A Park Hyatt for $80? Leveraging the “Blue” Dollar on Hyatt Stays in Argentina

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Given Argentina’s current economic turmoil the country may not be on top of everyone’s travel list. If you’ve been following the news at all I’m sure you’ve read about the US hedge funds vs. Argentina debacle, or heard how the peso has been in a downward spiral for several months now, or how Top Gear recently got chased out of the country over a license plate. That said, if you are traveling on US dollars to Argentina there are some hotels deals to be had.

I’m looking forward to heading back to Argentina a third time around to explore and enjoy the culture---from the street cafes of Buenos Aires to jaw-dropping views of the Andes. While there, I plan to check out the two Hyatt properties within the country.

Both Hyatt properties in Argentina---Buenos Aires and Mendoza---are a great value when redeeming points for award nights. However, with the favorable exchange rates I decided to look a bit further into the options.

Hyatt Properties in Argentina

There are only two Hyatt properties in Argentina---the Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires and the Park Hyatt Mendoza. Both properties seem to be exceptional and have great reviews.

Park Hyatt Mendoza and Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

There are Park Hyatts in Mendoza and Buenos Aires, Argentina

Considering the super favorable “blue” dollar exchange rate AND the option to pay cash in local currency at both of these hotels, these hotels are a steal.

The official exchange rate from USD to ARS is around 1 USD = 8.45 ARS. However, the “blue” dollar (read ‘black market’) is currently trading at 1 USD = 15.35 ARS. Exchanging US dollars on this market gets you a savings of almost 45% off everything vs. using the official rate.

(Note: Due to daily fluctuations in exchange rates the figures below may slightly differ, but at the time of writing the “blue” dollar exchange rate was 1 USD = 15.35 ARS.)

First let’s take a look at the Park Hyatt Mendoza.

Park Hyatt Mendoza and Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Park Hyatt Mendoza

Given that the Park Hyatt Mendoza is a category 2 hotel, an award night costs 8,000 per night or 4,000 points + $55 (converted to hotels local currency) using Points + Cash. An average paid nightly rate runs around 1,200 Argentine Pesos (ARS).

The hotel allows payment in local currency, so it is possible to book a flexible rate or Points + Cash rate and pay in ARS at the hotel upon check-out. Paying in the local currency using the black market exchange rate puts the nightly rate to around ~$78 per night, not bad!

Given that the cash + points rate is converted into the local currency, that puts a nightly Points + Cash night at 4,000 points + ~$30 USD (+ ~$6 in taxes and fees).

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires and Park Hyatt Mendoza

Hyatt Points + Cash award chart

Now, 8,000 points per night for a Park Hyatt sounds great, and it is a great use of points considering the official exchange rate. You’d get ~2.0 cents per point. However, throw the “blue” dollar exchange rate into the mix and that redemption value drops to ~1.0 cent per point. It’s slightly better on cash + points nights, but you will still only get 1.25 cents per point.

With the favorable blue dollar exchange rate it's actually a tough call to decide which is better, a paid stay or Points + Cash. Both will count for elite status, which could mean an incredibly cheap and fast way to achieve Diamond elite status through the Hyatt Diamond Challenge. The current Diamond Challenge allows you to get a 60 day Diamond status trial and if you stay 12 nights at Hyatt hotels within the 60 days you will maintain status until February 2016!

Now, lets take a look at the Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.

Park Hyatt Mendoza and Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Nightly rates start at ~$520 USD or 20,000 points per night. One thing to point out is that at this property vs. the Park Hyatt in Mendoza, the website prices out in US Dollars instead of the local Argentine Pesos. However, I confirmed with Hyatt that the hotel accepts local currency in cash as a form of payment.

As a category 5 property it costs 20,000 points per night for an award night. Given the official exchange rate, this is a great value, but considering that traveling from the US you will have the option to exchange US dollars on the ‘black market’ at a much more favorable rate, the potential value per points drops.

Using pesos obtained through the “blue” dollar rate a nightly paid stay will cost around ~$286 per night. You’re saving $234 per night off the standard rate you would pay if paid in full by credit card! Of course going this route, you will have to reserve a flexible rate and reserve the stay with a credit card, but pay in cash with local currency at the hotel upon check-out.

Park Hyatt Mendoza and Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Nightly rates at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Even before considering the better exchange rate I’d consider a Points + Cash night at 10,000 points + $125 a tremendous value. However, the $125 will be charged in local currency at the hotel, so paying in cash at the hotel is an option. Their quoted dollar rate is converted on the bill at ~8.45 pesos to the dollar. But remember, if you exchange at the current “blue” dollar rate, you would be getting 15.35 ARS to the dollar.

This means you can get a Points + Cash night at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires for an incredible 10,000 points + $69 USD (+ $14 in taxes) per night. The only catch with Points + Cash rates at the hotel is that you will be required to pay a $150 USD deposit per night when booking a Points + Cash rate.

My Strategy

First, enroll in the Hyatt Diamond Challenge by matching my IHG Platinum elite status that comes through my IHG MasterCard. Once enrolled in the Diamond challenge I’ll have 60 days with full Hyatt Diamond status, including suite upgrade certificates, free breakfast and free wifi.

Within that 60 day timeframe I’ll stay at least 12 nights using a combination of paid and Points + Cash nights. This will not only give me a very cheap and quick way to get Diamond status until 2016, but also have Diamond benefits during the stays. I plan on breaking this down better and how it’s also possible to enroll in several promotions to earn

What's your take? Are you heading to Argentina soon?

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Advertiser Disclosure: Well Traveled Mile has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Well Traveled Mile and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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