Do You Use Your Fine Hotels and Resorts Benefits?
Hello Fellow World Traveler,
In the middle of 2014, I realized that my American Express Platinum card had a benefit that I had ignored for many years. I immediately made a booking at a grand Hawaiian hotel using my unused Fine Hotels and Resorts benefit, and saved over $1,100 for a 5 day stay in November.
Here's what you'll get
- New Special Offers at FHR hotels
- Expiring Special Offers so you don’t miss out
- New Hotels as they become available
- News about the FHR hotels curated by me
- Trip Reports for hotels I visit
- Access to the entire Hotel directory
- Mobile Friendly email and hotel pages
I realized my Platinum card had benefits that American Express does, if I’m being polite, a pretty poor job in getting customers to use fully. Of course, I get the mailings that show the pretty photos of far away places, and the Destination magazine fairly frequently. Once a year, I also get a huge catalog in the mail with a list of all the Fine Hotels and Resorts.
But who reads all of that printed material?
In the 21st century, I have many distractions, and a printed mailing once a year is quickly forgotten - at least by me, and probably by you too. What's worse is that it's often out of date before you even recevie it.
I created FHRNews to help me use my Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits
Free Nights at Great Hotels
Did you know that American Express offers special offers of free nights for about 25% of their Fine Hotels and Resorts at any one time. The Monolith of a catalog they send every year mentions it in passing, but because these offers change over time, the offers are not printed in the catalog - Amex isn’t that crazy about wasting paper!
Luckily, American Express does provide a FHR website - that allows you to search for particular hotels - if you know their names. I've spent some time using it, and it still doesn't make it easy to find hotels.
So, American Express has great free nights (and a small number of cash credit offers), but it’s hard to find them.
I’m Busy, How Do I Find These Deals?
Spending a few hours of an evening typing hotel names or locations into the Amex FHR web app maybe my idea of a good evening, but you’re likely to have more interesting things to do. I know, I’m sad. But I get to stay in nice hotels at good rates!
Until now, opening a bottle of bubbly and typing into the FHR site's Search box has been the only way to find these deals. Or calling the Platinum Travel Services number. Oh, did I not mention the bubbly I drink when I do this? That helps a lot, but my typing tends to get a bit sloppy towards the end of the bottle.
And good bubbly ain’t cheap, so I needed something a little more efficient.
Love it! This is awesome. The Amex FHR is a bit of a pain to navigate and reading through multiple pages of offers without a good search is awful John, San Francisco
Why Does Amex Hide These Deals?
I don’t know why American Express hides these deals. They make money when you book - they operate as a Travel Agent and get commissions, and they make a bit more when you pay - you must pay with an Amex card (although not necessarily a Platinum card). You’d think they’d make sure more people used this service and booked more hotel rooms.
I know i miss out on some deals simply because i don't take time to check and see what is being offered. Jeff, Indiana
How Much Can I Save?
As in most things: It Depends.
On my first Fine Hotels and Resorts booking, at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, I SAVED $700 due to a 4th night free promotion - hotel taxes are not charged on complimentary nights. I also SAVED $300 using the free breakfast (if you eat late enough, it’s almost a Free Lunch - there really is such a thing!)
And then they added the $100 FOOD & BEVERAGE credit that pushed the whole deal over $1,100 for a 5 night stay. That's a lot of Mai Tai's on Waikiki beach.
And, beause of my Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status I got with my Platinum card, I earned over 16,000 SPG points - enough for a 5 night stay at a Category 1 hotel.
But This Is Only The Crappy Rooms, Right?
If you have a loyalty account with a hotel chain, you’ve probably tried to redeem points for room nights. And then you find that these points only apply to the lowest 2 rooms in that hotel. And they're always sold out. Sometimes you can get more by calling the hotel, but if you’re shopping around, making a bunch of calls is a bit of a pain.
Perhaps you can get your assistant to do the leg work? Yeh, me neither!
I’ve just done a quick search for rooms at the Fairmont Orchid, on the Big Island of Hawaii, for the middle of June. I used this hotel because I knew there’s a special offer on rooms all year. The highest room level available for this booking is the Fairmont Gold Ocean View Suite King (1050sq ft), at $929 per night - almost 3 times the price of the lowest room available. AND THE 4TH NIGHT IS FREE!
Fine Hotels and Resorts allows you to have free nights in the ROOMS THAT YOU WANT TO BOOK.
