In my article yesterday, I outlined ‘the facts’ of the Le Club AccorHotels loyalty scheme. This article is my personal opinion, highlighting areas where I think you might want to focus.
The 10-second summary:
Strong points – big global network, decent Platinum benefits at Sofitel including ‘subject to capacity’ lounge access, luxury options improving with Swissotel / Raffles / Fairmont purchase
Weak points – points have a fixed monetary value so no opportunity for arbitrage, little option but to redeem for airline miles at poor rates if you don’t want to redeem for a discount on an Accor stay, harder to earn status following 2017 changes
The longer version:
I think that Accor gets a slightly tough time from Head for Points. Part of the fun of the miles and points hobby is arbitrage – redeeming points at places which offer an oversized return. Because Accor has a ‘points equal cash’ structure (2000 points = €40 off), you can’t play that game.
It also runs few big global promotions, and those that do run often have very narrow booking windows. This meant that it doesn’t get much editorial coverage.
For the regular guest, though, Le Club AccorHotels works well. If you are Platinum, you are getting 8.8% of your room bill back in Accor vouchers. Spend a working week in a Sofitel running up a £750 bill and you will ‘earn’ £66 for yourself – albeit £66 you need to spend in another Accor hotel.
The benefits – for Platinum members – are also pretty decent at the right properties. At a Sofitel (such as Heathrow T5 pictured above) you will get ‘subject to capacity constraints’ lounge access (so free breakfast, snacks and drinks), an upgrade, free internet, late check-out, early check-in AND 8.8% of your room bill back in vouchers.
My experience of Accor properties is not extensive. However, their UK network is surprisingly good, with Novotel and Mercure hotels in most major business cities. The Sofitel St James in Mayfair is a very impressive UK flagship and a decent place to spend your vouchers if you wanted a break in London.
We have reviewed two new UK Accor hotels in the last year and both were impressive. Novotel Blackfriars (review) has the new contemporary look being rolled out across the chain (and a swimming pool). The new ibis Styles at Heathrow (review) is also showcasing a new, modern design – despite “only being an ibis” I think any HFP reader would be happy there.
The ‘Happy Monday’ offers – where unsold UK rooms for the following two weekends are offloaded every Monday and Tuesday for £25 to no more than £60 – are also very generous. If you ever need a weekend hotel at short notice, this should be your first stop. Smart readers will have a redemption room booked at another chain and then look to switch to a ‘Happy Mondays’ room at the last minute, getting their points back for another stay another day.
For the average Head for Points reader, the programme has got less valuable this year. You can’t deny that. The loss of Platinum status for American Express Platinum cardholders impacted many of us. The fact that points earned from promotions no longer count towards status has hit those who earned status the hard way.
(One modest loophole going forward may be to buy an ibis Business Card for €90. This gives automatic Gold status in the AccorHotels scheme.)
I still have eight months of Platinum status left and I would have no complaints – given the benefits package and the generous % of my rate repaid in vouchers – if I had to spend some time in one of their properties.