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Shangri-La Hotels has re-launched its frequent guest program, Golden Circle. Although a Golden Circle card has been available since 1997, the upgraded program is essentially completely new. The old system only offered small bonuses such as late checkout, a welcome gift. A range of new rewards are available, including a very handy cash-on-checkin offer (more on that at the end of the article). Collecting points for purchases is a new addition to the scheme, with one GC Award Point given for every US dollar spent. If you prefer, you can choose to be rewarded instead with frequent flyer points from most major airlines, including Qantas. Staying at the hotel is not necessary to earn points. Dining at a Shangri-La restaurant or getting a spa-treatment will still boost your point count. Guests will be able to have a free room upgrade for 800 points, and a free night's stay for 1000. However, this is not yet in effect - points will be redeemable from the first quarter of 2011. Golden Circle membership is divided into three tiers: Gold, Jade and Diamond. Gold members receive benefits such as priority check-in and check-out and fresh fruit delivered to their room as a welcoming gift.
Jade shares these bonuses, along with 11 am check-in and 4 pm check-out, free breakfast and guaranteed rooms for reservations made at least 72 hours before.
Diamond membership brings this down to 48 hours, 8 am check-in and an impressive 6 pm check out, suit pressing and red or white wine as a welcoming gift. Diamond members will also earn 50% more points.
An especially appealing feature offered to all Golden Circle members is the cash advance. On being presenting a major credit card, Shangri-La will give a cash advance of up to $250 ($300 for Diamond members) in the local currency. No additional fee or commission is taken, though the advance is charged at the hotel exchange rate.
Shangri-La Singapore informed Australian Business Traveller their current rate is US$1.24 against SGD$1, while at the time of writing, the market rate was $1.28. The 4c margin is in-line with better-value foreign exchange outlets.