InterContinental Royal Ambassador status is the highest “publicly” available status that one can have with the InterContinental hotels. Thing to note is that this only applies to InterContinental hotels and not to other hotels of the InterContinental Hotels Group like Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza.
Royal Ambassadors do get the Priority Club Platinum status and benefits that go with it apply to other hotels of the IHG.
How to get Royal Ambassador Status?
There are two ways. You need to join the Priority Club first and then buy the Ambassador membership that costs $200 or 32K Priority Club points. I wrote a piece last yet, if it is worth buying it.
Then you need to stay from 50 to 70 nights during your Ambassador year (this is NOT a calendar year) and to stay at least three different InterContinental hotels, to be upgraded to a Royal Ambassador status. InterContinental doesn’t publish the exact requirements of this status, but normally 50 nights is the minimum required. It is unclear, however, how many of those 50 to 70 nights are required to be at the InterContinental hotels, but my hunch is that more than half.
Other way to become a Royal Ambassador is to get a referral certificate from a Royal Ambassador member. When you qualify for the status, you will receive a package that contains a referral certificate. These can be often found on eBay for around $500.
Remember that you need to become an Ambassador first before your account can be upgraded to a Royal Ambassador.
Benefits of the Royal Ambassador Status
Once you have got the number of required nights in or have bought the certificate from eBay, the fun part is about to start. You can then enjoy the perks that come with the RA. I have listed the main benefits that I have taken advantage off. There are others as well.
1. 8AM check in & 4PM check out
Both of these are guaranteed and not up to “availability”, although some properties might say so on their welcome letters
2. Complimentary minibar beverages
Note that the SNACKS are not included by default. Some properties do give out the entire contents of the minibar, but officially the guaranteed benefits are the drinks only including beer/wine/alcohol.
3. Executive room or suite upgrade
There seems to be lot of confusion, when it comes to the room upgrade benefits for Royal Ambassadors. Regular Ambassadors are guaranteed one category upgrade from the booked category. Royal Ambassadors are entitled to an executive room or a suite. If you book a suite, the property is NOT required to upgrade you further.
Many of the properties have implemented a policy to upgrade RA’s two categories from the room/suite category they book. You do need, however, to confirm this with the property in question beforehand.
4. Free internet access
Royal Ambassadors get a complimentary internet access at all InterContinental properties. This doesn’t apply for regular Ambassador Members.
5. Ambassador Accelerator & Royal Ambassador Bonus
You will receive 20K Priority Club bonus points for every 20 nights spent at InterContinental hotels. You will receive an additional 1000 Priority Club bonus points for every InterContinental hotel stay.
6. Free Weekend Night Voucher & 5000 Priority Club Bonus Points
These are the same that come with the Ambassador package as well. You will get a free weekend night voucher that you can use in conjunction with a paid stay. You basically need to pay the best flexible rate for the first night and the second night is free. Sometimes it is cheaper to book two nights using discounted rates, however.
The letter includes a code that you can use to deposit 5000 Priority Club points to your account.
Royal Ambassador Package
I took couple of photos of the package that I received. It comes with the membership card, luggage tag, booklet, referral certificate, free weekend night voucher and a letter.
IHG had supposedly sent this package already at the end of last year, but it never arrived. I had to make couple of phone calls and the replacement one came in couple of weeks.
Timing of Renewal
If you are planning to requalify for the status, it is important to get your hotel nights count. InterContinental starts looking at your previous 12 months activity 3 months before your Royal Ambassador status is about to expire. Not sure if they do this monthly until the expiry. Sometimes it makes sense to give them a call and ask them to review your account for RA renewal. They might tell you that you need more nights or they can just extend it. You never know.
Overall, I have been very satisfied with the benefits received as a Royal Ambassador. Most of the hotels do go above and beyond what is required by the program.
You have to bear in mind that neither breakfast nor club access is a benefit of the Royal Ambassador status. Quite a few hotels, however, let you choose between a suite upgrade and a club room.
Special Conditions for Award Nights
All the other hotel chains, that I am a member of and have redeemed free nights, don’t distinguish between a paid night or an award when it comes to benefits. The situation with the InterContinental is different, however.
Quite a few InterContinental hotels do honor all or some of the excluded RA benefits on award stays. You need to clear this with the hotel. I have found out that often if you contact the property beforehand the answer might be different when you actually check in.
Royal Ambassadors earn a fixed number of Priority Club points per stay (2000), Platinum bonus (1000) and the RA bonus (1000). IHG recently changed the number of points earned to based on the dollar spend on the America.
You need to sign up for all the other bonuses that IHG continuously offers and you will then earn much more. I compile a list of all active Priority Club promotions every month and publish it here.
I recently wrote a piece how many points I have been earning on average when all the promotions are factored if. You can read more about it here.
The InterContinental Royal Ambassador status is great, if the number of properties and where they are located fits your travel plans. This is also the only top tier status that you can buy, although not officially. In general I have been very satisfied with the treatment I have been received from InterContinental hotels as a Royal Ambassador.
The basic point earnings doesn’t look too great, but you need to factor in all the various promotions that IHG/Priority Club is constantly running. Also, there are Point Breaks hotels every few months, when you can redeem 5K PC points for a night at number of hotels.