Introduction and Background
The World of Hyatt program offers several ways for members to obtain free night awards that are good at Category 1 through 4 hotels. Members can earn these Cat 1-4 free nights by:
- Staying 30 qualifying nights in a calendar year (a 30-Night Free Night Award)
- Or, alternatively, earning 50,000 World of Hyatt base points in a calendar year
- Staying at 5 different Hyatt brands under the Brand Explorer program (a 5-Brand Free Night Award)
- Spending $15,000 on a Chase World of Hyatt credit card during your cardholder year (a Credit Card Free Night Award) (the link is a referral link)
We recently took a trip to Las Vegas where we wanted to use a close-to-expiring Category 1-4 Free Night Award at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. We’ve explored the options for how to best use these awards, and we thought Middle Age Miles readers would enjoy hearing our thoughts.
Which Awards Can Be Used at a MGM/MLife Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip?
Under the partnership between World of Hyatt and MGM/MLife, members can enjoy a number of reciprocal benefits between the two programs. The reciprocal benefits include some status matching opportunities, Hyatt points-earning on stays at MGM/MLife hotels, and the ability to use Hyatt points and free night awards at MGM/MLife properties.
We’ve written extensively on the Hyatt-MGM partnership and how to make the most of the benefits. If you’re interested in reading more about these interesting topics, the best way to do so is to use the “Middle Age Miles Posts by Category” feature in the right sidebar of the site. Using the drop-down menu to select category, scroll down to Program Info/Hotels/MLife to select MLife, where you’ll see all of our articles about the program. Similarly, if you’re interested in seeing all of our articles on Las Vegas, which contain many helpful tips, scroll down to select Destinations/Nevada/Las Vegas.
It turns out that some but not all of the Hyatt Cat 1-4 awards can be used at MLife properties:
- 30-Night Free Night Awards can be used at MLife properties
- Credit Card Free Night Awards can be used at MLife properties
- But, 5-Brand Free Night Awards cannot be used at MLife properties
Which MGM/MLife Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip Are Category 4 or Less?
There are 5 MGM/MLife hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that are World of Hyatt Category 4 or less:
- MGM Grand – Category 4
- New York New York – Category 4
- Park MGM – Category 4
- Excalibur – Category 3
- Luxor – Category 3
All of the other MGM/MLife hotels on the Strip are Category 5 or 6, so you wouldn’t be able to use a Cat 1-4 Free Night Award there:
- Category 5 hotels are Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, the Signature at MGM Grand, and Vdara
- Category 6 hotels are Aria, Bellagio, and the Delano
For what it’s worth, there are also 2 Hyatt Place hotels in Las Vegas that are Category 2. But they aren’t on the Strip, so we’re excluding them from this analysis.
Is the Free Night Really Free at MGM/MLife Hotels?
Well, no. Even if you use a Free Night Award, you’ll have to pay the resort fee at MGM/MLife properties, plus taxes on the resort fee.
- At MGM Grand, New York New York, and Park MGM, the resort fee is $37 per day – all-in with taxes, this comes to $41.95
- At Excalibur and Luxor, the resort fee is $35 per day – all-in with taxes, this comes to $39.68
Where Should I Use My Cat 1-4 Free Night Award?
Let’s run through each of the available properties:
Excalibur and Luxor are MGM’s lowest-end hotels on the Strip. The rooms generally aren’t as nice those at as other MGM Strip hotels. And, paid room rates at Excalibur and Luxor are lower than those at MGM’s other Strip hotels, making a Free Night Award less valuable in terms of dollars saved. Using a Free Night Award at either of these hotels would also “save” you just 12,000 Hyatt points for a free night, compared to “savings” of 15,000 Hyatt points at one of the Category 4 properties. These properties don’t result in the highest value for a Free Night Award.
At MGM Grand, Hyatt points redemptions and free night awards book into what the MGM Grand calls a West Wing room. The West Wing is a separate building from the main hotel sections. It hasn’t been renovated since the MGM Grand opened more than 25 years ago, and it was designed as the “no-frills” section of the hotel then. We’ve stayed in the West Wing for one night, and we’ll never return. It’s literally the only hotel I’ve booked in many years with Philly where she asked me to move us somewhere else during our stay. The vibe in the West Wing is Soviet-era cell block. Rooms were dark. There was only 1 small window in the room (maybe 18 inches square?), located above the headboard of the bed. Carpet and chairs had stains. Anyway, enough said – don’t book a West Wing room at the MGM Grand under any circumstances.
That leaves us with 2 choices, New York New York and the Park MGM. They’re right next door to one another, near the T-Mobile Arena, so neither has a meaningful location advantage. They’re both Category 4 and they both have the same resort fee, so neither has an advantage in either of those categories. Paid rates at the 2 hotels are generally in the same ballpark – one or the other may be higher or lower on any particular day.
