Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Poolside Cabana Review

Part 1: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort Review

Part 2: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Cabana Review (this post)

As highlighted in my earlier post, we enjoyed our time at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and thought it made for a perfect long weekend getaway. To maximize our long weekend, we booked the last flight back to Long Island on a Sunday night that left Tampa at 8:45pm so we could fully enjoy our Sunday. We decided to try out the hotel’s poolside cabanas for the day which are actually “mini-rooms” of sorts whose sliding doors open to the pool area. Since we would have to checkout of our suite by 11am, we thought this was a great opportunity to still have a “room” where we could store our stuff, have a private bathroom and comfortably relax on the couch or watch TV. Yes, these cabanas come equipped with a living room and TV which came in handy for my wife who was 7 months pregnant and needed to escape the sun for a bit.

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View of the pool area…the cabanas are located around the pool along the back wall

There are two sizes of cabanas which surround the pool on the 8th floor of the hotel – small cabanas (holding 4-6 people) which cost $99 and larger ones (holding 8-10 people) for $149. Unless you a hosting a large party in the cabana for the day, the small one should be sufficient for most with enough indoor & outdoor seating for all. To access these cabanas, you go up to the 8th floor and look for your cabana room marked with “C” followed by the cabana number. Upon entering the private half bathroom is immediately to your left – if there is a downside, it would be the lack of a shower in the bathroom.

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To the right when you walk in is a sink which I didn’t find useful considering there is a sink in the bathroom already. Straight ahead in the room is the living room of the cabana with a sofa and TV (and nice cold AC to escape the Florida heat). Additionally, there is also a safe for those that are wondering if you wanted to store any valuables.

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At the end of the room, there is a sliding glass door that leads out to a covered area with a table and 4 chairs plus two loungers. All of this seating is only for your cabana and there is small sign in front telling others these are reserved.

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Our last trip before baby

Our last trip before baby

I forgot to take a picture of it but there was a special menu available for cabana rentals that offer packages of various food/drinks for what seemed to be rather reasonable prices. I remember one package that offered offered soda, beer, & snacks and thought it was good deal if you have a larger group. One other perk of the cabanas was that you could order anything from any passing waitress (or go up to the pool bar yourself of course) and have it delivered to your cabana.

Overall, I though having the cabana really enhanced our last day since we didn’t have to leave the hotel till 6pm to catch our 8:45pm flight. While I know the hotel would have held our luggage, I’m not a fan of having to keep going back to the front desk if I need something from my bag and then having to figure out where to change or refresh before leaving. It was especially nice to have the private bathroom and a cozy little “room” to sit inside when we needed a break from the sun. For $99, I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again as it really did make our last day much more enjoyable.

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Review: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

Part 1: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort Review (this post)

Part 2: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Poolside Cabana Review

Last month, my wife & I spent 3 nights at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort for our unofficial second “babymoon” to celebrate the impeding arrival of our baby girl in a few weeks.  I’ve probably been to Clearwater, Florida more than a dozen times, mostly a child or teenager as we always took family vacations here but this is the first time I’ve visited as an adult and stayed at a hotel right in Clearwater. For this stay, I could have booked the room using Hyatt points for 20,000 points a night, paid the revenue rate of $299/night or hold out hope for points & cash availability which would cost 10,000 points + $125/night.

Since I’m running a bit low on Hyatt points, my first choice was a cash and points award and eventually a points & cash reward became available a few weeks before our stay. Booking that rate allowed me to use a Diamond Suite Upgrade since I am a “loyal” Hyatt Diamond member which confirmed us into a ~900 square foot suite. Even though it was just the two of us, I expect our travel this year to be drastically reduced so I figured it made sense to burn one of my DSUs for this short trip – this turned out to be a wise decision.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

After an uneventful flight on Southwest flying ISP-TPA (I love flying out of Islip MacArthur airport since it is so small – really beats flying out of JFK or LGA), we picked up our rental car from Budget as I was able to book a cheap rate using Costco Travel and drove about 30-35 minutes to the hotel. We pulled up to the front of the hotel and there are two options for parking – self park for $18 or valet for $22. For the extra $4 bucks, it seemed like a no-brainer to valet it.

