Do you have one hotel that stays with you no matter where you go? One stay that you’re sure you’ve colored rose in your memory because it couldn’t have been that amazing? For me that hotel is the Centara Grand Beach resort in Hua Hin, Thailand. A place most of you will never stay because you’re caught in the status trap.
This post throws my friend Tim under the bus. He innocently asked for advice about the Hyatt in Hua Hin. When I shared my feelings about the Centara he mentioned that he wanted to keep his Globalist status up so other hotels weren’t on the table.
I’m sure the Hyatt is lovely. But I guarantee you the Hyatt isn’t built with Colonial architecture, it doesn’t have a topiary garden, and you can’t get a villa with a private pool there for $200/night. Tim is stuck in the status trap.
What’s the status trap?
Simply put, you’re caught in a status trap when possession of elite status (or the pursuit of elite status) clouds your judgement. I just gnawed out of a Hyatt status trap that many of my friends fell into (ironically, with my help).
I’m not gonna claim holy ground here. I’m even typing this post from a Marriott mattress run for the platinum challenge. But there is a difference between 9 stays Marriott requires in 90 days (and the 4 programs’ benefits I’ll receive) and the 25 Hyatt stays needed in two months for benefit in just one program. Benefits that IMHO are nebulously defined and easily gamed by individual properties.
Is status always a trap?
No, of course not. But when that label on your account clouds your thinking about how to spend your money on future purchases you’re at risk of falling into the trap. It’s another example of the sunk cost fallacy: “I spent all of this money to get XXX status, so I had better use it.”
Well, maybe. It’s still a good idea to test each individual trip to see if defaulting to your elite gets the best value. Yes, you get free breakfast. But if you’re in France wouldn’t you rather have a croissant and coffee at a cafe for 3 Euro? Or is it the same price as your suite “upgrade” to rent an entire apartment through Endless Vacation Rentals or Skyauction? What about the entire swaths of the globe you aren’t considering because your elite doesn’t serve that destination?
I’m asking you to keep an open mind. Failing to do so sets you up to get caught in the status trap.
And you might never climb out.
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Proudly dusting off the tracks and really enjoyed the posting.
You’re a very good sport.
I never go for top tier status. I only stay in actual hotels 20-30 nights a year so not worth it for me to have or try to have. Thanks for posting this. It’s a good read.
I love the Hyatt in Hua Hin. The evening service with unlimited alcohol and a great breakfast was awesome. (Globalist) And it is not going to be a colonial property it is more a Thai traditional property with a lot of dark wood etc. I would definitely recommend your friend to stay there as well. We spent a week there over Christmas last year and really enjoyed it and never felt out of things to do.
Thanks for the review, Nathan. I am happy when any Thai beach besides Samui gets on the radar.
Mattress run in a Marriott? How utterly depressing
But a heck of a lot depressing than my pit of despair. What used to be my living room is now storage for 26 boxes of hardwood. The formerly peaceful family room now plays Tejano music accompanied by buzz saw from 8-5. One Marriott MR timed correctly buys me 36 hours of order and quiet.
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You bring up a good point. A lot of times we do mattress runs and waste money in order to secure a status for the future. With more and more light properties that don’t offer much to elites such as Hyatt Place or Four Points/Aloft, it is often not worth striving for status anymore.
That’s what I realized with Hyatt: even if I had made the number of stays, over 1/2 were at Place or House properties.
The “free breakfast” fallacy is probably my favorite one, admittedly one I fell for while trying to maintain Hilton status several years ago. It’s the easy one to fall prey to, because you see the inflated hotel price for the buffet on the room service menu. But as you point out, the reality is that in pretty much any major city, you can get better food elsewhere, and the lower rate more than makes up for having to pay. We’re headed to New Orleans next month, and we decided to stay at a boutique in the French Quarter instead of paying more just to get an elite stay at the Hilton. I can buy lots of beignets at Cafe du Monde with the money I saved 🙂
And they will be so much tastier than any industrial bagels served at the buffet.
Great post! I try to think of what type place my family will truly enjoy the most. For my free Hyatt night this year I am planning on using it at a Hyatt Place because it looks like a nice apartment as opposed to the cracker box Hyatt Regency room we stayed in last year. Not even trying for status.
Thanks! Value is indeed relative. For our Santiago trip this summer the Grand Hyatt is 12,000 and the Hyatt Place is 8,000. For a family of 4 the HP is definitely the better choice.
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Couldn’t agree with you more. Finally someone speaks my mind.
There are more of us than you think- we just get shouted down by the brand loyalists.