Greg and I spent the past two nights at the Grand Hyatt Dubai. I booked the Prince Suite, a suite that was available at the standard rate for about $2,300 per night during our dates (tax inclusive), but we paid $150 plus taxes and 9,000 World of Hyatt points per night. All-in that’s about $375 plus 18,000 Hyatt points for two nights. Was it worth it? You betcha.
Dubai: Cheap luxury (other options)
I wrote the other day about deciding on Dubai as a destination for our GUC trip in part because of cheap flights from US cities on SkyTeam carriers. One of the other things that appealed to me about Dubai was that it often provides easy opportunities for cheap luxury.
Dubai is chock full of luxury everything and the competition keeps prices low in normal times, so I expected things would only be better in a travel environment with fewer travelers competing to find available rooms. It’s true. Just look at rates for some luxury hotels tonight (and keep in mind that Friday brunch is a big thing in Dubai, so this is sort of a busier night of the week to stay — but also keep in mind that September is hot, so it’s not prime time to visit Dubai in general):
And with luxury properties so cheap, it can be a great use of programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or hotel preferred partner programs like Hyatt Prive or Marriott STARS / Luminous. For more on those programs, see: Getting the elite experience without elite status via credit card & preferred partner hotel booking programs.
In fact, that last hotel above — the Conrad Dubai — was available through Hilton Impresario for about $135 per night (before taxes). That would include with free breakfast for two and a $100 property credit (and double Hilton Honors points I believe). More on that to come in a future post.
After two nights here at the Grand Hyatt, we originally had a stay booked at the Ritz in Abu Dhabi (for a few good reasons to get back to in another post, one of which was the ability to test the club upgrade feature of the Ritz card at a cheap rate) but we cancelled our reservations because Abu Dhabi wasn’t allowing Americans without quarantine until just a few days ago. As a result of that cancellation, we booked one night of this trip at the St. Regis Dubai to use a Fine Hotels & Resorts credit (and I had confirmed an upgrade to another terrific suite with a Marriott suite upgrade which is another topic for a future post). The short story is that if you want cheap luxury, you can get it in Dubai and that fit well with some of the goals for the GUC trip.
It is important to note the existence of those other cheap luxury options because while we got amazing value per Hyatt point against the paid rate here, we also could have gotten excellent value in a number of other ways in Dubai — whether booking with those preferred partner programs, using an Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts credit, or booking a cheap rate at another luxury brand and hoping for a free suite upgrade. It wouldn’t make sense to claim value per point against the Hyatt cash rate for the Prince Suite since we would have a myriad of much cheaper options for luxury and would never consider paying the going rate for this suite. It is still a great value on points, but we should remember not to get too carried away by the sticker price.
Keep in mind also that if you you don’t need luxury, Dubai has some incredibly cheap low-category options right now. Just a handful of Marriott examples (of many):
So all that is to say that I expected to stay comfortably for cheap and I feel like we accomplished that goal, but you do have a lot of options if you consider a trip to Dubai.
How I booked the Prince Suite for a huge savings
Originally, I thought that the Grand Hyatt Dubai would be a great use of a Hyatt Privé booking. With a 2-night stay at the Standard Rate (about $150 per night plus taxes or $375 all-in for two nights), I’d get breakfast for two and a $100 credit (and usual Globalist benefits like club lounge access) if I had booked through Hyatt Privé.
I preferred to amp up the room a bit beyond a standard room. Greg has written extensively about searching for luxury in Hyatt premium suites. I saw that the Grand Hyatt offers a “Prince Suite” which sounded pretty awesome based on the description:
Panoramic views of Dubai’s historic creek welcome you to 176-square-metre upper-floor suite offering bedroom with plush king-size bed, elegant sitting area, kitchen, guest bath, work area with minibar, complimentary high-speed Internet access, and marble bathroom with jetted spa bathtub, shower, bidet and Butler service on request. This is a premium suite. See World of Hyatt program terms for upgrade eligibility.
I also knew that there were several ways to book a premium suite with points or points and money:
- Free night award (a premium suite costs double the points of a standard room
- Points & cash (roughly 50% of the points and 50% of the cash required to book a property, though each hotel and each night can vary
- Premium suite upgrade (pay the Standard Rate for a standard room (at a non-report hotel) and use 9K points per night to upgrade to a Prince Suite.
I wrote an extensive post about my experience trying to re-book this stay about a month ago. See Misadventures booking a Hyatt Premium Suite award. The short version of the story was that I found many Hyatt employees to be unaware of this upgrade option (though I think that most are likely familiar with it now).
In short, back in May I knew that I could book the Prince Suite for 550 AED (about $149.73) plus tax and 9,000 Hyatt points per night. Alternatively, I could have used 30,000 points per night to book it with no cash at all. In that case, I’d have paid 21K more points per night to save about $188 (the total for 1 night plus tax). I wouldn’t trade 21K Hyatt points for only $188 in savings. If the standard room cash rate were higher, I would certainly consider using all points or maybe cash & points — but in this case, I was happy with $150 plus 9K points.