We proceeded inside to a small check-in area which was empty at 9pm and a friendly associate helped us right away. We were pleasantly surprised to learn we were upgraded so instead of the ~900 square foot suite I had booked, we now had a ~1,100 square foot Two Bedroom, Gulf Front Suite on the 10th floor. This room normally goes for a $200/night more than the 1 Bedroom Suites and is the second largest room in the hotel behind the Deluxe Two Bedroom Suite. 

It was a short walk to the elevator and our room was the very end of the very “Florida” themed hallway. Upon walking into the room, we were both impressed with its size and layout. Apologies for the poor picture quality but I took most of these at night right when we checked in.

Florida Themed Hallways

Florida Themed Hallways

Second Bedroom is on the Left of this

Living Room

Dining Booth

Dining Booth

Kitchen

Kitchen

The kitchen was stocked with pots/pans for cooking but with the short trip we didn’t partake. I did appreciate the dining booth with seating for 4 in addition to barstools across from the kitchen sink for additional seating if we had a larger group or invited people over. The living room and master bedroom both has sliding doors which had absolutely gorgeous views of the water – we spent a lot of time here once we had too much direct sun on the beach or at the pool.

View of Balcony from Living Room

View of Balcony from Living Room

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View From The Balcony

Lastly, on the right side of the room was the Master Bedroom with ensuite that had both a shower and tub. The shower was equipped with rainforest shower head and there was a double vanity as well. For the two of us this room was plenty big. For a family of four, this would have been a perfect room & one I would definitely consider if I returned with my growing family in the future.

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This is actually the bed in the 2nd bedroom

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Since I was a Diamond member, breakfast was included at the on-site restaurant Shor. They have a very generous breakfast policy for Diamonds as you could order the breakfast buffet, which had all the standard items including made to order omelettes. Additionally, we were allowed to order off the menu at no cost which had some specialty items like Crab Benedict, Multigrain Pancakes and a delicious Cuban sandwich (my favorite). We also were able to order cappuccinos and other specialty coffee drinks that were comped as well. I don’t have any pictures from breakfast (I’ll leave that to Ben over at OMAAT) but I did snag a couple of pictures from dinner our last night at Shor. While pricey, my wife and I were both impressed with our entrees. I recommend going about a half hour before sunset and ask for an outside table as it was a direct sunset view.

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Black Grouper

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Surf & Turf with Chorizo Hash

Around the hotel, we had an opportunity to rent a cabana for a day and I’ll review that & the pool area in a separate post. We spent most mornings at the beach which is directly across the street from the hotel. We did not have a chance to check out the fitness center or any other of the public areas of the hotel though we did pass by the concerige desk and noticed they sell discounted Busch Gardens tickets. Might be useful for some as Busch Gardens is less than an hour away.

My only downside with the hotel is that they do not offer complimentary chairs & umbrellas on the beach. Instead, they outsource those services to a local firm which costs $30 for an all day rental for 2 chairs & an umbrella. If you arrive after 2pm, it is discounted to $20, and there is even a further discount for arriving after 4pm. It is unfortunate that the hotel charges a $30 daily resort fee that doesn’t include chair/umbrella rentals but due to the partnership with this company, you are at least able to charge the beach services to your room.  The beach area in front of the hotel is fine, white sand with clear, gentle waves – it’s a very different experience if you are used to the rougher Atlantic waters on the east coast of Florida.

