I’ll be making a couple of trips to the US this year (as well as a few intra-Australian trips to visit friends and family) and as a result may have use of the IHG Ambassador program. After all, USD$200 is pretty good value for room upgrades, late checkouts and a free weekend night certificate.
However, before I spend the money I wanted to check if there were any caveats to these benefits.
In particular, I’m a little concerned about the free weekend night certificate, which I’m assuming is a “Stay one night get a second night free” voucher rather than 2 nights’ free stay. Do any of the IHG hotels (the Australian ones in particular) restrict their use to certain times, or have any additional charges that might surprise me?
- Guest said 2 years ago
- last edited 2 years ago
I’ve been an IHG priority privilege member for 2+ years and last year added on the Ambassador status. I found it useful and that is with limited stays at IHG Hotels during the year.
A few things to note re Ambassador program:
- The weekend stay certificate is most definitely a buy one night, get one night free offer.
- The rate that you will be charged for the paying night is an ‘Ambassador rate’ charge. This is usually the same as the ‘best flexible rate’ price, which itself is almost always higher than any advance purchase rate or promotional rate. So while it may seem like you’d be paying only 50% of what it should cost, in reality, considering that you pay one night at the highest rate available, it’s probably more like 35-40% discount (but there are significant other benefits – see point 5 below)
- There was good availability to use the Ambassador weekend certificate in Australia and Europe (I booked a couple of times at Sydney Intercon but subsequently cancelled.) However, the availability does disappear in Australia, San Francisco and London (as far as my experience goes) if you leave it late to book. The Ambassador rate on weekends simply is not available to book within about 2 months.
- I ended up using my certificate during a stay at the Intercon Park Lane in London – it saved me $576 on the second night room rate, so I was very happy with that.
- On each of my 3 regular stays with Intercon during the last 12 months while an ambassador, I’ve received the room upgrades, newspapers, free internet, extended 4pm checkout, and have been offered complimentary bottles of wine to my room on each occasion (over the guaranteed fruit/chocolate in the T&C’s) and on two occasions was provided with complimentary executive lounge access.
- The room upgrades are not usually as great as you think. The T&C’s require only a single rate upgrade. This is usually just a change in view, i.e. from city view (looking at a building), to ocean view (looking through buildings at a bit of water) etc. You get the idea. It’s not necessarily going to change your life, but sometimes they do bump you up a few rates and you get a great room. Just don’t expect it.
Overall, I’d say go for it. Even if you plan on making only 3 visits to Intercon hotels in the next 12 months, it’ll be worth it.
Oh, just in case you weren’t aware, as distinct from IHG former priority privilege accommodation certificates that were valid across all IHG brands, the Ambassador Certificate is valid only for Intercontinental stays.
Hope that helps mate.
I’d also say go for it.
The one big negative/catch is the Ambassador rate that you have to pay to use the certificate. It is usually the flexible rate and more than you would otherwise pay. But I have always been able to use it, and also saved about $600 at the Intercon park lane last year.
I really value the room upgrade and it is GUARANTEED, unlike every other program I am aware of where it is on availability. This is especially true if you don’t mind paying for an upgraded room anyway. The sweet spot is usually one level below a suite and you get a guaranteed upgrade to a suite. The intercon Frankfurt was exceptionally good for that. The 4pm checkout can be very valuable, you can’t complain about the fruit and water, and I make sure I watch the free movie every time.