One of our most memorable FHR stays was at the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan during our honeymoon. We booked the stay on the FHR website and our third night was free on top of an already reasonable room rate. We received an upgrade from our standard room to a beautiful one bedroom villa, and the included breakfast was one of the best we've had. Anonymous Reader
But I Don’t Stay 3 or 4 Nights
Not to worry, sometimes I don’t stay long at a hotel either.
In April 2015, I stayed at The Wynn in Las Vegas. I booked into a Tower Suite room for 2 nights. At the time I booked, the room rate averaged to about $400 per night. The Wynn is good about upgrades, and FHR works great for this room.
The typical upgrade at the Wynn from a Tower Suite room is to the Parlor Suite. Parlor Suites are almost double the price - for my nights, almost $800 per night. I got a 1,200q ft suite for $400 per night.
Here's some photos of my suite
They even offered my a paid upgrade - only $200 - to a Salon Suite. This is 1,800sq ft, and has it’s own massage room - which is a great place to use the $100 Spa credit.
What Are All The Fine Hotels and Resorts Benefits?
For each night of your stay, you will receive breakfast for 2 people. This will be at least the Continental breakfast, but is often the full breakfast option at that hotel
This is the only way to get a guaranteed 4pm checkout. Even the hotel's own top-tier loyalty members can't get a fully guaranteed 4pm checkout. This is my favorite hidden benefit of the Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits
If a room is available at the next level above the one you booked, you will be upgraded to that room at check-in. Often, this is only a change of view, but sometimes a hotel can bump you up several levels to a much nicer room
If possible, the hotel will try to get you checked-in before the usual 3pm or 4pm check-in time. Sadly, this isn't guaranteed, but I've only not received this once.
Free Wifi is now becoming more widespread, but even so, you usually receive a slow network with the option to upgrade to higher speed. Often, the Fine Hotels and Resorts benefit is a free upgrade to the faster speeds.
$100 hotel specific credit
Every stay you'll receive some form of property specific thing that's worth about $100. Often, this is a Spa credit or a Food and Beverage credit, but sometimes this is a dinner for 2 or a transfer from the airport. At golf resorts, you might receive a free round of golf
How Do I Find These Great Deals?
I’m glad you asked.
Every month, I gather together all the Fine Hotel and Resorts special offers and I can email you all of them over a period of a few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ve learned to open the bubbly AFTER I’ve gathered the data.
Every Monday and Thursday, you’ll get an email from me.
Why so many emails to send a few links?
There’s quite a lot of new offers every month, usually between 50 and 150, and also a set of offers expiring that you might want to be reminded of. I’ve split the hotels into 6 groups, based on geography, to make it easier to find the offers for the areas you want to visit.
In addition, I’ll send you news about the Fine Hotels and Resorts in the specific area for that email. Maybe you’ll find out about a hotel you’d never have thought of previously.
You'll also get a list of all the new offers that have appeared in the last 3-4 days. You'll know about a hotel offer, anywhere in the world, within 4 days of it being available, and often sooner
How Much Does This Cost Me?
If you read earlier, you’ll remember that the only Free Lunch is the late Fine Hotels and Resorts Breakfast benefit. I will add appropriate advertising from time-to-time into the emails I send.
I hate intrusive ads too, so I’ll make sure that these ads are appropriate for the email I’m sending and are likely something you may find interesting.
Where Do I Find Out About These Fabulous Deals?
Sign up for the newsletter right here and start receiving deal information immediately as I send you a link to the current newsletter. Then receive Fine Hotels and Resorts free night offers every Monday and Thursday until you decide to unsubscribe - there’s a link at the bottom of every email to do this easily.
This is a great help and time saver! Thanks for the newsletter. Ed, Pennsylvania
Other Platinum Card Benefits?
American Express provides a number of other great travel benefits to Platinum card members. Some of these benefits require you to enroll in them before you can use them. Some of them activate immediately and can be used as soon as you finish the process, some of the benefits take days or weeks for them to process fully
My favorite of these benefits is the Priority Pass Select membership that gives you access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide; I'll remind you about this one in week 2.
I've put together a short email course for these other Platinum card benefits that reminds you of one of these benefits every Tuesday so you can take action to enroll in that benefit so you can use it for your next trip
When you sign up below, you'll get my Platinum Card Benefits Email Course as well as the twice weekly FHRNews Newsletter that you'll receive every Monday and Thursday mornings