In 2020, IHG rolled out a partnership with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, intended to give members of IHG’s loyalty program access to hundreds of additional luxury hotels. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the partnership, and discuss under what circumstances it’s worth taking advantage of.
What is Mr. & Mrs. Smith?
Let’s start with the very basics. For those not familiar with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the company describes itself as a “travel club and boutique hotel specialist.” The way I view it, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is essentially a luxury travel agency and marketing agency of sorts.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn’t manage any hotels, but rather gets a commission when people book through the company. Think of it as being along the lines of Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) and Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) — these companies also don’t manage hotels, but rather market a variety of hotels.
Arguably Mr. & Mrs. Smith has even fewer requirements than LHW and SLH when it comes to exclusivity and standards. You’ll find that many Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties also belong to other hotel groups or marketing organizations, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith markets properties belonging to many of the world’s best hotel brands.
IHG’s partnership with Mr. & Mrs. Smith
IHG has historically struggled a bit in the luxury sector, though it’s an area where the brand has improved significantly, since acquiring Six Senses, Regent, Kimpton, etc. That’s also where the partnership between IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith comes into play.
Thanks to this partnership, IHG One Rewards members have access to hundreds of additional luxury properties where they can earn and redeem points. This also opens up lots of markets where IHG One Rewards members didn’t previously have access to properties.
Note that only select Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties participate in the collaboration with IHG — you can find participating properties here. In order to receive any IHG perks, you have to book through an IHG booking channel (so you can’t book directly with a hotel or with a travel agent and then add your IHG number after the fact).
The business model here is presumably that Mr. & Mrs. Smith gets a commission from hotels, and then in turn splits that commission with IHG when a member books through an IHG channel. This is very similar to the partnership that Hyatt has with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and the partnership that Marriott has with Design Hotels (which it inherited from Starwood).
Earning IHG points with Mr. & Mrs. Smith
On the points earning front, this partnership allows IHG One Rewards members to earn points for stays at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties when booking directly with IHG:
- IHG One Rewards members earn 10x points per dollar spent
- IHG One Rewards elite members are eligible to earn their tier bonuses at these properties — IHG Platinum members receive a 60% points bonus, while IHG Diamond members receive a 100% points bonus
- Stays at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties aren’t generally eligible to earn bonus points with IHG One Rewards promotions
- If you’re paying with an IHG co-branded credit card, these stays don’t receive the bonus points you’d receive if staying at an IHG property
Let me once again emphasize that in order to earn points you need to book through IHG, and keep in mind that only a subset of Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties participate in the IHG loyalty collaboration. So while there are Amans, Singitas, etc., that belong to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, these don’t participate in the IHG partnership.
As exciting as earning points for stays at independent properties sounds, I’d note that in many cases there will be an opportunity cost to booking through this partnership. With most of these hotels:
- There may be opportunities to book for less through other channels
- The hotels may offer promotions and package deals directly that won’t be available through the IHG partnership
- Since many Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties are luxury hotels, there may be opportunities to book them through other channels (like Virtuoso) with a lot more perks, including free breakfast, an upgrade, a room credit, etc.
Redeeming IHG points with Mr. & Mrs. Smith
It’s also possible to redeem IHG One Rewards points for stays at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, though I’d really manage my expectations when it comes to this:
- Award pricing is dynamic, and since IHG doesn’t manage these properties, presumably the redemptions are more costly for IHG
- IHG free night award certificates can be redeemed at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, and the fourth night free benefit on IHG’s co-branded credit cards does apply for stays at these properties
- There are capacity controls for redemptions at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, but then again, IHG has blackout dates for its managed properties as well; however, I find that many Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties don’t have availability for weeks on end
While there may be some decent opportunities to redeem points at Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties, don’t expect you’re going to get outsized value.
What should you expect in terms of redemption rates? I just pulled up two random properties. One property costs either 173 Euro (~$176) or 25,000 points.
Another property costs either 297 Euro (~$302) or 45,000 points.
At most properties it seems like each IHG point gets you roughly 0.6-0.7 cents toward the cost of a Mr. & Mrs. Smith stay. That’s not half bad — I value IHG points at 0.5 cents each — though again, that doesn’t factor in that you might find these properties cheaper through other channels.
IHG elite perks with Mr. and Mrs. Smith
What should you expect in terms of elite recognition at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties?
All IHG members booking through IHG receive a “BlackSmith welcome gift,” subject to availability. The details of this will be listed on the hotel’s IHG webpage.
While IHG elite status doesn’t get you anything extra, you do get something extra if you have InterContinental Ambassador, InterContinental Royal Ambassador, or Kimpton Inner Circle status. Specifically, you receive a “GoldSmith welcome gift” (something above the BlackSmith welcome gift), plus a complimentary room upgrade of one category, subject to availability upon arrival.
Is IHG’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith partnership worth it?
The partnership between IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith is exciting on the surface — members of a major global hotel loyalty program get access to some ridiculously cute, boutique properties. As is often the case with these kinds of collaborations, I find the execution to be a bit lacking, and I still haven’t found a case where this was the best way to book.
I think it’s always worth being aware of this partnership and looking at the rates and points requirements for Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties through IHG. However:
- Earning points for stays at independent properties is cool, but all too often you’ll find better deals elsewhere, whether it’s a lower rate or more perks for booking another way
- Redeeming points is tricky, as I find availability to be ridiculously limited; I don’t really get that, because if pricing is dynamic and revenue based, why can’t IHG just make all rooms available for points at some cost?
A majority of Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties also belong to programs like Virtuoso, and it’s not worth giving up perks like free breakfast, a room upgrade, a property credit, etc., in order to earn some points, in my opinion.
IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith have a loyalty collaboration, whereby IHG One Rewards members can earn and redeem points for stays at hundreds of independent luxury properties.
IHG isn’t the only major hotel group to have a collaboration like this, as both Hyatt and Marriott have similar partnerships. However, personally I find this one to be weakest in terms of execution. While there’s potentially going to be some value, make sure you’re managing your expectations.
You can redeem IHG points for Mr. & Mrs. Smith stays, and while redemption rates aren’t bad, availability can be extremely limited. Meanwhile you can also earn IHG points for stays at Mr. & Mrs. Smith properties, though there may often be a significant opportunity cost to doing so.
What do you make of the partnership between IHG and Mr. & Mrs. Smith?