This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi ThankYou Premier Card
You might already be familiar with rewards programs from chains like Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood, but smaller hotel groups can offer great value, too. Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen explores one such program, Kimpton Karma Rewards.
In the points and miles hobby, a lot of time is devoted to the major hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt. However, smaller boutique hotels can sometimes offer a more personalized experience. I recently decided to test the waters of the Kimpton Karma Rewards program by utilizing a status match to its top-tier Inner Circle level, so today, I want to give you an overview of the program and share my experiences during my trip to the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa over Mother’s Day weekend.
Let’s begin with a quick overview of the Kimpton portfolio of hotels. At the time of writing, there are 67 Kimpton hotels in 31 cities across the country, with San Francisco (9) and Washington, D.C. (9) boasting the largest concentration. Even though each one has a distinct feel and style to it, the brand does offer many standard amenities:
- Complimentary morning coffee and tea
- Nightly wine hour
- Free bikes
- Pet-friendly hotels with no fees, deposits or restrictions (a nice change from other so-called “pet-friendly” hotels)
Rather than earning points with each stay based on how much you spend, you’ll instead earn credits toward a free night based on the length (or frequency) of your stays. You’ll need 7 eligible stays or 20 eligible nights to earn a complimentary hotel reward night, which will post to your online account within 24 hours of completing the final qualifying stay.
Unfortunately, you can’t redeem a reward night online and instead must call a Karma Advisor at 1-888-695-4678 to check availability. These free nights are valid for one year from the date of issue, but you must make the reservation AND complete the stay prior to the expiration date. Fortunately, all credits toward complimentary hotel nights do roll over from year-to-year as long as you have a qualifying stay every 24 months.
The Karma Rewards program has four levels: Tier 1-3 and Inner Circle. Tier 1 is “earned” just for signing up and includes benefits like free WiFi and a raid the bar/minibar credit. The other three tiers are actual elite levels and unlock additional benefits:
- Tier 2 (3 stays/10 nights): $30 in-room spa credit and one complimentary upgrade at check-in
- Tier 3 (7 stays/20 nights): two complimentary upgrades at check-in, late checkout priority (once per year), a welcome amenity (once per year) and complimentary chef’s tastes when dining at hotel restaurants
- Inner Circle (14 stays/40 nights): unlimited complimentary upgrades at check-in, welcome amenities on all stays and complimentary nights at new hotels
Karma Rewards is actually one of the few hotel loyalty programs that publishes status match information in its terms and conditions:
“If you’re an elite member (in a comparable tier level to Inner Circle; subject to our discretion & review) of another hotel loyalty program and want to match your status to Kimpton Karma Rewards, just email KarmaHelp@KimptonHotels.com with a copy of your credentials and we’re happy to make you a part of our Inner Circle family.”
I was able to match to Inner Circle using my Hilton HHonors Diamond status with a quick e-mail. Just note that the status is only valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which the match is granted, so you may want to wait until January to take advantage of it.
Remember too that Kimpton was recently acquired by IHG, so there may be changes to the status match process (and other elements of the Karma Rewards program) ahead. However, it’s business as usual for now with both programs. For additional information, visit the Kimpton and IHG FAQ page.
Unfortunately, there’s no Kimpton co-branded credit card that gives any type of status or other recognition when you stay at Kimpton hotels. I did pay for the stay with my newly opened Citi ThankYou Premier Card, so I’ll wind up earning 3 points per dollar spent. The purchase also helped met meet my minimum spend to earn the new 50,000-point sign-up bonus on the card.
I’ve had some terrific hotel stays before (the Andaz Wall Street and St. Regis Bal Harbour immediately stand out), but this one was just about flawless. The hotel is just 30 minutes from our house, but I wanted to surprise my wife with a “stay-cation” for her first Mother’s Day. We took Evy, our five-month old daughter, and Winston, our two-year-old energetic English Pointer, and we had an absolute blast.
I had booked a one-bedroom suite (the lowest room available at the time) but upon arrival was upgraded to a beautiful oceanfront suite. Spanning over 1,200 square feet, the room included a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a four-person glass dining table, separate room with a sofa bed and its own bathroom (in which the hotel’s provided crib fit perfectly for Evy) and two spacious balconies.
Waiting in the room for us was the hotel’s Inner Circle welcome amenity: a chilled bottle of prosecco, an extensive fruit and cheese platter and a plate of chocolate truffles. We were also delighted to find a pail full of beach toys for Evy and a bag with treats for Winston. What a great way to start the weekend!
My wife enjoyed a fantastic spa treatment at the property’s White Orchid Spa, and we spent the rest of our time wandering around Vero Beach and lounging by the hotel’s sparkling pool. We didn’t get a chance to visit Cobalt Restaurant (it was closed for a wedding reception on Saturday night) but we have dined there before and highly recommend it.
However, what really stood out was the service. Every single employee we encountered during our stay was terrific and made us feel incredibly welcome. The valet parking attendants in particular were great; every time I took the dog out for a walk, we got a “Hey Winston!” and one of them even held his leash one morning when I had to get something from the car! These small touches made it seem like we were the hotel’s only guests when in reality the hotel was completely sold out.
Kimpton’s Karma Rewards program has always intrigued me, but before this stay I’d never had the chance to stay in a Kimpton hotel. With only 67 properties in 31 US cities, the chain’s footprint is very limited. However, my first stay was absolutely fantastic and makes me want to go out of my way to stay at another property. In fact, I’ve already booked another stay at the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa for the fall!
What are your experiences with Kimpton Hotels and their Karma Rewards program?
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards