GHA Discovery Guide
First published 13 December 2021
Last updated 26 August 2023
This GHA Discovery program guide is based upon GHA Discovery Terms & Conditions dated 28 June 2022
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Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) had flagged for a couple of months that it was revamping its Discovery loyalty program. Then, early in
December 2021 it launched the updated - GHA Discovery. The new GHA Discovery is quite different to the old Discovery,
reflecting a significant change in philosophy.
Key points are that members: GHA Discovery loyalty program launch
Summary / Overview
Let's take a closer look at the new GHA Discovery.
Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) had flagged for a couple of months that it was revamping its Discovery loyalty program. Then, early in December 2021 it launched the updated - GHA Discovery. The new GHA Discovery is quite different to the old Discovery, reflecting a significant change in philosophy.
Key points are that members:
GHA Discovery loyalty program launch
|GHA Brands and their Market Positioning|
|Geographic spread of GHA Hotels & Resorts locations|
|How the GHA Discovery program works|
|Gaining & Retaining GHA Dicovery Tier Status|
|Platinum Status from Business Traveller subscription|
|Platinum or Titanium Status for Elite Mastercards in APAC|
|Earning your D$|
|Using your D$|
|Expiration of Discovery Dollars|
|Special Features of the GHA Discovery program|
|Applying for GHA Discovery membership|
|GHA Discovery FAQ|
Global Hotel Alliance (or GHA) was founded in 2004 with the goal of helping independent, upscale and luxury hotel brands to compete with the global majors, while retaining their individuality.
Today, GHA has a range of 32 independent hotel brands (including NH Hotels, the most recent brand of Minor Hotels to join the GHA family), covering the range from midscale to luxury.
The range includes both city hotels and a collection of resorts. GHA also has a strategic partnership with Aimbridge Hospitality where the 100 properties managed by its independent, lifestyle division, Evolution Hospitality participate in the GHA Discovery program.
The latter is interesting, as the Evolution-managed properties consist of 100 hotel and resort properties in major metropolitan
markets across the United States, including some Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt properties.
|Company||Luxury||Upper upscale||Upscale||Upper midscale|
|AccorHotels||Sofitel, Fairmont, Raffles||Swissôtel, Grand Mercure||
Pullman, MGallery, The Sebel, Adagio Premium
Suite Novotel, Adagio,
|Best Western Hotels||WorldHotels||Best Western Premier, Vīb, BW Premier Collection||
Best Western Plus, Executive Residency by Best Western
|Hilton Worldwide||Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels||
Canopy by Hilton,
|Embassy Suites by Hilton||
Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton,
|Hyatt Hotels Corporation||Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt||Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Hotels, Andaz||Hyatt Place, Hyatt House Hotels, Hyatt Centric|
|InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)||Six Senses, InterContinental, Regent||Crowne Plaza, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants||
Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels, Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn Select, HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts
|Meliá Hotels International||Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, Paradisus||Meliá, Innside|
|Marriott International||Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari Hotels, Edition Hotels, JW Marriott Hotels, St. Regis, Luxury Collection||
Renaissance Hotels, Marriott, Autograph Collection, Delta, Marriott Executive Apartment, Gaylord Hotels, W Hotels, Design Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Tribute Portfolio
|AC Hotels, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft Hotels, Element Hotels||
MOXY Hotels, Protea Hotels,
|Global Hotels Alliance (GHA) Hotels||Anantara, Capella, Divani Collection, Kempinski, The Leela, Corinthia||Tivoli, Elewana, NH Collection, nHow, Avani, Pan Pacific||Parkroyal, Parkroyal Collection, Outrigger||NH Hotels, Oaks Hotels|
Source: extract from wikipedia.org
Following the departure of Omni Hotels early in 2021, there were approx 500 hotels. However, from early 2022, there are 950 properties (including the Evolution-managed ones) around the world, making it a medium size hotel loyalty program. In terms of number of properties participating, it sits roughly mid-way between Preferred Hotels and IHG.
Europe has the greatest proportion of properties to choose from. The US options were quite limited prior to the marketing partnership that added the Evolution-managed properties.
While the property locations appear to be fairly well spread, in practice the GHA portfolio consists of a collection of regionally based smaller hotel chains. So this is something to consider, as unlike other chains (especially the larger ones) you will not find a range of properties located throughout a region. Rather there are clusters of properties, which can vary from one regional brand to another.
At least you won't wake-up in the morning and think to yourself "I know I am in a BigBrand Hotel room, but which city is it today?"
This concentration is illustrated by Table 2.
