Le Club AccorHotels Review – Just How Bad Is It?

2018-05-29T18:15:48+00:00 May 29th, 2018|Hotel Loyalty Programs, Reviews, Reward Programs|

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Introduction

Back in December Fairmont President’s Club members learned the fate of their beloved program with the news that Le Club AccorHotels would replace FPC beginning July 2, 2018. Unlike other programs, such as Starwood and Marriott, where management decided to take features from both programs when merging, Accor decided to just outright replace The President’s Club, leaving a lot of Fairmont loyalists quite upset (myself included). I’ve decided to write a complete Le Club AccorHotels review to highlight the program and showcase the main differences compared with Fairmont President’s Club (hint: it’s not good).

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of the Le Club AccorHotels. Fairmont had a very different program with some unique benefits. Free-night certificates and suite upgrades allowed for some truly aspirational hotel stays that wouldn’t be attainable for me had I been paying cash. Furthermore, extra benefits such as the locally authentic dining experience and spa certificates were a nice extra for those special stays. All of this will be gone with Le Club AccorHotels, and that’s sad. At least Fairmont was kind enough to offer a second set of certificates to their elite members with two stays between January and July of this year. If you haven’t taken advtange of this, now is your last chance!

Le Club AccorHotels Review – The Basics

Using ‘basic’ in the subheading is a bit misleading, because nothing seems basic about Le Club AccorHotels. Seriously, I can’t think of a more confusing loyalty program, though I’ll attempt to break it down for you.

First of all, Le Club AccorHotel members receive two types of points:

  • Status points
  • Reward points

Status points, as you might expect, count towards elite status (more on that later). Reward points, on the other hand, can be used for redemptions, including discount vouchers towards hotel stays (more on that later also, but don’t get too excited).

For elite status, there are 4 tiers, including:

  • Classic – upon enrolment
  • Silver – after 10 nights or 2,000 status points
  • Gold – after 30 nights or 7,000 status points
  • Platinum – after 60 nights or 14,000 status points

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Earning Status

There are two types of ways to earn status – through nights, or through status points. I’ll be using top-tier platinum as the goal throughout this review to keep things simple, so for that you would need to earn either 14,000 status points, or stay 60 nights at participating hotels.

Which is easier? It depends on your travel habits, but more likely through status points. At first I thought it could be done by staying at a bunch of cheap ibis hotels around the world, but naturally the cheapest Accor properties don’t participate in  Le Club AccorHotels. Of all of the Accor brands, the only properties participating in the program (assuming all of the recently acquired Fairmont brands will be eligible) are:

  • Raffles
  • Fairmont
  • Rixos
  • Sofitel
  • Pullman
  • MGallery
  • Grand Mercure
  • The Sebel
  • Swissôtel
  • Novotel
  • Suite Novotel
  • Mercure
  • Ibis (only in Hong Kong)
  • Ibis Styles (previously all-seasons)
  • Adagio
  • Mama Shelter

And how do you earn status points? Of course it’s not something simple like 1 point/dollar. Instead, you can earn:

  • 25 status points/10 Euro (€) at all hotels except ibis, ibis style, Mama Shelter, Adagio and Adagio Access
  • 12.5 status points/€10 at ibis, ibis style and Mama Shelter
  • 10 status points/€10 at Adagio
  • 5 status points/€10 at Adagio Access

Oh, and a huge caveat is that status points are earned on the base room rate onlyso you can forget about earning status points for taxes, resort fees, incidentals, etc.

Let’s look at an example: 

Say you stay exclusively at Adagio Access properties and want Platinum status. Based on status points, you would need to spend a whopping $48,425CAD, at a rate of 5 points/€10. Crazy, to say the least (in this example you would actually earn Platinum status before reaching this total based on number of nights, assuming most Adagio Access properties don’t sell for $800/night).

If, however, you stay at Sofitel (or Fairmont assuming it’s the same earn rate), you would need to spend about $8,500 at a rate of 25 points/€10 (not including taxes, which could easily be another 10-20 percent). Not as bad, but still bad. If you wanted to become Platinum by night count rather than points, you could expect to spend roughly $18,000/year, assuming an average nightly rate of $300 (not unrealistic for Sofitel, Fairmont, etc).

Let’s compare that to the outgoing Fairmont President’s Club:

To be fair, I’ll use two examples. First, the way I earned Platinum status by staying 5 nights at The Fairmont Singapore. Normally Platinum status would require 30 nights or 10 stays, but The American Express Platinum Card had a benefit where cardmembers could accelerate their Platinum status by having just 5 nights.