The next step in my thought process was the realization that both the Hyatt Privé rate and the Hyatt Premium Suite upgrade rate required paying the “Standard Rate” (this is one of the various rate types you’ll see when you search — it is typically more expensive than a “Member Rate” and almost always more expensive than a AAA rate or other discounted rate but sometimes the differences are small). Since they both require booking at the Standard Rate, could Hyatt Privé and a Hyatt Premium Suite upgrade be stacked?
I made a Hyatt Privé booking through TravelZork Travel. I then called Hyatt to see if I could do the Premium Suite upgrade for 9K points per night on top. The rep understood what I wanted to do but was completely sure that it couldn’t be done: I could have either the Hyatt Privé rate that includes the $100 credit or the premium suite upgrade but not both. I think I may have called a second time and gotten the same answer (I can’t recall for certain).
Of course I could have made a Hyatt Privé booking and then applied a Globalist suite upgrade to upgrade from a standard room to a standard suite, but while a standard suite can definitely be nice (and Stephen’s post about the Grand Hyatt Dubai confirms that), my past experience tells me that premium suites can be really nice. My mission here was cheap luxury; I figured that if the Prince Suite was selling for roughly 13 times the price of a standard room it had to be pretty nice. For those wondering: yes, we did try to talk our way into the “Royal” (/ Presidential) 2-bedroom suite upon arrival. An upgrade was offered for what was probably a very reasonable price all things considered but more than would have made sense for the purposes of this trip.
Back to the process: I made a reservation over the phone with a regular Hyatt reservations agent for the Grand Hyatt Dubai for the Prince Suite at the 550 AED (~$150) Standard Rate of a standard 1 King bedroom and 9,000 points per night. I’ll let the video tour do the talking:
The suite is huge. It’s awesome. We’ve done work and relaxed and both nibbled from the huge fruit platter and drunk some of the free Cabernet Merlot that were given as welcome amenities. The cash rate for two nights is….a lot more than what we’re paying.
And the property is quite good, too. Right now, the club lounge is closed, but they are offering a free evening dinner buffet (including free drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Stephen wrote a full review because he stayed here very recently also. We’ll probably do a brief bottom line review too, but his post really covers the place well.
Unfortunately, this property is now listed as a “resort”. When I originally booked back in May, it was not a resort. The difference here is the basis of the paid portion of the premium suite upgrade. At a non-resort property, you pay the Standard Rate of a standard room plus 9,000 points per night. At a resort property, you pay the Standard Rate for some other room type and it isn’t clear which room type until you contact someone to book it (or check the website to book online, but it still might be worth calling to double check). Nowadays, the upgraded room at the Grand Hyatt Dubai is the 1 King bed garden view (for a point of comparison, the rate for a standard 1 King tonight is $143 vs a 1 King Garden View which is $212). Paying $212 may be less exciting than $143, but adding 9,000 Hyatt points on top for a $2300 suite is still pretty sweet.
By the way, you might have wondered about Greg’s excitement about the rubber ducks at the end of the video. The story there is that one of the challenges of our current Passing the GUC trip was a GUC for a Duck: to somehow utilize the trip to add to Greg’s rubber ducky collection (he has collected a number of Lufthansa first class ducks as well as a Virgin duckie from Necker Island. I emailed my My Hyatt Concierge to explain that my colleague has collected rubber ducks from those experiences and that I would love for him to get a surprise duck that he wouldn’t expect from this trip. I told her that I was more than happy to pay for whatever they could do, but when we arrived there was a note from my concierge and the team here indicating that they were a gift.
Boom. A GUC for a Duck, done. That’s just one of the many challenges. Today I plan to put the pedal to the metal and soar to new heights on this trip, so if you’re not following us on Instagram you probably should be. That’s where we are posting instant updates as we go. By the time you’re reading this (or at least by later today), our story should have some highlights worth checking out. I’m also very excited about the next two places we’re going to stay — the rooms we get likely won’t be nearly as big as this Prince Suite, but I might even be more excited about our next couple of stops.
I’ve previously written that Hyatt Premium Suite upgrades can be a great deal. In this case, it was an amazing deal. The hotel itself is a solid Grand Hyatt experience with excellent service throughout, a huge pool (Greg swam laps around me last night!), and currently (at the time of writing) both free breakfast for Globalists and a free dinner buffet in lieu of lounge access. Booking the Prince Suite is easy today: just check the box for “Use Points” and pick the “Upgrade Premium Suite” rate. It’s a terrific deal over the cheapest “Member Rate” paid rate for the same room tonight and I’d gladly book this room this way again.
Ever since booking this place in May, I’ve found myself constantly searching for premium suite opportunities where standard room cash rates are low; surely this isn’t the only good one out there and I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. In this case, with the goal of getting extreme luxury for cheap, I’d sure say I killed it. Now onward – and upward.