Summary:

My cost for the room was 10,000 points + $125 per night + a daily $30 resort fee (which didn’t get you much in my opinion). However the hotel’s location cannot be beat and for a long weekend, this was the perfect spot for us. The service at breakfast/dinner was excellent and I’m really struggling to find a downside with the hotel outside of the daily fee for chairs/umbrellas. I wouldn’t hesitate to return with my future children as there seemed to be many activities for kids and there is even a Camp Hyatt as well. This resort also makes sense for a long weekend getaway as there are several great outdoor activities in Clearwater (think watersports and boat tours/sunset cruises) as well as several nearby restaurants/bars along the beachwalk.

PSA: Check Your Frequent Flyer or Hotel Loyalty Accounts After Every Flight or Stay

I spent this past weekend enjoying an unofficial second “babymoon” at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & had a fantastic time relaxing and reliving some childhood memories (every summer as a child and into my teen years we visited Clearwater, Florida). As a habit of mine I always like to see the points I’ve earned from a particular stay or flight so a few days after any flight or hotel stay, I use AwardWallet to check my updated balances in the particular program(s). I do this even for award nights at hotels as I usually earn points for any incidental spending at the hotel.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort

Generally I have a rough idea of how many points I should earn from any trip and in this case I used a points + cash award (combined with a DSU which was further upgraded to a two bedroom Gulf Oceanfront Suite – review coming) so I had a base cost of $125/night + my incidental spending at the hotel for meals/activities. As a Diamond member, I earn 5 points per dollar spent + a 30% bonus and I had selected the 1,000 Hyatt points as my Diamond amenity so I was easily expecting to earn in excess of 5,000 points for my stay. Well, when I refreshed my Hyatt Gold Passport balance via AwardWallet my balance was actually lower than before! Logging into my Hyatt account, I found the culprit.

The puzzling piece of incorrect activity

The puzzling piece of incorrect activity

My first thought was that my account was hacked and someone redeemed my points for “Shor 21” whatever that is. Upon thinking it about some more however, Shor is the name of the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Cleawarwater and we did have dinner there on 5/14 so maybe there was mixup where the hotel believed I wanted to use points to pay for dinner. Now redeeming points for food is an option per the Hyatt website but it is an absolutely terrible value as per the rewards chart, the 10,000 points only covered $50 of food. I double checked my checkout receipt and my dinner was charged in full to the room so my guess now was the hotel double charged me for dinner – by charging me the full cash price and 10,000 points.

Please do not ever use this

Please do not ever use this

I called the Diamond line and a helpful agent stated that activity related to a redemption for food at Shor which I explained was incorrect as my checkout receipt shows it being charged to the room. After conferring with her supervisor she opened an investigation, gave me the Case ID and assured me within a few days the points will be back in my account. I don’t need the points right away so this works for me but this incident underscores one very important lesson – always check your frequent flyer and hotel loyalty accounts after each flight or stay to make sure everything looks accurate. I’ve posted before how Hyatt has made mistakes in not awarding the correct amount of points so this can and does happen more than you think. I highly recommend using a tool like AwardWallet (it’s what I use) so you can check all your account balances in one shot instead of individually logging into each account.

Disclosure: Yes, that’s my referral link for AwardWallet but all I earn are free upgrade coupons which historically I have given away to readers or clients. I do not earn any money from you signing up for AwardWallet via my link.

The Lottery for Discounted Hyatt Points is Tomorrow

By far one of the most popular Daily Getaways packages every year is the opportunity to purchase Hyatt points for only about a penny each. However, with demand far outweighing supply, it literally turns into a lottery to see whose mouse-click at 1:00pm ET gets the lucky prize. Even with more packages available this year, it will be very difficult to get one of these packages. Here is a quick summary of the packages available:

  • 24,000 Hyatt points for $260 (120 packages available) which is ~1.08 cents per point.
  • 30,000 Hyatt points for $330 (54 packages available) which is 1.1 cents per point.
  • 40,000 Hyatt points for $415 (30 packages available) which is ~1.04 cents per point.
  • 72,000 Hyatt points for $775 (25 packages available) which is ~1.07 cents per point.

