Most hotel chains tend to change award prices at least once per year, so a change by IHG is not all that unexpected. The new prices take effect starting Ferbuary 17th. The last change came in May of 2015, and it was roughly the same in scope, although there were no new categories created.
As always, there is some good and bad. The bad is….IHG has added two new categories onto the top of the award chart, pricing nights at 55,000 points and 60,000 points. Most of the hotels that will be at the 55k and 60k levels are Intercontinental hotels at popular destinations (e.g. Paris, Bora Bora, Hong Kong). The good news is, a award prices for many other places are going down, typically by 5,000 points (a 1 category drop). The full list is here.
Overall, this doesn’t surprise me much. Most of the changes are pretty reasonable. A personal laugh for me is that a large number of the SF Bay Area hotels went up in price. Figures.