The criteria for achieving RA status is not published, although PC saysthat it is for ‘the top 1% of Ambassadors’. However, it is believed tobe 50-60 nights in the past 12 months across the whole PC system (allbrands) plus at least 3 stays at DIFFERENT InterContinental hotels.
If you meet these requirements and are already an Ambassador, you havenothing to lose from emailing the Ambassador service desk and askingthem to review your account. If you do not have 50-60 nights and arenot already an Ambassador, don’t waste your time. Some FT’ers have beentold in the past that they will not be considered until they have beenan Ambassador for one year, but other FTers have had no problems - ifyou get this response, contact them again and try a different agent.The number of points you have earned is totally irrelevant in assessingyour application – it is 100% based on paid nights.
The benefits of RA status, above the Ambassador benefits, are atwo-level upgrade (and often a suite upgrade), a guaranteed 8amcheck-in, a free mini-bar, free health club access (although most ICclubs are free anyway) and 1,000 additional bonus points per stay. As areminder, these benefits are ONLY valid at InterContinental-brandedhotels. The 'two-level upgrade' is not published policy, but isgenerally how most hotels interpret the rules - you could do better andit is not impossible, although rare, to do worse.
RA’s are also given PC Platinum status if they do not already have it –see Post 1 for the benefits of this. You will also receive a referralcertificate allowing you to gift RA membership to a friend or colleague.
Common questions about Royal Ambassador status:
Are there restrictions on the free mini-bar?
Yes, sometimes. Some hotels do not allow you to take out snacks forfree (check at check-in). Some hotels (IC Stockholm) claim that theycannot give free alcohol due to local law. Some hotels remove highvalue items from the mini-bar before an RA checks in, and some hotelsdo not refill an RA's mini-bar every day (in both cases, you are withinyour rights to ring the front desk and ask for it to be properlyfilled). Theoretically, free drinks are for 'in-room consumption only'so the hotel could charge if you emptied the contents into yoursuitcase on the way out - although I can't think of a case where thishas happened. The IC Amstel in Amsterdam is generally regarded ashaving the best mini-bar of any IC! To avoid confusion, ALWAYS ask atcheck-in about the free mini-bar policy at that hotel, even if you area regular guest.
Do RA (and Amb) benefits apply on reward stays?
Officially no. However, check out FT reports. Most hotels do give RA and Ambassador benefits even on reward stays.
How long does RA status last?
RA lasts for the remainder of your current Ambassador status. Thismeans that you are likely to get less than 12 months benefit, althoughif you are only a couple of months from your Ambassador expiry date youwill probably receive 13-14 months of RA instead of 1-2.
As you approach expiry, PC will review your account and notify you ifyou are going to retain RA or not, again based on whether you areaveraging the 50-60 nights.
What happens if I lose RA status?
You drop down to Ambassador, and receive a free year of Ambassador,saving the usual $100 renewal fee. You will then drop down to Gold ifyou do not pay your Ambassador fee the following year.
You will also retain your PC Platinum status for the remainder of thecalendar year following your demotion. So … in January 2010 you may bea ‘Platinum Royal Ambassador’. If you lose RA status in March 2010, youwill drop to ‘Platinum Ambassador’ until December 2010. From Jan-March2011 you will be ‘Gold Ambassador’ (assuming you don’t earn 60,000points to retain Plat) and from March 2011 onwards (assuming you don’tpay $100 to retain Ambassador) you will be a simple ‘Gold’ member untilDecember 2011. If you don’t retain Gold you then drop to ‘Club’ member.
Tell me about Royal Ambassador referral certificates
When you become a Royal Ambassador (and each year you are renewed) youwill receive a voucher which you can give to a friend to give themautomatic RA status. This is free, although they will have to pay $150to join Ambassador if they are not already a member. Status will lastto the end of their Ambassador year, so up to 12 months although it canbe less. If a referred member does not stay enough nights to retain RA,they will drop down to Ambassador. Referred RA’s do NOT receive areferral certificate anymore (they did historically) although someoccasionally slip through the net.
Referral certificates are often available on ebay (for $500+, often asmuch as £500+) or via FT’s Coupon Connection. However, now thatbenefits are restricted to 12 months maximum, it is debatable whetherthe certificates are worth the money unless you have a lot of IC staysplanned. (Historically you could buy a certificate and resell the oneyou received in return, thus effectively paying nothing for RAmembership, but this is no longer possible as referred members do notreceive a certificate.)
If you receive a referral and you are not already an Ambassador, itmakes sense to join Ambassador first and then, a week or so later, postin your RA referral form. This ensures that you receive two ‘welcome’boxes (one for Amb, one for RA) and thus receive 2 x 5,000 pointvouchers and 2 x free weekend night vouchers. Sometimes IC will removethe second 5,000 point and BOGO vouchers from the RA box if you dothis, but it is not common.
There is no box on the RA referral form for existing Ambassadors towrite their membership data. You should cross through the credit cardlines and write somewhere on the form ‘Already Ambassador – PC numberis 12345678’.
RA referrals certificates are valid for six months from the date ofissue. You will receive your RA kit within 3-4 weeks of submitting yourform to the US, although your status will change online within a fewdays. Certificates must be posted to the US – faxes, PDF’s etc are notacceptable.
How do I know what benefits RA’s get at particular hotels?
Look at the ‘RA experience’ sticky in this forum, where there are over 1,000 experiences posted.
Do RA’s get Club access?
Not as a rule. If you are upgraded to a suite then you may get accessif all suites automatically get club access. Check FT RA trip reportsto see what happens in practice.
Do RA’s get free breakfast?
No, unless you get Club access (see above)
Do I need to rebook my existing bookings after I become Royal Ambassador?
You may want cancel existing flexible bookings you have already made,including redemption bookings (check availability is still therefirst!), and rebook to ensure your new status rather than your oldstatus is attached to your booking. For any other advanced bookings,including those on non-cancellable cash or points bookings, you shouldconsider e-mailing the hotel and informing them of your new status.Your email should include your booking confirmation numbers and datesof your stay. This will help ensure (although nothing is certain) thatyour upgrade is allocated before you arrive.
Can I be comped to RA from Hilton Plat / SPG Plat etc?
No. It has never been done to our knowledge. Don’t waste the pixels.