I booked the Fairmont Singapore and managed to get a best rate guarantee offer, bringing my nightly rate down to $157/night. After taxes, the 5-night stay cost roughly $880CAD, and with that I had Platinum status. I’ll be fair and even throw the Platinum Card fee into the calculation for out-of-pocket cost, for a total of $1,579. As an aside, we also were upgraded to a Junior Penthouse Suite while in Singapore, courtesy of a Platinum Suite Upgrade from Brad’s account (these will be discontinued with Le Club AccorHotels).

View From The Singapore Fairmont Penthouse Living Room

View From The Singapore Fairmont Penthouse Living Room Using A Suite-Upgrade Certificate

Even if you didn’t have a Platinum Card, and qualified by staying 10 nights, the cost would be significantly less than Le Club AccorHotels. The Fairmont properties in Vancouver regularly sell for between $200-$300/night in the off season. Assuming you’re a business traveller who has many one-night stays, you could ultimately get 10 stays for $3,000, which would qualify you for Platinum. Still about $5,500 less than the best case scenario with Le Club AccorHotels.

The Fairmont Waterfront Regularly Has Rooms Between $200-$300 Outside Of Summer

The Fairmont Waterfront Regularly Has Rooms Between $200-$300 Outside Of Summer

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Reward Points

One of the key changes I hear over and over again from various Fairmont staff is how great it will be to earn reward points on stays under the new program! Similar to status points, members also receive a redeemable points currency that can be used towards hotel stays or transferred to airline partners. Sounds great, but wait, there’s a catch (more on that in a bit).

Earning Points

Unlike status points, reward points are awarded depending on elite status and are earned on incidentals such as parking and taxes. Similar to status points, the number of points earned varies by property, with the following chart showing the different earning rates.

Reward Points Earning Rates - Le Club AccorHotels Review

Reward Points Earning Rates – Le Club AccorHotels Review

Redeeming Points – Hotel Stays

Now for the fun part! Reward points can be redeemed for free-nights, with 2,000 points translating into €40. With that, let’s do some math!

The Fairmont Pacific Rim charges $494 per night during peak season for a Fairmont Room. Assuming you’re Platinum, and Fairmont earns 44 points/€10, you can expect to get 1436 Reward points for your one-night stay, which is, well, good for nothing.

Converted to Euro, the Pacific Rim would cost roughly €328.50, meaning you would need 16,000 Reward points for a free night stay (actually that would cover €320, and you would need to pay the last €8.50). To earn 16,000 Reward points, you would need to spend approximately $5,500CAD at any top earning Accor property as a Platinum member, which isn’t a very good return.

Spend $5,500 With Accor And You'll Have Almost Enough For A Free Night At The Fairmont Pacific Rim

Spend $5,500 With Accor And You’ll Have Almost Enough For A Free Night At The Fairmont Pacific Rim

Ready for the best part? Reward points can only be redeemed towards eligible rates booked directly with the hotel. In other words, discounted rates (such as advance purchase, special promotions, AAA rates, etc) are all ineligible. In order to use points for a discount, you need to book the expensive, fully-flexible rate. Unbelievable.

Redeeming Points – Airline Partners

This is how I’ll be using my Reward points if I ever have any stays (though I probably wont have many based on the tone of this Le Club AccorHotels review). Reward points can be transferred to a number of airlines, and the transfer rate is OK. Participating airlines relevant to Canadians include (full list can be found here):

  • British Airways
  • Aeroplan – Air Canada
  • Air France KLM
  • Alitalia
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Etihad
  • Singapore Airlines

Transfer rates are 2:1 for the above programs, with varying minimum transfer amounts.

Let’s look at that Pacific Rim example from above to see how the Le Club AccorHotels compares with the outgoing Fairmont President’s Club for earning airline miles.

As a Fairmont Platinum, I’m eligible to earn 1,000 airlines miles per stay, so I would get exactly that regardless of the paid rate.

Assuming after taxes and parking the Fairmont Pacific Rim totalled $700, I would earn 2035 points as a Le Club AccorHotels Platinum member. If I wanted to transfer to Aeroplan, I would be out of luck since the program requires a minimum of 4,000 points to be transferred. However, once the threshold is met, it’s about equivalent to the 1,000 Aeroplan miles (2,000 converts to 1,000) – the same as what I would earn as a Fairmont Platinum.

Where the Fairmont President’s Club really outshines for airline miles is on cheaper stays. For example, I would earn the same 1,000 miles on a $200 stay in the off-season, whereas that same stay would only earn 581 Reward points, or the equivalent of 290 airline miles, with Le Club AccorHotels. Ouch.

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Elite Benefits

This is where Le Club AccorHotels really shines…. said nobody ever. Sure, there are elite benefits, but almost everything is ‘on request’ or ‘at participating properties’ or ‘subject to availability’. That doesn’t sound very rewarding to me….

