For the past couple of years I’ve been fortunate enough to be a “Royal Ambassador” member in the Priority Club program. For those not familiar with the benefits of Royal Ambassador, check out this post I made a while back.
I’ve had some unforgettable stays as a Royal Ambassador, like my stay at the InterContinental Bali, where I got upgraded to a Jimbaran Suite, or my stay at the InterContinental San Francisco, where I got upgraded to a Bay Suite. Overall I’ve found Royal Ambassador status to be great, and many agree that it’s the best top tier status of any hotel chain.
Unfortunately I’m being “downgraded” to Ambassador at the end of the month, and I don’t see myself re-upping my status back to Royal Ambassador anytime soon. At first I was bummed about it, but then I’ve noticed that overall the program is slowly being devalued. Unlike other programs, this devaluation doesn’t come in the form of concrete policy changes, but rather more “consistency.”
Usually consistency is a great thing, but in this case it’s not. While all InterContinental hotels guarantee a two level upgrade for Royal Ambassadors, some hotels went above and beyond. One such example was the InterContinental Le Grand Paris, where I stayed this past summer.
What made the Le Grand so special? First of all, they provided more than a two level upgrade. They upgraded Royal Ambassadors to either junior suites or executive rooms with a nice view, and also threw in access to their incredible club lounge, which is probably the best one I’ve ever had access to. Add to that their full honoring of Royal Ambassador benefits on award stays (which they technically don’t have to do, and even in practice most hotels don’t honor), and this is one fantastic hotel.
Well, as of this week the IC Le Grand no longer grants Royal Ambassadors club access. They are, however, offering Royal Ambassadors a “special deal,” charging them 90 Euro/night for access, instead of the normal rate of 120 Euro/night.
While this might not seem all that significant, it’s just another example of consistency which sucks. The IC Le Grand is now a middle-of-the-road IC as far as elite benefits go, but it feels like so much less. Unfortunately there are other properties making similar changes in the interest of consistency, so I fear the best days of Royal Ambassador are over.
Oh well, it was nice while it lasted….