IHG Ambassador elite status continues to get more lucrative. I was poking around the IHG website and learned that IHG Ambassador benefits are now available at Regents Hotels. If you’re not familiar with Regent Hotels, it is one of the newest luxury hotel brands in the IHG family. Here’s what happened and why it is important.
What is IHG Ambassador elite status?
IHG Ambassador elite status is a paid program that offers exclusive benefits when staying at InterContinental hotels and resorts. You can’t earn this elite status with your stays, nights, or credit card spend. Instead, you can buy it for $200 or 40,000 IHG points per year.
Members receive the following perks:
- Automatic IHG Rewards Club Platinum elite status
- Guaranteed one-category room upgrade at check-in when staying at InterContinental hotels and resorts
- Complimentary weekend night as 2nd night of paid stay (once per year)
- Guaranteed 4 pm late checkout
- $20 credit towards restaurants and bars
- Complimentary daily mineral water bottle
- Free hi-speed WiFi internet access
- Complimentary breakfast daily for one guest in the main restaurant (Greater China only)
As you can see, a majority of these benefits are (were) exclusive to your stays at InterContinental hotels and resorts. The automatic Platinum status covers the benefits that you’ll receive when staying at other IHG brand hotels.
IHG Ambassador benefits now available at Regent Hotels
For a limited time, IHG Ambassador benefits are available when staying at Regent Hotels & Resorts. Royal Ambassador benefits are also extended with this promotion.
This is a limited time test-pilot that will run from July 30, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Properties in Greater China are excluded from receiving these additional perks, although local properties are always free to surprise and delight their guests.
When IHG Ambassador members stay at a Regent Hotels & Resorts property, they’ll receive the following benefits:
- A local “Signature Amenity” shall be offered
- Royal Ambassador minibar credit is capped at $50 per day and $200 per stay. An alternative credit of equal value may be offered at the hotel’s discretion.
- Royal Ambassador two category room upgrade is replaced by a one-category upgrade.
Additional IHG Ambassador benefits are not guaranteed, but the local hotel may choose to offer them during your stay:
- Complimentary room upgrade at check-in
- Guaranteed 4 pm late checkout
- Club lounge access for Royal Ambassadors
I haven’t stayed at a Regents hotel before, but I assume that they recognize IHG Rewards elite status, like all of the other IHG brands. This should provide complimentary room upgrade and late checkout benefits.
Where are the Regent Hotels & Resorts located?
As a luxury brand, Regent Hotels & Resorts does not have a lot of locations. Currently, there are seven locations around the world:
- Beijing, China
- Berlin, Germany
- Chongqing, China
- Porto Montenegro, Montenegro
- Shanghai Pudong, China
- Taipei, Taiwan
IHG purchased a controlling interest in Regent Hotels & Resorts in March 2018 and it was integrated into IHG Rewards Club in January 2019. With IHG’s backing, this luxury hotel brand is expanding. Some of the properties in its pipeline include:
- Phu Quoc (December 2020)
- Bali (2021)
- Hong Kong (2022)
- Jakarta (2022)
- Kuala Lumpur (2023)
- Chengdu (2023)
Of course, these dates and affiliations may change with time. It is possible that these planned open dates may be pushed back due to coronavirus. Similarly, some of these projects may abandon IHG or switch to another brand within the family.
What does this mean for Kimpton Inner Circle members?
Because there are so few Regent Hotels & Resorts around the world (and none in the U.S.), many readers may not care about this development. And I don’t blame you for thinking this way.
However, take a look at the recent developments and you may notice a trend.
Although coronavirus is slowing down momentum, it is my belief that IHG is slowly consolidating its luxury brand perks into one premium benefits package.
Here are the reasons why I believe this to be true:
- Competition from World of Hyatt. World of Hyatt is probably the premier hotel loyalty program available benefits-wise (at least that’s what my Hyatt Globalist friends tell me).
- Marriott Bonvoy acquires SPG & rebrands. Marriott Bonvoy made a big splash by acquiring Starwood and then rebranding their loyalty program. Although they had some serious problems at first, those kinks seems to have been worked out.
- IHG acquires Kimpton Hotels & Resorts. As a way to expand its luxury offering, IHG purchased Kimpton in 2014. This added almost 70 new properties to its luxury portfolio in the U.S. Since then, numerous other Kimpton hotels have opened, including an expansion of the brand internationally.
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith announce exclusive partnership with IHG. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a luxury travel club with over 1,200 properties in over 80 countries. Currently, IHG members have access to over 500 hotels in new and iconic locations where you can earn or redeem IHG Rewards Club points. Ambassador and Kimpton Inner Circle members enjoy a complimentary “Smith Extra” when staying at one of these properties, such as automatic upgrades plus a bottle of champagne, picnic hamper, or 30-minute massage upon arrival.
- Six Senses acquired by IHG. Six Senses was acquired by IHG for $300 million in cash in early 2019. The brand manages 16 hotels and resorts with another 18 in its pipeline and 50 under negotiation. Management expects to add another 60 Six Senses hotels over the next decade.
- IHG Rewards has not made any major benefits changes recently. When you compare IHG Rewards against Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott, there are some major gaps for premium members. IHG needs to do something to increase market share in the high-end market.
- Kimpton & Regent properties now available for Ambassador free weekend nights. I recently wrote about being able to redeem your annual buy-one-get-one-free weekend night certificates at Kimpton hotels, but this benefit also applies to Regent Hotels & Resorts. This opens up approximately 80 premium hotels and resorts for IHG Ambassador members to use this benefit.
- Free weekend nights can be used any night of week at Kimpton or Regent. Adding further value to the Kimpton tie-in, Ambassador members are allowed to redeem their BOGO free night at any Kimpton 7 days a week. This is a huge win compared to being limited to weekends-only at InterContinental properties.
The Bald Thoughts
I might be imagining things, but when you pull back and look at the macro view, you can see the outlines of IHG’s comprehensive strategy. With all of its recent acquisitions and agreements, IHG has quickly cobbled together over 400 luxury hotels around the world to attract high-end and aspirational travelers. From my vantage point, it seems that IHG is bulking up its luxury portfolio of properties with the intention of consolidating elite status from these various brands and extending benefits across these top-tier properties.
Doing so simplifies IHG’s back-end IT platform, which will save it money, reduce breakage, and make life easier for IHG Rewards Club members. Plus, it encourages luxury travelers to spend at IHG’s other premium brands, which ties them even more to IHG versus the occasional night spent at competing brands.
With coronavirus and the effects on the hospitality industry, I don’t expect any major announcements for 2021, but I could certainly see it happening effective January 2022 if the economy holds up. In the meantime, I think we’ll continue to see incremental changes along the way to further this strategy along.
What do you think?