Friday, April 5, 2013

Going Home & More Hyatt Benefits

Flight #46 – TAM 8078
Rio De Janiero (GIG) – New York (JFK)
Thursday, Apr 4, 2013
Depart: 10:53PM / Arrive: 7:55AM (+1 Day)
Duration: 10hr 2min
Aircraft: Airbus 330
Seat: 26D-26G (Economy)
Earned: 4,787 miles
Lifetime Miles: 96,375 miles

By the time everyone's reading this, I will probably have already landed at JFK and hopefully getting into our clean apartment.

As I mentioned in another post, we offset some of our travel expenses by finding people who want to use our 1 bedroom apartment to travelers visiting New York City. We were gone for 17 nights on this recent trip and found "my mother's cousins" (a Russian family of 3)* who need a place to stay from March 25-April 2. 

So for renting 8 nights, we received $1,455 (net payout after $45 fees). There's always a bit of risk/hesitation letting strangers live in your apartment, but with the $1 million insurance coverage for any damages/theft, my parents can easily replace our Ikea furniture. Plus, getting paid to do nothing gets us more than enough to cover my father's new empanada addiction.

But the other ways we were able to save some money was through one of my favorite benefits of being a Hyatt elite member - free breakfasts! 

Hyatt Diamond Breakfast
If you have Diamond status (either by earning it through 50 nights/year in a Hyatt hotel or by applying for a Status Match Challenge), you and the registered guests get complimentary breakfast each morning. Some budget hotels offer a hot breakfast sandwich or cereal/pastries. But the higher end properties (like the Park Hyatt) offer a more robust breakfast buffet (or give you a high fixed $ amount to order off the menu) served in one of their main restaurants. A few even let you have breakfast served via room service.

At the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, we preferred sitting in the restaurant and enjoying the amazing views of the central garden overlooking the "traditional" side of the hotel.

We arrived a bit late, around 10AM so all the good seats by the windows were taken. But it was still empty enough where we found decent seats by the buffet tables (my father likes to be close to the food).

The spread was beautifully laid out and had all the usual suspects - fresh fruit, pastries, smoked salmon, cheeses, etc. Also included were coffee, tea and fruit/vegetable juices. But in addition, you could also order 1 hot item off the menu. My mother chose the scrambled eggs w/ bacon & sausage while my father went with the eggs benedict. The other options included waffles, pancakes and french toast as well as other egg based items like omelettes. 


The actual prices if you were paying were pretty high ($15-50 depending on what you ordered) so we were happy to be able to enjoy a delicious breakfast without even seeing the bill. However, I suggest you consider leaving a respectable tip (depending on the customs of the country). Just because you didn't pay doesn't mean the waitstaff didn't work.

Hyatt Honeymoon Couple
When you book a reservation on, you'll notice a few options you can select under SPECIAL REQUESTS. You can click a few of them if you want.
  • Quiet Room
  • Honeymoon Couple
  • Connecting Room
  • Rollaway Bed
  • Crib
  • Early Check-In
  • Late Check-Out
My parents are still crazy in love so they consider themselves perpetually in the Honeymoon phase, so they also click off "Honeymoon Couple" in addition to crib. Now, it's debatable whether you're crossing the ethical line here, but most of the time, the hotel doesn't really do anything for a honeymoon couple (no harm, no foul). But sometimes, they do.

The Park Hyatt BA hotel staff actually tried calling to help us make dinner reservations on our last night (a sneaky attempt to find out when we'd be leaving our room so they could have this surprise waiting for us when we came back), but we ended up going to get take out (more empanadas at El Sanjuanino down the street) and ate in our room again.

So around 9PM, they just called and confessed they had a nice honeymoon gift for us - a chilled bottle of champagne and some dark chocolate covered strawberries with a nice handwritten note from the Butler Team.

Unfortunately, we were only staying at the Park Hyatt for 2 nights. Overall, it was one of the best hotel service experiences I've ever had (in my 17 months of life), but my father agreed and he's been around. While it's unlikely that we'd ever pay the cash rates to stay here ($550+ USD/night), we are very happy that we can come back and use Hyatt points to stay for free...especially because I just found out that I love chocolate covered strawberries.

* Technically, a sublet of less than 1 month isn't kosher in New York City, so that's why we were just letting my mother's extended family house-sit while we were away.

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