On the Run

An Interesting Q&A With Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell

For those who don’t know, Jeff Zidell is Hyatt’s Vice President of the Gold Passport program (their loyalty program). I realize that many point enthusiasts know that, but there is one thing about Jeff that you probably didn’t know!

Jeff told me recently that he reads the blog here and enjoys it as he too is a marathon runner! Always nice to hook up with other runners, but really nice to hear that an executive at a hotel chain that I really like is one. 🙂 So, I asked him if he would be interested in a little Q&A and he graciously agreed.

Q&A With Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell

Q – When did you start running?

I began running seriously in 2007 when I made the decision to run a half-marathon – the White Rock Lake Half Marathon in Dallas. My goal was to come in under 2 hours, and I think I did that by just a few minutes. It was a great experience, and I caught the running bug. I moved to Chicago shortly after that, so my next half-marathon was not until 2009.

Q – Where was your first marathon?

My first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2012. I had done a bunch of half-marathons, but I decided that to truly call myself a runner, I had to step it up and do the full thing. I followed the 18-week Hal Higdon program and did all of my long runs with the Chicago Area Runners Association. It was so nice to have the camaraderie and experience of fellow runners during those long runs.

Q – When you are on the road, do you do your runs outside or do you hit the Hyatt fitness centers?

I don’t like running on the treadmill, so I always try to run outside (even in the Chicago winter when it’s cold and snowy). I’ve had some wonderful runs in cities like Paris, London, Cologne and Warsaw. The only problem is that I tend to get lost if I’m running alone.

Q – As a runner and executive at Hyatt, have you had input in the fitness centers across any of the brands?

I asked our Brand team to award Hyatt Gold Passport members with one point for every mile run in the fitness center. Unfortunately, they did not like my idea, and since then they have not asked for my opinion on the fitness centers. 

Q – What/where is your favorite race?

For the last 5 years, I’ve run the St. Louis half-marathon with 3 of my fraternity brothers, so that is something that I look forward to every April. I also love running the Chicago marathon because the atmosphere is so festive and there are spectators lining the entire course.

Q – Where is the most beautiful place that you have ran?

My most beautiful run would have to be Lazienski Park in Warsaw, Poland. It’s the largest park in Warsaw and across the street from the former Hyatt. It’s filled with a palace, gardens, canals and ponds. I love running with my hotel colleagues from around the world. There are some very fast Hyatt runners!

Q – Have you ever ran a race where you did not stay at a Hyatt? 🙂

Yes, I have! Sometimes, we are sold out, which is a good thing.

Q – Are there any possibilities to have one of the Hyatt brands partner with a race series (like Westin and the Rock-n-Roll series)?

I think it is a possibility. We are doing some really interesting and creative work right now on our branded experiences, so perhaps this might be something that makes sense at some point in the future.

Q – What is your proudest race moment?

My proudest race moment was reuniting with my family after my first Chicago marathon. It was a very emotional experience, and I will always treasure the group hug that we had at the finish line.

Q – For runners, the hotel can be a big part of relaxing before the big race (how close it is, the comfort of the room). I know there are some Hyatt hotels that are the host hotels or a race hotel for certain marathons. Any thoughts on throwing in an extra room amenity for Hyatt elites that stay at the hotel for a race? Something like a couple of GU gels, a Hyatt running bottle, a Hyatt cool-down towel, etc.

It’s a great idea, and I think it is highly correlated with the brand experiences that we discussed earlier. So, stay tuned!

I love his idea about the treadmills – if only they had taken him up on that, I would have another thousand or so Hyatt Gold Passport points! 🙂

Jeff’s most recent marathon was the Chicago Marathon last weekend where he ran an awesome 3:34 marathon. He is running another marathon next month, so maybe you will catch him on the roads! If not then, look for him when you are running at your next Hyatt – you never know!

Jeff, congrats on a fine marathon and thanks for taking the time to share some of this great stuff with us!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.