One of the few guaranteed status benefits in IHG Rewards Club – if you are staying in Europe – is the ‘welcome amenity’ which is offered at check-in. These are rarely anything to set the pulse racing but they are a gesture, especially at hotels where the rooms are virtually identical and there is little scope for upgrades or special treatment.
There has been some confusion in recent months about what is offered where. In particular, some Crowne Plaza hotels have been offering club lounge access to Spire Elite guests. Some, but not all.
A HFP reader was at a UK Crowne Plaza last week and complained that he was not offered an upgrade to the lounge, even though the hotel was willing to sell him access. The hotel gave the reader a copy of its internal IHG guidelines to prove that it was not obliged to offer lounge access. He passed it on to me and it is worth a look.
Here are the IHG Rewards Club welcome benefits by elite status level
Here is the chart (click to enlarge) which came into effect in January 2017 in Europe:
As you can see, IHG is attempting to vary the offering by both brand and by membership tier. This leads to 15 possible combinations of welcome amenity!
Top left is the most interesting.
A Crowne Plaza in Europe is meant to offer Spire Elite members 600 points or a drink and snack voucher or club lounge access.
This is a slightly odd choice, since the points are worth around £3, the drink / snack around £5 and club lounge access – based on the upsell price – around £50!
Here’s the catch though. The hotel is allowed to make the lounge access benefit ‘subject to availability’ which could mean anything. Hotel staff are told that they should always use the phrase “on this occasion” when offering club lounge access.
Importantly, lounge access is only for the Spire Elite member personally. If you are sharing your room with your partner, they will not receive access. You also cannot bring any guests into the lounge. (Not all hotels will follow this rule, of course, but this is IHG’s suggested position.)
What are the other Spire Elite benefits?
Looking down the chart, there isn’t a lot else on offer for Spire Elite members on top of the Platinum Elite benefits:
At a Hotel Indigo, you can have a cocktail as your welcome drink – Platinum members cannot
At Staybridge Suites, you will get two drink and snack vouchers instead of one
At Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels, whilst there is technically no difference between the Spire Elite and Platinum Elite amenities, Spire Elite members are meant to be offered a better choice of drinks at the point of redemption
Many hotels, of course, will go further for Spire Elite members. These guidelines don’t cover room upgrades, which can be decent at a Crowne Plaza. I booked a Junior Suite in Salzburg in February and ended up with a 2-bedroom suite, for example. You also need to remember that Spire Elite members receive a 100% bonus on base points, which allows you to rack up free nights quickly.
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