Bart Lapers

InterContinental Royal Ambassador

Pic: My InterContinental Paris Le Grand – Royal Suite Bedroom (March 2011)
Twitter is my number one internet and mobile phone application since 2007.  It has provide me with some incredible value in the past four years.  Here’s an example on how twitter created travel value for me.  After checking out at the InterContinental Seoul Parnas last month, I tweeted my disappointment about the high bill for internet access and minibar usage.  One of my fellow twitter followers responded with an incredible offer.  He had achieved Royal Ambassador status (highest elite status at IHG) in 2010 and was offering me his InterContinental Royal Ambassador Referral Certificate.  The qualification criteria to become an InterContinental Royal Ambassador are unpublished, but anecdotal evidence indicates Ambassador members need to stay 50 to 60 nights in one year at IHG hotels (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites) with at least 3 hotel stays at different InterContinental Hotels.  That’s quite a challenge!  Once you achieve the Royal Ambassador level, you can also invite one member.  Thanks to my tweets I was invited by a very generous Royal Ambassador follower.

Pic: My room at the InterContinental Shenzhen, China. (January 2010)

It took IHG a while to process my Royal Ambassador Referral Certificate, but today I finally unlocked the InterContinental Royal Platinum Ambassador badge.  That one word ‘Royal’ comes with some great additional benefits:
• Guaranteed two level room upgrade (i.e. Executive Room, Suite or Club Room)
Complimentary mini-bar: unlimited mini-bar beverages free of charge
• Guaranteed early check-in (8 am)
Free internet access
• Complimentary Platinum level membership in the Priority Club program which is applicable to the other brands of the InterContinental portfolio (Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Starbridge Suites and Candlewood Suites)
• 1000 Priority Club Royal Ambassador Bonus Points per stay

Pic: My room at the InterContinental Hua Hin, Thailand (February 2011)

As an InterContinental Ambassador I already had these benefits:
• Guaranteed room upgrade
• Guaranteed late check-out (4 pm)
• Free movie – One complimentary Pay-TV film per stay
• Fresh fruit and mineral water – in your room upon arrival
• Guaranteed room availability with 24-hour advance reservation
• Complimentary newspaper each morning
• Complimentary use of health club facilities (fitness gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi etc most hotels)
• Welcome gift upon arrival (often something reflecting the local culture at participating Hotels)
• Complimentary weekend night

Pic: InterContinental Hua Hin lobby, Thailand (February 2011)

As I’ll be staying at the InterContinental London Park Lane tomorrow, I’ll have the opportunity to benefit my Royal Ambassador status from day one. 🙂

Frequent Flyer – The Movie

Frequent Flyer on Vimeo

Loyalty Programs: My Account Statuses

PRIORITY CLUB

  • Level: Platinum Ambassador
  • Expiration date: 01/13 (Platinum) 01/12 (Ambassador)
  • Qualifying nights in 2011: 23
  • Number of points: 225,987
  • Points earned in 2011: 234,637

How did I earn these points?  Obviously by resting my head for 23 nights at IHG properties in the first 4 months of 2011, but more importantly, by signing up for every possible Priority Club Promotion (check FrequentFlyerBonuses.com, PriorityClubInsider and FlyerTalk.com)  This earned me 109,637 points.  So how did I end up with 225,987 points?  Well, I bought them. Last week, DiscoverAmerica.com had a promotion where you could buy PriorityClub points at a discount (compared to the official rate on PriorityClub.com)  I bought 5 packages of 25,000 points for a total of 751,50USD (527,95EUR on Amex)  I’ll keep these 125,000 point aside to spend on days when room rates at InterContinental hotels are very high.  Example:  A night at IC Amstel Amsterdam could cost 625 euro (i.e. Queen’s Day) Booking it using points would cost me 40,000 points, thus only 168,94EUR (527,95EUR / 125,000 * 40,000 = 168,94EUR)

How can you take advantage of buying points? Well, you can buy a maximum of 40,000 points per year, the official way, via PriorityClub.com  for 460USD.  Not really interesting, except when you have no points at hand and are confronted with room rates higher than 460USD.  But there’s an other, much more economical, way of buying points.  As soon as you have 5000 points on your Priority Club account, you can start booking reward nights with points+cash.  Example:  A Holiday Inn express charges 15,000 points for a reward night. Choose the option 5000 points + 60USD cash for the remaining 10,000 points.  These rewards nights are cancelable, so what happens when you cancel the reward booking minutes after the confirmation? Your original 5,000 points AND the extra 10,000 points which you bought for 60USD are transferred back to your account.  A loophole to buy points at 60USD per 10,000.  More info at PriorityClubInsider.com Disclaimer: I prefer not to use this method extensively as I want to avoid my PriorityClub account being suspended.  That’s why I preferred to buy points at a similar rate via the DiscoverAmerica promo.

Where did I spent points?  Spent three free nights at IHG properties year-to-date: 2 nights at Crowne Plaza Times Square on NYE and one night at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand (picture report and video of my Royal Suite) Those were not paid by points rather by free night awards from last year’s Sweet Dilemma promotion.  I did spent 20,000 points on an upcoming reward night at IC Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport for my South African Mileage Run.  The total award fee was 30,000 points.  I chose the “points + cash” option: 20,000 points + 60USD.  The best available rate for my May 21, 2011 stay was 291EUR.

HYATT GOLD PASSPORT

  • Level: Diamond
  • Expiration date: 30 Jun 2011
  • Qualifying nights in 2011: 2
  • Number of points: 31,669
  • Points earned in 2011: 30,316

How did I earn these points?  In April I signed up for Hyatt Gold Passport Status Match Challenge  Before I only had 1353 points on my account of two nights in 2010.  My two night stay at Park Hyatt Seoul earned me 6316 points.  Again, I used a DiscoverAmerica offer to buy 24,000 points for 250USD (175,43EUR on Visa)  This offer had a much better value than the DiscoverAmerica PriorityClub promotion and was sold-out in minutes.  You can buy up to 40,000 points per year at Hyatt.com, but those 24,000 points would have cost me 576.00USD  Have a look at the Hyatt Gold Passport Redemption Rates to see what 24,000 points can buy me.

I expect to earn an other 25,000 points with the Hyatt Possibilities promotion which is running until June 30, 2011.  My next stay is June 3 – 13 at the Hyatt Regency Cancun.

MILES AND MORE

  • Level: Frequent Traveller – Star Alliance Silver
  • Expiration date: 02/13
  • Number of award miles: 136,033
  • Number of status miles earned in 2011: 9,637

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Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul


Pic: Bedroom Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Park Suite King 1905 at Park Hyatt Seoul, loved it!  For the first two nights of my Hyatt Diamond status match challenge, I had picked Park Hyatt Seoul.  Not the cheapest option, but an excellent choice to burn my first Hyatt Gold Passport confirmed suite upgrade certificate.  Each Hyatt GP Diamond member receives 4 “Suite Upgrade Awards” per year which can be used to convert any paid booking (eligible rates) to a Suite for a maximum of 7 consecutive nights.

Pic: Lounge Area of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Living room of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Living room of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Hyatt Diamond Welcome Amenity – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Luxury is Personal – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathroom of Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathroom of Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathtub – Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Nighttime view from Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Check the timelapse I made from the incredible nighttime view from my Park Suite King.

Pic: Dolsot Bibimbab at The Lounge – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Video: Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)