Raffles (and Fairmont and Swissotel) sold to Accor – what will change?

French hotel group Accor, owner of Sofitel, Novel, Mercure, Ibis and various other brands, was confirmed last night as buyer of FRHI.

These means that Accor will be gaining control of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands, including such iconic hotels as The Savoy in London, The Plaza in New York and Raffles in Singapore.

FRHI was owned by the state investment funds of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  As Accor is paying partly in shares, the two countries will now be 10% and 5% shareholders respectively in Accor.

FRHI is smaller than you might think, with just 115 properties currently open and a further 40 projects under development.  The largest grouping is in Canada, the original base of Fairmont.

The transaction will not run into any regulatory issues and, strategically, it is a decent fit.  Accor only has Sofitel at the luxury end of the market.  I would imagine that the Raffles and Fairmont brands will remain, although I am not sure that Swissotel has enough brand equity to be worth saving.

Fairmont Banff Springs 350

What happens to the loyalty programmes?

I would put down any cups of coffee you may be holding before reading on, because sniggering can cause spillage.  The press release states:

Le Club AccorHotels and the loyalty programs of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands are among the most generous and innovative in the global hospitality sector. Our brands and locations are highly complementary and we want to make the most of these two programs to offer you ever more exclusive services and privileges.

To be fair, I know very little about Fairmont President’s Club.  I didn’t even know that Swissotel had a loyalty scheme (Swissotel Circle) until I just looked it up.

The Accor programme works well in its own way.  It is basically a cashback scheme, as the points you earn can only (with a tiny number of exceptions) be redeemed for money-off vouchers for future Accor stays or turned into airline miles.

Because it has fixed value redemptions, you cannot arbitrage it when you redeem.  (A normal loyalty programme lets you get extra value by redeeming on peak days by paying the standard price.)  To some extent, Accor has got around this by trying to arbitrage earning.  It has run some very generous promotions recently, such as offering 10,000 points for just three stays.

Raffles Singapore

Good news for American Express Platinum cardholders

If you have American Express Platinum, you receive Platinum status in the Accor programme for as long as you keep the card.  This offers decent benefits including guaranteed lounge access at Sofitel (presumably the three new luxury chains will be included) and upgrades.

Once integrated, you will another 155 hotels – and good quality ones at that – where you can use your status.

As with Marriott / Starwood acquisition, it will take a while for anything to happen.  The transaction will not complete until mid-2016.  I would then expect it to take at least another year before the hotels are integrated into the Accor system for the purposes of earning and redeeming points.

My view

FRHI was so small as a chain – in fact, it was really three chains with little overlap – that it didn’t provide much competition.  Very little is lost by the acquisition.  Adding these properties into Accor is, for me, beneficial as I will have far more high quality hotels where I can use my Le Club AccorHotels Platinum status.

If we are really lucky, FRHI may employ someone who knows how to code a decent website and we could be saved from the chaos that is accor.com …..!

The press release for the transaction is here.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see  our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Mr Bridge says:

    so will fairmont offer accor status match in the meantime

    • Unfortunately not. I have a stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs in a couple of weeks so I enquirred about this with them directly. The response I received from the concierge was:

      “With the Fairmont and Accor Loyalty programs, we just received a Memo that all programs will remain individual through 2016.”

  2. Hingeless says:

    Accor platinum does have exceptions at some properties, eg you don’t get lounge access in Sofitels in Australia. The may include exceptions at the new additions.

  3. Acccor platinum is handed out for free so often that they should actually start rewarding people who do not have it yet!

    • Only easy way I know of earning Top tier status with Accor is through the Amex Plat…

      • There’s a promotion every now and then that gets you platinum (not sure when the last one was though). They’re usually covered by HfP.

        • They were giving it out to anyone with a pulse up to the end of 2014 but that is all over now. Amex Plat is the only route I know.

      • I earned it with a few stays in Ibis and Novotel hotels. Those bonuses they run allow you to rack up points incredibly quickly.

        I’m not a fan of this news. I’m not a fan of the Le Club programme as I find it boring and the status benefits are not guaranteed. I like personally swisshotel, and Raffles and Fairmont hotels are clearly excellent but I wish they’d joined a scheme where one can earn free nights (like IHG, Hilton or Club Carlson) rather than a scheme that just offers a cash discount.

  4. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I have Amex Plat but I have not investigated the tie in with Accor. If I get Accor Plat will Hilton currently consider a match?

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Aha, I’ve found the thread answering my own question. Now I just need to work out how to get my Accor card.

    • I have Accor Plat (via my Amex Plat) with 2 stays this year and have just received my Hilton Diamond status match! Worth a shot but I hear it’s hit or miss for some people. Best of luck!

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Thanks – I was Diamond for years but dropped to Gold this year with a lower stay rate. Hopefully they want my business back.

        Application to Accor now submitted. Fingers crossed.

      • Guesswho2000 says:

        I wasn’t going to bother with this, until I read they were matching IHG Platinum to Diamond (I was already gold, and due to keep it anyway) – I emailed them on the off chance and they matched me within a day!

        Convenient, as I had a stay at Conrad Singapore coming up!

  5. Off topic but linked to Accor. There was an offer some time back for 4x avios on stays booked by end of November and completed by end if the year. I made a booking and updated club accor with my ba exec club number. We’ve now completed our stay but I’ve received 1500 accor points and no avios. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or they have made an error. Thoughts?

    • Did you set your Accor account to give you miles instead of points?

    • They are sent to BA when you hit 4000 points. Did you get the bonus points? If not email them including the relevant page from ba.com if you can. The vast majority of my bonus points posted, but I had to chase up a Sofitel stay and they initally denied that I was entitled to the bonus points.

      I’d recommend deactivating your BA link when the bonus points have all posted as accor points are worth more as a discount on acccor rates than as avios and you’ll keep the bonus points.

  6. Fairmont hotels are so superior to Accor branded hotels that i’m not sure how they’d do this. They may run it like the Waldorf Astoria brand in Hilton where you get little benefits asa Honours member but can use points.

  7. Looking forward to Fairmont St Andrews and the Savoy being on Happy Mondays promo. Might be at the upper end though, £60 per night?! 😉

  8. The horrible website cost Accor a stay from me recently. I was trying to book the Sofitel downtown Dubai but it wouldn’t let me choose a prepaid rate and use an Amex. I am trying to hit a spend target so didn’t want to put a significant amount on a different card. When I emailed them they said they could make the reservation for me and call me to take payment but they didn’t get around to calling me for days and I ended up booking the Conrad.

  9. Rob,

    Thanks for the referral today, much appreciated.

    On topic: It would be nice for a miracle and Accors benefit to be at the Raffles Singapore around Easter time, as I staying there for 5 days! I am however prepared for the disappointment already. I value my Accors Platinum more than my IHG Spire, HHonors Diamond as I always get what I consider a deal when I stay at Sofitel T5.

  10. As someone who actually has EARNED Swissotel Circle status (before the Kameha came along in Zurich, the Swissotel there was one of the better non-central hotels), I’m quite intrigued to see what they are going to give me for it …!