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IHG One Rewards is the primary loyalty program associated with all of IHG’s brands, but the InterContinental brand has its own rewards program too. This is called InterContinental Ambassador and in this article, I’ll take a look at what that program offers.
InterContinental Ambassador is unlike IHG One Rewards and unlike most other hotel loyalty/rewards programs that we discuss on Traveling for Miles because it’s not a program in which you earn elite status. It’s a program in which you pay to access select benefits that are, primarily, focused on IHG’s InterContinental properties.
The InterContinental Ambassador program can be paid for with IHG One Rewards points or with cash and as things stand, you can enjoy 12 months of Ambassador membership for 40,000 points or $200 (the membership year starts from the day that you pay for the program).
InterContinental Ambassador benefits
As per the InterContinental Ambassador page, this is what the program currently offers its members when they stay at InterContinental properties:
- Guaranteed one-category room upgrade
- Guaranteed extended 4 pm checkout
- Restaurant & bar credit of up to USD20 for every stay
- Complimentary mineral water
- Complimentary internet
- Dedicated check-in area
- Single room rate for double occupancy
- In mainland China Only: Complimentary breakfast for one each night you stay
- In Greater China Only: Welcome fruit platter for Platinum Elite & Diamond Elite members
Ambassador members are also given IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status and a free weekend night certificate (a benefit that I’ll discuss a little later).
InterContinental Ambassador members currently also get a few extra benefits when they stay at IHG’s Six Senses Hotels & Resorts.
- Complimentary breakfast for two in the main restaurant per day (this benefit is not applicable at Six Senses Residences).
- A signature amenity of either a complimentary 50-minute Six Senses Spa massage for two or a local experience once per stay. The signature amenity varies by resort, is subject to availability, and is confirmed on arrival.
- A complimentary one-category room upgrade (subject to availability, excluding residences and 2-bedroom or greater suites/villas)
- Extended checkout of 4 pm subject to availability.
- Early check-in subject to availability.
- Complimentary Internet access.
- Wellness platter welcome amenity on the day of arrival, subject to availability.
Be aware that all Ambassador benefits are only applicable to the room occupied by the member and are not applicable to other rooms that the member may have also booked for the same stay.
Thoughts on the benefits
The key thing to know about Ambassador benefits is that members are guaranteed to get them on paid stays (generally speaking) but they are not guaranteed to get them on award bookings (although quite a few InterContinental properties now seem to honor the benefits on award stays).
A number of the benefits of the Ambassador program are quite pedestrian (e.g. Complimentary internet, complimentary mineral water, and dedicated check-in area) but there are also a few benefits that can be quite valuable.
IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status isn’t really a big deal because it doesn’t offer any guaranteed major benefits (see the benefits here) but because having some kind of elite status in a hotel program is always better than not having status at all, this is still a worthwhile benefit to have.
Note: If you have access to the US credit card market you can enjoy IHG One Platinum status just by holding the $99/year IHG® Rewards Premier credit card which is currently offering a very nice welcome bonus.
The guaranteed room upgrade benefit is a good benefit to have because the upgrades offered to IHG One Rewards Platinum and Diamond Elites are only available “subject to availability”. A guaranteed upgrade can be particularly useful if there’s a specific room category that you need, but that you don’t want to pay for as you can book a room one category below the one you need (which should be cheaper) while knowing that you’ll be upgraded.
The guaranteed 4 pm checkout can also be a nice benefit to have and it comes in especially useful when you have an evening flight. Not having to check out until mid-afternoon can make the last day of a vacation feel much more like a proper vacation day and less like a day wasted hanging around waiting to go home.
The restaurant/bar credit can be a good money saver and if a member makes enough stays at InterContinental properties in a year, it can help them claw back a considerable percentage (possibly all) of the Ambassador membership fee.
Unfortunately, however, this is a benefit that’s a little less straightforward than it may appear to be as it’s not a simple $20 (USD) credit worldwide.
The credit has different values in different parts of the world:
- $20 in the United States
- €15 in countries where the Euro is used
- £15 in the United Kingdom
- THN600 in Thailand
- AU$25 in Australia
- ¥2000 in Japan
- SAR70 in Saudi Arabia
- MRY50 in Malaysia
- IDR1800 in Indonesia
- VND280,000 in Vietnam (excluding Danang where it is VND460,000)
- HK$135 in Hong Kong
In all other countries, a credit of $20 (USD) will be converted to the local currency at the local hotel exchange rate of the day, except in mainland China where this benefit is not offered.
One of the more popular benefits that the Ambassador program offers is the complimentary weekend night certificate (which members get in their welcome pack and then again every year that they renew their membership) but as is the case with the restaurant/bar credit, this benefit isn’t quite as straightforward as its name may suggest.
The complimentary weekend night certificate is only valid for the second night of a two-night stay (at InterContinental properties) and only when the first night has been paid for using the Ambassador Complimentary Weekend Night rate (which is almost always more expensive than the cheapest rate that’s being offered).
There’s no doubt that there’s quite a bit of value to be had out of this benefit, but it’s a little less valuable than, for example, one of Hilton’s free night certificates thanks to the restrictions attached to it.
The benefits currently being offered at Six Senses properties can also be quite valuable and could be reason enough for someone to pay for Ambassador membership if they’re planning a visit to a participating Six Senses property – the complimentary breakfast for 2 would, on its own, probably cover the cost of a year’s membership to the Ambassador program.
Is it worth it?
Overall, the are clearly some good benefits associated with the InterContinental Ambassador program, and for anyone visiting InterContinental properties more than once or twice a year, the program should easily pay for itself.
For travelers only planning a couple of InterContinental stays, the program can still be good value thanks to the fact that the free night certificate can often (not always) save a member more than the cost of the yearly membership, but anyone in this position should do their due diligence before parting with their $200 (or 40,000 points) and make sure that the certificate is offering a genuine saving.
Don’t forget that if you have an IHG One Rewards free night certificate from the IHG® Rewards Premier Card (review) or the IHG® Rewards Premier Business credit card, you can use it alongside the Ambassador’s weekend night certificate to book a longer (3-night) stay for no extra cash outlay (although unless you’re lucky enough to find an InterContinental property costing no more than 40,000 points per night, you’ll probably have to top up your credit card’s free night certificate with a few IHG points from your account).
The InterContinental Ambassador program is a paid program that offers its members benefits at InterContinental hotels and at Six Senses Hotels and Resorts.
For those who visit InterContinental properties with any kind of frequency, membership in the Ambassador program will probably make quite a bit of sense, as it’s not particularly difficult to claw back the cost of the annual membership through the value offered by the benefits of the program.
For less frequent visitors to InterContinental properties, the Ambassador program is less likely to be of great value, but membership may still be worth considering if the free night certificate and the guaranteed upgrade benefit can be put to good use.
What do you think of the InterContinental Ambassador program?