We’ve tested standard rooms at each of these hotels. Recently, we booked a Free Night Award at New York New York for a friend who specifically wanted to try out NYNY. And back in June, we stayed in a standard room at the Park MGM, which we blogged about here:
- Middle Age Miles: Mattress Running for Hyatt Elite Qualifying Nights in Vegas – or Simply Staying for Less! (June 24, 2019)
Let’s start with the Park MGM. A standard one-bed room here is a Park MGM King, which is 406 square feet. Importantly, all of the rooms at the Park MGM have been renovated within the past 2-3 years as part of the hotel’s conversion from Monte Carlo to Park MGM. We found that the standard room at the Park MGM was nothing particularly special, but it was nice enough, it was not old and worn, it was clean, and it was perfectly functional.
Here are a few pictures of a standard room from our June stay at the Park MGM:
The Park MGM also has a pretty nice fitness center, and we really enjoy the Italian market, Eataly, that’s located at the Park MGM.
Now, switching over to New York New York – A standard one-bed room here for an award or free night booking is a Park Avenue King. This is a 350 square-foot room, which is smaller than what you’d get for a standard room at Park MGM.
Importantly, though, the Park Avenue King rooms at NYNY have not been renovated or updated. Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures, but our friend who stayed here reported that the room was not impressive at all. Furnishings were old and worn. She has most often stayed at Planet Hollywood (a Caesars property, not MGM/MLife) while in Vegas, and she said that the standard Park Avenue King room at NYNY was a significant step down in quality from the standard room at Planet Hollywood.
It’s worth noting that at check-in at NYNY, we were offered the opportunity to upgrade to a Madison Avenue King room, for an extra $30 per night ($34.01 including tax). We didn’t take this, but our friend said that if she had it to do over again, she’d have paid for the upgrade. The Madison Avenue King room is larger, at 450 square feet, and the Madison Avenue rooms have also been updated with newer furniture and mattresses. If you’re staying at NYNY, you might seriously consider paying a few extra dollars for this nicer room.
What Kind of Value Did We Get for Our Free Night Award in Vegas?
On the recent visit, we actually redeemed 2 Free Night Awards for a Friday and Saturday night at New York New York. It was a fairly pricey weekend, as there were a number of events in town. And Saturday night was somewhat more expensive than Friday night, as is the norm in Vegas. Room prices varied a bit depending on when you booked. But the average paid rate for the 2-night stay in a standard room was never better than about $225 per night at either New York New York or Park MGM. Adding tax to that rate would bring it up to about $255. (We’re not adding the resort fee or tax on that fee, because you have to pay that amount regardless of whether you’re on a paid rate or an award/free night redemption.)
We’d say that saving $255 is a very solid use of a Cat 1-4 Free Night Award. If you compare it to using points for an award redemption, you would have been able to redeem 15,000 Hyatt points for the same free night, which would have resulted in a value of 1.7 cents per point – slightly above our baseline value of 1.5 cents per Hyatt point. In addition, it’s always a little trickier to redeem Free Night Awards than points, because the Free Night Awards are less flexible and have expiration dates.
All in all, we’re calling this a win in terms of value received for the Free Night Award.
Conclusion and Wrap-Up
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but let’s circle back to the issue posed by the title of this article – Where can you get the best value for Hyatt Category 1-4 Free Night Awards on the Las Vegas Strip?
We believe that the answer, hands down, is the Park MGM.
And, you’ll get the best value by redeeming your Free Night Award on a weekend night, particularly on a Saturday night. We were pleasantly surprised to find good availability for award redemptions, even on most busy and high-priced Saturday nights.
We also learned that you can get a very reasonable value for your Cat 1-4 Free Night Award at the Park MGM (and perhaps at New York New York as well, although there you might want to factor in paying an extra $34 or so to upgrade to the nicer Madison Ave room). It’s certainly possible to obtain higher “value” for a Hyatt Category 1-4 Free Night Award elsewhere, but using it to save more than $250 compared to a paid rate is pretty good.
[One final note here – We haven’t included points-earning possibilities in our calculation. Using a paid rate at a MGM/MLife hotel would earn Hyatt points, and depending on the promotions in effect, the points-earning could be quite substantial. Plus, you could earn points from your credit card spend, as well as taking advantage of available Amex Offers or the Visa SavingsEdge program offering 4% back at Park MGM if you pay with a business Visa card such as the Chase Ink Preferred. For these reasons, it would certainly be fair to say that we received somewhat less than $255/night in value for our Cat 1-4 Free Night Awards – but it did save $255 in cash out-of-pocket!]
What do you think of our analysis of the Hyatt Category 1-4 Free Night Awards in Vegas? Do you have relevant experiences to share, or other ideas and suggestions? Please let us know in the Comments!
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