Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) is the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. Founded in 2004, the group now encompasses 40 brands and 800 properties in 100 countries.
Its loyalty program, GHA Discovery allows members to earn and redeem Discovery Dollars, as well as receive VIP recognition and benefits across all GHA brands.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about GHA Discovery, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning GHA Discovery Dollars
GHA Discovery operates on a different earning and redemption model than other loyalty programs. Foremost, instead of earning points, you’ll earn Discovery Dollars (D$), which are at-par with US dollars.
With no credit card transfer partner in Canada or the US, you can earn Discovery Dollars mostly through stays with its 40 brands worldwide.
Stays at Global Hotel Alliance Partners
You’ll earn between 4–7% Discovery Dollars on eligible spend. The Discovery Dollars you’ll earn depends mainly on your GHA Discovery membership level:
- Silver: 4% of net eligible spend; Discovery Dollars earned expire after 6 months
- Gold: 5% of net eligible spend; Discovery Dollars earned expire after 18 months
- Platinum: 6% of net eligible spend; Discovery Dollars earned expire after 24 months
- Titanium: 7% of net eligible spend; Discovery Dollars earned expire after 24 months
Net eligible spend includes eligible room rates, dining, and other on-property spend, while it excludes the following:
- Third-party rates (e.g. online travel agencies)
- Taxes, tips, and fees
- Purchases made with gift cards and vouchers
- Banquet, catering, and events (depending on the hotel)
- Retail products
- Laundry and dry cleaning
- Vehicle transfers
From time to time, GHA runs promotions, which allow you to earn more Discovery Dollars. A recent example is the Double D$ promotion, which bumps earnings to 8–14% in Discovery Dollars. Ongoing promotions can be found on GHA Discovery website.
Regent Seven Sea Cruises was recently added as a GHA Discovery partner. With the partnership, GHA Discovery members who book a cruise with Regent receive the following benefits:
- 750–2,500 Discovery Dollars per cruise booked
- Fast-track upgrade to GHA Discovery Titanium status, valid for 12 months
- On-board gift of chocolates and Champagne
Redeeming GHA Discovery Dollars
Redeeming Discovery Dollars is straightforward, since they are at-par with US dollars or the equivalent in the local currency.
Stays at Global Hotel Alliance Partners
During check-out, you may redeem your Discovery Dollars as a rebate against your bill at participating properties. You must redeem a minimum of 10 D$; then, after the first 10 D$, you may redeem in increments of 1 D$.
Similar to earning, you can not redeem Discovery Dollars for ineligible spend, including taxes, tips, fees, third-party bookings, and other expenses at each hotel’s discretion.
Experiences at Global Hotel Alliance Partners
You may also use your Discovery Dollars on local experiences offered by various GHA partners. On offer are city tours, cooking classes, and other travel activities.
You may redeem your Discovery Dollars against the cash price of each activity, and you may redeem even if you’re not staying with the GHA partner that offers the activity.
GHA Discovery Tips & Tricks
With GHA Discovery, redemptions are tied to the cash price of a stay; thus, you’re not getting as many “sweet spots” as other hotel loyalty programs. Still, there are tips and tricks that can make your GHA Discovery membership worthwhile.
Merely joining the GHA Discovery program already entitles you to Member Rates, which are at least 10% lower than the best available rates. You can then redeem your Discovery Dollars on these discounted rates to yield better value on your redemption.
GHA Discovery publishes a page with stay offers across different brands and properties. You can, for example, take advantage of a “Stay Longer Special” with a 25% discount.
Again, you can redeem your Discovery Dollars on these promotional rates for better value on your redemption.
With Local Offers, you can take advantage of discounts and complimentary offers by simply being a GHA Discovery member.
For most of the complimentary experiences, you don’t even have to be staying in the property. For instance, you may book access to the day spa of Kempinski Frutt Mountain Resort in Switzerland for free without booking a stay.
Booking with Virtuoso
To get even better value for your stays at GHA properties, you should consider booking through Virtuoso, which is the world’s largest independent network of luxury travel advisors and properties.
Even if you don’t hold status with GHA Discovery, booking through Virtuoso provides you with extra benefits, such as:
- Daily breakfast for two guests
- Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- $100 (USD) property credit (benefit may vary)
- Other amenities and experiences at select properties
Note that stays booked through Virtuoso function as if you were booking directly with the hotel; thus, you’ll still be eligible to earn Discovery Dollars.
Transferring Discovery Dollars
You can transfer Discovery Dollars to another member to pool them for larger redemptions. There’s no cost to transfer, but you must transfer a minimum of 10 D$, up to a maximum of 500 D$ in a single transaction.
Transferred Discovery Dollars will retain the same expiry date. You may perform up to two transfers per day.
GHA Discovery Elite Status
GHA Discovery has four membership levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. You may progress to the next level with nights stayed, eligible spend, or stays at multiple brands.
Eligible nights, spend, and stays may only be earned on paid eligible rates. To earn the credits you’re due, make sure to quote your membership number at the time of booking, check-in, or check-out.
Silver or Gold status doesn’t provide much by way of hotel benefits, other than free wi-fi. However, if you’re at least a Platinum member, you’ll be eligible to receive a room upgrade, a welcome amenity, and late check-out.
Additionally, as a Titanium member, you’ll receive early check-in, brand-specific benefits, as well as the ability to share your status to friends and family.
Status Match Opportunity
If you’re an elite member with a competing hotel program, you may be eligible for a status match with GHA Discovery.
To see if you qualify, simply email email@example.com with a screenshot or a photo of your card that includes your membership number, status level, and expiry date.
GHA Discovery is the loyalty program of the largest alliance of independent hotels, Global Hotel Alliance. The program covers 40 brands and 800 properties in 100 countries — there’s no reason for you to not join for free.
As you stay at GHA properties, you can earn and redeem Discovery Dollars, which are at-par with the US Dollar.
With redemptions tied to their cost in cash, you’d be hard-pressed to get outsized value through GHA Discovery. However, being a member provides you access to member rates, stay offers, and local offers that make your membership worthwhile.