Posted by Ric Garrido

My experience with IHG Priority Club Reward stays as a lowly Platinum is a bit different than the complaint I commonly read from InterContinental Royal Ambassadors about no guaranteed benefits on reward stays. One of the best features of Priority Club Rewards for me is regularly finding the option for higher category rooms when booking reward nights.

This weekend I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Simi Valley on a PointBreaks night for 5,000 points. That was equivalent to a $30 room based on the price points were sold this week through U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways sponsored by American Express.

Simi Valley is in Ventura County just across from the Los Angeles County  line; a city best known for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the trial location for the police officers in the Rodney King beating case when the acquittal of the officers 20 years ago led to the deadly riots in Los Angeles.

The most interesting aspect of the area to me was seeing all the orange groves around Highway 118 driving east from Ventura, California. The agricultural valley filled with orange groves reminded me of the California my mother describes when she was a child in Los Angeles County in the 1940s.

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Ventura County orange groves near Moorpark, California.

As with most of my Priority Club Reward bookings this past year, there was a choice of several room categories for this stay on points at the Holiday Inn Express Simi Valley. There was the choice of a standard room with a King Bed or Two Queens. Then, there was the option for the jacuzzi tub room.

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Naturally I chose the upgraded room just like with my last reservation when I booked a bi-level loft suite on points at a Holiday Inn.

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Jacuzzi Tub room at Simi Valley Holiday Inn Express.

In general the room was in good condition. The shower stall was nicer than many upper upscale hotels.

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The room was large with a desk and table.

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The hotel cabinet had a flat screen TV, refrigerator and microwave. 

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The courtyard grand piano shaped pool had a classic California hotel appeal with palm trees rising over the three story high tiled roof.

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Outdoor corridors are not a detraction for me, particularly when only paying $30 for a room night with free internet and breakfast included.

Priority Club Pointbreaks are a great deal and these low rate offers tend to take me to places I might not otherwise visit.

InterContinental Royal Ambassadors might have a legitimate complaint about a lack of benefits and upgrades on reward nights. I have never been in the loyalty ranks of Royal Ambassador.

My perspective from the lowly Priority Club Platinum elite level is the frequent occurrence of upgraded category room options when booking reward stays on points. For me that feature of the hotel loyalty program is a competitive advantage I see with Priority Club Rewards.

6 Responses

  1. I would almost say outdoor corridors are a requirement in Southern California (as long as you’re not near the freeway). They’re so much more pleasant in the right surroundings.

    It’s good to know Plats get upgrades. I really hadn’t thought through what I might be getting when I bought all those PC points.

  2. I’m a long-time platinum with PC and have been given an upgraded room at check-in even on points stays in Washington, DC (of course assuming they had one when they blocked my room earlier in the day or at check-in) and not just when I’ve had a paid night (business) coupled with a points night for a lesser room (personal), in which case I’m asking at check-in about staying in the same room. Staff in smaller hotels/lower end brands, and certainly those in off the beaten track places, sometimes seem actually excited to have a platinum member.

  3. This isn’t a situation of one room type being booked and then the traveler being offered a complimentary upgrade at check-in time. What’s being pointed out here is that sometimes award nights (including PointBreaks) are offered on multiple room types at the same points price, even though those different room types would price out very differently as revenue rooms.

  4. As a former IHG employee I feel the need to explain the complaints from Royal Ambassador guests regarding upgrades, etc.

    The Royal Ambassador program was meant to target guests of the higher end brands. (i.e. Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza) Employees of these hotels are well versed in the program and know what to do when one appears. Hotels such as Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, etc. are not usually trained at all on protocol for the Royal Ambassador program and have no idea what it means. Yes, this is a training issue across the board, but IHG doesn’t feel it necessary to fix this. A Plat will get the red carpet treatment (as they should) and a RA will get ignored because the FDA doesn’t know what the designation means. 90% of the complaints that come from RA’s about upgrades/benefits come from lower end properties like Holiday Inn. The other 10% come from angry RA’s when things are not available. It should be mentioned that Gold/Plat/RA benefits are specifically stated “Upon Availability”.

  5. Actually Andrew, all RAs ARE Plats!!!!

    Comment by Gregorygrady on April 23rd, 2012 at 10:04 am
  6. Gregorygrady, yes, I’m aware, but when the reservation is booked it goes into the system as RA, not Plat. Unless they’ve changed the way they do it recently. When I got to my previous IHG property I had to train everyone on what RA meant. The only reason why I knew was because I was one. They had no idea the program existed.

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