Today (September 13, 2019): Shangri-La’s loyalty program Golden Circle) explained.
Being a member of a hotel loyalty program is one of the easiest ways to get free nights and/or score upgrades at luxury hotels. I previously published the details, with pros & cons, of the loyalty programs of Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Hotels.com, Jumeirah, AccorHotels, and The Leading Hotels of the World. Today, I have a look at the loyalty program of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.
The Shangri-La story began in 1971 with a deluxe hotel in Singapore. Today, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group and regarded as one of the world’s finest hotel ownership and management companies. Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, the name Shangri-La encapsulates the serenity and service for which its hotels and resorts are renowned worldwide. Owning and/or managing over 100 hotels and resorts throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, the Shangri-La group has a room inventory of over 40,000. The company not only manages the Shangri-La brand, but also Traders Hotels, Kerry Hotels, and Hotel Jen. Shangri-La’s loyalty program is called Golden Circle.
What’s your opinion about Shangri-La Golden Circle? Leave a comment below.
In this overview, I explain the Golden Circle program:
- Membership tiers
- Earn points with Golden Circle
- Redeem awards & travel for free
- Pros & things I like about Golden Circle
- Cons & things I don’t like about Golden Circle
- Key points
- Poll: what’s the best hotel loyalty program?
GOLDEN CIRCLE: MEMBERSHIP TIERS
Golden Circle (GC) membership is free and gives you access to a range of benefits the second you join the program. Status upgrades are awarded according to the number of nights spent or the number of points earned at hotels that participate in the program, opening the door to even more benefits and perks. GC has three membership tiers:
- Gold membership is activated by earning a minimum of 50 GC points at any Shangri-La hotel, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen, and entitles you to the following (minor) benefits:
Pre-registration for easy check-in
Priority waitlist for room reservations
- Cash advance of up to $250 USD per stay on major credit cards (no hotel commission or handling fee)
- Complimentary local calls
- Welcome fruit platter
- Jade membership is awarded after 20 qualifying nights or 10 qualifying stays in a calendar year at any Shangri-La hotel, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen, and comes with all the Gold benefits, plus:
Priority check-in and check-out at an exclusively designated area
- Daily buffet breakfast served at Café Restaurant or designated restaurant
- Upgrade to the next best room category, if the reserved room type is not available at check-in
Priority waitlist for room reservations
- Guaranteed room availability for reservations made 72 hours prior to arrival
- Early check-in / late check-out – 11am / 4pm
25% bonus GC Award Points
- Choice of three welcome amenities (e.g. chocolates, fresh fruits, etc …)
- Diamond membership is awarded upon 50 qualifying nights or 25 qualifying stays in a calendar year at any Shangri-La hotel, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen. and comes with all the Gold and Jade benefits, plus:
Access to Horizon / Traders Club Lounge, where available
Priority check-in and check-out at Horizon / Traders Club Lounge or in-room check-in, where available
Daily buffet breakfast served at Café Restaurant, Horizon / Traders Club Lounge, where available
- Partner enjoys access to Horizon / Traders Club Lounge, where available
- Concierge services for non-staying guests
- Guaranteed room availability for reservations made 48 hours prior to arrival
Guaranteed bed type at time of reservation
- Early check-in / late check-out – 8am / 6pm
- Pressing for one suit upon arrival
- Use of selected resort facilities
A bottle of red or white wine as welcome amenity
- Cash advance of up to USD300 per stay on major credit cards (no hotel commission or handling fee)
- Long distance calls and faxes at cost price
- 50% bonus GC Award Points
GOLDEN CIRCLE: EARN POINTS
You can earn GC Award Points by:
- Staying at a Shangri-La hotel, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen
- Spending on laundry at a Shangri-La hotel, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen
- Enjoying a meal, a drink or a treatment at Chi, The Spa (even when not staying at the hotel)
- Paying with a Shangri-La branded credit card
- Directly buying them online
- Staying at Taj Hotels (more on that below)
GC Award Points are issued at the rate of one point per whole US dollar of qualifying spending at all participating Shangri-La hotel, resort, Traders hotel or Kerry hotel. Spends in local currencies are converted into US dollars for the purpose of point calculation.
As a Jade or Diamond member, you will also earn 25% and 50% bonus GC Award Points respectively on all qualifying spending.
GOILDEN CIRCLE: REDEEM POINTS & TRAVEL FOR FREE
You can redeem your GC Award Points for a variety of attractive awards:
- You can use your GC Award Points for free room nights at any Shangri-La hotel, resort, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel or Hotel Jen worldwide. Award redemptions start at 1,000 for a standard room in smaller Asian cities right up to 20,000 in London, Paris and The Maldives. You can check out the award chart here.
- You can use your GC Award Points to upgrade your standard room to a Horizon/Traders Club Room or an Executive Suite. Upgrades start at 800 points to Horizon/Traders Club Rooms right up to 5,000, and at 2,000 points for upgrades to Executive Suites, right up to 9,500.