Let’s take a look at the different benefits based on status level:

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Classic Benefits

Pretty standard list of fake benefits. Note that Classic level doesn’t actually include Priority Pass membership, but rather just a discount on membership (most readers will already have access through a premium credit card). The only real benefit I see here is WiFi, which may not be complimentary at some hotels without being a member.

Le Club AccorHotels Review - Classic Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Classic Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Silver Benefits

Silver sees some improvement in elite recognition, with all that Classic has to offer in addition to a welcome drink, priority check-in (dedicated line for elites), and late check-out on request. Don’t forget to ask about your welcome drink, as many properties don’t proactively offer the voucher. Also, late check-out is on request and at the discretion of the property subject to availability.

Le Club AccorHotels Review - Silver Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Silver Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Gold Benefits

Now we’re cooking with gas! Gold elite members are eligible to receive everything above, plus a welcome amenity, room upgrade subject to availability (some persuasion may be required), and early check-in on request. Please note that Gold members can request early check-in or late check-out, but not both, and neither are guaranteed. How rewarding!

Le Club AccorHotels Review - Gold Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Gold Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Platinum Benefits

Normally hotel loyalty programs save the very best for top-tier elite members, but Accor has decided to offer most of the benefits to Gold Elite, which has me questioning who in their right mind would shoot for the extra 7,000 Status points required for Platinum Elite. Literally the only difference between Gold and Platinum is guaranteed room availability 2 days prior to check-in rather than 3 (does anyone actually use this?!), the option to request early check-in and late check-out, rather than choosing one (still not guaranteed), and lounge access at participating properties. Before you get excited, Accor must have the smallest portfolio of hotels with lounges, with exactly zero in North America (you can be assured Fairmont Gold lounges will not be added to the list of participating properties).

Le Club AccorHotels Review - Platinum Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review – Platinum Elite Benefits

Le Club AccorHotels Review Bottom Line

I realize my Le Club AccorHotels review was overwhelmingly negative, but that’s because it’s a really lousy program in comparison to The Fairmont President’s Club.

Not only are we seeing the loss of Fairmont certificates (which is what really made that program special, in my opinion), but also the dilution of elite recognition on property. Gone are the days of guaranteed early check-in and late check-out, only to be replaced with ‘on request’ and ‘subject to availability’. I’ve had a lot of travel with overnight flights where I specifically booked Fairmont for the guaranteed early arrival. Last thing I want to do is sit in a lobby after a redeye flight because my request couldn’t be accommodated. That’s not my definition of elite recognition.

Will I ever stay at a Fairmont hotel again? Yes, most definitely, but I think that’s exactly why Accor failed to reinvent their loyalty program – they didn’t have to. Fairmont has a unique collection of properties around the world that people will book regardless of the loyalty program in place (myself included). Will the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai sit empty because the loyalty program sucks? I think not. I may just think twice on business trips where there are a dozen other options from Marriott with similar (or better) elite benefits.

Historic Properties Like The Peace Hotel Are Unlikely To Be Impacted By Offering A Less Competitive Loyalty Program

Historic Properties Such As The Peace Hotel Are Unlikely To Be Impacted By Offering A Less Competitive Loyalty Program

I’ll be having one or two more Fairmont stays with the existing program before it changes on July 2, including a stay at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport on the recently renovated Gold Floor later this week! You can bet I’ll be taking full advantage of early check-in/late check-out for maximum indulgence (and great plane spotting from the rooms).

How do you feel about Le Club AccorHotels replacing The Fairmont President’s Club? Is it enough to keep you loyal to the brand? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style. Want to learn how you can travel the world on points, like Tyler? Check out the ebook for more expert advice.

16 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Tickel May 29, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    The only positive I have had with the program change was being able to cash out my e-rewards dollars to 20,000 Accor points and platinum status. They have since closed the trick, and e-rewards dollars no longer count for status. Will enjoy the 400euro credit for some staycations in Quebec City. Luckily I have been able to become personally acquainted with managers at all the Quebec province Fairmonts and have been told that they will continue to offer me the extra benefits which I am used to receiving. Apparently this next great rates great dates in going to be the last. Too bad. Hope they bring that back.

    • Tyler Weatherup May 29, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      Hey Geoffrey,

      That’s a nice credit! Similar to you, I’ve fostered a lot of positive relationships locally with the Vancouver properties who have assured me it will be business as usual and I likely won’t even notice a change, though I doubt I’ll see the same loyalty recognition when travelling.

      Too bad about Great Rates – that was a terrific program!

      -Tyler

  2. Kyle May 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    The only way most will be staying at a Fairmont is through FHR which has significantly superior benefits.

    Love the sarcasm in the review!

    • Tyler Weatherup May 29, 2018 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Kyle,

      Me?? Sarcastic?? I don’t think so…. 😉

      I agree – FHR will be the way to go once all of my certificates are dried up. I definitely wont be chasing Accor status after 2019.

