Going For the Status Match
Earlier this year, Kimpton Hotels sparked my interest after I attended a travel event over at Kimpton’s Eventi Hotel in NYC. While the Kimpton portfolio itself is relatively small containing only a limited amount of properties the U.S., I’ve always heard great things about the brand in the past.
I then learned about a status match opportunity they were offering, so I quickly shot an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org, asking for a reciprocity match into the Kimpton Inner Circle program using my Hyatt Diamond status that I had at the time. While I had never stayed at a Kimpton property at the time of sending my email, reviewing at the perks and benefits associated with Kimpton’s Inner Circle really intrigued me.
After studying their hotel collection, I saw that there were 6 “new” hotels that qualified for the complimentary night available for Inner Circle members. On top of that, Inner Circle members would additionally receive a $50 dining credit per stay. Was I really going to get 6 free nights and $300 in dining credits as a result of this status match? Wow!
At this point, I was curious and wanted to learn more. I had an upcoming night in DC that I needed a room for, so I called the Inner Circle VIP line and was able to book a complimentary night at the Donovan House in DC. Yup, it was true – I was able to reserve a night at the hotel completely free of charge just by being an Inner Circle member. I thought to myself, “man, this is just fabulous, but I can see this status match opportunity blowing up pretty soon and possibly being abused…”
Well, I guess between the time I made my booking and March 18, Kimpton decided to modify the terms of their reciprocity status match by sending out an email explaining that the free night benefit would only be available after completing 3 stays. Here’s an excerpt from what was sent:
It is the spirit of Kimpton to be generous; we offer reciprocity upfront and without required stays within any specified amount of time. We will continue to do so. However, in order to participate in the Free Night at New Hotel Offer we ask that you first complete 3 eligible stays.
By that point, I already had a confirmed free-night reservation. Would my reservation still be valid? Yes! The email then stated the following:
Existing complimentary reservations will be honored as of March 18, 2013. For any new reservations, we will require three stays before you are eligible for a free night booking at any of our new hotels.
I can bet that many people who were newly-status-matched into Inner Circle were bummed by that news, but in all honesty, it’s still an incredible offer that’s worth pursuing in my eyes.
My First Stay Experience – A Free Night at the Donovan House hotel in Washington D.C.
Two weekends ago, I spent a few days in San Juan, Puerto Rico because I wanted to burn some Hilton HHonors nights after the devaluation. Since the fares were cheaper to SJU originating from DCA, I decided to take Amtrak to Washington Station, spend a night in D.C., and then head to San Juan via Miami the following morning.
When I booked my free Kimpton night at the Donovan House, I received a personalized email from the hotel asking me to fill out my personalized preferences in my account. I arrived at the hotel for check-in around noon, but the room wasn’t ready, so I got lunch and walked around town a bit. When I returned, I was told I was upgraded to a corner room on a high floor with an awesome view. The room itself was modern, spacious and comfortable.
After exploring D.C. a bit, we returned back to the room and found a welcome note, a fruit platter and some sweet Honest Teas. In my Inner Circle profile, I had noted that my favorite drink was unsweetened iced tea and my favorite snacks were fresh mangoes, pineapples, and red velvet cupcakes.
We then went down to the complimentary wine happy hour that’s held daily in the lobby between 5-6 pm and had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Zentan, using the $50 dining credit. The food was awesome and the evironment was trendy and nice. Overall, I can say I was quite pleased with my first Kimpton stay after experiencing the Donovan House.
My 2nd Stay and First Paid Night: The Eventi Hotel in Manhattan
Last Friday was my 26th birthday. When I returned home from San Juan, I had to figure out what to do to celebrate, and a local night out in NYC sounded like the way to go after a friend suggested that we possibly get a hotel room at the W Union Square. I figured that instead of staying at the W, why not try to knock out a paid stay at the Kimpton and work towards my 3 paid stays?
Turns out, at $212 a right, the Eventi Hotel was cheaper than any of the W Hotels anyway; and in my honest opinion, I think the Eventi is way nicer than any of the W Hotels in Manhattan that I’ve been to.
