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As you may have read, last night it was announced that IHG is acquiring Kimpton Hotels. If you haven’t yet seen the news, this USA Today story does a good job covering the basics. IHG is pretty massive over 4,600 properties while Kimpton currently has just 62, all in the United States. Clearly that number is just a drop in the bucket compared to the massive number of Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, Hotel Indigo properties and more. So while the number of new properties that IHG will bring into the fold is pretty low comparatively speaking to the number of properties they already have, I still view this is a big deal.
While IHG properties are very easy to find since there are literally thousands of them, many of them offer little more than a place to lay a head at night. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but sometimes it is fun to stay at a hotel that looks and feels like the city where it is built. Kimpton Hotels are full of personality and style, and they are located in some pretty great spots including: San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Antonio, Savannah, Seattle, Vero Beach, Salt Lake City, and even Aspen! There is currently the Hotel Van Zandt under construction in Austin that should open in Spring 2015.
I have only stayed at a few Kimpton Hotels, mostly in the DC area, but I have really enjoyed every single stay. You can check out a review of my stay at the Donovan House in Washington DC here. From the animal print robes, to the lobby happy hours, to the funky styling, pet friendly policies, and personalized service, they are a very strong boutique hotel chain.
Kimpton currently has their own rewards program, Kimpton Karma Rewards, that rewards members based on the number of nights stayed annually, not on a points system the way IHG Rewards and many other programs work. Karma Rewards also gave members fun perks like a “raid the mini bar’ card, and even provided high tier elite members an award night and $50 food credit at new hotels.
While IHG does have an elite recognition program within a program with the Intercontinental Ambassadors, it seems unlikely to me that Kimpton Karma Rewards will remain after the companies are fully integrated, but I very much hope that much of what makes Kimpton so unique and fun will be preserved after they are folded into the IHG family. They have announced they are keeping the Kimpton management team in San Francisco.
I can easily see why this acquisition will probably sting for some Kimpton Karma elites, but for those of us who utilize IHG more heavily than Kimpton, it should open up some unique opportunities in the coming year or two. The possibility of PointBreaks at a a Kimpton Hotel is very exciting, as is redeeming award nights and annual credit card nights at Kimpton Hotels. While it can certainly save you a few bucks, it is hard to get super excited about redeeming an award night at a Holiday Inn. On the other hand, it is very easy to get excited about redeeming a free night at the Sky Hotel in Aspen, 70 Park Avenue in Manhattan, Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, or Epic Hotel in Miami.
Hotels can just be a place to sleep at night along your journey, or when done really well, they can be an exciting part of your journey. Kimpton properties often fall into the latter category. I know I am excited to see how this new relationship unfolds.
What are your thoughts about IHG acquiring Kimpton?