I’ve followed in Lucky’s footsteps and asked for status matches to Alaska Airlines’ MilagePlan and Kimpton Hotels’ InTouch loyalty programs this year. Alaska happily upgraded me to MVP Gold, and I’ll talk more about them later. Right now I want to focus on Kimpton, where I think I may end up getting close to one free night for each one I buy thanks to my new Inner Circle status. That is a ridiculously good value, hence the title above.
Earning Free Nights and Status
The fact that we’ve already reserved a wedding block at one of Kimpton’s properties in downtown Seattle helped make my decision. Kimpton doesn’t have a points-based loyalty program, instead functioning much like a punch card system that awards one free night after every seven eligible stays or 20 eligible nights (and only for one room per night). Those seven stays or 20 nights are also enough to earn elite status in Kimpton’s first tier, InTouch. Because I’m already a Diamond member with Hyatt, I was able to get a match to their second tear, Inner Circle, which normally requires 15 stays or 45 nights.
To give some perspective, Starwood offers elite night credit for up to three rooms on the same reservation, and most hotel loyalty programs offer points based on the total charges, making it easier to earn elite status or free nights. I think that Kimpton requires an awful lot of nights if you go that route. Fortunately, many of my stays are short, and the number of required stays is fairly low.
More Free Nights
Let’s assume that I requalify for Inner Circle this year after receiving my status match. That likely means I will stay 15 times (not 45 nights), and earn two free nights as a result. My 15th stay actually carries over to the next year for the purposes of earning more free nights, but it won’t count toward requalification in 2014.
Inner Circle members also get a special benefit of one free night and a $50 dining credit at all new Kimpton hotels. You get until December 30 (they’re smart — no New Year’s Eve) to use this benefit, and there are six such properties in 2013. I can see myself taking advantage of most of them. Megan and I have talked about visiting La Jolla and Santa Barbara, for example, or I could stay at the RiverPlace Hotel if I can organize an event for readers in Portland. Obviously a free night doesn’t count toward status, but I bet I could make it work if I purchased a second night at the prevailing rate.
This seemed too good to be true, so I followed up with the Kimpton representative who granted the status match. Do I actually get one night at each new property or just one night total, to be used at any one of the six options?
As an Inner Circle member you are able to book one free night at each of our six new properties after you have three paid eligible nights. These complimentary nights are available until the end of December 2013, as long as there is availability to do so.
Great news! Status matched members like me need to pay for three nights first, since a new rule went into effect March 18. But I can live with that if it means six free nights. 😀 Keep in mind the $50 dining credit is not available at the Hotel Wilshire.
Finally, Kimpton offers two free nights if you stay at 10 different properties. You get a third and fourth free night if you manage 15 and 20 different properties, respectively. As a leisure traveler, I try not to visit the same city too many times, or some cities have multiple properties, so I am almost certain to complete all 15 stays at 15 different hotels. That means three more free nights.
Add this up: I get two free nights from requalifying for Inner Circle, three free nights for doing so at 15 different properties, and six free night thanks to the new hotel benefit offered to Inner Circle members. That is 11 free nights in exchange for paying for 15 nights. I will probably pay for a few more than that, but you see the possibility. It’s better than Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights.
Lucky mentioned the excellent customer service Kimpton provides its members. I should note that before I even asked for a status match, I had already contacted the hotel and inquired about getting our wedding block discount extended to include a large suite for Megan and her bridesmaids. The hotel went one further and offered to comp the upgrade if we just booked a standard room at the already discounted price. There’s a good likelihood they may offer a second free upgrade that we can pass on to her parents. Normally Inner Circle members are already promised a one-category upgrade based on availability at check-in.
A few other key perks are a $30 in-room spa credit (I’m sure Megan will love taking advantage of that), and some free snacks. InTouch members receive a $10-15 “Raid the Minibar” credit, and Inner Circle members can specify a snack and beverage they’d like to have waiting in their room. Inner Circle members also get a complimentary treat when dining at Kimpton restaurants and exclusive access to the CEO’s email address in case regular channels are insufficient.