Can Virtuoso Hotels Exclude Virtuoso Benefits for Blackout Dates? This morning I was trying to book a ski vacation over the 2018-2019 holiday season for one of my family clients at a Virtuoso property, yet although the suite type they wanted was available, there were no Virtuoso rates available for any room or suite type for their dates. Which begged the question: could the hotel not offer Virtuoso rates and Virtuoso benefits during its peak season?
The answer, fortunately, is no. I double checked with my Virtuoso Hotels and Resorts contact, who affirmed that as part of the Virtuoso contract that hotels sign, if the hotel is offering rooms or suites, it MUST offer a Virtuoso rate code that includes Virtuoso benefits. Generally the rate is the same as the best available flexible rate, although sometimes it's actually lower–check with TravelSort or your Virtuoso advisor.
I Have This Problem! The Hotel is Telling My Virtuoso Advisor No Virtuoso Rates Are Available…
If it's a Virtuoso member, and the hotel still has room availability, it must also also offer a Virtuoso rate. Have your Virtuoso advisor contact the hotel's in-house reservations team directly, since sometimes there are snafus with central reservations or the central reservations agent is new and unfamiliar with booking the Virtuoso rate. If the in-house reservations team is refusing to provide Virtuoso rates and benefits for available room or suite types, then your advisor may need to get Virtuoso involved.
What About Minimum Stay Requirements?
Hotels and resorts of course can impose certain minimum night stays around holidays and peak seasons–many Hawaii and Caribbean luxury properties have 10 night minimums around New Year's–but that applies to all reservations, regular and Virtuoso.
Can I Pay the Member Rate and Still Get Virtuoso Benefits?
Generally not–you'll need to decide if you want the lower member rate for hotels such as Hyatt or Fairmont, or the slightly higher non-member rate, but including Virtuoso benefits. For most stays the rate with Virtuoso benefits is a better deal. Keep in mind you can still earn hotel loyalty points for all Virtuoso stays that are with hotels that have a loyalty program.
When Should I Reserve with Virtuoso vs. with a Preferred Partner Program or AMEX FHR?
Not all hotel brands have a preferred partner program, but for those that do, such as Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Dorchester Diamond Club, Oetker Pearl Partner, Peninsula PenClub, etc., it's generally better to reserve with the preferred partner benefits so as to enjoy higher priority for upgrades (and in the case of programs such as Shangri-La Luxury Circle and Dorchester Diamond Club, a guaranteed upgrade at time of booking).
A key exception is Ritz-Carlton STARS, as Virtuoso benefits are actually superior to STARS benefits, for Ritz-Carlton properties that are Virtuoso members.
If you need a guaranteed 4pm late check-out, this is the main reason to book with AMEX Fine Hotels & Resort, as the late check-out is guaranteed. But you do have to pay with an AMEX card, so that means you won't be able to earn 3X, as you would when paying with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Another factor to consider is whether there's a special offer such as a 3rd night free or 4th night free being offered via Virtuoso, the preferred partner program, or AMEX FHR. Often it will be offered across some or all channels, but not always. For example, I recently had a new client contact me to make a booking for a Four Seasons property, because there was no free night offer via AMEX FHR, but it was possible to combine Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits with the hotel's 4th night free offer.
Have you ever had issues getting a hotel to honor Virtuoso benefits, either at time of booking or at the hotel?
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