Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.
Today: Travel Tip: Save money at luxury hotels with Virtuoso
As you can read in my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel, I mainly use two websites for booking my stays at hotels without breaking my wallet:
- When I stay at a property of one of the big hotel chains, I often make the booking directly on the hotel website to collect points towards a free hotel night in a hotel loyalty program and to take advantage of a best rate guarantee (not only will the hotel match the lower price you find somewhere else, but often throw in an additional 10 to 25% discount on top of that). This is especially the case when I stay at a hotel manage by Marriott or Hyatt, which both have an outstanding hotel loyalty program, but not so much for properties of Hilton and InterContinental, which have far less rewarding and interesting loyalty programs.
- Hotels.com – part of Expedia – is my preferred hotel booking website when staying at a non-chain property, mainly because of its very efficient best rate guarantee program (Hotels.com matches the price you find somewhere else), excellent customer support, and simple but rewarding loyalty program (you get one night free for every 10 nights you book with them). You can read here why I like Hotels.com and how it can save you (lots of) money when booking luxury hotels.
However, besides the two booking methods mentioned above, I often make use of a third booking medium, Virtuoso, which can be extremely rewarding when staying at the world’s best hotels, not so much in terms of saving money on the room rate, but rather in terms of complimentary VIP perks that you will receive at the property itself (e.g. room upgrades, dinner credits, spa treatments, early check-in, late check-out, gifts, etc …). I hereby explain you why I love Virtuoso so much, and why you should consider it as well when booking your next holiday at one of the world’s most exclusive properties:
WHY I LIKE VIRTUOSO SO MUCH
- Virtuoso is not your classic hotel booking engine website. It’s the industry’s leading network of luxury travel advisors, spanning over 26 countries and 9,000 travel advisors. So when you book your holiday with Virtuoso, most of the time, you will be in touch with a Virtuoso travel agent and not make the booking online yourself. There are some Virtuoso travel agencies though that offer an online booking tool, such as Classic Travel, which has an excellent website and which is my overall preferred Virtuoso travel agency.
- These days, the internet makes it very easy to research and book your own travel. So why would one still choose to work with a travel advisor? I agree you don’t have to, especially when you are a seasoned travel. However, IMHO, the Virtuoso travel advisors – who are carefully selected individuals – are the exception: they will help you create unique journeys and explorations in every corner of the globe, and arrange experiences that make a trip truly extraordinary.
- The single best reason to book a stay through a Virtuoso travel agent is that it means value for money as it will get you access to special, complimentary VIP amenities and perks, such as room upgrade, complimentary dinners, spa credits, and/or unique luxury travel experiences. For example, these are the perks you will get at most properties (for free):
- Daily breakfast
- Room upgrade (when available)
- Early check-in (when available)
- Late check-out (when available)
- A welcome amenity
- A credit of around $100 USD that can be spent towards dining, wellness, or activities
- Virtuoso networks with the world’s most luxurious hotels & resorts, most of them belonging to the portfolio of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands. This includes some of my favorite hotel brands such as Soneva, Four Seasons, Rosewood, Mandarin Oriental, Six Senses and Banyan Tree to name a few. All hotels were you can enjoy the Virtuoso extra perks are listed on the Virtuoso website.
- The advantage of booking through Virtuoso is particularly evident when staying at an Aman, widely considered to be the world’s top hotel chain. In line with Aman’s hyper-exclusive and ultra-luxurious reputation, you will never find a lower rate than the one published on the official Aman website. But booking through a Virtuoso travel agent rather than on the Aman website itself will get you some complimentary extra perks (easily worth hundreds of dollars). So if you are an Aman junkie, like me, then Virtuoso is the way to go.
- In most cases, the Virtuoso rate is identical to the Best Available Rate (BAR) found on the official hotel website, which is a flexible rate that can be cancelled without penalty. For that reason, you’re leaving money on the table if you book a paid stay at the best available rate (BAR) via the official hotel website and not via Virtuoso.
- In case the luxury hotel is managed by brand that offers a loyalty program (e.g. St Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Walfdorf Astoria, Park Hyatt, Andaz, InterContinental, etc …), you will earn hotel points and stay credits in that program when you book via Virtuoso. For these hotel brands, it’s almost always a much better deal when booking via Virtuoso as compared to booking the same rate directly on the hotel website.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT VIRTUOSO
- Most of the times, hotel bookings are not made online, but through a Virtuoso travel agent. There are exceptions though, such as the website of Classic Travel which offers an online booking tool.
- Virtuoso does not offer the cheapest room rates in the industry nor does it match a lower price found somewhere else. In most cases, the Virtuoso rate will best the best available (and refundable) room rate that you can also find on the hotel website itself, but it does come with all the extra Virtuoso perks (which means a lot of savings in the end).
- Holders of an American Express premium or Visa Signature credit card can often benefit from similar VIP perks when they make the booking via their credit card travel office and/or pay with their credit card. Contact your local credit card company to find out whether this service is offered.
- Virtuoso does not have a loyalty program. But as explained above, bookings via Virtuoso will earn hotel points and stay credits within your preferred hotel loyalty program.
REVIEWS OF HOTELS THAT I BOOKED VIA VIRTUOSO
Over the past years, I have booked several hotels via Virtuoso, including one of my favorite resorts in the world: Soneva Kiri in Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:
- Hotel review: Amanyara (Turks & Caicos)
- Hotel review: COMO Parrot (Turks & Caicos)
- Hotel review: Mystique, Santorini (Greece)
- Hotel review: One&Only Reethi Rah (Maldives)
- Hotel review: Park Hyatt Sydney (Australia)
- Hotel review: The Peninsula Shanghai (China)
- Hotel review: Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing
- Hotel Review: Amanfayun, Hangzhou (China)
- Review: Soneva Kiri, Thailand’s best luxury resort
- Review of Aman-i-Khas, Ranthambore National Park (India)
- Review of Amanbagh (Rajasthan, India)
- Review: InterContinental Porto Hotel – Palacio das Cardosas (Portugal)
- Review: The Four Seasons Resort Anguilla (Caribbean)
- Review of the Fullerton Bay Hotel (Singapore)
- Review: Six Senses Singapore (Duxton & Maxwell properties)
- Review: The Siam, best luxury hotel in Bangkok (Thailand)
- Review: Villa Dubrovnik (Croatia)
- Review: Abaton Island Resort & Spa (Crete, Greece)
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Just booked a hotel in Dublin and saved nearly 25% off several different websites including the hotels! It was my first booking with Virtuoso but will not be my last!
Excellent summary of information about the advantages and perks using Virtuoso, and your comments about some of the major hotel loyalty programs. Thanks very much!
Is Luxury Travel Agency your business?
Very disappointing response from local agent regarding Belmond Mount Nelson. Cape Town. Not positive for you.