Hyatt Daily Getaways

I’m an avid fan of Hyatt hotels and I find they have a great collection of luxurious yet affordable (on points) hotels around the world that match my travel style, especially as a “loyal” Diamond Member. A few weeks ago I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai for 6 nights, solely on points which came to 150,000 Hyatt points total for the trip. A free night costs 25,000 Hyatt points which if purchased via one of the packages would actually end up costing me ~$270 a night. If I compare this to the cash rate for random weekday in July and then add on the tax + resort fee, a typical paid night costs over $580/night! While this trip wouldn’t be free, I’d still be saving over 50% off the paid rate.

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The paid rate at the Grand Hyatt Kauai

I could go on and literally find dozens of examples of savings but basically buying points today is a great way to save on future Hyatt stays. I’ll be trying for these Hyatt points at 1pm EST tomorrow…. and probably documenting my failure on Twitter shortly afterwards. Good luck!

Do This Today: Hyatt Suite Upgrades (for 2017!), SPG Bookings and More

There are several promotions or other noteworthy items that are expiring or changing on March 1st so I put together a quick to do list as you are hopefully enjoying your Sunday.

1) Use your expiring Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrades (especially for March 2017 stays) – I don’t need to rehash the changes in full about the Diamond Suite Upgrades – in short, Hyatt is changing the policy that you can’t use them for stays after they expire. However, they are letting you book any remaining suite upgrades (the ones that expire tomorrow 2/29) for stays after they expire. My advice is to first use these expiring suite upgrades for any March 2017 stay first.

Why? When the new 2016 Diamond Suite Upgrades are released in March, I presume they will expire 2/28/17. With the new policy, you will not be able to book any trips for March 2017 using a DSU until the 2017 Suite Upgrades are released on 3/1/17 – that kind of stinks as it forces you to use it last minute (if even available) for a March 2017 stay. But you can book those March 2017 stays now using your 2015 DSU that expire tomorrow. It seems strange but it’s true. Unfortunately, you can only book 13 months in advance on Hyatt otherwise I would recommend this strategy for any possible 2017 stay. 

Hyatt DSU

Now I understand many people don’t know about their travel plans ~13 months in advance but if you have any inkling of a trip you’d like to take that would involve a Hyatt Diamond Suite upgrade, I’d book it now knowing you can always cancel it later for free (though you obviously lose the DSU at that time, which isn’t a big loss considering you are losing it tomorrow if you don’t book anything with it).

2) Book Starwood Hotels before the March 1st Devaluation – As part of their annual category changes, Starwood has released the list of hotels that will be either moving up or down a category for 2016. These changes go into effect for bookings made on March 1st so you can lock in the pre-devaluation rate if you book before March 1st, even if your stay is after that date. Some of the noteworthy hotels increasing in categories are:

  • The Walt Disney World Swan – Category 4 to Category 5
  • Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa – Category 5 to Category 6
  • The Westin Maui Resort & Spa – Category 5 to Category 6
  • The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort (Cancun) – Category 5 to Category 6
  • The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach – Category 5 to Category 6 (particularly bummed about this one)
Westin Grand Cayman

Westin Grand Cayman

3) Consider Applying for a American Airlines Citibank Credit Card – All of the bloggers who have Citibank affiliate links have been posting non stop this week how the 50,000 mile offers on the Citibank Platinum Select and CitiBusiness AA cards are changing on Monday 2/29. While I don’t doubt they will have to take down their affiliate links for the 50k offer, I’m rather confident there will still be 50k links floating around as Citibank is known to do. It is usually possible to find a working link for many Citibank offers after they supposedly expire so I am not concerned about the change in offers.

I personally don’t think anyone needs to rush out and apply for either card today but if you are risk-adverse and want to guarantee an easy 50,000 AA miles, then I guess go for it. However, I will not be nor I am recommending it to any of my clients. Here is a non-affiliate link for the personal card and business card if you must.