Today (July 13, 2018): save lots of money with under the radar loyalty programs of luxury hotels.
Booking a stay directly via the hotel website can be cost saving, especially when that hotel is part of a hotel loyalty program. The latter allows you to collect points and spend them on free nights. In addition, top tier members of certain hotel loyalty programs will also receive additional benefits, such a complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, and flexible check-in or check-out times.
However, for hotels on the luxury level (5 stars and beyond), if you want more for less, you should always book your stay via one of the world’s top travel agents, otherwise you’re leaving money on the table. Not only will they match the benefits you would get as a top tier member of a hotel loyalty program (even when you’re not), but additionally they get you access to dining and spa credits, guaranteed upgrades at the time of booking, complimentary airport transfers and so on. Some of these programs also protect you from getting walked when the hotel is oversold, and give you waitlist priority to get in. So, these travel agents will get you benefits beyond what you would get as a top tier elite member at a hotel, even though you’ve never stayed with the hotel chain before. Lance and Ania from Classic Travel ( a Virtuoso travel agency) belong to to this select club of top selling luxury travel agents; I use them for my own travels and I highly recommend them.
While the exact perks vary from hotel to hotel, in a one-week stay, they can easily be worth $1,000 USD or more. These benefits and amenities cannot be accessed by booking directly with the hotel, but only via top travel agents. That’s because many of the world’s most exclusive hotel groups – even those that don’t offer loyalty programs – have established invitation-only programs for top producing travel agents, in order to foster a relationship with these agent and to increase sales. To give you an idea, this is what you can save when you book a luxury hotel via a top luxury travel agent:
- Breakfast for two at a luxury hotels can easily run $100 USD per day. It’s free when booked via a top luxury travel agent.
- High speed WiFi charges can range from $15 to $35 USD per day. WiFi is not charged when booked via a top luxury travel agent
- Late check-out is often 50 percent of your room rate, so easily in the hundreds of dollars, and if you are arriving early, before check-in time, many times you need to pay for the night before if you want to be assured your room will be ready for you. Top luxury travel agents can arrange flexible check-in and check-out times for you.
- Dining at an exclusive hotel’s restaurant can easily set you back around $200 USD for two, and spa treatments are often in the same price range (if not higher), but top luxury travel agent can arrange a dining or spa credit for you to save on your meals and wellness treatments.
These benefits are a bit similar to the perks offered by Virtuoso or Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, although these invitation-only programs for top producing travel agents cover much more properties than those offered by Virtuoso or Amex Fine Hotels a Resorts. Let’s have a look a the most beneficial programs of the world’s best hotel brands (including companies like Rosewood, Four Seasons, Belmond, Ritz-Carlton, and Shangri-La to name a few).
1. Belmond Bellini Club
Belmond – formerly known as Orient-Express – has dozens of iconic hotels, trains and river cruises in its portfolio, including properties such as Belmond Cipriani in Venice, Belmond Caruso on the Amalfi coast, Belmond Maroma in Riviera Maya, Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town, Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio De Janeiro, Belmond Cap Juluca in Aguilla, and more.
When you book a Belmond hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Belmond Bellini Club, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary breakfast for two daily
- Complimentary room upgrades on arrival, based on availability
- $500 USD gift voucher for any $5,000 USD booking or experience
- Fully flexible hotel or resort credit up to $200 USD per stay
- Free internet access
- Personalized in-room welcome amenity
- VIP recognition by property management and staff
- Waitlist priority for high demand properties or experiences
2. Dorchester Diamond Program
Established in 2006, The Dorchester Collection has a portfolio of nine of the world’s finest luxury hotels in Europe and the US, including its namesake hotel in London next to Hyde Park, the Plaza Athenee and Le Meurice hotels in Paris, the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bel-Air properties in Los Angeles, plus top properties in Rome, Geneva, and Milan.
When you book a Dorchester Collection hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Dorchester Diamond Program, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary welcome gift
- Complimentary breakfast for 2, daily. Choose to dine in your room or at restaurant.
- Room or Suite upgrade guaranteed at time of booking, based on availability.
