Thursday, January 3, 2013

Alternatives to Status- FHR, Virtuoso, Luxury Hotels

So in my last post I discussed a stay in which I benefited, in part, from having top tier status with the chain.  There are some services that provide significant benefits without the need for status, particularly for "aspirational" hotels and vacation destinations. 

First, there is American Express' Fine Hotels and Resorts program.  It's a benefit of having the Amex Platinum card and offers benefits at a pretty wide range of upscale hotels across the world.  Benefits typically include early check-in/late check-out, breakfast, a room upgrade, and some other on property benefit (such as a food & beverage credit, afternoon tea, spa package, etc.)  The FHR rates typically track with a hotel's Best Available Rate.

Chase Bank offers it's own program for Chase cardholders, the Luxury Hotel and Resorts program.  Chances are that if you're reading this blog, you have a Chase card.  According to Chase, the benefits include: 
  • Breakfast for two daily
  • A room upgrade, if available at check-in
  • Early check-in and late check-out, if available
  • A very special amenity unique to every property
 I haven't used this program, so can't speak to it's virtues

Finally, there's Virtuoso travel.  This is a program that many travel agents participate in.  Virtuoso rates also track pretty closely with Best Available Rates and the benefits vary from hotel to hotel.  They typically include breakfast, room upgrade, and other benefits.  During a stay at the Intercontinental Le Grand in Paris, our Virtuoso benefits included access to the club lounge, which was a fantastic benefit.  There are Virtuoso travel agents all over, but if you're like me, you probably want to check on rates ahead of time.  Classic Travel is the only site I know of that allows online searching of Virtuoso rates.  The problem is, that for some reason they don't include all Virtuoso hotels.  For instance, the Le Grand is a Virtuoso hotel, but Classic Travel doesn't include it in their list.  Still, booking through a Virtuoso agent isn't difficult at all.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the rates bookable by these services typically exceed prepaid rates available through hotel websites, but they are usually cancellable and seldom exceed the hotel's Best Flexible or Best Available Rates.

UPDATE:  Two other programs are worth a look; 1) Visa Signature Hotels which offers benefits including upgrades, food & beverage credits, etc. to holders of Visa Signature cards, and 2) World Mastercard Luxury Hotels & Resorts, which offers similar benefits to World Mastercard holders.  You can tell if you have a "Signature" Visa or "World" Mastercard by looking down at the corner of your card where the Visa/Mastercard logo is.


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  2. Hi Rich,
    Thanks for the mention! It’s hard to get noticed when there are so many sites with huge marketing budgets that claim to have the best rates. We are working very hard to give our clients a great experience online. We are a full service Virtuoso agency that offers the option of booking online or off! gives our members the choice of online technology and/or full service. Check Virtuoso rates and book at over 550 luxury hotels. If you are booking a Safari, Cambodia/Vietnam Experience or looking to plan the Perfect Honeymoon, you may want to go offline and use a travel professional.

    Here is a few links you may find useful.
    We now have over 550 Virtuoso hotels that can be booking online.
    Virtuoso hotels that offer Upgrade at the time of booking for 2013.
    Forbes Travel Guide list for 2013…. Virtuoso perk are great at most hotels

    Thanks for finding us online and I hope the site can be a benefit to your readers.