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Preferred Hotel Group is a collection of over 650 high-end smaller and boutique properties across the world that until now you could not earn brand-specific loyalty points with (though obviously you could still earn 2x hotel-booking or travel bonuses on cards like the Sapphire Preferred/ Ink Bold / Barclaycard Arrival). However, this week, Preferred Hotel Group officially launched its new loyalty program, iPrefer.
With the new program, guests who stay at the 450 or so participating hotels in the group can earn points toward Reward Certificates that redeemable like cash during stays at participating hotels and resorts worldwide.
Earning and Redeeming
iPrefer members earn one point for every dollar spent on eligible bookings at participating hotels. Once they have accumulated a qualifying balance of 2,500 points, members can exchange their points for Reward Certificates (starting value of US$50) redeemable at any participating property. All participating hotels accept Reward Certificates towards payment for any hotel room booking, and some may also elect to allow them as payment for other on-property purchases like dining or spa, for instance.
While not a huge return (2% back on every dollar you spend on bookings), it is better than nothing and it can be stacked on top of other booking channel perks, like Virtuoso or American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is a program for Amex Platinum, Business Platinum and Mercedes-Benz Platinum cardholders who are eligible for extra benefits such as room upgrades, free continental breakfast, early check-in and late check-out, dining and spa credits and more. Hotels count FHR as a travel agent so bookings through it are eligible for points accrual.
So let’s say you used it to book a room at the Grand Del Mar outside San Diego, which is an FHR-participating hotel and an iPrefer-participating property. Not only would you earn the usual 1 point per $1 with iPrefer, but you’d also get noon check-in, 4pm late check-out, a room upgrade based on availability, free breakfast for two daily and a $100 spa credit.
iPrefer is also offering its members elite status tiers and benefits determined by the points you earn (and thus your spending) during a 12-month period – not based on the calendar year, so you can plan your spending strategically and concentrate it within a certain 12-month period to maximize your status. Here are the status levels and the benefits members receive:
- Silver (0-4,999 points): Points for eligible bookings, complimentary Internet, priority early check-in and late check-out (not to bad for entry level members)
- Gold (5,000- 14,999 points): Silver benefits plus a welcome amenity and upgrade when available
- Platinum (15,000+ points): Gold benefits plus 10% bonus points earnings
Members will also receive targeted special offers and other rewards benefits based on their special interests through the group’s branded programs including Preferred Family, Preferred Pride, and Preferred Golf.
Though not every property is participating, 450 of them are, and they include some big names like the group of Montage Hotels & Resorts including those in Laguna and Park City, The Joule in Dallas (former SPG hotel), the Alpina Gstaad in Switzerland, the Grand Hotel Baglioni in Florence, Cap Maison Resort & Spa in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, the Allison Inn & Spa in Oregon’s wine country, and the Landmark in Bangkok among others, so there are city, resort, beach, country and family properties all over the world for new members to choose from. However, there are still some major holdouts, like the Trump Soho and in New York and The Wynn in Las Vegas.
While this isn’t the most groundbreaking rewards program ever, I think it’s a positive move on the part of Preferred Hotel Group since many of their properties are smaller, more eclectic and unique properties, and this is a great way to attract travelers who might otherwise spread their spending across other boutique properties, or those who would sacrifice a touch of uniqueness in favor of earning hotel points with one of the major brands.