We arrived at 3 pm, and were upgraded from a standard king room to a suite. The size of the room was what I expected for NYC and it was new and modern, featuring a separate living room, comfortable bed, and a great bathroom. I also really loved the floor-t0-ceiling windows.
They even knocked on the door with birthday balloons the following morning. I was so blown away by such a spectacular stay at the Eventi filled with exceptional personalized attention.
Things I really like about Kimpton
Hosted Evening Wine Hours – every Kimpton hotel offers an hour of complimentary hand-picked wines between 5-6 pm. It’s a great way to socialize and relax before dinner plans.
Raid the Mini Bar – In Touch members automatically get a $10 mini bar credit ($15 in NYC) to use towards whatever snacks or drinks you want.
The Personal Experience/Overall Brand Image – The one thing that got me hooked on Kimpton was the fact they they don’t take themselves too seriously; their brand is hip, fun, and relevant, catered to making every stay personable and fun. You can even feel it from the wording on their website and emails.
They have an incredible pet policy – they welcome any pet, any size, at any of their hotels. Now… who wants to try checking in with a giraffe? Also, if you’re bummed that you don’t have a pet with you while on the road, they’ll even deliver a pet goldfish to your room! I’m kicking myself for not finding out about that during my stay!
Why I am pursuing Inner Circle
In all seriousness, I’ll admit that it’s tough to maintain top-tier hotel status with a hotel program entirely through stay credits. Are the benefits even worth it when you find yourself mattress-running and scrambling to get stay credits as a leisure traveler? Not for me. I’ve actually found that mid-tier hotel status is sufficient enough. For instance, Hyatt Diamond status is great because you get awesome free breakfast, but you need 25 stays or 50 nights a year to maintain it. I’ll take a Dunkin Donuts flatbread sandwich instead, thankyouverymuch.
Back in November, I was gifted a Hyatt Diamond 3-month trial as a Star Mega Do 4 participant and I didn’t re-qualify this year to maintain it. Frankly, just by having the Hyatt Credit Card, the Platinum status that comes along with it has been enough. I’m also automatically Starwood Gold and Hilton Gold just by having the American Express Platinum Card and Citi HHonors Reserve Card, respectively.
I do find incredible value in the Inner Circle program though, so in my eyes it’s “worth it” to stay 3 times (1 down, 2 to go) to unlock the other 5 complimentary nights. I’ve been so incredibly pleased by my two experiences at Kimpton hotels so far that I’ve been raving about the program to all of my non-point-and-miles-affiliated friends, encouraging them to go for the match themselves; when “real” friends get involved, you know I’m crazy about the program.
I’m not the only blogger who’s become newly-passionate about Kimpton either – Hack My Trip just recently posted a similar opinion/analysis on his blog too. He also raves about their customer service in this post too. Somethings in the air.
On so many blogs and forums, we’re taught to chase top-tier elite status with Hyatt and Starwood; they’re perceived to be the cream of the crop. Don’t get me wrong, they are great programs, but let’s be realistic – if you’re not a business traveler, it’s very hard to maintain those statuses as an average person or family. And to be completely honest, I found the Club Carlson program to surpass both the Hyatt and Starwood programs entirely, especially now that there’s a competitive US Bank Club Carlson Visa on the market.
A rule of thumb for pursuing any status in general: you have to seriously ask yourself if it’s “worth it” for you. Frankly, chasing Starwood Platinum or Hyatt Diamond Status is not worth it for me, but to each their own.
I’m so glad I was able to give Kimpton a chance. 6 free nights after completing 3 paid stays is an incredibly generous offer, and I think of it as a “stay 1 night, get 2 nights” kind of deal. I’ve been ridiculously pleased with and giddy about the Kimpton Inner Circle program this month. I’m hooked – good job, Kimpton!
If you’re interested in a reciprocity status match with Kimpton Inner Circle, you can learn more about it here.
Feel free to share your thoughts as well!