(as at January 2022)
|GHA Hotels by Brand||Asia||Oceania||Europe||Middle East & Africa||US & Canada||Latin America & Caribbean||Total|
|JA Resorts & Hotels||0||0||0||10||0||0||10|
|Marco Polo Hotels||12||0||0||0||0||0||12|
(c) points N places 2021
This is great for variety, but means consistency has to be managed across the broader group under the GHA umbrella.
Nevertheless, there are particularly attractive hotels and resorts within the portfolio (especially the luxury ones in Asia and Europe), making this definitely a program to consider should the locations suit you.
Capella Ubud, Bali - a luxury tented camp nestled in the lush rainforest of Bali, Indonesia. It was named #1 in Top 15 Asia Resort Hotels and #5 in Top 100 Hotels in the World by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2021
Each GHA Discovery member must be a natural person over the age of 18 and may only hold one account. (T&C 2.1, 2.2)
Like most programs, points or in this case Discovery Dollars or D$ are earned from hotel stays at qualifying properties (for up to 2 rooms at a time per member - T&C 3.15). Unlike some other programs, you also earn D$ from spending on dining (with or without a stay) and other items associated with a GHA property.
Eligible Spend excludes taxes, tips, fees, and redeemed Discovery Dollars (D$).
Members earn a set amount of D$ based on their spending, which is available to be redeemed or offset against future spending on items or activities within the GHA world.
So, similar to Accor's ALL program, it is in essence a "cashback" program for spending within the GHA eco-system.
As you earn more points, you progress through the elite tiers and qualify for additional benefits (including faster earning rates through tier bonuses). The tier-based earning rates apply to all eligible spending.
Note that GHA may terminate any inactive membership. This can result in forfeiture and cancellation of any and all accrued benefits, including Discovery Dollars (D$) and tier status credits. which cannot be reinstated or transferred.
A member’s account may be deemed inactive if such Member has:
Only one GHA Discovery membership may be registered per person. If GHA discovers that an individual has more than one membership, GHA may terminate any and all of those memberships
There are 4 membership levels within the program - one base level and 3 elite tiers (T&C 3.16).
GHA Discovery Silver Card
GHA Discovery Gold Card
GHA Discovery Platinum Card
GHA Discovery Titanium Card
You will be Silver tier upon joining the GHA DISCOVERY programme
Earn Platinum status after staying 10 Nights, spending USD 5,000 or staying at 2 different GHA Brands
Earn Titanium Status after staying 30 Nights, spending USD 15,000 or staying at 3 different GHA Brands.
Discovery GHA Member Rates
Earn D$ *
|6 months||18 months||24 months||24 months|
Receive an enhanced room where available
Receive a double upgrade where available
48hrs Availability **
* This rate is applied to the amount of your eligible spending in USD to determine the D$ you will receive.
Source: GHA Discovery (T&C 4, 5)
** 48-Hour Reservations Guarantee does not apply during Extraordinary Demand Dates, which vary by brand.(T&C 4, 8) :
Status-matching from another program was offered under the superseded Discovery program.
However, it is specifically excluded under the new program (T&C 3.16).
The only way to earn status tier points is through paid stays (or events). There is no status-matching offer available.
To receive Net Eligible Spend credit towards GHA Discovery program tier status, a member must make purchases that are eligible transactions at a participating Member Brand Hotel. The Net Eligible Spend excludes taxes, tips & fees. (T&C's 3.3 )
Key points for tier qualification include:
Once you have attained elite tier status (Gold or higher), should you not satisfy the tier qualification requirements in the following
year, then you will be downgraded to the immediate tier below that tier, effective from the end of
that calendar year.
The demotion by only 1 tier is an attractive feature.
Tip: Only falling a single status tier is a valuable feature, as you do not lose your entire status due to one unusually quiet year, Some programs have you start from their base level each year, while others have you drop back to the level consistent with the number of points you did earn.
Nights and Brand Stays counters are then reset to zero (effective 1st January of each year).
To earn D$ for eligible room rate spend, the Member must reserve the room in their name and must provide their GHA DISCOVERY Programme membership number when making the reservation or upon check-in or check-out. When a member books multiple rooms under the same name, then up to a maximum of two rooms will be counted toward earning D$, as long as the member is staying overnight in one of them. (T&C 3.12, 5.6).
If two members are sharing the reservation (Sharer status at time of check-in) and paying separately, they will both be eligible to earn D$ for the portion of the bill they pay. Note that not every hotel offers the "Sharer status" option.
Tip : If members elect to earn on a shared basis under “Sharer status”, each member will earn Net Eligible Spend and D$ based on the portion of the bill each member pays. However, each member will receive full credit for the number of eligible nights and eligible brand stays. Each member's tier bonus is applied based on their own tier level. (T&C 3.12).
Multiple room bookings under the same name at different hotels during the same stay dates will not be eligible for room night or brand
stay credit. (T&C 3.14).
