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Almost three years ago I shared the news that the IHG program was improving with the acquisition of Kimpton. Now, almost three years later, we have movement on the amazing Kimpton properties and their Karma Rewards program actually rolling into the IHG Rewards umbrella. This probably isn’t great news for Kimpton Karma members, but by taking three years to roll the two programs into one, it does seem like IHG has given some thought to protecting some of what makes Kimpton special, though it won’t be all good news.
What’s Changing With Kimpton Karma
First things first, Kimpton Karma Rewards will roll into IHG Rewards Club and the two will become one program in early 2018 with a single reward points system. You will begin to earn 10 IHG points per night at Kimpton properties plus applicable elite bonuses. While the Kimpton award nights you have already accumulated at that time will be safe to use with their existing expiration date, they will become IHG award nights. Of course, you will no longer be able to earn a new Kimpton award night with just seven stays (or 20 nights) as they will be switching to the IHG points system where the nights you earn are based on how much money you spend.
Kimpton will covert remaining nights earned towards a free Kimpton stay into IHG points at a ratio of 1,000 points per night accrued as of December 31, 2017, for Tier 1 members and 2,000 points per night accrued as of the same date for higher elites. That is sort of terrible as even at the 2k points per night level if you were 6/7 of the way to a free Kimpton night with one night stays, you now get just 12,000 IHG points for your troubles and nice IHG properties can easily cost 50,000+ points per award night.
Once the programs combine, also gone will be the possibility of earning top tier Kimpton Inner Circle status with as few as seven annual stays if you book during their double stay credits sale or fourteen annual stays outside of the sale. The top tier IHG Spire Elite tier that Kimpton Inner Circle status maps to requires 75 nights annually, so that is a tremendously huge change for Kimpton top tier elites.
The four Kimpton Karma member tier levels will map to the four IHG Rewards Club membership levels as shown below. Karma Inner Circle perks will continue to exist at Kimpton hotels and will be grandfathered into the program in 2018.
One current Kimpton offering that will be retiring is the Kimpton Journey bonus award nights that you can earn by staying at 10, 15, or 20 different Kimpton Hotels in a calendar year. Being able to use IHG points and presumably IHG credit card anniversary nights at Kimpton properties will be a big win for IHG Rewards customers as Kimpton really has some fun, hip, and beautiful properties. That said, I’m pretty sure most of them will price on the higher end of the IHG points pricing scale.
What’s Staying With Kimpton
The Kimpton Chief Commercial Officer, Kathleen Reidenbach, has said that Kimpton “members will continue to enjoy the highly personalized experience that Kimpton delivers.” She goes on to say that this change is a win-win for Kimpton customers, though I’m not so sure. I’d call it more of a win-win-lose. Some of the things that are staying are the Raid the Bar credit, though it will now only apply to Kimpton Tier 2, 3, and 4 members (remember IHG Gold matches to Tier 2), the $30 in-room spa credit, and the Inner Circle benefits. They are also notably retaining the free night at new Kimpton Hotels for top-tier Inner Circle members, which IHG Spire members will now map to.
For those curious, The Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Nashville is the only eligible new Kimpton property at the moment with complimentary stays for Inner Circle members available until January 31, 2018.
Outside of elite perks, Kimpton does other really cool things like offer very pet-friendly accommodations, have an evening hosted wine hour, and does a good job with personalized stay preferences. To give some perspective, there are a little over 60 boutique Kimpton properties around the world while there are over 5,300 IHG properties in almost 100 countries.
While it is not good news for those who were used to how easy it was to earn top-tier Inner Circle status and enjoy the perks, for the casual IHG point earner, this is good news as your points will now unlock the door at places like the Kimpton Seafire Resort in Grand Cayman, Palm Springs, the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, or the De Witt in Amsterdam. Kimpton properties are about the furthest thing from a cookie cutter Holiday Inn Express that you could find.
It took so long for the programs to be combined that I bet many almost forgot that this change was likely to come at some point, but it is coming now in a matter of months whether you like it or not. Overall I would say this is good news for IHG members and bad news for Kimpton Karma members, though hopefully enough Kimpton Koolness is retained that the blow is softened a bit.
What are your thoughts about the two becoming one in 2018?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.