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Despite its relatively small footprint, Kimpton is a very popular boutique hotel chain thanks to fun features like an evening wine hour, pet-friendly policies and the simplicity of its InTouch loyalty program. Just as with any growing organization, however, there were bound to be some changes, and a few new ones were just announced.
The first change has to do with the “Raid the Bar” benefit for basic InTouch members. Up until now, you could just choose a beverage or snack and enjoy it for free (up to $10 credit, really, and Inner Circle elite members get minibars stocked with at least two favorite snacks or beverages for free). Now, however, InTouch members will have to mark a card to what they want this benefit applied to – whether an item from their minibar or an onsite restaurant – and turn it in at check-out if you want it taken off your folio. Not a huge change, but definitely a move in the corporate direction.
Secondly, and this change was actually announced over the summer, but as of July 18, any reward nights earned expire after one year instead of two. Any earned before that still expire after two years. As a reminder, you earn one free reward night after 7 stays or 20 nights. Note: stay credits are earned over a rolling period, while Inner Circle status is earned over the course of calendar years, as in other hotel programs.
As of February 1, members will be able to request credits for stays within 6 months of their credit request that might not have been linked to their InTouch account number, so that should help some forgetful folks earn rightful credit for past stays.
Here’s a big change for Inner Circle members – like many other hotel chains, Kimpton offered its elite 48-hour guaranteed room availability, but though the chain will try to honor these requests, there is now no longer any guarantee. While I understand the move since the hotels do have to try to sell rooms whenever possible and not bump paying customers if possible, this is bound to sit poorly with many of the business travelers with whom Kimpton has come to be associated since business travel often requires last-minute travel and reservations. As a business traveler myself, if you don’t have a room available once, I can deal with it, but if it becomes a pattern, I’ll take my business elsewhere.
One of the more interesting perks of Inner Circle status is a free night at new hotels. This still seems to be the case, and the terms are still listed including, “at participating new hotels during the designated offer period which is generally within the first six months of opening. The free night benefit is good for a deluxe category room and the Inner Circle upgrade benefit may not be confirmed in advance of check-in.” The current hotel is the Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, and you can request stays until April 1, 2014 – plus a $50 dining credit.
One other interesting bit of news: As of January 30, 2014, The Serrano Hotel and Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen will no longer be part of the collection of boutique hotels and restaurants operated by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. They’ll be under new management, and Kimpton has 7 other properties in the area, so hopefully frequent guests will find another that suits their needs.
So nothing too groundbreaking here – just be sure you fill out that minibar card so you don’t get charged and that you use your free night stay rewards before they expire since you’ve only got a year to do so on those earned after July 18, 2013. As for that 48-hour availability guarantee, I’m curious to hear about what you Kimpton Inner Circle members out there think – will this affect your hotel loyalty and travel planning behavior?
For more info on Kimpton’s InTouch Program and its member benefits and perks, see this post.