New IHG Elite Benefits Are Live: Free Breakfast, Club Access, And Suite Upgrades

The new IHG One Rewards elite program offers a huge improvement in elite benefits.

There’s confirmed suites (starting 14 days prior to arrival, out of revenue inventory, but not valid on award stays or prepaid rates), club lounge access, and breakfast. And benefits even apply at brands like Intercontinental and Kimpton that historically exclusively had their own recognition programs.

Rolling out benefits across over 5000 hotels and ensuring compliance is tricky, and delivering consistently is hard (Cf. Marriott Bonvoy). New elite benefits are officially live, as of today. Some hotels have been honoring some benefits, like breakfast, in recent weeks but that has been inconsistent. Now members are entitled to what the new program offers.

  • Free hot breakfast as a welcome amenity choice for Diamond members, similar to how Marriott handles breakfast as a choice benefit at some brands. That means members can choose breakfast in lieu of check-in bonus points or the drink/snack option.

  • Upgrades Platinums and Diamonds including to standard suites if available, this isn’t actually new but hotels are now expected to follow program guidance and have received training on the benefit.

  • Early check-in is supposed to be available for Platinums and Diamonds, subject to availability and time “at the hotel’s discretion” (so not something members can really count on).

  • 2 p.m. late check out for all members if available, nice to see it for all members but there’s no guarantee even for top tier elites as we expect from Marriott and Hyatt (but not Hilton).

  • Milestone rewards – confirmed suite upgrades on non-prepaid revenue stays within 14 days of arrival based on published room inventory; food and beverage rewards; bonus points; annual club lounge access. Benefits accrue every 10 nights starting at 20 nights when you can even select a suite upgrade.

Food and beverage awards can’t actually be used yet, however:

The Milestone Rewards platform has already begun rolling out in member accounts. You’ll notice Food & Beverage Rewards (F&B) are not available for use at hotels quite yet, but you can easily select this reward now and bank it for use later this year. We are conducting additional testing in our full-service hotels in the US and Canada before we make this industry leading experience available for members.

You can read full benefit details here. Now that benefits are (mostly) live at hotels we’ll start to see how compliant properties are and how the new program works in practice. Regardless, there’s only improvements here in terms of benefits, addressing what has been the key weakness in the IHG program.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — I sure hope this doesn’t result in IHG making the major mistake of eliminating Royal Ambassador. That would mean a huge reduction in our business.

  2. I have diamond status because I was a spire in the old program. My account is sitting on around 700,000 points and 12 nights stayed in 2022.

    For context, I also have ambassador and globalist statuses with Marriott and Hyatt (the two highest tiers in those respective programs).

    I’ve been playing around with IHG since the new benefits were launched.

    I honestly can’t see myself spending 70 nights a year with IHG, especially when I get the second-tier platinum status by virtue of holding the credit card. There just aren’t enough Intercontinental or Kimpton properties domestically in the United States to make it worth it. As for Crowne Plaza, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Crowne Plaza that was an option.

    If I’m staying with IHG it’s because the only chain option in a given market is a Holiday Inn Express. And unlike Holiday Inn, breakfast is free for all guests at Holiday Inn Express. So that new IHG breakfast benefit for diamonds is pretty worthless. I’m simply not going to spend 70 nights a year a Holiday Inn.

    In practice, the Holiday Inn properties that have offered diamonds breakfast since the new IHG program was launched have had horrendous breakfasts; like the food at Starbucks and McDonald’s would be better at breakfast. I stayed at one property over the weekend that didn’t have oatmeal, didn’t have yogurt, and the only eggs were from egg mix. They couldn’t fry an egg because they didn’t have real eggs.

    While IHG is promising a lot with its new program, the reality is the portfolio is very weak in the United States as it’s predominately geared toward low-end brands. Even the prospects of staying at IHG’s nicest-ever Holiday Inn property won’t be enough to lure me away from a Marriott, Westin, Renaissance, JW Marriott, or Hyatt Regency.

    Maybe if I was traveling to big cities in Asia or going to an Intercontinental-branded resort in the South Pacific. But 70 nights at Holiday Inn in North America? No thank you.

  3. Stayed at Athens Intercontinental a few days ago as a Diamond Ambassador and received a room with a partial view as an upgrade. Also the dumpiest Intercontinental I have ever see. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.

  4. @FNT Delta Diamond: Thank you for your detailed comments/analyses about IHG. It seems that Platinum members do not get much benefit.

  5. Gary – I’m not sure where else to ask this so taking a shot you may see it. Can you get any information about the food and bev rewards? I’ve tried getting info and have heard nothing. Seems absurd that I was able to choose several of these back in June only for it to be 4 months into the 1 year expiration and still no sign of them being available.

    I figured I’d do a point stay near end of year at a property with a restaurant/bar and have a bunch of $20 rewards to redeem, but at this point there has been no communication.

  6. IHG Platinum status is useless. No benefits that actually matter. IHG plays games with availability for those wanting to book using points in empty hotels. 4th night free is a scam. IHG simply increases the cost of the other nights to cover the ‘free’ night.

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