Since Friday March 1st 2019, Intercontinental Hotels Ambassador has implemented significant changes to the program which we have previously covered here on LoyaltyLobby.
Readers holding Ambassador status should be mindful of these changes when staying at Intercontinental properties and, from personal experience, I can report they are already followed to the letter by the hotels.
The changes include fix $ allowances for members to be used at restaurants as well as the minibar (especially important for Royal Ambassadors).
You can access IHG’s page for Ambassador Program here.
John has also written a detailed article when these changes were announced, which you can find here.
I checked in at the Grand Intercontinental Parnas in Seoul early Friday morning and the well trained front desk assistant was quick in outlining the new changes to me.
A late check out benefit of 4PM was offered right away as was a US$20 equivalent for F&B credit to be used at any hotel restaurant outlet except room service. There will be no more fruit amenity in the guest rooms.
I did upgrade my room, via e-Upgrade, to Club for a moderate price so this didn’t bother me. I decided to use the $20 at the Deli for a late lunch before checking out around 4pm.
One could also consider using it for the breakfast buffet but considering how overpriced the breakfast is at most hotels that might not be worth it (the IC Seoul charges 49,500++ KRW [$55 after tax and service charge] for breakfast which is absolutely insane).
Ambassador members will now receive complimentary breakfast for one guest per room which is only applicable for hotels in Mainland China. Thanks to one of our readers who alerted us in the comments that IHG has quietly deleted the “Greater China” eligibility reference which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan per IHG’s definition. That’s a FOUL move IHG! We have contact their press liaison to get to the bottom of this.
Royal Ambassador members are eligible for two breakfasts if hotel doesn’t have a club lounge.
I don’t agree with this “one breakfast per room” policy as it essentially forces the member to purchase a second breakfast at an extortionist rate when traveling with a companion, but there is little choice. Maybe it could be worth asking a manager for a discount if this situation applies.
The announced new breakfast benefit was one of the reasons why I didn’t use my weekend voucher in Hong Kong last month and decided to do so in April. Apparently with IHG’s sneaky change I can just as well use it elsewhere then.
As a plain Platinum Ambassador member, I like the extra $20 credit in lieu of the welcome gift/fruit amenity, which I never really paid much attention to. It’s a nice way to have a drink or coffee at the hotel bar and get out of the room.
For Royal Ambassadors, the minibar benefit change is a significant downgrade as it moved from a full daily replenishment to just $50 daily credit max $200 per stay penalizes those that have longer stays and want to maximize this benefit. $50 doesn’t go very far with two guests at a hotel minibar where a liquor mini can often cost roughly $15 plus a soda to mix it.
The guaranteed benefits are no longer really guaranteed when hotel can just give you 10,000 points and be done with the late check out and room/suite upgrade. The number of points given for these incidents should have been much higher to really penalize hotels and discourage them from actually refusing to provide such benefits to the guest.