The past year has been rough for Hyatt on the partnership front. First MGM dumped Hyatt for Marriott. And the losses continue…
Hyatt has just confirmed that it will end its partnership with Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) in the near future, while Hilton simultaneously announced a new partnership with the group of boutique and luxury properties. This is a huge loss for Hyatt loyalists, who could use their points and enjoy elite benefits at over 300 SLH hotels around the world. Some of these hotels were truly aspirational, such as the Grand Hotel Victoria in Lake Como, Italy, or the Calala Island resort on a private island in Nicaragua.
At this time, World of Hyatt members can still book participating SLH Hotels on Hyatt’s booking channels, and nothing changes as of now for existing World of Hyatt member reservations. More information on the end of this relationship will be shared with guests and members in the coming months.Quote from Hyatt spokesperson (ht The Points Guy)
The writing has been on the wall for some time that Hyatt and SLH would eventually break it off, especially with Hyatt’s acquisition of similar platform Mr & Mrs Smith (causing the company to cut ties with IHG), and now last month’s announcement of SLH’s new partnership with Capital One Travel. This alone seemed like an odd partnership, given SLH is undoubtedly a premium travel brand, and “premium” usually isn’t what comes to mind when we think about Capital One or their target audience (though admittedly they do seem to be trying with the Venture X?).
But Hilton!?! I’ve written ad nauseam about the decline of what was once one of my favorite travel brands. Pre-COVID, I was all-in on Hilton, but the brand’s standards declined to the point where I switched to Hyatt and never looked back. The quality delta between Hilton and Hyatt, at least domestically, is tough to overstate. It really seems like Hilton has given up on competing with Marriott and Hyatt, and has instead decided to go duke it out with Wyndham, Choice, and Radisson, much like a struggling NCAA team moving to a lesser conference where they can easily beat the crap out of their new rivals.
Hyatt says that it will focus on integrating more hotels from Mr & Mrs Smith, after announcing last year that the platform would be integrated into World of Hyatt in “early 2024.” However, the Mr & Mrs Smith portfolio is much smaller than SLH, and the integration has been very slow and limited so far. Hyatt also says that nothing changes for existing reservations at SLH hotels, but it’s unclear how long the partnership will last and when the last date to book will be. It’s worth noting that SLH has a standard set of on-property benefits for bookings through World of Hyatt, and Hyatt tier status is not otherwise honored; presumably, Mr & Mrs Smith will honor the full range of tier benefits.
On the other hand, this is a great opportunity for Hilton to expand its luxury footprint, which currently consists of brands like Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, and LXR. Hilton says that it will add more than 200 SLH hotels to its portfolio, and that Hilton Honors members will be able to earn and redeem points, as well as enjoy elite benefits, at these hotels (unlike when they were partnered with Hyatt). This could make Hilton points much more valuable, especially if they price SLH hotels at reasonable rates and don’t exclude them from using free night certificates. Maybe I won’t need to cancel my Hilton Surpass Card after all?
However, there are still many unknowns about the Hilton-SLH partnership, such as when it will start, how it will work, and what benefits will be offered. Hilton says that it will share more details soon, but I’m not holding my breath.
What do you think of this news? Are you excited or disappointed by the changes?