I cut back on my coverage of the Sirius loyalty programme run by Jumeirah Hotels when they stopped being a partner of the UK American Express Membership Rewards programme. They do remain a partner of the American Express International Currency Card Membership Rewards scheme and I booked our Easter holiday in Dubai through that route.
Sirius emailed all of their members yesterday with news of a major revamp of the programme which kicks in from June 1st. As I am one of the biggest redeemers of Sirius points in the UK I was clearly very interested – but I haven’t learnt much.
Earning goes from 1 point per $3 spent to 2 points per $1 (so the headline number of points earned per US$1 increases by 600%)
Existing status and tier points will be multiplied by 7.63 on 1st June. I don’t know where this number comes from but it ensures that your existing points should maintain their purchasing power.
For the first time, there is an elite bonus. Silver and Gold members receive a 50% bonus on status points, but not tier points.
Points will no longer expire automatically. As long as you earn points at least once a year – having a meal at a Jumeirah hotel would count – your points will survive. If you are in London you could pop into one of their two hotels for a quick snack as you can earn points from food and drink even if you are not a guest.
Dining, spa and restaurant rewards will be bookable online for immediate use. In theory, you could be in a resort having breakfast, decide to go for lunch to a certain restaurant and immediately redeem points for a free meal. This is an improvement to the current situation which is laborious.
The three status tiers will remain. The spending required to achieve status remains roughly the same – hitting Gold becomes marginally more difficult but not by much.
There will be no blackout dates for redemptions. The existing rules say there are no blackout dates although this is not always the case. In Dubai, you have generally been able to book ANY room category for any date. The other hotels often did not do this. Any room, any date will be available.
It is NOT CLEAR if airline miles will remain an option, either for converting your Sirius points or as an alternative to taking them.
It is NOT CLEAR if member benefits will remain the same.
Jumeirah has also got very vague on reward pricing. No reward charts have been released for bookings beyond June 1st.
The website says that pricing of standard redemptions will increase ‘proportionately’. This presumably means they will go up by 6x or 7.63x the current rate.
However, it also says “the number of Points required for a room booking may increase if you want to reserve over a peak period for a hotel which would have otherwise been a black-out day and no reward bookings possible in the current rewards proposition.” These rooms may be priced on a revenue basis, eg 15 points per Dirham – we simply don’t know.
Jumeirah has also not said what will happen to the American Express conversion rate.
For me, I am totally in the dark:
I don’t know if the Amex Membership Rewards conversion rate from the International Currency Card will be better, worse or the same after 1st June
I don’t know what value I will get for my points after June 1st, especially at peak periods (which are the only periods we travel)
I am tempted to do a big transfer into Jumeirah and take a chance. If reward pricing goes up by 600% and I get a 763% bonus on my existing points then I come out on top.
In any event, Sirius rewards have generally been exceptionally good value when paid for with converted American Express points. Even if the value per point dropped by a third it would still be a better deal than most other Amex deals.
The obvious suggestion is to make any bookings you need to make before May 24th when Jumeirah is closing down the IT system. If the redemption you booked gets cheaper, you can cancel and rebook. If it got more expensive, you did OK.
PS. The photograph above is of a sandstorm at Madinat Jumeirah over Easter. It was the first time I had ever experienced one and it was very spooky indeed. It lasted for around 10 hours and visibility did not improve during that time.
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