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IHG Announces Award Category Changes at 450 Locations

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Earlier this month, IHG Rewards Club announced significant changes to its loyalty program that will go into effect starting in July of this year, including a new top-tier elite level and points expiration policy. What caught my eye in particular is that 450 IHG properties will be changing their award night requirements, and over the weekend a complete list of those properties was made available.

Here’s what’s changing:

  • Awards at 300 hotel locations will be raised by 5,000 or 10,000 points
  • Awards at 150 hotels will be lowered by 5,000 points
  • Roughly 10% of all hotels will be affected
  • As IHG is quick to point out, this is the first increase to the award chart in over 2 years. I guess that’s supposed to make it more palatable.

Specific Hotel Changes

Although 450 hotels will be changing the cost of awards, many of them are just roadside or small town properties that probably won’t impact most award travelers — I don’t foresee many people planning a trip to the Candlewood Suites in St. Joseph, Missouri just because it dropped from 15,000 to 10,000 points per night. However, there were a few specific locations that piqued my interest:

The view from the lobby of the InterContinental Hong Kong

InterContinental Hong Kong 

Rated as one of the best hotels in the city, the Intercontinental Hong Kong is an incredible property equipped with exceptional views of the surrounding city. Unfortunately, this property will soon require 50,000 points per night; up from the current requirement of 45,000.

The Presidente Cozumel Resort Spa is another high-end property where the cost of awards is increasing.

Presidente Cozumel Resort Spa

Located on the beautiful beaches of Cozumel, Mexico, the Presidente Cozumel Resort Spa is a step above other resorts in the area. This property made Lane Nieset’s list of 7 Incredible IHG Hotels for International Getaways just a few months back thanks to the plethora of spa treatments offered and the coral reefs onsite. Unfortunately, the cost of award nights here will increase 20% from 40,000 to 50,000 points, making it much less of a bargain in my eyes.

The Presidential Suite at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile.

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile 

Designed in the latter half of the 1920s as a luxurious men’s athletic club, the building shut its doors during the stock market crash of the ’30s. In 2000, the property reopened as a hotel following 12 years of renovations to everything from its murals to its wood floors. With incredible charm and a great location, this property showed up on our recent list of 7 Great IHG Hotels in the US. Unfortunately, this property will soon require 50,000 points per night, up from the current 45,000.

If you’re seeing a trend here, it’s not a coincidence. With few exceptions, award nights tended to increase in price at the higher-end properties and decrease at lower-end properties, while those in the middle moved both ways. I’ve never been a huge fan of IHG Rewards, because I don’t think the program offers as much value as Starwood Preferred Guest or Hyatt Gold Passport. These changes reaffirm that notion, but even if IHG doesn’t have the best program out there, I still think there’s value to be found.

I just applied (and was approved for) the IHG Rewards Club Select Card, which comes with a sign-up bonus of 70,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. More importantly, it come with an annual free night upon your account anniversary, which is good at any IHG property. One thing IHG has going for itself is sheer size — there are over 4,600 properties worldwide. Many of them are unexceptional, but there’s something to be said for a program that has so much reach.

Which properties on the list caught your eye?

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