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A couple months ago a super generous TPG reader offered me a nomination to Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Royal Ambassador program. To be honest, I had always heard about this program, but always wrote it off because I never stay at Intercontinental Hotels. I can usually maintain top tier elite status on Hyatt and Starwood, so I didn’t want to bite off more than I can chew.
Plus, the Priority Club/Intercontinental loyalty programs confuse the heck out of me. There are three status levels at play here:
1) Priority Club membership. Priority Club is the program that oversees the points of all Priority Club hotels: Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Starbridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. In general, their elite program is very weak compared to the other chains – the only real benefits to being a Platinum are complimentary room upgrades (subject to availability), guaranteed room availability (72 hours in advance), a 50% bonus in base points and overall better customer service.
However, Intercontinental has it’s own loyalty program called Ambassador. There are two levels: Ambassador and Royal Ambassador. In order to be a Royal Ambassador, you must first be an Ambassador. To become an Ambassador (enrollment page), all you have to do is fill out a form and pay $200. In turn, you get:
- Guaranteed room upgrades
- Priority Club Gold status
- – 4pm late check out
- – Free weekend night
- – Fresh fruit and mineral water
- – Single Rate for Double Occupancy
- – 5,000 PRIORITY CLUB® BONUS POINTS
There are two ways (that I know of) to become a Royal Ambassador:
– Stay at Intercontinental Hotels a bunch of times and spend a lot of money (it’s thought to be the top 1% that are invited to become Royal Ambassadors)
– Be nominated by an existing Royal Ambassador (the route I went)
Royal Ambassador status as defined by Priority Club:
“Royal Ambassador status is the highest level of status and entitles Priority Club Rewards members to additional benefits at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. Royal Ambassador status is granted to Priority Club Rewards members by invitation and at Priority Club Rewards’ sole discretion. Priority Club Rewards reserves the right to limit the number of members with Royal Ambassador status. Guaranteed room availability for one room occupied by the Royal Ambassador with 24-hour advance reservation. Reservations must be made before 12:00 midday (local hotel time) 24 hours prior to intended arrival for room availability to be guaranteed. Only in exceptional circumstances where the hotel has been completely reserved by the Government and with explicit Priority Club Rewards approval, may a reservation be declined. Early check-in (8:00 am) shall be available to all Royal Ambassadors. Upgrade to an executive room, Club InterContinental room or a suite for Royal Ambassadors at check-in. In circumstances where an executive room, Club InterContinental room or a suite is not available at 8:00 am, the Royal Ambassador will be checked into an available room until the executive room, Club InterContinental room or the suite is available later on the day of arrival. Use of all in-hotel health club facilities (where available) shall be complimentary for Royal Ambassadors. Treatments such as massage, facials, manicure may incur charges. Complimentary beverages from the mini bar in the Royal Ambassador’s personal room only, and for in-room consumption by member only (benefit excludes non beverage items). Void where prohibited by law.”
Those are some pretty sweet benefits; 8am check-in alone is a major score, especially when flying in somewhere on an overnight flight. There’s nothing worse than waiting for hours before your room is ready. I also can’t wait to try out the free minibar benefit
Last November Priority Club was giving away Platinum status, so I went from a general member to a Platinum Royal Ambassador without a single stay at a Priority Club hotel.
So by the time this post goes live, I will have already checked into my first Intercontinental hotel (Madrid), so I’ll be sure to report back on my experience. I have several other Intercontinental stays lined-up, so stay tuned! And as always, feel free to share your tips on maximizing Priority Club status and points below. I’m a newbie, so bring it on (and feel free to correct me if I’ve gotten anything wrong).
And one last THANK YOU to TPG reader Julianne for her generosity. I hope my trip reports and coverage on the program are all you expected and the next time we are in the same city I owe you a drink (and not just a free one from the minibar!).