I Love IHG, I Hate IHG

In my reviews, I do my very best to point out the good, the bad and the ugly of any given program, hotel or product. You’ve noticed me sing praises to Chase IHG credit card, and for a good reason. It is a  fantastic, low-barrier-to-entry offer. You only have to spend $1,000 in 3 months, and the card is a “keeper” after that.

But IHG program itself… It’s complicated. I used to have a regular communication with an IHG rep, probably due to the fact that I stay and write about their properties on a regular basis. The emails mostly had to do with reminders on various promotions etc., I was never sponsored by IHG in any way. And that’s a  good thing. I could never say it’s a smooth running operation and still look at myself in the mirror.

After I’ve used the word “wacky” a few times when referring to IHG, I’ve noticed that the emails from the rep have stopped. There goes potential brand partnership! Oh well, there is always Hyatt. And Disney, of course. But honestly, IHG program is wacky. In fact, it’s a nice way of putting it. I saw this saying on Facebook the other day: “Drunk people, children and leggings always tell the truth.” Readers, I humbly ask you to nominate my blog to be added to that fine list. I have no intention to ever become a shill for banks or loyalty programs. All opinions are and always will be my own. End rant.

So, we were looking at doing a getaway with kids in January. My daughter was begging us to go back to an all-inclusive Holiday Inn in Jamaica (see  trip report). To my shock and disbelief, my husband said we can fly there for a few days. And he did it in front of our daughter, so there was no way to back out. That child remembers everything. I actually have enough IHG points and Southwest currency to make it happen, but the idea just didn’t sit well with me. Read my trip report to see why. I honestly think we will end up going there at some point because she loved it so much, but the memories need to wear off a bit.

I started looking at places in Florida instead, and remembered that Holiday Inn Cape Canaveral Beach Resort was now part of IHG chain. It runs at 35K points per night. I showed the photos  to my daughter and she said it looked better than the one in Jamaica. Bingo! Isn’t it sad that I let my kids determine where we get to vacation?

We stayed here four years ago before it was re-branded. This resort is a  wonderful place for family, especially if you have small kids. The occupancy limit for studio bookable on points is four, and I was told they will not let you add a third child. I didn’t take any photos of the unit, but here are some pictures of the grounds as well as the beach, reachable by free trolley.


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You can see cruise ships from a  distance.

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Outside playground.
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The resort has so much to offer, I really wish I had more photos. But there is an inside playground,  waterpark and all kinds of fun stuff to do (check TripAdvisor page for more). You should definitely consider adding a stay here  after you are done with your Disney vacation. That is if you can find availability. Here is an award calendar for spring.

cape canaveral spring

Summer isn’t much better. I will say the calendar isn’t completely accurate, so always double check individual dates. IHG IT system is, well, wacky. But it gets worse, much worse. They only release one room per day for the whole resort. How did I find out? I asked my cousin-in-law if she would consider burning her points here so the kids can play together. She agreed. Well, as soon as one of us booked  a room, availability vanished. We tried different dates throughout the year, but the same scenario played out.

I called IHG and was told to contact the property. When I called Holiday Inn resort, I was told to contact IHG, you get the idea. I finally did get to talk to the manager of the hotel and told him about our predicament. I even asked if we could reserve a regular room and arrange a co-pay for a 2-bedroom unit upon arrival. No can do. IHG will not let you burn points on bigger units or suites, period. Of course, there is always a possibility of an upgrade due to Platinum status, but it’s not a guarantee.

I asked the manager how is it that such a big property only releases 1 award room per night. He said they only have 200 units, I’m not kidding. With any other loyalty program such a statement would be laughed at. But in IHG Land it sounds totally reasonable and logical.

It is incredibly frustrating to deal with that program at times. Their promos don’t always track, the rooms that are supposed to fit 4 sometimes will only have 1 king bed, and the rooms with 2 queen beds may claim double occupancy. They have blackout dates, and award availability for some properties is similar to a unicorn. Holiday Inn Vacation Club brand is probably the worst in this respect.

