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Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Kimpton Hotels just announced an agreement for IHG to acquire the Kimpton brand for a reported $430 million in cash. Kimpton, which currently has 62 properties in 28 US cities (with another 16 in the process of being added), will join existing IHG brands Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels (among others), as IHG moves to expand its presence in the growing boutique hotel market.
Kimpton certainly has the boutique aesthetic down pat. The brand is known for being fashionable and quirky, with mostly high-end properties and highly personalized service, including very pet-friendly policies.
Details are scarce at this point, in particular regarding how this acquisition will impact the Kimpton brand, and what (if any) future impact this will have on the IHG Rewards and Kimpton Karma Rewards programs. In an email to Karma Rewards members, Kimpton CEO Mike Depatie specified that the two loyalty programs will continue to run separately. However, I suspect that while Kimpton will retain its brand identity, it will soon leverage the more established and straightforward IHG Rewards in lieu of the somewhat eccentric and confusing Karma Rewards program.
Overall, I’m excited about this news. Kimpton has some great properties, and a (speculative) connection with IHG Rewards would make them much more accessible to award travelers. Kimpton hotels tend to be more expensive than IHG’s other boutique brands, and would likely end up in the higher tiers of the IHG Rewards award chart if the two programs merge. That would make them great candidates for redeeming the free annual award night from the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card (see this Flyertalk post for more details on the card and how to get the best sign-up bonus for 80,000 points).
Clearly there’s more to come, so I’ll be keeping an eye on these two programs to see how the merger takes shape.
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