- You can use your GC Award points at participating restaurants or bars, or treat yourself at Chi, The Spa.
- You can redeem your GC Award Points on a selection of lifestyle awards, including exquisite fine wines from Kerry Wines, travel experiences provided by Klook, Bowers & Wilkins premium sound products and other lifestyle electronics.
- You can use your GC Award Points to make a difference and donate your points to charities or social responsibility projects. Each donation starts from 2,000 GC Award Points to a maximum of 10,000 points. For every 1,000 GC Award Points you give out Golden Circle will make a US$20 contribution on your behalf to your choose charity.
- You can convert your GC Award Points to airline miles with Shangri-La’s participating airline partners. For every 1 GC Award Point that you earn, you get 1 airline mile. All you need to do is convert a minimum of 2,500 GC Award Points, with subsequent 500-point increments.
- You can also convert your GC Award Points to Tai InnerCircle Points, the loyalty program of Taj Hotels. 100 GC Award Points can be converted in 67 TIC Points.
PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT GOLDEN CIRCLE
- Every time you stay at a Shangri-La property, you can choose to earn either GC Award points or between 500 and 1000 miles per stay (not night) across a wide range of airline frequent flyer partners. You simply need to present your airline partner program membership card upon check-in, and Shangri-La will reward you with airline miles in your preferred airline partner program.
- Shangri-La’s Golden Circle partners with Tai InnerCircle Points, the loyalty program of Taj Hotels, to create a loyalty offering called Warmer Welcomes. By simply connecting your Golden Circle membership with the Taj InnerCircle guest loyalty program, this alliance gives you greater recognition whenever you travel, along with seamless access to benefits and privileges among both hotel groups:
- You earn 3 GC Award Points for each $5 USD spending when staying at any Taj hotel.
- Jade and Diamond GC members enjoy the perks of elite status match across all Shangri-La and Taj hotels (GC Jade = TIC Gold and GC Diamond = TIC Platinum).
- You can convert and redeem points easily between Golden Circle and Taj InnerCircle (100 GC Award Points = 67 TIC Points), enabling you to redeem your points for a stay at a Taj hotel.
- Golden Circle has a special relationship with KrisFlyer, the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines (which I reviewed here). The partnership between Singapore Airlines and Shangri-La is called Infinite Journey and has the following benefits:
- You can match your Golden Circle Jade status to KrisFlyer Silver
- You can transfer your GC Award points to KrisFlyer at a 25% bonus conversion rate of 1 point to 1.25 miles
- You can double-dip by earning KrisFlyer miles and Golden Circle points on Shangri-La stays
- Golden Circle offers excellent customer service. You can call their member services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 1800 222 448 or emailing email@example.com. From my experience, they are very quick at responding to emails.
- Shangri-La is one of the few luxury hotel brands that offers a loyalty program.
- The program is very simple : you earn points and redeem them for free awards.
- To ensure that you are always getting the best deal, Shangri-La guarantees that the room rates on its website are the lowest publicly available on the Internet. Within 24 hours of making a booking at our lowest room rate on this web site, if you do find a publicly available room rate on another web site that is lower than your booking, Shangri-La will honour that lower rate, plus give you a further 10% discount off the lower rate. Terms and conditions apply and can be found here.
- Shangri-La also operates a special program for an exclusive group of travel agents – called Shangri-La Luxury Circle – that will give you even better values than those offered by GC. When you book a Shangri-La hotel through a travel agent that is member of Shangri-La Luxury Circle (such as Classic Travel), you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary daily breakfast for two
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- Guaranteed upgrade at the time of booking, subject to availability
- VIP welcome amenities
- $100 USD to 10% of the average daily room rate, whichever is higher (one credit per stay)
- Enrollment into the GC program
- Dedicated concierge personnel to handle all requests
- A priority waitlist clearance in sold out hotels and a strict no walk policy
CONS & THINGS I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT GOLDEN CIRCLE
- Shangri-La is on the smaller side of a hotel chain, covering five brands – Shangri-La Hotels, Shangri-La Resorts, Traders Hotels, Kerry Hotels and Hotel Jen – at just over 110 hotels worldwide. The group’s loyalty program is mainly of interest to travelers who frequently visit Asia (where the bulk of its hotels are located).
- GC Award Points will expire on an annual basis, up to three calendar years (1 January to 31 December) after the end of the membership calendar year of accrual.
- The benefits are of little value compared to Shangri-La’s Luxury Circle program, which I explained above.
- The program has only a small number of partners, limiting your ways to earn and redeem points.
- Shangri-La offers an impressive portfolio of luxury hotels, where you earn and/or redeem points.
- Always make to sure to book a hotel via Shangri-La’s Luxury Circle program (which will also earn you GC Award Points).