The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) is a collection of more than 430 luxury hotels in 80 countries. The reach of hotel loyalty programs has even encompassed the luxury sector over the past couple years. Leaders Club Rewards has revamped its loyalty program for 2011 with some new benefits for its two paid membership program levels.
LHW properties are truly luxury properties with names like The Ritz London and The Ritz Paris. Several former Starwood Hotels rebranded and are currently LHW properties like BLUE Sydney- a Taj Hotel (formerly Starwood Hotels W Sydney), Langham Melbourne (formerly Luxury Collection Sheraton Towers Southgate) and Rayavadee, Thailand (formerly Luxury Collection).
My primary purpose in writing about Leaders Club Rewards is to share changes to the Leaders Club Rewards program. According to my post from April 2010, the last time I looked at LHW closely, the paid membership levels for Leaders Club have dropped substantially, but apparently the free membership option is gone. FlyerTalk members reported the free membership option had sketchy benefits anyway. All in all, it appears these changes actually may provide a better loyalty program for members.
Leaders Club Rewards Membership Levels
- Access = $100/year (April 2010 was $300)
- Unlimited = $1,200/year (April 2010 was $2,000)
Leaders Club Rewards Access Benefits = $100/year.
- A one-category room upgrade (subject to availability)
- The opportunity to earn complimentary nights at any Leading Hotel (5 stays = 1 free night)
- Complimentary continental breakfast for two (daily) [NEW benefit]
- Free Internet access (where available) [NEW benefit]
- Special rate privileges available only to Leaders Club members
- A unique welcome gift at each Leading Hotel
- Early check-in/late check-out considerations (subject to availability)
- Invitations to local Leaders Club events
Leaders Club Rewards Unlimited Benefits = $1,200/year.
- Guaranteed room upgrade at time of booking.
- Priority Pass membership for access to over 600 VIP airport lounges. (NEW)
- Global concierge service.
Loyalty Traveler analysis
One 2-night stay at any LHW property will likely have a full rebate in value-added benefits for the $100 annual Access membership fee with the benefits of free breakfast and internet. This is basically a $50+ daily benefit at most LHW hotels. And if you receive a room upgrade, then certainly the $100 annual fee will have been a worthwhile investment.
Another difference in 2011 is the free night earned after 5 LHW stays in a calendar year with stays in at least two different member hotels. This benefit is now only offered with a paid Leaders Club membership.
Free Night Certificate
Earning a free night:
- Free night certificate is earned for every 5 LHW stays,
- Must include at least two different LHW hotels.
- Reservations must be made through LHW sites at publicly available rates.
Redeeming a free night:
- Free night certificate is valid for one year.
- Free night certificate is valid for any LHW property.
- Only one certificate may be redeemed per stay.
- Free night certificate must be redeemed by Leaders Club member and is not transferrable.
These are straightforward rules with the primary downside being the restriction of just one free night certificate allowed per hotel stay. So either you have a free one night stay or you pay for additional nights.
I guess this is a smart move on the loyalty program’s side to prevent loyalty travelers from racking up 5 free nights at the lowest priced hotels and redeeming at the highest priced hotels which is a strategy I advocated in my April 2010 post. The one free night restriction is not too member friendly though.
Spending $1,200 for Leaders Club Unlimited membership is a hefty price to pay unless you are planning many nights at LHW properties. Priority Pass membership is a $100 to $400 value depending on what level of membership is provided and the LHW website does not state. Confirmed upgrades at time of booking is a valuable benefit, but whether there is an additional $1,100 value premium over the Access level will depend entirely on your hotel stay pattern. FlyerTalk members state Virtuoso has similar benefits.