2015 in Points: IHG – Spire and Spire

IHG was the 2015 dealmaker left at the alter.

Brands:

China-specific brand Hualuxe opened in Yangjiang and Nanchang, two industrial tier 2 cities, so to complete all the brands you now have to go into China’s interior.

Loyalty:

IHG Rewards’ big move was addition of a new top tier called Spire, they just forgot to add the benefits. I have not found a diminution of my credit card-granted Platinum status. Many hotels still have Priority Club materials laying around so change comes slow.

Their prior year acquisition, Kimpton, will have its Karma program continue in 2016.

Points:

Targeted promotions continue with the return of Accelerate in 2016. On my primary account I had completed the prior year promotions so mine this year were way beyond my ability to reach, especially with a cut in business travel. The way to play these promotions continues to be new accounts.

Then there is the 94-note card IHG Surprises, which I may do for the fun of it. One mailer won 1 million points in the first week.

My IHG:

IHG is my primary chain for business travel with its broad geographic sweep and budget-friendly price points. Chains such as Hyatt are out of my price cap in most international markets.

They helpfully totted up my activity: 15 cities, 12 stays, 35 nights. All were business except two Points Breaks nights in Helsinki.

IHG Map

Lessons Learned:

  • When IHG loses a hotel, they stiff you. Dealing with IHG Relocations is terrible. Hard to get any compensation and even need to chase for a refund.
  • You earn only 2.5 points/dollar (instead of 10) at The Residence Suites Dubai F.C. or Asiana Reside Saigon Residences. I had a business stay in Saigon where the connected Intercontinental was much more expensive for standard rooms, whereas I got a huge apartment with full kitchen and laundry. I still wanted the points!Asiana Residences Saigon
  • I have not seen the value in buying Intercontinental Ambassador, or chasing Royal Ambassador. With the free night certs from various promotions and the credit card we had unremarkable stays at Intercontinental Seoul Parnas and Intercontinental Hong Kong. No meaningful surprise elite benefits. After much arguing in Hong Kong we are able to get out of construction view to harbor view for a reduced price. Outside the US, Crowne Plazas and Holiday Inns can be quite nice, often generous with elite treatment, and are my normal focus.Intercontinental Seoul Parnas Intercontinental Hong Kong

Hotel Indigo Shanghai is the first chain boutique hotel I have loved. Hotel Indigo Hong Kong could have been good except for bizarre features such as ALL THE LIGHTS turning on every time the room door is opened, not good when you and partner are jet-lagged and sleeping different schedules.Hotel Indigo Shanghai Hotel Indigo Hong KongOn to 2016!

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  • roguehiker

    My wife and I have had similarly spotty results at IHGs despite our Ambassador status, for both business and leisure stays, and with all stays being mostly paid stays. At one IHG (hello, Real Intercontinental Guatemala), we did not receive standard benefits such as an upgraded room, daily newspaper, etc. are not honored, while at others we received not only the standard Ambassador benefits but also free access to the Executive Lounge and superlative attention from the staff (kudos, IHG in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and IHG Seoul Coex in S. Korea!!), and in the absence of an Executive Lounge, a double-upgrade to a one bedroom suite with a killer view (kudos, IHG Century City in LA!!). We’ve also noticed that at the IHG San Francisco, at which we’ve stayed for leisure three separate times for a week each over the last few years – almost all paid nights – we’ve gone from having Executive Lounge access given to us without asking (first stay), to being told we had it but then being charged for it (last stay). (In fairness, IHG San Francisco later reimbursed us, but cited it as a “one time exception”.) With the competition from Hilton (where Diamond and Gold status gives one similar benefits but also guaranteed access to their Executive Lounges), IHG may find itself losing repeat, long-time customers if it is not careful…

  • ken

    As a spire member I never got upgrade regardless of paid or unpaid or into the nights promo. But with a platinum with Hyatt I almost always got an upgrade. A huge difference in experience and thinking about loyalty what do you think about the upgrade? Do you often get it?

  • Chris

    I just had a staycation at the Hotel Indigo SH on Sunday because of poor planning of an Into the Nights free night. The shower was the best part, to have a clear view of Lujiazui with enough water flow to be a water fall. The free welcome drinks on the roof didn’t hurt either.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @ken – my experience is that in most of Asia, Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent Latin America and Middle East I get upgrades, while not the case in North America or Western Europe. Most chains follow that regional pattern in how well they treat elites status, and with IHG so little is guaranteed that it is up to the hotels if they want to be nice. Best I find is China where I routinely get suites and executive lounge at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, though not at Intercontinental.

  • ken

    Thanks for your input. I only stayed at ic properties that’s probably why. Is there any difference for upgrades if staying on points or revenue? At least in the language there seems no difference. Also the language on benefits clearly says elites do get upgrades when the room is available buy most ic properties seem to ignore that part. Is that also your impression?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @ken – if you want better treatment at IC you will need to invest in Ambassador status. Only very few times has my IHG Rewards Club Platinum been good for more than an imperceptible upgrade and no club lounge access. Ambassador officials benefits not all that hot so I have not gotten it for my infrequent stays. The real benefits start with Royal Ambassador.