InterContinental are making changes to their Ambassador loyalty programme, starting 1 March.
We’ve updated this guide to explore what is staying the same, the new benefits on offer, and our take on the changes.
The benefits that are here to stay
You will continue to receive the following benefits on every stay:
- Guaranteed one category room upgrade
- Guaranteed 4pm check-out
- Complimentary weekend night
- Dedicated check-in area
- Complimentary mineral water daily
- Complimentary premium Internet access
- Single room rate for double occupancy
- Guaranteed room availability with 72 hour advance reservation
Here’s what to expect:
- Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club (currently Ambassador comes with Gold status)
- Up to $20 USD restaurants & bars credit for every stay. In Australia it will be $25 AUD, in New Zealand, it should be around $36 NZD, based on exchange rate of the day. The credit drops to $18 USD in Greater China (RMB120), and this will only be offered to Spire Elite members
- Ambassador Benefits Guarantee to ensure you make the most out of every stay
- E-delivery of complimentary weekend night certificate (currently they post out a certificate)
In Greater China (including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), you will also receive:
- A 15% discount on hotel restaurants, bars, including in-room dining
In Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), you will also receive:
- One complimentary breakfast every night you stay
The fine print
- Welcome fruit platters are now only offered for stays in Greater China
- The ‘guaranteed’ room upgrade and 4pm late check-out can be ‘bought out’ by the hotel for 10,000 IHG points, or a USD$50 restaurant & bar or spa credit. It is not clear whether the guest has a choice, or whether they have to take what the hotel offers by way of compensation
- A complimentary in-room film and welcome gift will no longer be offered
- The 15% discount in Hong Kong will be calculated separate from the restaurant/bar credit
The changes seem benign enough. I don’t know about others, but I hardly ever eat the fruit offered in hotel rooms!
I will be interested to hear whether some hotels take the opportunity to ‘buy’ their way out of the guaranteed upgrade and late check-out benefits. I am sure that people who purchase Ambassador membership are more likely to be active on forums like Flyertalk, and I expect that a thread will begin pretty quickly to name and shame those properties that do.
The complimentary IHG Platinum status will be useful when staying at other hotels in the chain like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, however like the saying goes – ‘when everyone has status, no-one does’.
The main benefit of the Ambassador programme in my view is the complimentary weekend night. If you have a weekend trip planned to an expensive destination, this benefit can effectively pay for itself. Thankfully this is retained, and the e-delivery is useful as it can now be used straight away.
A guide to the InterContinental Ambassador membership programme
The InterContinental Ambassador programme is a $200 USD paid membership with a number of benefits specific to InterContinental Hotels globally, and which requires nothing more than cash to procure, making it ideal if you have an upcoming InterContinental stay.
Here we dig into the benefits of the Ambassador programme and cover some ways to maximise value from it.
The basics of the InterContinental Ambassador programme
IHG’s Ambassador programme is a paid membership that offers the following benefits at most InterContinental properties (the terms and conditions show that there are some variances in benefits at certain properties):
- Complimentary weekend night certificate, valid on the second night of a paid weekend stay on the Ambassador Weekend Rate.
- Enjoy a guaranteed upgrade to a superior room at check in, each time you stay. Note that while you may receive an upgrade to a Club InterContinental room, you will not receive any club benefits if you haven’t already booked one. Speciality Suite exceptions can be reviewed here
- Guaranteed 4 pm late check out
- USD20 restaurants & bars credit
- Fresh mineral water, replenished daily
You’ll also receive Platinum Elite status with IHG Rewards, which will give you recognition at all other IHG properties, like Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza.
All of these benefits are available as part of the Ambassador programme for $200 USD or 40,000 Elite points – this also being the renewal cost annually thereafter.
How best to use InterContinental Ambassador
The benefit that stands out to me is the annual complimentary second weekend night stay. If you are planning a weekend at any of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts properties, this benefit can offset the majority of the annual fee.
Ambassador free weekend night certificate
There are some restrictions on the use of the free weekend night certificate, the biggest being that they can only be used when the paid night is on the Ambassador Weekend Rate (IHG-speak for flexible rate), which is usually dearer than more “restrictive” rates.
However for two-night weekend stays, this will usually still be cheaper than booking at a restrictive rate, and my take is that the Ambassador membership is worthwhile even if it’s only put to use for that one weekend each year.
‘Weekend’ is defined to include Friday, Saturday and Sunday, except in the Middle East where hotels may define the weekend as Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
After the 1 March 2019, the certificate is delivered via email. Those joining before 1 March will receive a paper certificate that is handed over to the hotel upon checking in.
The complimentary weekend night credit can be redeemed here.
Spend the weekend at the InterContinental Wellington
Ambassador room upgrades
Room upgrades are valid on any paid rate, and you’ll get bumped up to the next category room from the rate you paid on.
The best way to use the room upgrade benefit is to carefully research the room types at the InterContinental you are looking to stay at – target the specific room category you want to stay in, and then email the hotel before booking to ensure you book the right room type to ensure you get upgraded into the room you want.
Once booked, you can then revalidate with the hotel (again by email) that they will be upgrading you into the room type you desire.
Some InterContinental Hotels will upgrade your reservation category for you in advance so you can see it on your booking. This is not an official benefit however so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t occur!
Note that on New Year’s Eve, the room upgrade will be subject to availability, rather than being an as-of-right benefit.
How the IC Ambassador programme works alongside IHG Rewards
We’ve previously looked at several hotel loyalty programmes, including IHG Rewards from the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) which consists of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Kimpton, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, Hualuxe, Staybridge and Candlewood Suites hotel chains.
IHG Rewards Club loyalty programme tiers start at the base Club tier, and you work your way up to Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Spire Elite after meeting their respective prerequisites.
Ambassador is independent of IHG Rewards, with the exception that one of the benefits of paying for Ambassador is IHG Rewards Platinum status.
Your Ambassador benefits on rewards night stays
Booked your stay using points? You will receive this reduced range of Ambassador benefits on your stay:
- USD20 restaurants & bars credit
- Guaranteed 4pm late check out
- Complimentary premium internet access
- Complimentary mineral water daily
For an initial and ongoing USD 200 (or 40,000 IHG points) fee, you get a complimentary weekend night stay and a host of other benefits at any InterContinental Hotels and Resorts property around the world, the most valuable being the guaranteed room upgrade, and 4.00pm late check-out.
On top of that, you also get upgraded to Platinum Elite status on the IHG Rewards Club programme, which is recognised at over 4,900 IHG hotels in nearly 100 countries. If you have a weekend trip where there is an InterContinental hotel, the Ambassador membership may be right for you.
Have you had a great value Ambassador stay? Let us know in the comments below.