As a reward for my loyalty, I usually receive complimentary upgraded rooms at InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) hotels, such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express. However, IHG’s luxury brand, InterContinental, has an additional program called Ambassador. As of Spring 2018, Ambassador status costs $200, or 30,000 IHG loyalty points.
My initial research led me to believe it would be worthwhile to pay the equivalent of one free night (30,000 points is equivalent to one free IHG hotel night that costs around $150.). I had plenty of points due to my loyalty, and the benefits sounded good:
- A guaranteed room upgrade
- Buy-one-get-one-free weekend night
- Complimentary Pay-TV film per stay
Unfortunately, it is simply marketing that doesn’t deliver on its promises. So far, I have stayed at 3 Intercontinental hotels as an Ambassador, and I am quite disappointed.
Promise #1: A guaranteed room upgrade
Reality: Maybe a nicer view, or maybe a downgrade!
I understand that an upgrade could simply mean a better view or a higher floor. However, I was hoping that with the combination of my IHG loyalty status and Ambassador status, I might get upgraded to a suite one of these days. Instead, from my 3 stays so far, 2 of the upgrades were hardly noticeable, and one was actually a downgrade….
I had booked a family room for 3 guests at the InterContinental Prague. The description (shown below) said it had 2 king size beds. Instead I received a standard sized room with one king size bed and a cot. Not only did I not receive an upgrade, but I did not even receive a room equal to what I booked.
Promise #2: Buy-one-get-one-free weekend night
Reality: A coupon only valid when you’re able to pay too much for the 1st night
To get your free night, you must show the hotel a physical “certificate” (coupon) that is mailed to you. It is supposed to arrive in 6-8 weeks, and it expires a year from the issue date. Because I travel full-time and getting mail is challenging, I still haven’t received mine!
Even when I receive my coupon, I’m not sure I’ll be using it. To get the free night, I must book the other night with the “ambassador weekend rate”. That rate is often significantly higher than other rates! Also, I have noticed that this special Ambassador weekend rate is often unavailable.
Promise #3: A complimentary Pay-TV film per stay
Reality: Get a DVD yourself from the junk drawer in the lobby.
I figured this benefit sounded fun! l love to order food delivery and watch a newly released movie, all while in my pajamas.
I recently stayed at the Intercontinental Dublin, and I tried searching the TV for the Pay-TV option. I gave up and called the Front Desk, who told me to instead go downstairs to see their DVD collection. (I discovered that there was a DVD player behind a drawer in my room; it took all my strength to open that drawer to find it.) I reluctantly put my street clothes back on to go choose my film. I was taken to an area behind the front desk and shown a drawer full of old movies, which had no descriptions or pictures. It was such a disappointing selection, that I just gave up. That is not the kind of experience I had in mind when I read that I would get a “free pay TV film per stay.”
Overall, I feel like I’ve been tricked rather than rewarded. Having Ambassador status has encouraged me to book stays at their hotels because of the perceived benefits. The reality is that it simply places me in an expensive tourist trap. For example, unlike most hotel loyalty programs, Ambassador status does not include complimentary breakfast nor lounge access. That encourages guests to order food from their expensive restaurants or grab something from their overpriced mini bar. IHG must be proud of their money-making scam.
Is Ambassador status worth it? Definitely not for me, and I live in hotels 100%!
Couldn’t agree more. Not sure why but I purchased Ambassador membership which I stupidly presumed combined with my spire elite status would mean something to Intercontinental. Have never received a gift, never an in room Amenity, never thought to try the free movie and no free mineral water in sight either. Funnily enough when I have stayed at HI, they have been amazing but at the last 3 Intercons it’s turned me off to such a degree I am u likely to stay with them again. It is a paid membership so they should be be obligated to deliver.
Ambassador status worth it? Definitely not for me either!
Thanks for your comment, Jane! We are in agreement. The Intercontinental Ambassador status just seems like a big scam. I also have been given the best rooms and the best service at Holiday Inns, and have had nothing but disappointing experiences at Intercontinental.
I stayed at Intercontinental Adelaide in a club room and loved it so for an upcoming stay in Sydney I joined the Ambassador program and booked a club room I emailed the hotel and they have confirmed my room upgrade and am using the free night certificate so i hope it turns out ok. Time will tell
I hope you enjoy the club room in Sydney! I have not stayed in an IHG club room before. I’d love to hear how you like the one in Sydney and how it compares with your previous experience.
Libby. My stay in Sydney Intercontinental was amazing My room was a western harbour view. A cousin and his wife also in sydney came to my room and didn’t want to leave the view We then had a coffee in the club. The club staff are wonderful and accommodate your needs. Expensive yes but so worth it Being on my own and over 50 i look for convenience . security and luxury on the few occasions i travel
I would definitely stay there again
Thank you for sharing Kerryn! I have added Sydney Intercontinental to my bucket list. It sounds wonderful!
I’m a Platinum Ambassador and I reckon it’s worth it for a few reasons. I have stayed at two Intercons in Europe (Bordeaux and Sofia) and have had excellent upgrades to very desirable suites in both hotels. We have stayed at the Intercon Abu Dhabi and been upgraded both times – the second time our family members in the second room also received the upgrade. In addition, Abu Dhabi gives Ambassadors a discount on food and drinks from all its bars and restaurants. Hotel managers have made a point of introducing themselves to us and have given us VIP treatment. Due to Covid-19, we couldn’t use our free weekend night last year but we definitely will this year. The multiplier on points earnings sweetens the deal for us too.