How to score a free night at a luxury hotel through InterContinental Ambassador
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
There are several common ways to earn hotel elite status.
You can typically meet specific elite-qualification thresholds or hold a credit card that provides elite status as a perk. But a few hotel loyalty programs also let you buy elite status or elite-like benefits – and one such example is IHG’s InterContinental Ambassador program.
The InterContinental Ambassador program effectively lets you buy IHG elite status and get additional perks when you stay at select IHG brands. Members get many perks, but one of the most valuable is a complimentary weekend night.
In this guide, I’ll discuss the InterContinental Ambassador program and how you can leverage it to get a free night at a luxury hotel.
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InterContinental Ambassador program overview
For $200 or 40,000 IHG points — which are worth $200 based on TPG’s valuations — you can purchase a yearlong InterContinental Ambassador membership. This membership provides perks when staying at InterContinental hotels, including a one-category room upgrade, 4 p.m. late checkout and up to a $20 food and beverage credit per stay.
InterContinental Ambassador perks generally aren’t applicable at other IHG Rewards brands. But Ambassadors do get a few extra perks at Six Senses and Mr and Mrs Smith properties when booking through select methods, like a free room upgrade at Mr and Mrs Smith properties. And, for stays through Dec. 31, 2021, Ambassadors also get extra benefits at select Regent Hotels.
InterContinental Ambassador membership also includes IHG Platinum Elite status, which provides value throughout the IHG portfolio.
That said you may not want to pay for Ambassador solely for this benefit. After all, you can get Platinum Elite status cheaper as a perk of the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Plus, with the IHG Premier credit card, you’ll get other perks like a fourth-night reward on award stays and an anniversary night worth up to 40,000 points after each account anniversary.
Complimentary weekend night
Even if the above InterContinental Ambassador perks aren’t intriguing, the final one could make up the $200 price by itself: a complimentary weekend night certificate.
You may redeem the certificate up to 12 months from the date it was issued, but you can only use each certificate once. To use the certificate, you must book a stay of two nights or longer using the Ambassador complimentary weekend night rate.
Usually, you can only book the Ambassador complimentary weekend night rate at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (excluding InterContinental Alliances Resorts) for weekend stays, which are defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday (except in the Middle East, where hotels may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
So, for a two-night stay, you’d need to check in on a Friday or Saturday to book the complimentary weekend night rate.
That said, your certificate is also valid at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and participating Regent Hotels & Resorts for stays through the end of 2021 – and the program doesn’t limit you to weekend stays at these properties.
Before we look at the booking process, there are a few other things you should know about the free weekend night:
- The Ambassador complimentary weekend night rate usually isn’t the least expensive flexible rate.
- The complimentary weekend night cannot be “used in conjunction with any other promotion or free night offer,” including redeeming IHG Rewards points.
- Only the InterContinental Ambassador member can use the complimentary weekend night. Another traveler won’t be able to use your night.
- You’ll need to make advance reservations. Plus, you must have an unredeemed and valid complimentary weekend night in your account when you check in to the hotel. If you don’t, you’ll need to pay the hotel’s best flexible rate for all nights of your stay.
- You can only use at most one complimentary weekend night per stay.
- The complimentary weekend night only covers the room rate and tax. You’ll need to pay any fees, including resort fees, on your complimentary night.
When choosing a room type, remember that the Ambassador one-category-upgrade benefit applies to complimentary weekend nights. You probably don’t want to pick the highest-available room type. However, one quirk of this guaranteed upgrade benefit is that it won’t upgrade you into Club InterContinental or Regent Club access, which you will only get if you book a room type that comes with lounge access.
And one last thing: even if you get an upgrade to a room that would otherwise have lounge access, you won’t actually receive lounge access.
How to book your free night
To book your complimentary weekend night, go to your IHG Rewards account homepage, scroll down to find “Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night” and click the “Book” button next to the night you want to use:
Or, you can shortcut that by just starting your search through this specific link:
This page allows anyone to search and find the Ambassador complimentary weekend night rate. This is great if you don’t have InterContinental Ambassador but want to determine how much you’d save buying a membership.
As you look at your search results, pay attention to the Ambassador complimentary weekend night rate. Unfortunately, you’ll notice this rate often isn’t the least expensive flexible rate.
For example, here are nightly rates at both the Ambassador complimentary weekend level and at the least expensive flexible level for a two-night stay next May at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa:
|Nightly rate including taxes and fees||Garden||Pool||Lagoon||Beachfront||Club Suite|
|Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night rate||$250||$325||$396||$536||$676|
|Cheapest flexible rate||$214||$278||$338||$458||$578|
While the above differences demonstrate the premium you’ll need to pay for the privilege of using your free weekend night, bear in mind that one of those nights is free. So for the Pool room, you’re paying $336 for the two-night stay. Booking the same two-night stay as a non-Ambassador would be $556, so your free night would get you a value of $220. This more than pays for the Ambassador subscription.
With this in mind, try and make your Ambassador complimentary weekend night stay as short as possible. The value of the free night is quickly erased by overpaying for more than a few nights.
Also, keep in mind that this calculation completely ignores any added value you’d enjoy from the on-property perks. These perks can quickly add up over a two-night stay and become even more valuable if you’re staying at other InterContinental properties during your year of membership.
Finally, once you pick your dates and room type, don’t be surprised when the final booking page shows an undiscounted price. As explained on the InterContinental Ambassador complimentary weekend night booking page:
“Please note that the reservation will show full rate on both nights during the online booking process. This will be adjusted by the hotel on check-in to reflect as complimentary on the second night.”
Note that you must still be an Ambassador member and have a “valid complimentary night benefit that is not expired or already redeemed” at the time of check-in for IHG to waive the second night rate.
The included complimentary weekend night can easily make up the $200 annual cost of InterContinental Ambassador membership. For example, I saved around $286 off the cheapest available rate during my two-night stay at the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. In addition, I knew going in that I’d get a guaranteed room upgrade, 4 p.m. guaranteed late checkout and a $20 food and beverage credit. All of that adds up to $200 well invested in the InterContinental Ambassador program.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.
Featured image of the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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