So if you are staying with another member (perhaps your partner is also a member), ensure that you split the cost of the stay. You'll spend the same combined amount, but both progress up to higher tiers sooner, based on the number of nights or stays at different brands.
Day use rooms booked on an eligible rate will be eligible for earning D$.
No credit toward tier status will be awarded for "no show" (T&C 3.13) - so no "mattress runs".
When you book on GHA's direct channels (either the hotels themselves or the GHA Discovery portal) with an eligible rate, then you will be entitled to the full % earn for your tier. If you are booking on a non-direct channel (such as OTA's like Expedia), you may receive fewer D$ (or none at all) than what you would have received by booking direct. The discounted % earn will be calculated at GHA's discretion. (T&C 5.8).
A member will earn D$ at a percentage that shall correspond to the level of their membership tier status at the time of check-in or eligible purchase. (T&C 5.4). So if during a stay you qualify to move to a higher tier, you will not receive the higher tier's benefits until your next stay.
You cannot purchase, sell, or transfer Discovery Dollars.
Consequently there can be no family points pooling either.
Unlike most other programs, the Discovery Dollars you earn have differing expiration, based on your tier status at the time they were earned (T&C 5.1):
When a member is upgraded or downgraded, the D$ they have already earned will maintain their original expiration date(s).
Tip: While points have fixed expiration based on the dates they were earned, the term can be maximised by gaining Platinum status as quickly as possible and prior to longer stays. (eg early in a calendar year, single night stays at 2 of the less expensive brands prior to big spending on stays that are longer or at more luxurious brands.
D$ can only be redeemed for eligible transactions paid by the member on folio at time of checkout at the hotel and only in increments of whole amounts of D$ 10 or more. D$ can be combined with cash (including where the amount on your folio has a few cents on it).
D$ will be redeemed in order of expiration, with the D$ with the earliest expiration date on a member's account being redeemed first.
Items that are eligible to have their cost offset by D$ are generally the same as would earn D$, such as (T&C 7):
Items that are not eligible to have their cost offset with D$ include rooms booked at employee, industry or airline rates, voucher bookings, OTA bookings, and consumption at properties not associated with the hotel/resort.
All GHA Discovery members will be able to use D$ to purchase unique. locally curated experiences, including some provided through ASmallWorld.
In addition to this, elite members will receive complimentary access to ASmallWorld's social network.
ASMALLWORLD is a leading travel & lifestyle community, focusing on experiences: the modern-day definition of luxury.
ASmallWorld AG and GHA have taken shareholdings in each other and forged a strategic alliance starting March 2022.
ASmallWorld will be bringing a collection of individual, independent hotels to GHA and GHA Discovery under a soft-brand of ASmallWorld Hotels.
Elite members of GHA Discovery will receive complimentary access to the ASMALLWORLD social network, a digital travel & lifestyle ecosystem which enables and inspires members to travel better, experience more and make new connections with like-minded people.
Together with online discussions, ASMALLWORLD members also meet in person at events, ranging from casual get-togethers in major cities around the world, access to exclusive launches, shows, galas, soirees, exhibitions, major global sporting events, and larger flagship weekend experiences hosted in iconic destinations such as Saint-Tropez and Gstaad.
A unique feature of GHA Discovery is the Sharer Status (T&C 3.12), which must be advised at the time of check-in. This option varies by hotel and may not always be accommodated
Where applicable, if members elect to earn on a split basis under “Sharer status”, each member will earn Net Eligible Spend and D$
based on the portion of the bill each member pays, but both receive full credit for the number of eligible nights and
eligible brand stays.
This is quite generous and will help members (say in the same family) attain tier status faster. Not quite family points pooling, but in many ways a nicer benefit.
Status-sharing is a valuable benefit for Titanium Tier members.
Once a year, a Titanium Member can elect to share their tier status with another member, which will last until the end of the
following calendar year!
Another unique feature is tier qualification by stays with different brands within GHA.
I suspect this partly aims to address the regional concentration of brands, encouraging members to try an unfamiliar GHA brand in a new location, rather than a more familiar brand with a larger chain (like the ubiquitous Marriott and Hiltons). This would make members feel more like part of a larger chain. It will also provide more variety for members as the different GHA brands have more diverse personalities than the sometimes "cookie-cutter" feel of some other brands/chains.
GHA Platinum tier status is attained after stays with (only) 2 different brands in a single calendar year. Top tier status, Titanium is attained after only 3 such stays. Note that the 3 NH brands count as a single brand for the purpose of this benefit.
This must be the easiest path to elite tier status of any hotel loyalty program !
It may be modified or even removed in the future, once greater member familiarity/awareness of all the GHA brands is achieved, so jump on soon,
Some subscriptions to Business Traveller (a program partner of GHA Discovery) include FREE one year Platinum Discovery membership.
