On Tuesday, the acquisition of Fairmont, Swissotel and Raffles hotels by French group Accor legally completed. It beat the legal completion of the Starwood / Marriott merger by a few days – that deal is also expected to finalise in the next week or so.
The deal brings iconic properties such as The Savoy in London, Raffles Singapore, Fairmont San Francisco, New York’s The Plaza, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City and Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris into the Accor fold.
The actual number of hotels belies their importance – there are only 114 open properties, plus another 40 in the pipeline, compared to the current 4,000 Accor hotels. The deal is a game changer for Accor, however, in terms of its presence at the top of the market.
What does this mean for Le Club AccorHotels members?
Not as much as it could, unfortunately.
Le Club AccorHotels works differently to other hotel loyalty schemes. You do NOT exchange your points for free nights. Instead, you redeem them for money-off vouchers to use in their hotels at the rate of 2,000 points = €40.
This means that there is no arbitrage opportunity. You can’t make a killing by using your points to get a room at the standard points cost on a night when cash prices are sky high. You get the same value for your points at the ibis in Rotherham as you will at The Savoy in London.
There is no downside for Le Club members, of course:
You have more hotels where you can earn points
You have more hotels where your status benefits will be respected
You have a wider range of places to spend your points
In any event, it will take some time for these hotels to be integrated into the Accor system. Even the simple act of being able to earn points from your stays will require substantial IT upgrades at each hotel.
If you are a member of Fairmont President’s Club, there will be a process of integration into Le Club AccorHotels. The company has not yet set out a timeline for this.
Most concerned will be those people who bought Fairmont lifetime top tier status for a few thousand US$ during a promotion a few years ago – this looked like a good deal at the time since it came with a number of free annual nights in a suite at any Fairmont property.
If there is one thing to remember about the loyalty game, it is that any mention of ‘lifetime status’ refers to the lifetime of the programme and not to YOUR lifetime – as any bmi British Midland ‘lifetime Gold’ will tell you.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from Accor and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
(New to Accor Live Limitless? Read our two-part overview of Accor Live Limitless here and here and our article on expiry rules here.)