Posted by Ric Garrido

Preferred Hotel Group operates iPrefer loyalty program with over 450 independent luxury and upscale hotel and resort members located around the globe.

Looking over the hotels in the U.S. directory, I see 9 hotels in 8 states listed as part of the Preferred Hotel Group are hotels I have visited. I realized while writing this piece that some of my best travel memories over the past 25 years happened while staying at a Preferred Hotel Group property.

Preferred Hotel Group iPrefer adds points to its existing loyalty program.

On August 15, 2013 the iPrefer hotel loyalty program changed to a hotel loyalty points program. The iPrefer loyalty program has been in place for some years, however, it was a typical luxury hotel style recognition program for guests. There were no points earned for stays.

How do I enroll in iPrefer?

Enroll online at www.iPrefer.com or www.preferredhotelgroup.com or at any participating Preferred Hotel Group hotel.

Earning Points in iPrefer

Spend USD $1 = 1 point earned

As of yesterday, the iPrefer hotel loyalty program launched a points based program earning 1 point per $1 of hotel rate spend.

The rules are not clearly defined regarding points earned for incidental hotel spend like dining, activities and spa. This vague aspect of iPrefer looks to be variable among hotel members.

Can I earn points for non-room charges, such a dining in the hotel restaurant?

Some hotels may offer additional point earning opportunities including spa, restaurant, gift shop, and resort charges, but this is at the discretion of the hotel and is not automatically included in point earning.

 

iPrefer points are a currency redemption program like AccorHotels.

There is little gaming opportunity with the iPrefer points program since points are only exchangeable for hotel credit certificates. And the rate is not good.

Burning Points

Points earned are only valued at a rate of about 2% of hotel spend.

Reward Certificate      Points required

US$50                          2,500

US$100                        5,000

US$250                        12,500

US$500                        25,000

Spend $2,500 to earn 2,500 points and your points are worth a $50 hotel credit. That is only a 2% rebate value for points.

iPrefer Reward Certificates do not expire and are valid until redeemed at a participating hotel.

Reward Certificates are available in USD/GBP/EUR 50, USD/GBP/EUR 100, USD/GBP/EUR 250, or USD/GBP/EUR 500. Other currencies and denominations may be added in the future.

Are my past stays eligible for points?

No. Points will be awarded for qualifying stays at participating hotels with an arrival date after August 15, 2013. Points will not be rewarded for stays prior to this date.

Do iPrefer points expire?

Points will expire after 24 months of membership inactivity. Activity is defined as an eligible stay, point purchase, or point redemption into a Reward Certificate. You will forfeit your current balance when your points expire and you will be downgraded to the lowest tier.

Since iPrefer points expire after 24 months of inactivity, your points should be redeemed for certificates whenever possible. iPrefer reward certificates do not expire.

Is an iPrefer Credit Card coming?

This is purely speculation on my part. I have to wonder if the low redemption value of iPrefer points is setting the framework for the ever so popular credit card affiliation. 2% cash is a reasonable value for a credit card return for someone who pockets a card for periodic vacation purposes.

2% rebate is a low return for a hotel loyalty program, but combined with credit card marketing, this could be the foundation necessary for a lucrative credit card venture.

Hotel credit cards from Hyatt and Club Carlson and expanded availability of hotel loyalty affiliated credit cards across the globe signals this trend of travel providers and banks will continue growth.

I would not be surprised to see an iPrefer loyalty credit card on the market in a couple of years. Again, an iPrefer credit card in the future is only my speculation. I have no industry knowledge on the matter.

iPrefer Elite Tiers

iPrefer has three levels of membership at Silver, Gold and Platinum.

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iPrefer Benefits link

Silver Tier = 0 to 4,999 points

  • Points for eligible stays
  • Complimentary Internet
  • Priority early check-in/late check-out privileges, when available

Gold Tier = 5,000 to 14,999 points

  • Points for eligible stays
  • Complimentary Internet
  • Priority early check-in/late check-out privileges, when available
  • Room upgrade, when available
  • Welcome amenity, unique to each hotel

Platinum Tier = 15,000+ points

  • Points for eligible stays
  • Complimentary Internet
  • Priority early check-in/late check-out privileges, when available
  • Room upgrade, when available
  • Welcome amenity, unique to each hotel
  • Physical member card, on request
  • 10% bonus points per stay

Elite status is based on 12-month calendar from anniversary date.