      -Tyler

  3. Richard May 29, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Sounds like a glorified cash back program with terrible elite benefits. Am I missing anything?

    • Tyler Weatherup May 29, 2018 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Richard,

      That’s basically it – revenue based programs have no opportunity for ‘outsized’ redemptions, and the Accor elite benefits are lacking compared to other programs.

      -Tyler

  4. Kelly H. August 11, 2018 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Hey Tyler – good analysis and comparison of the two rewards systems. I too, was a Fairmont girl – and almost always earned Platinum every year – (I’m going to miss my bundle of restaurant coupons at Shuckers in Seattle). A few things I have noticed now that everything has changed, is that it is darn near impossible to sign into your profile on Fairmont’s website and it always reroutes you to the Accor website which is very confusing, Also for the best stay at the Seattle Fairmont on their website it lists the best offer as $305 US per night and the same stay dates at the same Fairmont on the Accor site is $900 per night! What the heck! Why are there two different prices (and a big difference) for supposedly the same hotel chain? Also when I book on Fairmont’s site I am guaranteed to be only on Fairmont’s site, whereas on the Accor site it suspiciously looks like it links to Trip Advisor, of which I have had some bad dealings with in the past. I can honestly say that I will likely never stay at a Fairmont again because of this merger.

    • Tyler Weatherup August 14, 2018 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Hi Kelly,

      I agree that the new login procedure for Fairmont/Accor is painful. Often I need to reset my password and am ultimately routed to Accor for login.

      I can’t say why there’s such a price discrepancy! Hopefully that’s just a glitch and we will soon see prices align across the booking platforms. In my experience Fairmont had a fantastic best rate guarantee, though I haven’t heard any data points on whether Accor honours it the same.

      Sadly my Fairmont days are winding down too. It’s one thing that the program is terrible, but I also fear that technical gremlins and poor customer service will become the new norm.

      We just burned most of our last certificates on a stay at The Fairmont Mayakoba. Was upgraded to a beach area Casita suite with private pool overlooking the ocean. It was a great parting gift!

      -Tyler

  5. Ramon September 12, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Customer service… atrocious

    • Brittany Menard September 12, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      Agreed Ramon! I’m dealing with an issue with Accor right now, and when I call, they tell me to email, and when I email they tell me to call. And to make matters worse, they are having so many problems with the loyalty program, they simply aren’t answering the phone! After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, it just disconnects the call. Unreal.

  6. Commirsh September 13, 2018 at 9:47 am - Reply

    I, too have the AMEX platinum to achieve Platinum at Fairmont after 5 nights. I stayed 7 nights in March, 2018, and should have achieved status based on that alone, but didn’t have “two stays”, so didn’t get certificates. I called Accor, and they said there is a “special unit” handling merger issues…but you can’t speak to them directly…and it will take weeks for them to respond to the inquiry…and I’m sure that response will be based on whatever the Accor agent hopefully passed on to them, which might be inaccurate or incomplete, since I don’t get to see what was shared. It is mind boggling that Accor presents itself as “award-winning”. I’m not sure a poorer hotel rewards program exists. Sadly, it also means the AMEX card doesn’t provide enough value for the cost anymore, so bye-bye.

    • Brittany Menard September 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m also blown away at the fact they call themselves award winning when the customer service as been atrocious so far. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get a hold of anyone. I actually had to laugh out loud when my call was disconnected after 10 minutes of being on hold. No call back option, or even an option to wait longer, just “goodbye!”. I’m sure lots of Amex/Fairmont lovers are feeling the same way right now and will shift their loyalty elsewhere.

  7. Roger Dowe September 19, 2018 at 2:32 am - Reply

    The whole Accor loyalty program is a sham. The consultants taking calls have No Idea how the program operates. We have just tried to make an amendment. The consultant (David) cancelled our existing booking ( without our knowledge) and then proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes explaining why we couldn’t book an alternative and to further complicate things said he had already cancelled our existing booking and could not rebooked it
    What a shambles. We are absolutely NOT renewing our membership.

    • Brittany Menard September 20, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

      Yikes, sorry to hear about your experience Roger! Definitely not fun to feel helpless. I’m not sure how many more people need to voice their displeasure before Accor fixes their loyalty program! Do you have another brand you’re looking to switch your loyalty to?

  8. JRL September 26, 2018 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Will there be any new content on this blog anytime soon or just more ads and links to credit cards that have nothing to do with travel hacking? Scary how fast it’s gone downhill.

    • Brittany Menard September 27, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Justin,

      Yes, there will be plenty of new travel hacking posts launching in the next 2 weeks. And we have always posted links to credit card offers – this is nothing new. Stay tuned.

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