Review: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville

Review: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville
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Image courtesy: Hyatt Hotels
 

I wasn’t certain if or when I’d ever have the chance – or a good reason – to stay at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville. After all, I live in Jacksonville, and am just 20 minutes or so from downtown on a daily basis, so what could lead me to book a room other than just to do so? Turns out a Hyatt promotion was just the answer.

As my number of nights at Hyatt properties ballooned over the Summer of 2015, I was getting ever closer to hitting 20 total nights, which would unlock a bonus of 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points. Checking my calendar for stays I already knew I had made, or would be making prior to the end of the promotion, I realized that I was on track for 19 total nights, putting me just one away from a warchest of points I valued at a minimum of $200, and could probably use to unlock at least $400 or more in value in the future.

Rather than return to the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport for one more cheap stay, I took advantage of a preseason Jaguars game as a reason to stay at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville. My parents were coming into town, and it would be easier to split a room with them at the Hyatt than for us to all stay at my tiny condo for the night. Plus, since the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville is just a Category 2 property, I could opt to book a room using the points + cash rate of 4,000 points + $55 instead of a full-out award night costing 8,000 points and still receive credit toward the promotion for our stay.

The Diamond Secret

As I began thinking through this process, I began to realize just what an exceptional option the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville – and other Hyatt Regency and Grand Hyatt properties in Category 1 or 2 of Hyatt’s award chart – offer to Diamond elite status holders. I’d just unlocked my Diamond status on my previous stay, meaning this was the first time I could put the status to work. Diamond members receive 1,000 points per stay as a welcome amenity – compared to just 500 points for stays at Hyatt Place or Hyatt House properties – but a less well-known benefit had even more to offer.

It turns out that when Hyatt Regency or Grand Hyatt locations have a lounge, but the lounge is closed, Diamond members are offered not just free breakfast at the hotel’s main restaurant, instead, but also a bonus of 2,500 points! As is the case at many less well-traveled Hyatt locations, the lounge is closed on the weekends, meaning a one night stay on Friday or Saturday evening is enough to unlock this additional benefit.

Add to this the 5 points per $1 earned and the 30% earnings bonus offered to Diamond members, and the cash portion of the stay threw another 360 or so points onto the pile. All told, I ended up earning 3,746 points on this stay, which cost me 4,000 points and $55. That means it’s possible to book a room at Category 2 locations like the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville using the cash and points rate and use almost no points, while securing a room for just $55. That’s an incredible value, and one I’ll be glad to take advantage of again in the future.

The Stay Experience

The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville is presently in the process of a multi-million dollar renovation, during which all guest rooms are being refreshed and many hotel amenities are also seeing a makeover. Though not all rooms were completed by the time of our stay, we were booked into a riverfront room that had recently been renovated, thanks to my Diamond status.

The refreshed rooms feature a color palette centered around teal, Jacksonville’s primary color, as well as other shades that blend nicely with its riverfront theme. The new entertainment and desk areas of the room have been particularly well redesigned:

There hadn’t been any apparent changes made to the bathroom, which made me wonder if perhaps it hadn’t been renovated yet, and bathroom work was scheduled for completion sometime after the rest of the rooms were finished:

The best feature of the room was, without a doubt, its view:

It was a gorgeous day in Jacksonville, and a sliding door made it possible to actually open the window, lean over a railing and actually enjoy the breeze, which made it all the better.

As a Diamond member, we were granted complimentary breakfast in the downstairs restaurant the next morning. While not the best spread I’ve seen from a Hyatt, it easily surpassed what was offered at the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House locations I’d stayed at most recently, and was a great start to the day. Though check-out as late as 4PM was offered, we headed out shortly after breakfast, with other plans for the rest of the weekend.

Final Thoughts

I was glad to finally try out the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville. While the property is definitely older, it remains arguably the nicest hotel in downtown, and the ongoing renovations should solidify its status by the time they’re finished later in Fall 2015. While I wouldn’t have had interest in staying here regularly in the past, I’m now considering the property on a regular basis for any future primetime and preseason games, given how the combination of Diamond status and a closed lounge can result in a stay costing around 250 points and $55, all while earning credit towards seasonal promotions and elite status!

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Casey Ayers is a consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for travel. After amassing enough miles and points to travel anywhere in the world for almost free in less than six months, he developed PointsAway as a way to help others make travel dreams big and small come true.
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