Join The Business Traveller Club with a 12 month (or longer) subscription to Business Traveller magazine and you receive (among other benefits), FREE Platinum Tier membership of GHA Discovery for 12 months.
An Indian edition of the magazine is available, but does not include the GHA Discovery benefit. Otherwise, subscription rates vary by region and sometimes by country:
Note that the introductory offer of 5 issues for USD 18 / GBP 16 does not include the the GHA Discovery status upgrade.
Tip: This is GHA Discovery's closest thing to a status-challenge, as it is a one-off and you must qualify for the following year's membership, based on the usual criteria. At a cost of GBP 43, this is a very inexpensive way to gain Platinum status for the first year and would quickly pay for itself from the first stay or two.
Mastercard is one of GHA Discovery's partners and offers generous upgrades for World and World Elite cardholders. The offer is available to cardholders in APAC and varies slightly by jurisdiction. In Australia, the offer is for:
Note however that there is no need to re-qualify for the following year's tier status, as it is a benefit of MasterCard's membership, so lasts as long as you retain the MasterCard account.
At the time of writing, some subscriptions to Business Traveller (a program partner of GHA Discovery) include FREE one year Platinum Discovery membership.
Tip: Aim to get to at least Platinum status as quickly as possible at the start of a new calendar year. This will give you almost 2 years of tier
benefits, including the higher earning rate for D$.
The easiest ways to attain this are:
If staying with your partner, you both use the Sharer Status option where possible, splitting the costs, but both receiving full credits (stays and nights.) towards tier status.
If you attained Platinum tier status via options 1 or 3, you could contribute, say 90% of the folio cost (and receive your Platinum tier bonus rate) and your partner would earn 10% of the D$. You both earn full tier status credits, bringing your partner up through the tiers, while maximising your overall D$ earned.
This makes it invaluable to have your partner join GHA Discovery as well as yourself.
The base tier points earning rate of 4% of your US$ spend is a little stingy. For every USD 100 spent, you earn D$ 4 with a
redemption value of USD 4. By comparison, with Accor's ALL program (which shares many similarities), spending EUR 100 earns you 250 ALL
points with a redemption value of EUR 5 - an earning rate of 5%. The tier bonuses are identical (25%, 50%, 75% although ALL has an
additional tier at 100%), so the earning rate will always be higher under Accor's ALL.
On the other hand, Accor's ALL has some higher qualification criteria too -
For GHA Discovery the criteria are:
Spending for ALL members is more likely to help gain tier status, while for GHA Discovery members, stays are more helpful. GHA Discovery members should view stays as being for Tier Status while D$ are purely for spending and this needs planning ahead, given their fixed expiration.
Compared to other major chains though, the net redemption rates are far more transparent. You will know exactly how much you will earn from a stay and how much discount or offset you will receive against your next stay. If you book during a promotion, you receive the same offset against the lower price. Far simpler than needing to consider peak/off-peak pricing (where the same room can be categorised 3 different ways in the same week) and dynamic pricing where the offset you receive is less in % terms at peak periods and more (in theory) when there is less demand for the room.
The gifting of your tier status is a nice feature and similar to Accor's "gift gold status" (only available at their top tier, but lasts for the duration of the donor's Diamond tier status) and Hyatt's Guest of Honor (where the member must pay for their guest's stay).
Compared to the earlier Discovery program, Experiences that were previously an elite tier benefit can now be purchased by any member of the new GHA Discovery. So the "new" program requires payment, but all members can access them. As tier status was earned by spend and stays, this looks to me to be a bit "swings and roundabouts" while more open at the same time. Also more flexible as higher tier members can purchase a lesser tier experience and keep the savings.
You need to re-qualify for tier status on an annual basis. However should you fail to qualify, your tier status drops only 1 tier. Other loyalty programs have you drop back to the level at which you did satisfy the criteria.
Attaining fast-tracked elite tier status from a Mastercard World or World Elite membership is an exception to re-qualifying and a valuable benefit (if it applies to you).
Simplistically, it looks to me as though GHA has tried to take the best ideas of other programs and incorporate them into the new GHA Discovery.
There is a lot to like about the program and only a few disappointments.
The criticisms I have of the program are that:
Overall, I like this program. Its rewards structure is simple and transparent.
The benefits are very good at all levels.
Just note that your path to higher tier status will most likely be based on your number of stays rather than spending.
Although there are a couple of "smarter" pathways to elite GHA Discovery tiers.
Updated 16 December 2021 to include benefits for GHA Discovery hotels from the Mastercard partnership with Global Hotel Alliance
Updated 21 January 2022 to include strategic alliance with ASMALLWORLD AG.