Who wants to be a Millionnaire?
Fancy being a millionaire for a summer? We do. And in a collaboration with the InterContinental Hotels Group we are going to be. Kind of. Just not the money kind. But it does mean we will be sleeping on fresh pillows in some exciting IHG hotels as part of our summer plans that will now take us to The Philippines and Japan. You thought we were going to Scotland? Well so did we until a few weeks ago..
A different kind of millionaire
Who wants to be a millionaire? Well who doesn’t to be honest? My family could spend a million in an afternoon on their hobbies alone. Stuart would finally get his grand piano. Matthew would be invincible with his Necron collection. (Warhammer!) With a sleight of hand Cameron would sweep up every designer pack of Bicycle cards on Amazon. I’m not sure there is enough elastic on the planet to satisfy Hannah’s current craving for loom bands. And I can eat my body weight in cheese with a nice glass of wine.
So when an e-mail offering to raise us to millionaire status drops into my in box, I click on it. Wouldn’t you? Even though I’m not expecting much. Who gives away a million pounds other than spammers?
Points make prizes
But this e-mail isn’t spam and it isn’t about money. It’s about dreams. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) are offering to make ours happen. With a gift of a million. Points not pounds. A million points which we can spend any way we like via their Rewards Club scheme. And this loyalty scheme isn’t like the supermarket clubcard where you get a day out at Alton Towers and a free pizza from a high street chain. The IHG Rewards Club scheme is the world’s largest hotel loyalty programme. It is free to join and offers its members all manner of treats earned simply by staying at the hotels. It is a beautifully wrapped gift for a family who like to travel. We can buy hotels, flights, car hire, goods like iPads and Red Letter Days of unimaginable excitement.
And spending a million points appears stress free too; it’s a case of going on the IHG Rewards Club website and pick-and-mixing what you want. Cameron is the first to hear our news and wastes no time in putting forward his bid for what we should do with the loot. He e-mails Stuart a hastily put together itinerary from his bedroom where he has retreated to practice shuffling by throwing all his cards up into the air.
“I think we should get a plane to Italy then hire a rental car to drive up to the Alps for the ultimate snow sports adventure. But before we go we’ll need to buy an iTunes voucher for some music because our family car journeys are SO BORING. On the way home we can stop off at Lancashire to do the Red Letter Days Ferrari Experience where you tear around in a nice car. But then I’m not 18. And if I can’t drive because I’m not 18, then I’d rather wait a few years until I’ve got my licence than get in a Ferrari with Mum at the wheel.”
Charming. Hannah meanwhile has been on the website and would like a drill. I don’t understand. “A drill?” I question her. “Yes please,” she replies. I think she’s been spending too much time with her Dad.
A timely e-mail
The million points offer is both timely and inconvenient. We are working in The Philippines for a fortnight at the start of the summer and our plan was originally to return home and bike around the highlands of Scotland. But now we are on a website offering us travel experiences beyond our wildest dreams. Suddenly we are not necessarily going to Scotland to be nipped by midges in a tent. Suddenly we see the potential for extending our trip and visiting…well where? The whole world is our oyster. IHG appear to have hotels and car hire available in just about every major city in the world and not just their own brand hotels. There’s plenty to choose from within their stable with more than 674,000 rooms in 4,700 hotels under nine household brand names including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn but we are not restricted to that. So much choice it’s almost disabling.
A game with serious points
With her nose for online gameplay Hannah discovers a game on the IHG website. Minute Millionaire gives you a million theoretical reward points and a minute to spend them. If you run out of time you can start again, loading your basket like crazy. It was part of a recent campaign run in the UK, Germany and Austria in which five people won 1 million points each in a prize draw by playing the game and filling their own baskets with hotels, flights and goods. The deadline for entries has passed but we have a go anyway. How easy is it to spend a million points? Well. here’s how we get on:
It’s not easy being a millionaire
The game is fun but it doesn’t provide a definitive answer about what we should do. Hannah now has her drill, and for some unfathomable reason has persuaded her dad to purchase a hoover to go with it. I seem to have put enough wine in my basket to accompany my cheese until the end of time. And Cameron is going pretty much everywhere in all manner of vehicles that he may or may not be able to drive. But the world is still our oyster. With so many choices being a millionaire really isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“We could do London. And go to sushi making school.” I say, viewing my selections in the game.
“We can do a lot more than that with a million points. We could go eat Sushi in Japan,” says Stuart.
And now, dear reader, we find ourselves with a Japan plan for the summer.
The Japan plan
After three weeks in The Philippines seeing how the country and its tourism has recovered since typhoon Haiyan, we are off to Japan. To make sushi and taste sake and climb the Alps and perhaps cycle round Mount Fuji. We hope to spot Geisha girls, make noodles in the cup noodle factory, buy strange things from vending machines and cuddle cats and rabbits in cafes. We will explore some of the major cities, staying in IHG hotels, and the countryside too; the parks and the islands and the bamboo groves. We will view temples and floating gates and castles. We will try zen and manga and karaoke and karate. We will explore war and peace in Hiroshima, tradition in Kyoto and neon in Tokyo. We will hike and bike and drive. I may well take the wheel in some of the maddest cities on earth…sorry Cameron. We will see exactly what experiences a million reward points can buy and what dreams they can lend themselves to creating. We’ll be playing the game for real this time. And, for added authenticity, we’ll have Japanese names…
The Japan taster weekend
But first, at the weekend, we are off to find Japan in London. Watch out for our post next week. We will be staying in London’s and checking out an IHG Hotel in London’s Far East, the Staybridge Suites next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We’ll be making sushi at Yo Sushi, an IHG Red Letter Day experience, checking our their new High Street Kensington Restaurant. We’ll be tracking down the best noodles in town, finding the only peace pagoda memorial to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the UK, visiting a Japanese store, buying some high tech gadgets and meditating in the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park in an effort to stay grounded despite our millionaire status. And if we’ve time I plan to learn how to make an origami swan. Just because.
We’d love you to join us on our journey. In the meantime, does anyone have a drill we can borrow? We have a few little jobs to do before we go…
Disclosure Note:This post is brought to you in a collaboration with InterContinental Hotels Group as part of a promotion of their Rewards Club scheme. The views and experience remain, as ever, entirely our own.