- Daily unlimited internet access for unlimited number of devices
- Credit of 100 units of local currency that can be applied to your final bill, for guest rooms and junior suites
- A no walk policy at all hotels
- VIP Status. Hotel management is made aware of your stay and will personally escort you to your room on arrival.
- 24/7 Diamond Club Ambassador Team ready to assist you anytime throughout your stay.
3. Four Seasons Preferred
Four Seasons is one of the world’s premier ultra-luxe hospitality brands and the company is rapidly expanding its already impressive global portfolio which consists of 100 properties in more than 40 countries (with many more developments in the pipeline).
When you book a Four Seasons hotel through a travel agent that is member of the invitation-only Four Seasons Preferred Program, you will get the several benefits. These benefits depend from property to property, but most Four Seasons Preferred Partners hotel generally have the following benefits:
- Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom,
- A resort credit: a spa credit of $100 USD once during stay (not applicable to products); a golf credit of $100 USD once during stay (not applicable to pro shop purchases); or lunch for two once during stay (up to $85 USD, excluding gratuity and alcohol).
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas).
- Complimentary high-speed Internet access for all suite bookings.
4. Jumeirah Passport to Luxury Program
Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are regarded as among the most luxurious and innovative in the world and have won numerous international travel and tourism awards. The Burj al Arab in Dubai might be its most famous hotel but its wings stretch to other destinations in the Middle East as well as Frankfurt, London, Istanbul, the Maldives and China.
When you book a Jumeirah hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Jumeirah Passport to Luxury Program, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary daily buffet breakfast for two
- Complimentary room category upgrade at arrival, based on availability
- $100 USD food and beverage or spa credit, per room per stay
- Early check-in and 4:00 PM late check-out, based on availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
5. Mandarin Oriental Fan Club
Over the past 50 years, Mandarin Oriental has grown from a well-respected Asian hotel company into a global brand, and has a rich and proud history which began with the opening of the brand’s flagship property, The Mandarin, in 1963 in Hong Kong. Today, the group operates more than 30 hotels worldwide, with each property featuring a distinctive oriental design (reflecting its heritage) and a unique sense of place.
When you book a Mandarin Oriental hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Fan club, you will get the following benefits:
- $100 USD food & beverage or spa credit, per room per stay
- Complimentary daily breakfast for two
- One category room upgrade, based on availability
- Unlimited in-room wireless Internet access
- 4 PM late check-out, subject to availability
- Priority waitlist clearance
- Personalized welcome amenity
6. Langham Hotel Couture Program
Hong Kong based Langham Hotels and Resorts is a portfolio of luxury hotels located in prime destinations across the globe. Each Langham hotel reflects today’s interpretation of sincere service, innovation, captivation of the senses and exceptional design, all of which dates back from 1865 when The Langham, London opened as one of Europe’s first “Grand Hotels”.
When you book a Langham hotel through a travel agent that is member of the Langham Hotel Couture Program, you will get the following benefits:
- Confirmed one-category upgrade at time of booking subject to availability
- Six complimentary hours for customized check in/out time subject to availability
- VIP Status
- Personalized welcome note from General Manager/Managing Director
- Indulgent welcome amenity
- Langham Couture benefits can be combined with Virtuoso benefits at the Langham Place Fifth Avenue in NYC, Langham Chicago, and The Langham Sydney, which are Virtuoso member hotels, if the Virtuoso rate is booked.
7. Oetker Pearl Partner
Oetker Collection has several 5-star elite hotels in its portfolio that embodies the finest of traditional European hospitality. These elite luxury hotels are strung together like ‘pearls on a chain’, explaining the name ‘Oetker Pearl Partner’. Oetker’s hotels include Fregate Island in the Indian Ocean, Le Bristol in Paris, The Lanesborough in London, and Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, to name a few.
When you book an Oetker Collection hotel through a travel agent that is member of Oetker Pearl Partner, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary breakfast for two daily, including buffets
- One category room upgrade at time of booking, if higher room categories are available
- Equivalent of one €85 spa or food & beverage credit of 85€ for each stay of 1 night, and equivalent of €170 for 2 nights or more
- Allocation of best room in the category
- Personalized welcome amenity
- Daily unlimited wifi for unlimited number of devices
- Priority access to courtesy car, when applicable
8. Peninsula’s Pen Club Loyalty Program
Established in 1928, the prestigious Peninsula Hotels group now operates luxury properties in 10 major cities across the globe. The Peninsula Hotels group sets their sights high and their standards higher, aiming always to delight their customers, and in many cases they are now serving the third generation of their loyal guests.
