In general, I don’t like the IHG Rewards Club program very much. I like it less than SPG, less than Marriott; hell, I even like it less than Hilton HHonors! The reason I don’t like it is because their award chart is severely overpriced (especially after the big 2013 devaluation), the avenues of getting free IHG points are limited and unappealing, and their “top” Platinum status–albeit easy to get with the Chase IHG credit card–is a joke. Sure, you can get an occasional upgrade, but you are not entitled to almost anything, and they won’t give you anything unless you beg, so you can (normally) forget any sensible upgrades or free breakfasts.
In addition, begging won’t normally help you at InterContinental hotels (although, they make exceptions sometimes at less popular locations). In order to get upgrades at an IC, you have to buy the Ambassador status for $200, which–unless you stay at IC’s a lot or have an upcoming stay at a very expensive property–is not worth it, IMHO. And even the Ambassador status won’t normally get you a free breakfast, Club access or a suite upgrade! Yep, the Hilton HHonors gold status is much better than IHG Rewards Club as far as the hotel elite recognition is concerned.
This year, IHG didn’t devalue a single property–quite the opposite, they reduced redemption rates for 100 hotels by 5,000 points. That’s a nice gesture, although even that doesn’t make them competitive in most cases. Loyalty Lobby has compiled the full list of reduced IHG Rewards properties. Some of the reduced properties do look appealing until you realize that in most cases you’re still better off paying with cash rather than points.
Sometimes, however, you can get ahead with points, but you need to do the research. This is reportedly an excellent 4-star resort in Phuket, where you can save a few bucks after the 5,000-point reduction.
And IHG has one awesome feature: PointBreaks at 5,000 points per night in certain locations around the world, published on average once every 2-3 months. No other hotel loyalty program offers anything like that. Using the so-called IHG trick (which is booking a hotel room, canceling the reservation, and getting the points at $0.63 after the 10% refund) you will never pay more than $31.15 a night! As long as the IHG Rewards Club program has this incredible feature (there are always rumors they are doing away with that) I am not giving up on them.
While I’m yet to take an advantage of a PointBreaks Night, this is an incredible way to explore less-known places for next to nothing. If I were a full-time travel blogger or writer, I would virtually live and work out of the IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks hotels, and I wouldn’t need any other tricks in the book. IHG hotels are everywhere!
In addition, there is a Chase IHG Rewards Club credit card that has its own great features.
- 80,000 points sign up bonus
- A free night at any IHG hotel in the world. If you apply strategically, you and the partner can get 4 free nights every 2 years at the most luxurious IHG locations around the globe.
- Platinum status for just having the card.
- The annual fee is just $49, cheaper than most hotel credit cards I know.
Unfortunately, the value you are getting out of points that you use on a regular IHG stay leaves a lot to be desired. I usually look for at least 1:100 value for my hotel points (except SPG), and–please don’t laugh–but I normally get this or better value even from Hilton HHonors. Now, with the IHG Rewards Club you can practically buy points at $. 063 ($. 07 with a trick minus a 10% rebate). And yet, you will often be hard-pressed to justify the value unless you use them at the most expensive properties at peak times when the prices are totally unreasonable. Of course, you might feel that paying 50,000 (or $315 with the above-mentioned trick) for a room at Paris – La Grand is a bargain when it’s listed at $600, but since I would never pay $600 for a hotel room, it’s not a wise use of points or money in my book.
What’s always on my mind with IHG is whether or not I would get a better value with cash or buying points at $.063. Unfortunately, for most redemptions that are not aspirational, like in an example above–cash rules!
Having said that, a free credit card annual night and PointBreaks make IHG Rewards worth using. And they have enormous number of properties around the world.
Anyhow, here are some interesting (IMHO) new and upcoming IHG hotels. This is not a complete list, because, boy, the complete list is really huge and very inconvenient to search for. I really had no idea when I decided to undertake this task. Below, you will find the list of IHG properties in the location that I personally find interesting for a leisure traveler (IMHO, of couse). I’m enclosing points redemptions rates where they are available.
