
Hyatt Globalist here…I recently booked (via Hyatt) and stayed at my 1st SLH property overseas…it was the only one available in the location I wanted as all the Hyatt branded properties were a bit out of the way. It was fine…the only issue on site was some less than stellar service with the restaurant, which may have been not run by the hotel itself. I was glad to have this option to earn/redeem WOH points but the one NEGATIVE I discovered was that you couldn’t earn points on F&B purchases (didn’t know about that limitation), that in addition to the different/selective benefits extended to Globalists. Those two differences along with the ability or lack of ability to ear a brand badge may not move the needle for me.
Once Hyatt has a large enough footprint, they will feel free to go the dynamic award route as well.
Interesting potential-to be continued….
The news isn’t as good as this post makes out once you do the math.
As the post correctly notes, you can regularly buy IHG points for 0.5c each. As you can cash out Chase UR for 1c each, that means the ratio of Hyatt to IHG is, in fact, 1:2. That is, for every Chase UR you have, you can get 1 Hyatt or 2 IHG if you’re willing to wait for an IHG points sale.
Add on the 4th night free with IHG, and your 115K property listed in the post is equivalent to 43.1K UR (ie less than the current top Hyatt price of 45K). Assuming all 4 nights are equally priced and you’re happy to stay 4 nights, that is.
Add to that fact that IHG offers cards with big sign-up bonuses, and the match between Hyatt and IHG is much closer than this post suggests.
However, I’m still very happy for the acquisition for one big reason: as Hyatt owns the platform, it might be able to make more properties open their rooms for award bookings. At the moment, only a small percentage of M&M Smith properties are in fact bookable with IHG points.
With SLH today, even when standard rooms are available for revenue booking they are not obligated to make award bookings available. I suspect the same will be true for MMS, even if they own it.
Key there is that Hyatt will only own the platform, they’ll have no influence over what the properties do in terms of making inventory available. MMS is just one lead generation opportunity for these hotels among many and if Hyatt doesn’t make it valuable for them to list their properties they’re free to remove rooms or just not use MMS.
Bingo. To be fair, the award inventory issue plagues the other loyalty programs.
Actually I think it is different with SLH based on my most recent Preferred Hotels stay booked with Choice Points. Long story short, when using Choice points for Preferred Hotel stays, Choice actually pays the hotel and books the room as a Virtuoso rate. I know this because the hotel tried to collect payment and after spending 2 hours on the phone with Choice, they explained that they use their credit card on the booking and pay for it.
As such, my guess is that Hyatt is actually the one who decides whether to make SLH stays available on points based on the current price of the hotel and they actually pay for it directly. Hyatt probably puts a price cap on a hotel’s room rate and above that there will be no award inventory. My guess is that is how the Mr. & Mrs. Smith partnership will work as well.
Congratulations to Hyatt on the acquisition. It provides a much-needed footprint expansion. If you can believe it, M/M Smith will provide Hyatt its first properties in the West LA/Beverly Hills area. But, Hyatt still has a long way to go.
Adding to Dizzy’s point below, beyond its footprint, Hyatt needs to get property owners to open up award inventory beyond just their entry-level rooms. Oh, great location. Oh, the room type we’d like is not open to a points booking. Punt.
There might be a one-off destination that works. But, that’s about it. Then again, maybe that’s all it needs to be.
Possibility of booking nice properties on islands in the great barrier reef, African safari lodges, fiji and new Zealand. Very exciting. Time to prioritize earning more and more hyatt points.
Great post on Mr. and Mrs Smith properties. Looking forward how Hyatt implement in their ecosystem
So the problem I have is that most of these hotels weren’t bookable with IHG, and Hyatt already has plenty of affiliate properties that aren’t bookable. I’m meh until they are easily bookable and not constantly unavailable with points.
Any concerns Hyatt makes a higher category “just for some Mr and Mrs Smith” properties that ultimately opens up other top tier Hyatt properties to those prices within a year or two? We’ve seen that recently with SLH
I have the exact same concern. Category 9 introduced “just for” some of these Mr. And Mrs. Smith, only to later be applied to legacy Hyatt brands in 3-5 years.
Yes, Hyatt has used the last few acquisitions / affiliations to change their award charts — adding higher levels and introducing the entirely new all-inclusive chart. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add categories 9 and 10 “only for a few exceptional properties” followed by moving existing hotels into those categories in a couple of years.
We stayed at M/M Smith in Seville, Spain in December- Mr & Mrs Smith
I recall paying less than 22K a night with IHG 4th night free – only issue is that they do not recognize free breakfast (Im Diamond/Ambassador) I did find mold on the shower wall, brought it their attention and they upgraded us right away(no questions) and then included the free Breakfast (45 Euros at the time) the remainder 3 nights. Within 5 minute walk of central pedestrian area. – Fantastic Boutique Hotel
Great explanation of the aspirational uses…I’m excited now, too, thanks!
I get what you’re saying, but I found good uses of IHG points through the Smith relationship. I have more trouble using those for good value than I do WoH points. Also saw some speculation that the SLH relationship might end, so access to a set of hotels on points could be lost in the process.
Curious where you heard something about the SLH partnership ending?
That is my biggest concern: Hyatt possibly ending the partnership with SLH