Cool upgrades first because I’m sure that’s what readers want to see, then the business end where I list hotel brands part of Accor, and explain how Accor Plus works (Accor Plus is part of Le Club Accor Hotels loyalty programme). The information is based on our experience as Accor Plus members for nearly two years, it’s not written in association with the hotel chain.
Cool upgrade Number 1* – Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa
We booked a superior room for two nights at Sofitel Queenstown but were upgraded to a luxury room. The upgrade included complimentary evening drinks and tapas from 5pm-7pm in the Executive Lounge, and complimentary buffet breakfast. Sofitel Queenstown is a beautiful hotel, I especially like the Left Bank Cafe where breakfast is served.
We didn’t have a room with a lake view, but when there’s a possum fur rug draped over a chair you know you’re staying somewhere special. A Nespresso machine is another room feature, as well as a television above the spa bath in the bathroom.
Sofitel is on Duke Street so if you fly into town and don’t have a vehicle it’s only a short walk to the lake front. Add to that the exceptional service we always experience at Sofitel hotels and it’s easy to agree that ‘Life is Magnifique’ (especially if you get an upgrade).
Cool upgrade Number 2* – Sofitel Macau (Macau is across the water from Hong Kong)
We booked a superior room at Sofitel Macau but were upgraded to a junior suite. Some of the standout features of the suite were – big windows with a view down the river to China; lots of space, and a smart lounge room; and a fruit and truffle welcome tray. The suite also had two bathrooms, I assumed it meant a bathroom each (obvious suite newbie), but it’s a bathroom for you and one for visitors. In any case, we were thinking of housekeeping so we only used one bathroom.
We also had entry to Club Sofitel on the 17th floor which included afternoon tea, evening cocktails, and buffet breakfast (chocolate fountain alert). The words ‘afternoon tea’ alone were music to my ears, it was a fabulous upgrade and made for an extra memorable stay. Thanks Sofitel Macau for giving us a taste of the high life.
*Note on our cool upgrades
We’ve never asked for an upgrade but it’s always a nice surprise to get one. When we checked in to Sofitel Macau we were at Gold level membership so we weren’t eligible for entry to Club Sofitel, or necessarily a junior suite, it was just good luck.
We were at Platinum level by the time we stayed at Sofitel Queenstown. Upgrades are more likely at Gold and Platinum levels, although they are still subject to availability on arrival (see below).
Our other room upgrades
When you reach Gold (stay from 30 nights or earn 10,000 points) or Platinum level membership (stay from 60 nights or earn 25,000 points) upgrades may be possible on arrival if rooms are available.
Our Platinum membership has led to a few other upgrades – at Pullman Hotel in Auckland we were upgraded from a tower room to a superior residence. Platinum membership also gives you access to Pullman’s Executive Lounge for evening drinks and canapes, and a light breakfast.
At Mercure Hotel in Auckland we’ve been upgraded three times from a standard room to a junior suite. The upgrades have provided more space and facilities, so while they don’t necessarily make the cool category they have still been much appreciated.
Some rooms at Mercure Auckland have recently been redecorated, we haven’t had the pleasure as yet. While the suites we’ve stayed in needed updating, what they lacked in style they more than made up for with space, a small kitchen, and big sea views.
At ibis Styles in Invercargill we were upgraded from a standard room to a one bedroom apartment. The apartment has a small outdoor courtyard, a good sized lounge / dining area and a well equipped kitchen. We stayed three nights so the extra space and kitchen were an excellent bonus.
The business end
Accor hotel brands part of Le Club Accor Hotels programme are Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, ibis, ibis Styles, Grand Mercure, M Gallery, Pullman, The Sebel, Suite Novotel, adagio, adagio access and Thalassa Sea Spa. (These hotels don’t participate in the programme).
There are at least 2700 Accor hotels around the world in more than 90 countries.
Join Le Club Accor Hotels
You can join Le Club Accor Hotels for free, this membership is called Classic. Classic membership gets you the 3 benefits highlighted, and you also earn points when you stay.
We joined via the Asia Pacific promotion Accor Plus, we paid our yearly fee in July 2015 – $319. With Accor Plus membership you begin at Silver (one level above Classic – click each card to see the corresponding advantages). With Silver membership you get the 5 benefits highlighted, earn points when you stay, get discounts on meals (eg. 25% off for one, 50% off for two), as well as 15% off drinks in Asia. You also get a complimentary night at a hotel of your choice in the region (subject to availability).
We are in our second year of Accor Plus membership, our first complimentary night was at Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, the second at Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa. Both of these hotels are 5 star so to us our yearly membership fees have been refunded.
(For full details about Accor Plus see Terms & Conditions).
(Note: Accor have announced changes to their loyalty programme from January 2017, changes to Accor Plus have not been mentioned as yet).
Points – this is one loyalty programme worth its weight in gold**
Points have proved valuable to us both in moving from Silver to Platinum membership (helping with upgrades), and heavily discounted stays. We don’t know the formula used to calculate points but when they accumulate we appreciate being able to credit them towards the cost of a hotel stay.
As an example of points earned – our biggest points earner was 5 nights at Novotel in Hong Kong – 3586 points. Each 2000 points is equivalent to approximately $60, so that’s around $90 worth of value to us. Our biggest points earner in New Zealand was 3 nights at Sofitel Auckland – 2914 points.
Our lowest points earned – 366 for 3 nights at ibis Styles Invercargill, and 476 for 3 nights at ibis Christchurch.
With Accor Plus you earn points for accommodation as well as onsite dining, but only when you’re staying inhouse. It’s also worth noting that Accor run points promotions and we have stayed a few times when double points were offered.
As an indication of how you can use the points, a one night stay at ibis Wellington used 2000 points plus cost $34. Three nights at Novotel Queenstown used a whopping 16000 points plus cost around $100. Four nights at Grand Mercure Nelson used 10000 points plus cost $62 (blog post about Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco). (Depending on the time of year and room demand, more or less points could apply).
**Loyalty programme worth its weight in gold BUT
As you’ve probably gathered you need to spend a fair amount of gold coins to rack up points so you need to stay in hotels frequently, if you’re lucky enough to travel when there is a points promotion all the better. If you’re self employed and/or travel a lot on business the bonus can be that you build up points while travelling for work and then redeem them for personal travel.
If you’re not a frequent traveller you can still get good value from Accor Plus membership by using the complimentary night and taking advantage of dining discounts. If there is an Accor hotel in your city with an onsite restaurant you can have dinner for two for half price. (Note: Dining discount doesn’t apply to ibis Budget or Formule Hotels – see terms and conditions).
The meal prices can be high, but taking that into account we still think Accor Plus dining discounts generally provide good value. We’ve dined at a few Accor restaurants and overall we’ve been happy with the food, the stand out for us is Lava Dining at Sofitel Auckland.
Possible negatives of Le Accor ClubHotels/Accor Plus membership
Our, or at least Mike’s only negative experience with membership is the customer service staff, he gets annoyed by the hard sell tactics they use by phone to try and get him to sign up other members.
Something else to consider, although it’s not really a negative – the discounts offered (eg. on meals) might mean you’re tempted to dine inhouse rather than go out and experience new restaurants. On the upside though, when the weather’s lousy or you’re tired, it’s convenient to take the lift to the restaurant floor, you may also be left with more money in your pocket for lunch the next day.
Whew, if you’ve read all the way down here thanks for reading, and I hope the information is useful. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section below or send me an email via the website – http://www.thecuriouskiwi.co.nz/contactform.html