After many years of lacklustre performance by IHG as a hotel chain, they’ve finally taken a step closer to competing with Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt with their improved IHG One Rewards loyalty program as of 2022, complete with a generous status challenge to kick things off.
In addition to IHG One Rewards, however, there is a separate, lesser-known benefits program specifically built around the InterContinental brand, which is the flagship premium brand within IHG Hotels & Resorts.
Enter InterContential Ambassador – let’s go over all the details you need to know.
In This Post
- What Is the InterContinental Ambassador Program?
- What Are the Benefits of InterContinental Ambassador?
- How to Enroll in InterContinental Ambassador
- Who Should Sign Up for InterContinental Ambassador?
What Is the InterContinental Ambassador Program?
InterContinental Ambassador is a paid membership program that offers benefits at select IHG hotel brands worldwide. As the name suggests, Ambassador is most useful for travellers who frequent the InterContinental brand, of which there are 200+ locations around the world.
In addition to InterContinental hotels, the InterContinental Ambassador program is also recognized by the following hotels and resorts within the IHG family:
- There are 80 Kimpton hotels worldwide, with the majority situated in the United States. Kimpton hotels offer a boutique luxury experience at generally reasonable price points.
- There are 20 Six Senses properties worldwide, boasting an elevated level of luxury over and above the InterContinental brand.
- With only seven properties worldwide, Regent Hotels & Resorts boasts some of the most luxurious properties within the IHG family.
- However, Regent’s participation in the InterContinental Ambassador program is set to expire December 31, 2022, with no indication that it will be renewed for another year.
Note that some individual Kimpton, Six Senses, and Regent properties may not be currently participating in Ambassador, as these three brands are being gradually integrated into the program.
It may be necessary to inquire ahead of time with the property whether InterContinental Ambassador benefits will apply.
What Are the Benefits of InterContinental Ambassador?
There are a wide range of benefits and perks for those who frequent the participating IHG hotels as an Ambassador member.
Note that in order to receive these benefits, you must book directly with the applicable properties or through the IHG One Rewards program. Bookings made through third-party platforms or online travel agencies would exclude you from Ambassador benefits.
IHG One Rewards Platinum status
This is perhaps the most intriguing benefit. At face value, the InterContinental Ambassador program only provides benefits to the previously mentioned hotel brands: InterContinental, Kimpton, Six Senses, and Regent.
However, InterContinental Ambassador members also get automatically catapulted to IHG One Rewards Platinum status, which unlocks numerous benefits applicable throughout the entire IHG portfolio.
Platinum status is the second-highest IHG One Rewards elite status and comes with a wide range of meaningful perks.
Guaranteed one-category room upgrade
Those who already hold Platinum or Diamond status with IHG One Rewards already have the benefit of a complimentary room upgrade. However, under the Ambassador program, this differs significantly in that it is a guaranteed benefit, rather than subject to availability.
This guaranteed upgrade is not applicable on nights booked with reward points, nor on stays booked with an anniversary Free Night Award. If you book with either of these instruments, you’d then resort back to the Platinum benefit of upgrades being subject to availability.
The upgrade is only applicable to the Ambassador member’s room and not on any additional rooms booked by the Ambassador on the same night.
At the hotel’s discretion, an upgrade beyond one category can be given; however, upgrades exclude Residences, Penthouses, Presidential and Specialty Suites, and two bedroom or greater suites and villas. Moreover, any upgrade to a club room or suite does not grant access to the relevant club or lounge.
Lastly, this guaranteed upgrade cannot be stacked with a Confirmable Suite Upgrade, which is a Milestone Reward under the IHG One Rewards program that you earn by staying a certain number of nights every calendar year.
US$20 restaurant and bar credit
A US$20 restaurant and bar credit is included one time for every stay. While this credit excludes in-room dining, it covers taxes, service charges, and gratuities up to US$20.
The US$20 will be converted to the hotel’s local currency at the same rate, with a few exceptions where it may vary slightly.
The US$20 credit is not applicable at any Regent property, nor at any participating hotels in mainland China.
Guaranteed late checkout
This 4pm guaranteed late checkout benefit is significantly better than the 2pm late checkout offered to all IHG One Rewards members.
Similar to the one-category room upgrade, this is also a guaranteed benefit under InterContinental Ambassador, rather than subject to availability.
Complimentary weekend night certificate
The complimentary weekend night certificate is issued immediately upon enrollment and is valid for 12 months from date of issue.