If you qualified for Platinum Tier on September 1, 2013 after splurging for the honeymoon vacation, then you have until September 1, 2014 to requalify for Platinum Tier by earning 15,000 points or you will be downgraded on September 1, 2014 to the next lower level Gold Tier for the next 12 months. This soft landing is a nice feature for someone who actually spent the money to earn Platinum Tier.

How do I get upgraded to Gold or Platinum tiers?

You must earn 5,000 points within one year of your membership joining date (anniversary) to move from Silver to Gold tier status, and 15,000 points to be upgraded from Gold to Platinum tier status.

You do not have to wait for your anniversary to be upgraded, you will move immediately to the next tier when you reach the next points level. Tier benefits will remain in place through your next anniversary date regardless of your activity.

How do I maintain my Gold or Platinum tier status?

You can maintain your status by reaching the same or higher points levels during the 12-month period following your anniversary date. If you do not maintain the qualifying amount of points during this time, you will be downgraded to the next lower tier on your next anniversary date.

Bottom line is spend $15,000 per year with iPrefer and you actually get a physical loyalty card to hold in your hand and 10% elite bonus points to bump your hotel spend rebate to 2.2%.

To be eligible for points and other member benefits, bookings must contain a valid iPrefer member number and be made through iPrefer.com, PreferredHotelGroup.com or related Preferred Hotel Group brand websites, the Preferred Hotel Group call center, travel agent using Preferred Hotel Group booking codes, or directly with a participating hotel. Be sure to provide your iPrefer member number when making a reservation to ensure you receive your benefits.

Free internet for iPrefer members. This is the primary benefit of joining iPrefer for free. Early check-in and late check-out, when available is the other primary benefit listed as a base-level iPrefer loyalty program member. Fairmont Hotels also gives free internet to its President’s Club loyalty members in a similar competitive hotel market segment to Preferred Hotel Group.

Preferred Hotel Group Memories

Many of the hotel properties affiliated with Preferred Hotel Group are historic hotels. The Huntington Hotel and Post Ranch Inn are the only two hotels where I have been since they were affiliated with Preferred Hotel Group. the other seven hotels are places I traveled over the past 25 years. Here are some of my memories at these hotels.

Samoset Resort in coastal Rockport, Maine for 7 nights on a SkyAuction vacation for under $200 all-in sometime over ten years ago. We first visited the property in the early 1990s when we stayed at a bargain motel in Rockport near Samoset one snowy December. Much of our vacation away from the California coast in winter was hanging out on Samoset Resort walking the snow covered grounds along the rocky seashore. We lived in Rockport for a couple of months in 1994 and the area has great memories of buoy bells with frequent visits to Samoset Resort. Samoset is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

Election energy October 1992 in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas where I stayed at the Capital Hotel the week before William Jefferson Clinton was elected President of the United States. The property is now in the Preferred Boutique Collection.

Samoset Resort in coastal Rockport, Maine for 7 nights on a SkyAuction vacation for under $200 all-in sometime around 2000. We first visited the property in the early 1990s when we stayed at a bargain motel in Rockport near Samoset one snowy December. Much of our vacation away from the California coast in winter was hanging out on Samoset Resort walking the snow covered grounds along the rocky seashore. We lived in a tent on the seashore of Rockport for a couple of months in 1994 and the area has great memories of buoy bells at night with frequent visits to Samoset Resort during the day. Samoset is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho is a great memory from around 1993 when I attended an education conference and got invited to a party in the Penthouse Suite. Hazy memory of a clear bottom hot tub overhanging in the open air of a high floor balcony on a cool night. Coeur d’Alene is a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, Arizona was a road trip stop on my way to the Freddie Awards in downtown Phoenix April 2008. The property was part of Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection back then. The place hosts tennis tournaments and the lobby was loaded with western cowboy artifacts. The Wigwam is now part of Summit Hotels & Resorts.

In San Francisco there is the Fairmont at Nob Hill, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins and The Huntington Hotel & Nob Hill Spa all located around the intersection of California and Mason Street. The Huntington Hotel is a Preferred Hotels & Resort member.

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California is paradise with an ocean view, if you can afford to stay the night in a room on the cliffs. This hotel is part of Preferred Boutique. This property was voted the #1 romantic hotel in the USA in recent years by one of those major travel magazines. Free afternoon tours Monday through Thursday in the off season if you want a free taste of paradise.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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2 Responses

  1. I recently stayed at an iPrefer property. It was great. BUT this program is a bit of a downgrade because previously just signing up for iPrefer you get a room upgrade and an amenity (for me, a bottle of wine). Now you have to spend at least $5000 for these perks.

  2. IMHO this is horrible value.

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