IHG launched new elite benefits that include free breakfast for Diamonds, confirmed suite upgrades (as a choice benefit, starting at just 20 nights!), and club lounge access (another choice benefit).
This makes the rebranded IHG One Rewards far more competitive with its benefits. It also gives real meaning to member benefits even at Intercontinental and Kimpton hotels which have had their own separate benefits offerings (and still do).
There was just one problem I flagged. Not all benefits apply on award stays. The program changes are an improvement for everyone, to be sure, but not for everyone equally. And IHG One Rewards is addressing this.
I pointed out that,
- Confirmed suites (for up to 5 nights, bookable up to 14 days in advance of check-in with no capacity controls) aren’t available on award stays, or even prepaid stays.
- Club lounge access didn’t seem to be available on reward night stays. IHG was saying that lounge access would apply, but that didn’t seem consistent with the program’s published terms.
- Diamond breakfast (hot breakfast, not continental!) didn’t apply at all Kimptons, per program terms.
I was disappointed by the fine print here on award stays, since those are often the stays that matter most. Road Warriors, certainly, often slog it out and earn their status on their own and care about how they’re treated only on the special getaway they can take with their family.
Well, IHG tells me they are already updating its program terms:
- It will be clear that club lounge access will be available on reward nights, for those members that choose the benefit.
- And the exclusion for breakfast at certain Kimptons will not actually be in place. (Diamond breakfast is, in fact, available on award stays.)
Confirmed suites still aren’t available on award nights. That was even true at Hyatt for 8 years, before introducing World Of Hyatt changes. This isn’t unprecedented, changing this in the future is something I’ll hope for. If you want to confirm a suite as an upgrade you will have to book a (non-prepaid) paid rate in order to do so.
Still, this is better than I’d hoped for. And that’s on top of offering great new benefits without taking anything away from members. IHG is still too Holiday Inn heavy for my personal stay tastes, but they have luxury brands as well, something for many different travelers now tied together by the loyalty program in a stronger way.
On my wish list is still the opportunity to spend more points for better rooms, something I’ve been writing about for more than 15 years, and guaranteed late check-out. But they now arguably have the best top tier breakfast benefit and best upgrade benefit of any hotel program second only to Hyatt.