While on the surface this would be far and away the best benefit, in reality, it may not be as easy to use when compared to similar weekend credits with Hilton, or free night certificates with Marriott.
Using these weekend night certificates is subject to a number of stipulations. Most significantly, it’s only valid at InterContinental, Kimpton, and select Regent hotels, and you must book a minimum two-night paid stay in order to apply the free night award against one of the nights – greatly limiting its potential value.
In addition, the certificate can only be used for a weekend night at InterContinental properties, or any night of the week at Kimpton and Regent properties.
Complimentary breakfast (Mainland China only)
For those who frequent applicable hotels in China, this benefit may be enough to convince you to sign up for the program. You will receive complimentary full breakfast for each night of the stay, for the member only.
Note this is not applicable to in-room dining, and is not available for the Ambassador member’s guest.
Specific benefits at Six Senses hotels
The Six Senses portfolio is progressively integrating into IHG One Rewards program. The following additional benefits will apply for Ambassador members at participating Six Senses properties:
- Complimentary breakfast for two in the main restaurant
- A complimentary 50-minute massage for two or a local experience once per stay.
- A wellness platter as a welcome amenity
This is drastically better than the Ambassador benefits offered to stays at the other participating hotels, including the core InterContinental brand.
I’ll be interested to see how well this is actually implemented as more and more Six Senses properties join the program.
How to Enroll in InterContinental Ambassador
Relative to navigating through the benefits, enrollment is very straightforward. You first have to log in with your IHG One Rewards account, and then you can purchase your InterContinental Ambassador membership.
A one-year InterContinental Ambassador membership can be purchased for either US$200 or 40,000 IHG One Rewards points.
We currently value IHG One Rewards points at 0.4 cents (USD) per point, meaning that 40,000 points would be equivalent to US$160, so the value proposition in redeeming points for a new application isn’t half bad at all.
In the past, there have been enrollment promotions around once a year, offering extra IHG One Rewards points simply for signing up. None are currently active, but it may be worthwhile to keep an eye out for ones in the future.
The InterContinental Ambassador program has a few options for extending your membership past the expiration date.
There are two types of extensions and both can only be requested once per member’s lifetime: a two-month extension and a six-month extension.
The only requirements for the two-month extension is that you are a current Ambassador member, and you have not received this extension in the past.
The six-month extension differs slightly in that the membership must be active and in their second or greater consecutive membership year, and not have received a six-month extension in the past.
These two different extension benefits cannot be combined and applied consecutively. This means you can’t combine them to receive an eight-month extension; they must be applied in two separate years.
The best play would be to use the first two-month extension at the end of your first year and the six-month extension at the end of your second year.
In this fashion, for two separate payments of either 40,000 IHG points or US$200, you’d end up with two years and eight months of InterContinental Ambassador membership – which makes enrollment look a lot more tempting.
Who Should Sign Up for InterContinental Ambassador?
Naturally, signing up for the program would be best suited to those who frequent the participating InterContinental and other brands of hotels.
For example, for anyone who’d stay at the participating hotels at least 10 times in the upcoming year, the US$20 dining credit per stay easily justifies the initial US$200 cost.
Anyone who is able to get more than US$200 in value out of the annual Complimentary Weekend Certificate would also stand to benefit from enrollment.
InterContinental Ambassador would also be ideal for those who are eyeing an automatic upgrade to IHG One Rewards Platinum status, but are unable to sign up for the US-issued Chase IHG credit cards because they are “at 5/24” or they do not have an established US credit file.
If you value the guaranteed late checkout and guaranteed room upgrade, compared to the “subject to availability” benefit offered through IHG One Rewards regular elite benefits, you’ll stand to benefit from being an Ambassador member.
Lastly, even if you aren’t an IHG loyalist, the InterContinental Ambassador program can be a useful way to dabble with a the hotel chain without necessarily committing all of your loyalty to IHG.
If you only have a handful of stays coming up at an InterContinental, Kimpton, or Six Senses property, investing in an Ambassador membership can deliver useful benefits immediately comparing to earning IHG One Rewards status the “slow” way.
The InterContinental Ambassador program offers meaningful perks when staying at InterContinental or its associated subset of IHG brands, whether you’re a frequent guest or someone who’s just trying out the brand a few times.
At a reasonable price point of US$200 for the year, this is one of the few “pay to play” elite membership programs out there, and can be an interesting alternative to traditional hotel programs if you want to sample the perks – many of which are better than IHG One Rewards – without having to earn your way there.