Seattle has been high on our list of places to visit for a long time now. My wife grew up on the west coast and spent summers traveling from San Diego and, later, Phoenix to the Pacific Northwest for family vacations. She hasn’t been back in a while, and in the meantime, the farthest north I’ve traveled on the west coast is San Francisco. Being from the Northeast, it seemed obvious to me that we “had” to take advantage of the Cathay Pacific flight to Vancouver, so we’ll be starting our trip there and migrating down to Seattle in time for the 4th of July.Introduction Outbound Flights Vancouver Hotel Seattle Hotel Return Flights Activities
Seattle hotels are extremely well covered by other bloggers. Others’ coverage made our choices much easier than they should have been for a city with this many options. Fortunate for me, but maybe unfortunate for many readers, is that my Hyatt preference is really going to show here. As was the case with Vancouver, the fact remains that I am trying to minimize cash outlay for this trip and the bulk of my points are with Chase Ultimate Rewards, which makes Hyatt a natural fit. Coupled with our completed Diamond trial that will keep our status into 2016, it’s hard to stay somewhere else.
Our requirements are the same as in Vancouver – downtown, walkable location to the major sights, shopping and restaurants; the availability of a decent breakfast; and close to some kind of transportation link to/from the airport – rail preferred. Hyatt has a few properties in Seattle, two of which are located a little more than a block apart and meet all of the above – the Grand Hyatt Seattle and the Hyatt at Olive 8.
Grand Hyatt Seattle
This hotel is probably the more traditional upscale hotel of the two. It is a full service property with a number of room categories, including a Club level and various Suites. By all accounts, it is a nice property, recently renovated, with excellent service. It has a fitness center, multiple restaurants including a Ruth’s Chris location, which at worst will be a consistent chain option. It also houses a Starbucks, the full coffee shop not just a counter, off the lobby. Notably, there is a hot tub but not a pool, and we would prefer the latter should we get stuck at the hotel due to unforeseen circumstances (read: toddler meltdown).
It may also be a bit against the grain, but I prefer hotels without a club lounge. Here’s why: Hyatt’s Diamond breakfast amenity is rolled into the club lounge amenity, and for the most part, your complimentary breakfast will be there. Club lounges are usually fairly quiet, but you’ll mostly have a continental spread with few or no hot options. I suppose there’s the exclusivity of it, but I care very little about that – in fact, my wife will tell you I get suspicious when a restaurant is too empty or too quiet. On the other hand, Hyatts without a club lounge will provide breakfast at the restaurant, and that breakfast is usually quite good – many have excellent buffets, like my current favorite the Park Hyatt Aviara, while others just have menus, but either way there’s a variety. As a practical matter, the breakfast credit in these situations is either obscenely high (Park Hyatt Aviara), unknown by the night clerk (Hyatt Regency Boston) or both. In Boston, I was specifically told “not to worry” about it. I did not, and was not disappointed. That’s a lot of words about breakfast, but in summary, the restaurant is usually better in my book and for the most part you only have that as an option if the hotel doesn’t have a club lounge.
Hyatt at Olive 8
You may be thinking it, but the Olive 8 is probably our choice for Seattle. In fact, I’ll ruin the surprise and tell you that this is the hotel that I booked. The accommodations are similar to the Grand Hyatt, but I am somewhat swayed by the fact that the entry level suite here is a bit larger than the Grand and can be had with an extra half bath – not that we’ll be entertaining, but it’s nice to have a little bit extra space and another place to get ready, especially since our return date is still flexible. I will note that I won’t actually pay for a suite, but I will use a Diamond Suite Upgrade certificate if something with a view of some fireworks is available. This hotel also features a pool.
In my contrarian club lounge view, I see it as a positive that this hotel does not have a club lounge. Instead, the on-site restaurant Urbane is pretty well regarded both at breakfast and other times of the day, should the need arise to eat in. I would speculate that at least once during a week long stay, we will eat at the hotel out of exhaustion, so it’s nice to have a decent option. Generally speaking, Hyatt’s city properties with restaurants do a good job with local flavor, including local sourcing of ingredients, and the Olive 8’s reputation is no different. One thing I know is that the Olive 8 will be the better breakfast of the two hotels.
Both hotels are Category 4, meaning 7,500 points + $100 cash, or 15,000 points outright per night. This far out, cash rates ($219 for a standard king room at the moment) mean very little to me in terms of calculating my point “values” so this time I looked at it in terms of buying back my points. If the options are 15,000 points or 7,500 + $100, that means I am buying back my points at ($100 / 7500 = ) $0.013… each. For Hyatt points, I think that’s a good deal, so I wanted to go with Cash + Points if available.
I started the booking process by calling Hyatt reservations and asking if cash and points nights were available at both hotels, as you cannot see or book those rates online. I was told they both did, which made narrowing my decision a little bit more difficult. Both hotels had plenty of pure points nights available as well. In the end, I chose the Olive 8 based on the potential for a better suite, a restaurant vs club lounge breakfast and the pool.
Once we can pin down our return date, we’ll get the flight back locked up and then focus on planning the fun parts of the trip. One thing is certain: after the long Maine winter, we’ll be really ready for this Seattle trip!