The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) is an association of mostly independent luxury hotels and resorts that have joined together for marketing and cooperation purposes to enjoy an economy of scale and offer one stop shopping for affluent travelers through a website and annual printed guide that details all the properties. The group also has strict admission and retention standards, and all member hotels must qualify to join and re-qualify annually to prove they are worthy of the name “Leading Hotels of the World.” This gives the traveler a certain confidence and comfort level when booking a stay at pre-screened property. It is the largest such luxury hospitality organization in the world, representing over 430 hotels, resorts and spas in more than 80 countries.
Many of these are golf resorts, including some of the most famous on earth.
Because of a recent boom in golf interest at its member properties, LHW just launched a new program called “The Golf Society.” LHW Chief Marketing Officer Claudia Kozma Kaplan noted that “In 2011, our Leading Golf resorts had an increase in revenue of over 40%. This tremendous success reflects the appeal of our iconic golf courses at St. Andrews, Casa de Campo, Gleneagles, and Sandy Lane, to name only a few. Membership in the Golf Society will make for truly extraordinary experiences.”
Joining the Golf Society costs $400 per year, and besides the golf benefits, it includes full membership in LHW’s Leaders Club program, which in turn grants customers guaranteed room upgrades, free breakfast daily, a membership in the excellent Priority Pass program that lets them use airport lounges worldwide when travelling, early check-in and late check-out, and accrual of points towards free LHW travel.
The golf benefits include free club rental at all LHW properties, free “replay” greens fees, free driving range usage, a subscription to LINKS Magazine, the services of Golf Society Butler for tee times and hotel stays, and the option of participating the ‘Leaders Club Cup’, an annual 5-day event with a tournament on premier courses including Old Course at St. Andrews, Kingsbarns, and the Castle Course.
If you visit LHW properties like Gleneagles or Casa de Campo, this program can pay for itself in just one visit if you rent clubs and play 36 in a day. The Priority Pass membership alone is worth over $200, and I was a longtime member and used it frequently to make my travel much more palatable by utilizing excellent airport lounges around the country and abroad. Of course, the program is not for everyone, but if you travel in these luxurious circles, it may very well be for you.