You can now redeem your InterContinental Ambassador ‘free weekend night’ certificate at Regent Hotels outside China.
Even better, you DON’T need to use it at weekends. With Regent, the certificates are valid at any time. This makes it a lot easier for your Ambassador membership to pay for itself.
It is only a couple of weeks since InterContinental Ambassador added Kimpton Hotels to the programme. Your 2-4-1 voucher is now valid at all Kimpton Hotels, as this article shows, and you can use it ANY day, not just at weekends.
Importantly, it also appears that Ambassador benefits will apply at Regent Hotels albeit there is no $20 F&B credit. There is also no automatic penalty to the hotel if other benefits cannot be provided.
Where can I find Regent Hotels?
In March 2018, IHG acquired 51% of Regent Hotels & Resorts for $39m, ie peanuts. For comparison, the refurbishment of InterContinental Park Lane a few years ago cost three times that.
The reasons it was so cheap is that Regent Hotels & Resorts only runs seven properties:
- Porto Montenegro (looks nice – see below)
- Shanghai (recently rebranded from Four Seasons)
…. and the pipeline was thin, although InterContinental Hong Kong will (re)brand to the Regent name once its refurbishment is complete in 2022.
The properties in Greater China are excluded from Ambassador. This means that you can only use your Ambassador 2-4-1 voucher at three additional hotels:
It should also be valid at:
…. in Vietnam, due to open in December 2020.
Montenegro is reportedly the best of the three, with the advantage of also being somewhere ‘different’ and of course having a fantastic location in the port.
You can use your Ambassador 241 voucher at Regent Hotels
The 241 voucher can now be booked at Regent. Head to the voucher booking site – intercontinental.com/ambweekend – and do a test. This is what comes up as your options for Montenegro:
There are three quirks you need to know about the way the pricing works with the voucher:
the second weekend night is free. It is NOT the average of the two nights. If you stay Fri/Sat, Saturday is free. If you stay Sat/Sun, Sunday is free. If you stay Thu/Fri/Sat, Saturday is free as it is the second weekend night.
you pay Best Available Rate for the other night. As you can see in the example above, this means that you pay slightly more for your ‘paid’ night because Best Available Rate is higher than the IHG Rewards Club member or Advanced Purchase rates.
you don’t see the discount during the booking process. The hotel reduces the second night to zero on check-out.
How does InterContinental Ambassador work?
If you’re not familiar with InterContinental Ambassador, the rest of this article will explain how it works.
IHG has launched a special offer for joining or renewing Ambassador (a free night voucher after your first stay). We will cover this in the next day or so.
InterContinental and Regent, the two luxury hotel brands inside IHG Rewards Club (which also covers Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and others) are a little odd when it comes to loyalty schemes:
As part of the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza group, they participates in IHG Rewards Club
InterContinental and Regent hotels do not officially recognise your IHG Rewards Club status. In reality, they often do, but it is not guaranteed.
InterContinental and Regent also have their own loyalty scheme – Ambassador – which costs $200 to join
You can sign up here. The cost is $200.
For new members, there is an option to use 40,000 IHG Rewards Club points instead of paying $200 in cash. Given my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point this is a fair deal, although it is always possible to exceed 0.4p – often by a large margin – at peak hotels on peak dates.
The key thing about Ambassador is that, once you are a member, the benefits are virtually guaranteed on paid stays. They are NOT guaranteed on reward stays but most properties do let you have them.
These benefits are:
A certificate for a free night (BOGOF) when you join and each year when you renew. In one swoop, you can save your entire membership fee with this benefit. To use the voucher, you need to book a 2-night stay (weekend only at InterContinental, any day at Kimpton Hotels and Regent Hotels) and pay the Ambassador Certificate Rate, which is usually equal to Best Flexible Rate. The rules say that only standard rooms can be booked. However, many hotels let you book club rooms or suites which is especially useful for families.
(As the Ambassador Certificate Rate is more expensive than a non-refundable Advance Purchase rate, your free night is not totally free if you would otherwise have booked a cheaper pre-paid rate. It is totally free if you would otherwise have booked at Best Flexible Rate. For clarity, the free night is the 2nd night. It is NOT the average of your two nights.)
A GUARANTEED one-level room upgrade on every InterContinental and Regent stay – this is usually processed before you arrive and is visible online. If the hotel cannot provide an upgrade, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points compensation at an InterContinental. There is no compensation at a Regent.
4pm check-out – this is a GUARANTEED benefit and comes in very handy on a weekend break or on a trip with an evening flight back home. If an InterContinental hotel cannot provide late check-out, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points compensation. There is no compensation at a Regent.
A $20 food and beverage credit per InterContinental stay (not valid at Regent)
Free mineral water in your room
Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club (usually requires 40 nights or $4,000 of qualifying spend)
The benefits package is slightly different for stays in Mainland China, including free restaurant breakfast for one person.
Is InterContinental Ambassador worth it?
Obviously InterContinental Ambassador is not for everyone. You can earn back the cost of membership in just one stay by redeeming the free night voucher. It may even be worth it if you had just one long InterContinental or Regent stay booked and wanted to guarantee your upgrade.
Ambassador members also receive Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club. This will make your future Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc stays a little more pleasant although it is unlikely to lead to major upgrades or lounge access.
You can learn more about InterContinental Ambassador, and sign up, here if it sounds interesting.