Our guide to the InterContinental Ambassador and Royal Ambassador schemes
Whether you’re always on the road or travel just a handful of nights each year, the InterContinental Ambassador program quite literally pays for itself, and then some.
Immediately after joining you’ll score a free weekend night certificate: a buy-one-get-one-free offer that lets you stay for two nights at the cost of one, plus other benefits that make the scheme worth its while.
InterContinental Ambassador 101
IHG’s broader loyalty program, IHG Rewards Club, works alongside InterContinental Ambassador – with the former serving to collect points and earn useful benefits, while the latter is a paid membership program that gives specific perks in exchange for an annual fee.
Ambassador status sets you back US$200 in the first year, after which existing members can renew for further years at just US$150.
When you consider the average price per night at the world’s top InterCon hotels, $150-$200 in exchange for a free night is certainly a better deal – and with privileges that follow you throughout the year long after you first check-out.
Any status level you’ve achieved in the standard IHG Rewards Club program also doesn’t go to waste where benefits overlap, as you’ll be able to enjoy those perks whenever you stay at an IHG hotel such as Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, rather than merely at the most-expensive InterContinental brand.
InterContinental Ambassador perks
We mentioned that free hotel night – just book the ‘Ambassador Weekend Rate’ on a stay of at least two nights covering either Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and redeem your certificate to pay nothing on the second night.
You’ll also receive guaranteed room upgrades to the next category type; fresh fruit, mineral water and an in-room welcome gift on your arrival; and a 4pm late check-out.
Add to that a free daily newspaper plus one free pay-per-view movie per stay and the membership could easily pay for itself, even if your card gathers dust for all but a few nights each year.
It’s worth pointing out that base-level IHG Rewards Club members, even those who’ve just joined the program at no cost, receive the same newspaper and late check-out perks as Ambassador members.
That being the case, we’d peg the paid Ambassador scheme as a better way of receiving the full raft of benefits – such as room upgrades, normally reserved for 50+-night IHG Platinum Elite and Spire Elite guests – in exchange for money you’d have otherwise spent on that now-free yearly hotel stay.
InterContinental Royal Ambassador
Standard Ambassador members who are also frequent travellers have a shot at Royal Ambassador status – yours after staying for at least 20 nights each year with InterContinental, a further 40 nights with IHG and by visiting at least three different InterCon properties in the same time period.
But once you’ve reached the lofty heights of InterContinental Royal Ambassador, you’ll be able to book rooms at already-full hotels, cool your heels in an Executive or Club InterContinental room or a suite, and can check-in from 8am – even if your room isn’t ready.
Instead, you’ll be given the keys to the hotel’s best available room to freshen up and relax, and when an upgraded room becomes available later that day, you can switch at no charge.
That’s a little different to other loyalty programs such as Hilton HHonors, which upgrades its elite members to higher room types based on availability at check-in for the full length of their stay.
Finally, Royal Ambassadors also pay nothing to raid the minibar of its non-alcoholic drinks or to use the on-site health club facilities if a charge would ordinarily apply.
Also read: IHG's Rewards Club loyalty scheme for Aussie travellers
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Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer
10 May 2011
Total posts 735
Worth noting that the free night is based on paying the flexible rate, thus sometimes it is cheaper to pay for a second night if there are cheap advanced purchase rates on offer...
Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards
13 Jan 2014
Total posts 114
I hit well over 60 days at IHG properties and the majority being intercontinetnals (although 4 different brands in total) and didn't recieve royal ambassador. So it might be the guide, but certainly isn't hard and fast.