If you were looking forward to staying at the Holiday Inn on business trips and redeeming those points for a flashier vacation, you finally have your chance. IHG Rewards has begun offering awards at hotels in its Kimpton brand, which it acquired a couple years ago.
I have not been able to confirm this independently, but it appears that all my searches for U.S. locations are coming up negative (even for non-Kimpton brands). So there may be a glitch in the website. Others have reported seeing rates at the upper end of IHG’s award chart, such as 50,000 to 60,000 points for properties in Seattle and San Francisco. At least one person has seen 70,000 points in New York. It appears that IHG’s new award chart with higher redemption prices is already being implemented.
So is it worthwhile to redeem your IHG Rewards points for stays at Kimpton properties? I’d say so. Many IHG brands are fairly corporate, starting with the omnipresent Holiday Inn Express. Even the InterContinental brand has the feeling of a business hotel. When I stayed at the InterContinental Strings in Tokyo last year it seemed every single guest was traveling alone. The Clement in Monterey was a little more tourist-oriented, but that is the exception to the rule.
Kimpton’s brands, meanwhile, are differentiated almost to a fault. The only “chain” that exists is the business-oriented Monaco. Other properties are boutique hotels. When staying at the EPIC in Miami, the Alexis Hotel in Seattle, or the Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, there was no subtle tell that they were all part of the same group. Under the old Kimpton Rewards program, even the welcome amenities and other benefits were tailored to the guest.
It remains to be seen how that unique character is allowed to grow under the IHG umbrella. Buying a unique brand only to squash it seems pointless. But if it can breath some new life into IHG and make collecting its points more appealing, that seems like a win. I’ll certainly be taking a fresh look at redemption options on future trips.