Updated: Aug 21
Picture source- www.hoteliermagazine.com
Most of the major hotel chains in India have a paid membership program in which you get certain perks and benefits and one may even get an upgraded status without meeting the normal requirement, but they do come with a hefty fee. So the question remains should you sign up for these programs. According to me most of these programs do give you a good return on your investment as you can easily recoup the cost if you are using your membership at least a few times in a year. The various programs available in India are:-
Taj Epicure Plan- This membership is mainly catered towards guests who frequently dine at Taj hotels and is valid across all Taj hotels in India and abroad and the points earned via this membership can be redeemed for most of the services offered by the hotel. However the free certificates which come with the membership are only valid for stays in India. The membership gives a free night across all major Taj hotels in the country barring their palace and safari hotels and a few other properties. The first 3 dining transactions give you a 50% return on your dining bill and the transactions post the 3 give a return of 25% on your dining bill. It also comes with 2 upgrade vouchers which you can use at any of their properties even the palace and safari lodges and you also become a Taj silver tier member. The membership fee for this program is 13500 plus taxes but you can get full worth of this membership by using your free night certificate which I value at a minimum of Rs 8000 and if you spend Rs 6000 on your food bill every month this will give you 22500 Taj innercircle points which is equivalent to Rs 22500. You can get further value from your membership if use your upgrade vouchers and the benefits of the silver tier membership which comes with this plan. (Pro Tip: Don't redeem your points on dining as dining gives a 25% return rather redeem it on room stay as it only gives a 5% return also if you are dining at the hotel during your stay make sure to clear your dining bills at the time of service rather than posting it to your room, because posting it in your room will only earn you 5% return and not the 25% return).
ITC Club Culinaire- This membership is mainly catered towards guests who frequently dine at ITC hotels and is valid across all ITC hotels in India, and the points earned via this membership can be redeemed for most of the services offered by the hotel unless otherwise mentioned. It comes with a host of benefits and services, some of which are a free night stay at any ITC hotel except Grand Bharat and Grand Goa, it also comes with 50% discount vouchers on dining bill when 4 people are dining and it gives you a 25% return on your dining bill on weekdays, Saturday and Sunday but on Friday you get 33.33% return on your dining bill. The cost of this membership is Rs 12000 plus taxes but one easily recoup this cost by using the one night free certificate which I value at Rs 8000 and by spending Rs 6000 on dining per month which gives you 18000 club ITC points which has a minimum value of Rs 18000 but you can get a lot more worth from them if you use it for room stays, you will be able to understand this much better by going through the chart below.
You could book your room according to the points requirement mentioned on the chart even if the room is going for a higher tariff for example recently I booked ITC Sheraton Delhi for 2 nights using 4000 points per night while the room tariff was 7500 plus taxes.
(Pro Tip :- Don't redeem your points on dining as dining gives a 25% return rather redeem it on room stay as it only gives a 5% return also if you are dining at the hotel during your stay make sure to clear your dining bills at the time of service rather than posting it to your room, because posting it in your room will only earn you 5% return and not the 25% return. Also if you are booking your rooms using points credit your stay in your Marriott Bonvoy account as you will earn elite nights which could push you to a higher tier).
3. Hyatt Dining Club- This membership is mainly catered towards guests who frequently dine at Hyatt hotels and is valid across most Hyatt hotels in India, this membership however does not give you points on your transaction rather it provides you with a 30% discount on dining bills. It also comes with other benefits such as a free night stay, one free starter every month, 2 free cakes, free movie tickets etc. There is also a feature for an add on benefit which is also complimentary with the membership, you can choose between a 50% discount on suite room booking or 50% discount on small events and many other such benefits.
The cost of this membership is 13500 inclusive of taxes but you could easily recoup this cost by using the one night free certificate which I value at Rs 7000 and if you spend a minimum of Rs 6000 per month dining at Hyatt hotels you could save at least Rs 21600 in a year.
There are a few other hotel programs also like the Accor plus program and Ambassador Program by IHG both of which have limited use in India as they have limited properties across the country. Marriott also has a paid membership program by the name of Club Marriott but I have explained the benefits of this program in another article as it is a little complicated.
If you are thinking of purchasing the Accor plus membership I recommend you purchase it via smartbuy if you hold a HDFC Infinia or Dinersclub black card as you can get 33.33% points back on your purchase.
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