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Are ‘Your Rate’ and cheap breakfasts undermining the InterContinental Ambassador free night?

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InterContinental Ambassador is a special loyalty scheme which is ONLY valid at InterContinental hotels.  It works alongside IHG Rewards Club and you still receive points for your stay as usual.

Ambassador has two differences to the usual loyalty scheme:

First, you need to pay to join ($200 or redeem 32,000 IHG Rewards Club points) but there are no stay requirements

Second, Ambassador benefits are guaranteed and non-negotiable by the hotel except on reward nights where they can – but rarely do – block them.  Benefits include a guaranteed 4pm check-out, a guaranteed upgrade, free fruit and mineral water and a free Pay TV movie

You can find out more in this HFP article and on the Ambassador website here.

One of key elements of the InterContinental Ambassador package is the ‘free weekend night’ voucher which comes with your membership kit and also when you renew.  On the face it, the voucher makes the $200 Ambassador annual fee a no-brainer.

When you book a two night weekend stay at any InterContinental, one night will be free when you use your voucher.  That’s your $200 back right there – in theory.

InterContinental Ambassador review

Recent changes to the way that InterContinental price their rooms have started to undermine its value, however.  There are two issues which are starting to concern me:

the launch of cheaper ‘Your Rate’ deals for IHG Rewards Club members

the inability to add a heavily discounted breakfast to your booking

Let’s take InterContinental Paris Le Grand for 29th to 31st July, and assume I want an Eiffel Tower View Superior Room.

Using the voucher, the cost is €442.50 for two nights.  Breakfast is NOT included and there is no way of adding it later.  If you want to eat breakfast in the hotel it is €40 per person per night and you will need to pay it on both nights.  Your total cost for two nights with breakfast for a couple is therefore €602.50.

Let’s assume, instead, you pay cash.

The same room on a Weekend Escape package with breakfast is €343.35 per night.  That is a total cost of €687.10.  Your voucher has only saved you €85.  I admit that the Weekend Escapes rate is technically non-refundable but as you can book it up to two days before arrival that is unlikely to be an issue.

But let’s forget that and concentrate on an exact ‘like for like’ booking.

Using my 2-4-1 voucher, I am paying €442.50 per night, albeit the 2nd night is free, plus €80 per day for breakfast.  The total cost for two nights is €602.50.

Because IHG now discounts ‘Best Flexible Rates’ for IHG Rewards Club members, calling them ‘Your Rate’, the alternative for booking exactly the same Best Flexible package for cash looks like this:

Best Flexible ‘Your Rate’ – €398.25 (compared to €442.50 cost when using the voucher)

Breakfast – €35 for two when added at time of booking (compared to €80 when using the voucher)

Total cost for 2 nights:  €398.25 x 2 + €35 x 2 = €866.50

You are still making a saving of (€866.50 – €602.50) €264 when using your Ambassador free night voucher.  However, the saving is considerably short of the €442.50 you think you are saving.

What should Ambassador do?

I think there are two changes which need to be made to the 2-4-1 voucher if Ambassador members are to continue to treat it as valuable:

the price charged must be the Best Flexible ‘Your Rate’ and NOT the standard non-member Best Flexible Rate

there should be an option to add breakfast to the booking for the standard rate, and so benefit from a free breakfast on the 2nd night as well

Make these two changes and the Ambassador package will continue to be valuable.  Leave things as they are and the benefits will start to look more and more like a swizz …..


IHG Rewards Club update – November 2020:

Get bonus points: IHG’s current promotion is ‘2x’, which runs until 15th December 2020. You can learn more in our article here. You can register here using promo code 44480.

New to IHG Rewards Club?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards Club here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards Club points, you can buy them here.

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

Comments (71)

  • Jude1234 says:

    OT I have a Lounge Club pass from my Amex Gold card. Can I use my 2 free visits for myself and my husband or are they only for me? Also do you still pay £15 each for each additional guest even if they are children?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      You can use them for a guest, I used my most recent ones for myself and a friend at LTN. As for additional guests, I assume that’ll be down to the individual lounge.

    • Leo says:

      Did you get two physical passes with the card? Mine have never arrived – or are there 2 credits on the account?

  • xcalx says:

    Its the same issue when booking IHG hotels using points you never get the “add breakfast now option” when booking. I’ve always found this to be poor practice.

    • Jonty says:

      At some UK IHG properties there’s often some kind of deal – a hefty discount or a 2-4-1 – for buying a voucher or booking at reception the day before. I don’t know if they are the same as the online booking offers.

