Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) has a loyalty program named Leaders Club, and it has just undergone some positive changes.
What is Leading Hotels of the World?
Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) is a collection of independent luxury hotels, with nearly 400 properties around the globe. Chances are that you’re familiar with some of LHW’s properties, even if you didn’t know they were associated with the group.
You should think of Leading Hotels of the World as more of a hotel marketing group than as a single hotel group. LHW doesn’t manage its hotels, but rather markets a group of otherwise independent luxury hotels. As a matter of fact, many properties of smaller hotel groups (like Rocco Forte) belong to LHW.
Think of Leading Hotels of the World as being along the lines of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), which World of Hyatt has a partnership with.
Leading Hotels of the World Leaders Club loyalty program
In the past, the Leading Hotels of the World Leaders Club loyalty program was a paid membership program. You had to pay $175 per year to join, and you received certain benefits. That has finally changed — as of today, Leaders Club is a program that’s free to join, and it comes with some significant benefits you wouldn’t expect from a program that’s free. Let’s go over the details.
Leaders Club membership benefits
Just for joining the Leaders Club program, you receive the following benefits:
- Upgrade by one category upon arrival, subject to availability
- Daily continental breakfast for two
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi
- Members-only room pricing
- The ability to earn points; you earn one point per dollar spent, and free nights start at 4,000 points
On top of that, after you complete your first eligible stay as a Leaders Club member, you’ll receive one pre-arrival upgrade per calendar year that can be used for any qualifying stay. You simply have to request the upgrade when you book, and you’ll be informed before check-in whether the next eligible room category is available.
Leaders Club Sterling membership benefits
If you spend at least $5,000 on qualifying Leaders Club stays in a calendar year, you’ll receive Leaders Club Sterling status. This comes with additional perks, including the following:
- Five pre-arrival upgrades per calendar year
- A 5% annual points bonus, based on all the points earned
Frankly the incremental benefits here don’t seem huge. Five pre-arrival one category upgrades aren’t that significant (especially if you otherwise get an upgrade subject to availability at check-in), and a 5% points bonus is hardly anything to get too excited over.
Is the LHW Leaders Club program worth it?
There’s no doubt that Leading Hotels of the World’s new Leaders Club loyalty program is a massive improvement over the old one. Previously you had to pay to join, so it was clearly an attempt to generate revenue, while now the program is free for all members, with the goal being to get as many people as possible to participate.
On the surface this new program is great for an independent hotel group, as you receive perks like free breakfast and room upgrades. But there’s one major thing that may limit the usefulness of this — specifically, many (most?) LHW hotels also belong to programs like Virtuoso.
With programs like Virtuoso, you receive perks like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, and hotel credits, when booking through an eligible travel advisor. As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of the perks here.
According to the terms of Leaders Club, benefits apply when booking direct with LHW, and when booking through a travel agent, though only for publicly available rates and Leaders Club special member only rates. I could be wrong, but I interpret that to mean that Virtuoso rates wouldn’t qualify for Leaders Club benefits.
If that’s the case, that’s a shame, because in many cases Virtuoso will offer more value than booking through Leaders Club, thanks to the hotel credit or other property specific amenity offered by the program.
Leading Hotels of the World has refreshed its loyalty program, and the changes are great for members. The program is now free for everyone to join, and offers perks like free breakfast and room upgrades. This is a great improvement over the old program, which offered similar perks, but at a cost.
While I’m not sure this program would cause me to switch any stays to LHW (especially given the limited incremental perks for earning “status”), this is definitely something to keep in mind if you have any stays coming up with the luxury hotel group.
What do you make of LHW’s new Leaders Club loyalty program?