Luxury Hotel Reward Programs
Published: May 2009
By Jane Levere
Three groups offer rewards at high-end resorts and hotels.
For the most part, luxury hotel brands like Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Peninsula, and Mandarin Oriental do not have loyalty programs. Their philosophy is summed up by Nicola Blazier, a spokeswoman for Four Seasons: "Whether it’s your first or 100th visit to a Four Seasons hotel, all guests receive the same superior service. It’s this approach that has built our loyal customer base." However, one quirk of the Marriott Rewards program (Marriott purchased Ritz-Carlton in the mid 1990’s) is that participants can redeem—though not acquire—points for stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels.
Some marketing groups representing luxury properties—Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), Relais & Châteaux, and Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH)—have developed reward plans for their top customers.
LHW’s Leaders Club is a three-tiered program that provides room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, and welcoming gifts. For the top two tiers, members pay annual fees ($2,000 and $300, respectively), which assure guaranteed upgrades and a dedicated concierge.
The invitation-only Club 5C, run by Relais & Châteaux, gives members—who stay an average of 18 nights annually at Relais & Châteaux hotels—a special reservations line; welcome gifts and amenities; and gratis extras, like a picnic lunch served by the Little Nell at the top of Colorado’s Aspen Mountain.
The Club, operated by SLH, gives members automatic upgrades when available and lets them create a profile with personal preferences, which SLH hotels can use for future bookings. Last fall it introduced an invitation-only program called The Club Experience, which offers exclusive packages, with value-added amenities available only to guests who stay at the group’s hotels at least 10 times a year. A recent package included a two-night stay in a suite at the Hôtel Vernet in Paris, a private dinner cooked by the chef of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, a champagne tasting with the hotel’s sommelier, and a helicopter flight over the city.