But I still think in spite of all this, Chase IHG MasterCard is the best thing since sliced bread. Why? Outstanding coverage and mostly mid-range properties that are suitable for families. I wrote about hotel programs in general and things to look for here

As long as you have some flexibility and can book far ahead, you can usually find something. For example, if you want to reserve a beachfront stay after Disney trip  in peak season, you will have a choice of at least 7 properties that are located within 2-hour driving distance. Try to beat that when you consider other hotel chains. When you look at big cities, you can find some luxury brands like Intercontinental, and many will fit 4 in one room.

Yes, IHG is wacky and uneven, but I still think it’s a winner when it comes to value. That said, you have to be a laid-back type family. I’ve shown photos of out latest beach getaway. For some, this would be a deal breaker, and I completely understand that. No judgement on my part.  The reason most people in the hobby love Hyatt is because you are unlikely to see eighties’ decor or old, shabby furniture at any of their properties. I’ve heard once you go Hyatt, you never go back. So, it does come down to what you like and what makes you happy.

As far as IHG card goes, worst case scenario: No dice with availability at your desired property. In desperation, you end up redeeming your renewal certificate at Holiday Inn Express by the highway in a town located 1 hour away. You don’t get an upgrade. You do get complimentary (if mediocre) breakfast for an entire family and your kids  get to play in a pool, all for only $49 per night.

Best case scenario: you’ll end up redeeming it at Cape Canaveral Beach Resort that goes for $249 per night in peak season or Intercontinental in New York City. Either way, this card is a winner…for wacky families.

#WackyAndProudOfIt

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10 thoughts on “I Love IHG, I Hate IHG

  1. I’m a little frustrated with IHG at the moment as well. I really want to take my kids to Sanibel Island, and the Holiday Inn there has not a single available date on the calendar that I can find. Not a one. If you have any alternate suggestions for a beach front (or close to it) place to stay on the gulf coast I would love to hear them:)

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    • Cmal1, that’s really odd that you can’t find any availability at Sanibel Holiday Inn. Are you by any chance putting in 2 adults and 3 kids? You won’t be able to book it on points via website that way. You CAN bring a third kid, but you will have to pay $10 per day supplement for a cot and arrange it during check-in or call ahead.
      If that’s not the issue, make sure you select “reward rate” when doing your search.

      It is, of course, possible that it’s sold out during your dates. In that case, I recommend you look into Holiday Inn Lido http://milesforfamily.com/2015/09/22/making-lemonade-out-of-lemons-our-trip-to-holiday-inn-lido-beach-in-sarasota/
      Make sure to select a room with two queen beds. I honestly think it’s perfectly fine, but do make sure to read TripAdvisor reviews.

      There is also a Holiday Inn Clearwater. We haven’t stayed in it, but it’s supposed to be a short walk from the beach (not beachfront). There are two hotels in that area, make sure to select Clearwater, not “Indian Rocks.” The last one is located a good distance from the beach. My in-laws stayed there and liked it, but they said it’s too far from the gulf. You can also look into some paid options via http://www.vrbo.com
      Let me know how all of this works out for you!

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  6. Im really happy you have a review on this place! We’re thinking of staying there one of the nights were in Coco and redeeming our 1 year certificate. We have 3 nights booked at the regular Holiday Inn across the street (timeshare tour deal) and were thinking of staying our last night at this place. Worth it?

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    • Emily, I really like this place! It’s been few years, but recent reviews seem to be good. It is probably better for families with small kids, but I think you and Jared will still enjoy it. There is a pool, a hot tub, and you can take a shuttle to the beach. If award availability is there, I would burn the certificate, for sure.

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      • Awesome! Figured we’d get more bang for our buck by picking a place we’d spend all day at, instead of our original plan of using it at a place next to Disney.

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    • @Emily No problem! I honestly think you guys will like it, but it’s hard to say with 100% certainty. I would definitely use the certificate here instead of Orlando since the latter has many cheap options.

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