A huge and exciting news for IHG members (but not Kimpton members, perhaps) is IHG acquiring Kimpton Hotels. That’s 62 boutique hotels in the most popular cities in the US and 16 hotels in the pipeline. Read more about it here.
- Lower East Side New York (opening August 2015)
- Atlanta Downtown, GA (opening late 2015)
- Baltimore, MD
- Chicago – Millenium Park, IL
- Seattle, WA
- Destin-Fort Walton Beach, FL Resort – 35,000 points
- Nashville – Fontanel, TN Resort (opening mid 2015)
Holiday Inn Express
- Kailua-Kona, HI – 20,000 points
- New Orleans Downtown – 20,000 (opening April 2015)
- Snowmass Village, CO – 20,000 points
- New York W 35 Street, NY (opening 2015)
- New York E 44th Street, NY
Holiday Inn Express: Tremblant, Quebec – 20,000 points (decent value)
Mexico and the Caribbean
Holiday Inn Resort: Nassau, Bahamas (opening July 2015)
InterContinental: Presidente Merida, Mexico
This is a great 5-star hotel in a great city that can be yours for 25,000 points or $85, LOL. Even I would pay cash (and I hate paying cash, believe me!).
Central and South America
- Crowne Plaza: Buenos Aires Greenville (opening May 2015)
- InterContinental: Cartagena de Indias (25,000 points)
- Holiday Inn Express: Cartagena Bocagrande (opening April 2015)
- Holiday Inn Express: Bogota Zona Financiera – 20,000 points
- Dublin – 50,000 points
- Lisbon – 35,000 points
- London – The O2 (opening late 2015)
- Lyon – Cite Internationale – 30,000 Points
- Porto – 30,000 Points
- Barcelona-Fira Center – 30,000 Points
- London-Albert Embankment (opening 2015)
- London-Battersea – 30,000 points
- Helsinki – 30,000 points (opening spring 2015)
- Paris L’Opera – 40,000 points
- Rome – 45,000 points
- Madrid – Gran Via – 30,000 points (opening April 2015)
- Edinburgh – 35,000 points
- London-Vauxhall – 35,000 points
- Berlin-East Side – 20,000 points
- Dresden–Am Zwinger – 20,000 points
- Ankara Çukurambar – 20,000 points
- Istanbul Kadikoy
- Glasgow Green
- London West – 30.000 points
- London-Watford Junction – 20,000 points (opening Feb 2015)
Holiday Inn Express
- Strasbourg City Centre – 20,000 points
- Toulon-Sainte Musse – 20,000 points
- Stuttgart Central Station
- Dusseldorf-City – 20,000 points
- Belgrade – 20,000 points(opening Q1 2015)
- Ealing (opening spring 2015)
- ExCeL – 35,000 points (opening May 2015)
- Vauxhall Nine Elms – 35,000 Points (opening Feb 2015)
AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
United Arab Emirates
- Dubai Marina – 35,000 points
United Arab Emirates
- Dubai Ras Al Khaimah Resort (opening 2015)
ASIA AND SOUTH PACIFIC
- Bali Canggu Resort (opening 2015)
- Bandung Dago Pakar
- Jakarta Pondok Indah (opening 2015)
- Phuket Rawai Beach Resort
- Nha Trang – 35,000 points
- Sydney – Double Bay – 50,000 points
Hualuxe (22 luxury hotels in the pipeline)
- Beijing, Xian
- Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao
- Chengdu High-Tech West
- Chengdu South
- Xi’an Daming Palace
- Bali Seminyak (opening 2015)
- Bangkok – 30,000 points
Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Resorts
- Shanghai Nanxiang – 20,000 points
- Bali Benoa – 25,000 points (opening April 2015)
- Jakarta Kemayoran – 20,000 points
Holiday Inn Express
- Clarke Quay – 20,000 points
- Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 – 20,000 points
- Sydney Macquarie Park
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Since IHG is really not good with updating their information, I have compiled this list using several sources.
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Photo By: By: Mighty Travels