Last July I wrote a piece in praise of InterContinental Ambassador. This is the loyalty programme for InterContinental hotels, and confusingly works alongside IHG Rewards Club.
Ambassador is different to other loyalty schemes for two reasons:
You join by paying $200, not by staying a certain number of nights
The benefits are GUARANTEED when you stay at an InterContinental on a paid rate
If you are not familiar with the programme, take a look at my original article. You get a free weekend night stay every year as a member which can recoup the fee by itself.
Ambassador has a second higher tier called Royal Ambassador. I haven’t written about this before because you need to be a heavy stayer to get it. More importantly, InterContinental never published the criteria required to achieve it. People knew roughly what it was via trial and error but IC was obviously able to move the goalposts without anyone knowing.
The benefits of Royal Ambassador are impressive:
A minimum two-level upgrade on every InterContinental stay, and often much higher
Guaranteed 8am check-in
Plus the usual Ambassador benefits – guaranteed 4pm check-out, free fruit and mineral water, free Pay TV film per stay.
(As with Ambassador benefits, hotels are not required to give benefits on reward stays or stays booking through third-party booking sites. In general, though, hotels will do so, especially on reward nights.)
The qualification criteria for Royal Ambassador have now been published as part of the IHG Rewards Club terms and conditions. Scroll down to point 12 of the ‘InterContinental Ambassador’ section.
This is the criteria to hit during your Ambassador membership year (you must already be a member of the Ambassador programme to be invited to Royal Ambassador):
60 nights across ALL IHG brands, including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc, of which you must have …
20 nights at InterContinental hotels, which must be across …
3 different InterContinental hotels
There are rumours that this opening up of the criteria for Royal Ambassador membership will be offset by a reduction in member benefits. This could include limitations on the mini-bar perk (cash allowance or no refill during your stay) and a removal of suite upgrades unless you book a room which is within two levels of a suite. These are just rumours, however.
If you stay at a lot of five star hotels, Royal Ambassador should be on your radar. The benefits can make a real difference to your stays.
(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)