Shangri-La Gold Circle Adds Some Great Benefits

Shangri-La hotels are predominantly found in Asia which is why most North American’s have probably never heard of the chain. With Just 2 properties in Canada and the rest in countries like China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines, Shangri-La hotels and resorts don’t appear on the radar of most North American travelers….so there’s little reason for their Gold Circle loyalty program to get much attention. But perhaps it should.

Visitors to Shangri-La hotels clearly like what they see with properties such as the Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong rating very highly on TripAdvisor:

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And resorts like Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa in the Maldives getting amazing reviews:

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Shangri-La-Villingili-Resort-maldivesShangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa – Image courtesy of Shangri-La

Shangri-La Gold Circle

As with a lot of hotel loyalty programs Shangri-La Gold Circle has three status levels, Gold, Jade and Diamond (the top-tier)

  • Gold is earned upon joining
  • Jade is earned after 10 qualifying stays or 20 qualifying nights
  • Diamond is earned after 25 qualifying stays or 50 qualifying nights

You can follow the links (above) if you want to see the full benefits that come at each status level but here are a few that I liked the sound of:

Jade:

  • 11am early check-in/4pm late check-out. Yes, this is subject to availability but a 4pm late check out can really make a huge difference to a stay. I’ve already mentioned it as my favorite Hyatt Diamond benefit but Hyatt Diamond is top-tier status, here the late check-out can be an option for mid-tier status holders.
  • Complimentary breakfast at the Café Restaurant (also included for the guest’s partner staying in the same room). A complimentary breakfast can be a big money saver when you’re traveling and when it’s valid for two of you that can seriously cut down the cost of a trip.

Diamond:

  • 8am early check-in/6pm late check-out. This is still subject to availability but if I love a 4pm check-out just imagine what I think of a 6pm check-out! Add to that the fact that a lot of flights that I take to Asia seem to get me in to the country early in the morning and a super-early check-in suddenly becomes very important.
  • Complimentary breakfast at the Café Restaurant or Horizon/Traders Club Lounge (also included for the guest’s partner staying in the same room) – same as above but you get the option to take breakfast in the hotel lounge.
  • Long distance call and faxes at cost. It may not seem like the most important benefit in a world with Skype but sometimes a landline connection is decidedly better than a connection over the internet.
  • One complimentary selected resort facilities – this varies from resort to resort but can be a good money saver.

Personally I think the Shangri-La Gold Circle sweet spot is at the Jade level. There is no expressly mentioned upgrade benefit at any of the levels and, for less than half the stays or half the nights, I think Jade offers the best value.

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Shangri-La Gold Circle 5th Anniversary

Shangri-La’s Gold Circle loyalty program is just an infant in comparison to most major loyalty programs and it’s just celebrating its 5th anniversary. In honor of the anniversary Shangri-La is adding 5 major new benefits to the Gold Cirlce program.

  • Earn with redemption nights – members who redeem for a free night stay are now eligible to earn qualifying nights and stays.
  • Rollover nights – Jade and Diamond members can carry forward any surplus nights to the following membership year. Nights will not roll forward more than one year…just like with the Marriott Rewards program.
  • Multiple room earning – members can now earn Gold Circle Award Points for up to three rooms when traveling with family members or business associates.
  • Instant dining awards – members can convert their points instantly for free meals at Shangri-La restaurants. 10 Gold Circle points equates to 1 US Dollar.
  • Buy or gift points (coming soon) – Points will be available in 100 point increments and sold at a rate of $13/100 points. Members will be allowed to purchase 6,000 points per calendar year.

For a  limited time (until 31 May 2016), new members to the Gold Circle program will earn a bonus 500 Gold Circle points when they make a stay before 31 July 2016.

Additionally, Gold Circle members can earn double points when dining at participating Shangri-La restaurants between 1 April and 30 June.

Bottom Line

I’ll publish more details of the Shangri-La Gold Circle program and my thoughts on it in the very near future but, for the time being, I’ll just say that I think that these improvements are quite significant.

The dining awards and the ability to buy or gift miles will probably not be that important (although still very nice to have) but the ability to roll over unused elite qualifying nights and the ability to earn qualifying nights on award stays will make a very big difference to Gold Circle members and should make renewing status with Gold Circle that little bit easier.