Earlier this week, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants sent out an email alerting its customers to changes to its InTouch loyalty program. I happen to be an Inner Circle member, status that I obtained through a match from Diamond status with Hyatt’s Gold Passport program. I’ve only stayed with them a few times since then — and arranged for my wedding party to stay at The Alexis, one of their Seattle properties — and have been mightily impressed. Fortunately the changes aren’t worth worrying about much.
Be aware that anyone can get some of these benefits, including free WiFi and a $10 raid-the-minibar credit, just by signing up for InTouch. Inner Circle is the only real elite tier and includes a suite upgrade based on availability, a special welcome amenity tailored to your request, and a free night and $50 restaurant credit at each of their new properties every year. In four stays I’ve gotten four very nice suites, so I can’t complain about that.
Here are the changes coming up:
- The $10 raid the minibar credit must be marked for either the minibar or restaurant bar credit. Not a big deal. Frankly, it makes me feel more comfortable that I know they’ll waive the credit rather than let some mysterious charge appear after I check out.
- Reward nights will expire after one year instead of two, a change that was announced earlier last summer. Not a big deal. It encourages you to actually use your nights rather than sit around and be forgotten.
- You can request credit for past stays, up to six months before registering with InTouch. This is an improvement in the program terms but means little to me since my hope is most people are signing up anyway when they try to access the hotel WiFi. But I guess some people do forget to add their number to their reservations.
- 48 hour guaranteed availability is no longer a benefit for Inner Circle members. Kimpton does have smaller hotels, so they can sell out quickly at times. But this is a benefit typically used only by business travelers, and some of these people probably have status with another chain because of Kimpton’s limited portfolio.
I’m glad to see the free night benefit isn’t changing, but then again they have been extremely difficult for me to use even when planning my trips 2-3 weeks in advance. I made two failed attempts in 2013 at new properties in Portland and Philadelphia and ended up staying elsewhere. Now I’m doubting how useful this benefit really is.
There were six new hotels in 2013 eligible for the free night benefit. In 2014 there are only three, and indications are that the free night offers will be more restrictive. For example, the Amara Resort is the only one currently available and only until April 1. The other two in Miami and Savannah are not yet open.
But four new hotels are in the works for 2015. I’m more excited because they include places I really want to visit, like Austin and Grand Cayman (their first international property). I’m not wild about Pittsburgh. And Seattle will get its fourth Kimpton hotel! The Palladian Building, built in 1910, is just a few blocks from me in the West Edge district near downtown and the new Amazon headquarters.