When you book a Peninsula hotel through a travel agent that is member of Peninsula’s Pen Club Loyalty Program, you will get the following benefits:
- Daily breakfast for two people per bedroom.
- Food and beverage credit of USD100 per stay.
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (this usually excludes suites).
- “Peninsula Time”: Flexible check-in and check-out times in all hotels.
- Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms.
- Complimentary 30-minute extension on any 50-minute body or face treatment (excluding manicure and/or pedicure).
- Upgraded welcome in-room amenities.
9. Ritz-Carlton Stars
Ritz-Carlton is an American hotel company, founded in 1983, that is part of Marriott International. The company manages more than 90 luxury hotels and resorts across 30 countries and territories in the world, including famous properties such as Hotel Arts in Barcelona and the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. Ritz-Carlton has been recognized with numerous awards for being the gold standard of hospitality.
When you book a Ritz-Carlton hotel through a travel agent that is member of Ritz-Carlton Stars, you will get the following benefits:
- VIP Status. The top hotel executive is made aware of your stay.
- Complimentary breakfast for 2, daily.
- Preferred status for room or suite upgrade at time of check-in.
- First priority for your room type, location, bedding and connecting rooms.
- Top priority waitlist in sold out situations.
- No walk policy in sold out situations.
- Warm welcome from hotel management.
- Pre-registration and express check- in upon request.
- 4:00 pm late checkout – priority request.
10. Rosewood Elite
Rosewood manages a distinctive collection of highly individual, luxurious, residential-style hotels across the globe, including world-famous properties such as The Carlyle in New York and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. Each property delivers a one-of-a-kind ambience and style, in which location, culture, history and geography are part of the fabric of the hotel, reflecting the company’s “Sense of Place” philosophy.
When you book a Rosewood hotel through a travel agent that is member of Rosewood Elite, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary breakfast for two guests daily.
- Personalized welcome amenity.
- VIP Recognition and personalized welcome by hotel staff and managing director.
- Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability.
- Top-of-waitlist priority in high demand periods.
- Elite Price Assurance: If a special offer is developed after a reservation is confirmed for one of our clients, we can have the reservation adjusted accordingly up until 24 hours prior to a client’s arrival.
- Amenity/credit which differs by property
- Designated Elite “hero” at each hotel with 3-hour response time
11. Shangri-La Luxury Circle
The Shangri-La story began in 1971 with a deluxe hotel in Singapore. Today, the Hong Kong based luxury group has increased its global presence with more than 100 hotels throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, with a room inventory of over 40,000. Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, the name Shangri-La encapsulates the serenity and service for which our hotels and resorts are renowned worldwide.
When you book a Shangri-La hotel through a travel agent that is member of Shangri-La Luxury Circle, you will get the following benefits:
- Complimentary daily breakfast for 2
- Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
- Guaranteed upgrade at the time of booking, subject to availability
- VIP welcome amenities
- $100 USD or equivalent to 10% of the average daily room rate, whichever is higher (one credit per stay)
- Enrollment into the Golden Circle Rewards program
- Dedicated concierge personnel to handle all requests
- A priority waitlist clearance in sold out hotels and a strict no walk policy
12. Starwood Luxury Privileges
Starwood, which was acquired by Marriott last year, includes several luxury brands such as St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W Hotels. While only few of these brand’s most luxurious properties participate in the Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programs, all others are part of Starwood Luxury Priviliges program, which is designed to reward and foster Starwood loyalty among travelers.
When you book a best available rate (BAR) at a St Regis, Luxury Collection or W Hotel through a travel agent that is member of Starwood Luxury Priviliges, you will get the following benefits:
- Upgrade on arrival if available
- Early check in if available
- Daily breakfast for 2 daily (depends on hotel whether contintnetal or full)
- Complimentary WiFi
- Late checkout if available
- Value-added amenity specific to hotel (mostly a $100 USD spa, food or resort credit)