  • Tubbs says:

    Is there any need to wait for the welcome pack? The free night can be booked online. Assuming the Ambassador status shows immediately, a new card requested from IHG should arrive in 2-4 weeks. What else does the welcome pack include?

    • Dave R says:

      Nothing to stop you booking online but you need a physical voucher (contained in the welcome pack) when you check in or the hotel will refuse to honor the Ambassador Weekend rate and charge you for both nights. Apparently, some people that have managed to get IHG to contact the hotel when they haven’t received their certificate so they don;t get charged for both nights but personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable relying on that.

  • Dave R says:

    To get the best value from the voucher, where possible, I book a room with lounge access. Then you are also getting free lounge access the 2nd night. Although the difference in price at the hotels I use between a standard room and club room is slightly higher than the discounted ambassador daily rate for lounge access so it;s not quite 2for1 lounge access.

  • Bob says:

    For the ones in Paris next week, here are some events you may be interested in:

    All are FREE, outside (not inside any building), and with no booking needed.
    You can go in and go out at any time during the event.

    Friday 29th of july:

    paris quartier d’été festival
    7pm BATAILLE show
    50 minutes
    Sucker punches, uppercuts, dives, ducks and smacks come flying in this malicious danced fight club
    bercy village/ metro SAINT EMILION (line 14) in front of the UGC cinema theater
    follow boards of direction from the exist of the metro
    or
    7pm Naissam Jalal + guests
    Jazz/ rap concert
    90 minutes
    Musée qu quai branly
    In the outside garden theater in the outside museum garden
    I let you find the metro station for it
    follow boards of direction inside the area of the museum

    In the evening, cinema:
    En plein air/ La villette/ can have pic-nic here/ nice grass/ fresh air
    metro station Porte de Pantin (line 5) (not porte de la villette on the other metro line)
    10pm
    Starship troopers 1998 Paul Verhoeven
    or
    Au clair de lune/ this evening in Sacre-heart/ montmartre
    9:30pm
    metro station ANVERS
    KING KONG 1933

    Saturday 30 july:

    In the evening, cinema:
    En plein air/ La villette/ can have pic-nic here/ nice grass/ fresh air
    metro station Porte de Pantin (line 5) (not porte de la villette on the other metro line)
    10pm
    CASINO ROYALE 2006
    or
    Au clair de lune/ this evening in Square LOUIS 13 Place des vosges
    9:30pm
    metro station SAINT-PAUL
    signs of direction will be at the exist of the station
    ANNE HALL 1977 Woody Allen (in english for sure)

    Sunday 31 july

    In the evening, cinema:
    En plein air/ La villette/ can have pic-nic here/ nice grass/ fresh air
    metro station Porte de Pantin (line 5) (not porte de la villette on the other metro line)
    10pm
    A Letter to Three Wives 1949 Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    or
    Au clair de lune/ this evening in parc de montsouriq
    9:30pm
    RER station (inside paris) CITE UNIVERSITAIRE line B
    signs of direction will be at the exist of the station
    AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER 1957

    Monday 1rst of august

    paris quartier d’été festival
    6pm LANDSCAPE show
    40 minutes
    When a strange ratating metal machine is brought into the open landscape and invested by two circus artists, meditation and movement come together with ths scenery to bring e renewed ans sensitive perception
    metro BROCHANT (line 13)
    follow boards of direction from the exist of the metro
    bus 31 or 66 BROCHANT-CARDINET stop
    Train from SAINT-LAZARE station stopping at PONT CARDINET

  • George says:

    This is not strictly related to Ambassador, but I’m working towards accruing two annual Free Night awards, by having triggered one already via the Barclaycard and hoping for a second via the Creation equivalent.

    I’m not an Ambassador as I don’t stay at ICs to justify it, but if I were to combine the two free nights towards an IC stay, could I hope for any sort of status recognition/benefits from being Spire? Or should I stick to Crowne Plazas?

    Or, would it make sense to become Ambassador, get an extra free night, combine it with my other two and pick a three-night stay at an IC somewhere?

    • Leo says:

      The AMB night is a bogof so you need to be paying for a night to be able to use it – you’d be looking at a 4 night stay somewhere if you wanted to use 2 free certificate nights as well.

  • Will says:

    Just to point out, you can usually book some pretty expensive suites on the 2-4-1 voucher which seeks to be pretty good ‘value’ as long as you think a suite is worth it

  • Alex W says:

    When booking the ambassador free night, do you earn IHG points on the paid portion of the stay?