Posted by Ric Garrido

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.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, California - LHW member hotel

12 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ric Garrido, BoardingArea. BoardingArea said: Loyalty Traveler – LHW Leaders Club Rewards new loyalty program benefits: The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) … http://bit.ly/g07u5R [...]

  2. The free night earning is nice but seems a little restrictive. If I stay 7 nights at one location and then 3 night at another, do I earn 2 free certs? Would be nice to be able to redeem more than one free night per stay if you had some paid nights also. Say redeem one free night per stay and redeem one extra free night for every N paid nights during the same stay.

    Comment by Paul Eccles on February 3rd, 2011 at 1:03 pm
  3. Paul – No. One free night is earned for 5 STAYS. Your example is only 2 stays (one 7-night stay and one 3-night stay).

    I like your suggestion Paul. Allowing one free night certificate and then a free night for every paid night would be a great improvement. The current policy is way too restrictive. My bottom line though is the loyalty traveler should be allowed to redeem as many free nights as earned in consecutive free award nights.

    The type of properties representative in LHW are truly the kind of places you do not want to have only a one night stay. As a vacationer I stayed at the W Sydney and Sheraton Melbourne in Australia when these currently LHW properties were Starwoods and two nights at each hotel was hardly enough for the magical locations of these hotels.

    W Sydney is now BLUE Taj hotel Sydney with close proximity to Sydney Opera House that Kelley and I first saw when walking around the path in the park on the east side of the harbor from the Opera House. It was a totally unexpected sight. And then we saw thousands of large bats fly around the park in the full moon light. WOW was more than appropriate!

    I do not know what changes were made to the hotel since Taj, but the location was fantastic for us.

    And in Melbourne the Langham has a Yarra River location with beautiful views of the city. We had a three room suite and this was a hotel room where the bathroom qualified as one of the three rooms in the suite. Huge!

    We stayed two nights at Westin Melbourne and I enjoyed the window view more from the Langham Melbourne (Sheraton in 2003).

  4. Ric thanks for correcting me. They should make the free night cert earned by stays or nights (e.g. 5 stays or 12 nights over 2 or more properties).

    So since it is based on stays if I have 5 stays in a row at one property then 5 stays at another, do I get 2 free night certs?

    Comment by Paul Eccles on February 4th, 2011 at 9:54 am
  5. [...] Leaders Club Rewards program changes: Membership fees for Leaders Club Rewards dropped to $100 annual for Access level. Access membership includes complimentary breakfast for two each day of stay and free internet. Unlimited membership is $1,200 annually. Loyalty traveler post Feb 3. [...]

  6. So I just signed up for LHW access level and her is my strategy:

    3 days in the SFO and silicon valley area: 1st night at the Taj Campton Place, 2nd night elsewhere, 3rd night at the Taj Campton place. This should be 2 stays. I do this a few times and I get a few free night certs…

    Using the free nights: Will book the and stay at an SPG hotel in Milan, day-trip to Lake Cuomo and use my LHW for the night, then head back to Milan.

    Same goes for SPG & LHW properties @ & around Machu Pichu. Close enough to use SPG points & day trip to LHW, pack light, and leave stuff at the SPG. Taking advantage of the 1 night at the crazy LHW place, cost: $0.

    That’s just where my head’s at…

  7. @Tom – Sounds like a good plan to me. I like trips where I stay at a hotel for a day, see the sights around that location, then move to another hotel for a day and see the sites around that area.

    This is a good way to maximize stay promotions and burn a free night here and there.

    Other times I save up and redeem for an extended stay somewhere when I want to hang out in a city and not spend time changing hotels.

    These strategies allow me to work loyalty programs in several hotel chains and generally get pretty close to my ideal location by having points and free nights available for hotels in several hotel loyalty programs when rates are high and pick up paid stays where the rates are lower.

  8. [...] Leaders Club Rewards program changes: Membership fees for Leaders Club Rewards dropped to $100 annual for Access level. You can also buy Access level membership for 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. Access membership includes complimentary breakfast for two each day of stay and free internet. Unlimited membership is $1,200 annually. Loyalty traveler post Feb 3. [...]

  9. [...] Leaders Club Rewards program changes: Membership fees for Leaders Club Rewards dropped to $100 annual for Access level. You can also buy Access level membership for 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. Access membership includes complimentary breakfast for two each day of stay and free internet. Unlimited membership is $1,200 annually. Loyalty traveler post Feb 3. [...]

  10. [...] Leaders Club Rewards program changes: Membership fees for Leaders Club Rewards dropped to $100 annual for Access level. You can also buy Access level membership for 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. Access membership includes complimentary breakfast for two each day of stay and free internet.Unlimited membership is $1,200 annually. Loyalty traveler post Feb 3, 2011. [...]

  11. [...] Leaders Club Rewards program changes: Membership fees for Leaders Club Rewards dropped to $100 annual for Access level. You can also buy Access level membership for 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. Access membership includes complimentary breakfast for two each day of stay and free internet. Unlimited membership is $1,200 annually. Loyalty traveler post Feb 3, 2011. [...]

  12. Leaders Club sounds like a good plan on paper, except in reality it’s highly restrictive with benefits – complimentary breakfast, wifi, upgrade, and free night.
    None are eligible if our company’s travel agent not booked through LHW.com website. We understood the free night eligibility, but starting in 2013 LHW informed our traveling employees that no benefits will be availble due to non-LHW booking. NONE. In previous years with the revised Leaders Club, we were offred complimentary breafast, etc.

    In addition, LHW does not staff any supervisor on weekend. All answers must wait for following working Monday.

    Comment by Joseph L. on March 11th, 2013 at 12:08 pm

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