Hyatt rolls out iPhone and Apple Watch room key support at some hotels

Hyatt Hotels has announced that guests at six of its properties in the US now have the option of unlocking their rooms and common areas using an iPhone or Apple Watch instead of a physical room key. The support, which was first promised earlier this year, revolves around Apple Wallet and the ultra-wideband digital keys support that arrived with iOS 15.

Apple Wallet allows iPhone and Apple Watch owners to digitally carry, access, and use their debit and credit cards. The same app combined with the latest iOS and watchOS software versions can also be used to unlock protected common areas and guestrooms at the following Hyatt Hotels properties:

- Hyatt Place Fremont/Silicon Valley

- Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa

- Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

- Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop-Fulton Market

- Hyatt Regency Long Beach

- Hyatt House Dallas/Richardson

Hyatt explains that its Apple Wallet support covers the check-in process in addition to unlocking doors. Guests who complete a reservation can add their room key to Apple Wallet; their device will alert them when their room is ready for check-in. The digital key isn't activated for use until the guest has checked in, but once the activation is finished, the guest will see their room number. According to the company, the digital key will be ready to use once a guestroom number has been assigned.

Equipped with an activated digital room key, Apple owners can tap their Apple Watch or iPhone on room locks to access their guestroom, the swimming pool, spa, lounges, and any other common areas reserved for customers. The contactless access requires iPhones running iOS 15 or Apple Watches running watchOS 8. Users aren't required to unlock their devices to access locked areas, plus Power Reserve gives users up to five hours to unlock doors with an iPhone even if it needs to be charged.

Why use Apple Wallet?

Physical room keys are common, familiar, and often inconvenient. It's easy to forget one's key card in the hotel room before leaving, forcing a trip to the front desk for help. It's just as easy to accidentally misplace the card key, which, depending on the hotel, may result in an additional charge to replace it. Beyond that, physical key cards can stop working for seemingly no reason, requiring yet another trip to the front desk.

Most people are in the habit of grabbing their smartphone and wearable whenever they get ready for the day, making it less likely either device will be left behind or lost. Both devices offer more reliable access to locked guestrooms and common areas compared to physical keys, plus Hyatt says digital authentication is more secure.

A stolen room key, for example, can be used by anyone to access common areas and potentially the guest's hotel room. Accidentally leaving one's watch behind at a work event, for example, doesn't present the same security concern because users can simply use the Find My app to locate and remotely lock their misplaced gadget.

Digital key card use isn't stored on Apple's servers and the company doesn't have access to data about when the key is used. Hyatt has tapped Vostio Access Management as its cloud-based digital key data delivery platform, while ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions has provided the compatible door locks.

Not your only option

While the new Apple Wallet support is a great option for frequent travelers who own newer Apple devices, this isn't the only mobile-based solution for customers. Hyatt also offers an app called "World of Hyatt" that includes Bluetooth-based digital keys. The app is essentially an all-in-one companion for customers' mobile devices, including reserving rooms, getting a room upgrade, managing check-in times and housekeeping preferences, and other related activities.

The same app includes a digital key feature that shows the customer's guestroom number and provides mobile-based unlocking. To use the feature, guests must place their smartphone flat against a door's lock until it unlocks, though only some Hyatt properties support this feature. Because this feature utilizes Bluetooth, it can be used with both iPhones and Android smartphones — and, unlike the new Apple Wallet feature, this digital key option is supported at more than 600 of the company's properties.