NEW: Get better deals on luxury hotels with a new Head for Points partnership

The luxury hotel companies (Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental etc) do not get a lot of coverage on Head for Points due to their lack of loyalty schemes.  This is despite the fact that many HFP readers are regular visitors to high end hotels.

If you are staying at a major luxury hotel brand, there is one inescapable fact – you will NOT get the best deal by booking directly with fourseasons.com etc.  The major hotel groups all offer additional benefits and special deals which can only be accessed when booking via a luxury travel agent.  These agents are relatively difficult to locate in the UK.

Virtuoso travel agent London

To plug the gap, I have teamed up with Emyr Thomas who runs luxury agent Bon Vivant to bring back a luxury hotel booking service for HFP readers. It should be a win for everyone involved.

We have launched what we hope will be a successful three-way partnership between Bon Vivant, Head for Points and you, the reader:

You are able to book better luxury hotel deals than you could book yourself, via a London-based travel agent who is committed to fast response times and excellent customer service

Bon Vivant gets a flow of referrals from HFP readers who, by definition, are serious travellers

Head for Points gets to offer an additional service to readers and benefits from a percentage of commissions paid by hotels and airlines to Bon Vivant

Virtuoso travel agent UK

What hotel chains will offer you a better deal via Bon Vivant?

If you are considering booking into a hotel run by any of the following chains, I would strongly recommend contacting Bon Vivant to see what special offer is available for that particular property.  They work with the following VIP programmes:

Four Seasons Preferred Partner

Most hotels offer free breakfast via room service or in the restaurant, US$100 credit towards in-hotel spend, upgrade if available at check-in, free internet, guaranteed 4pm check-out (not at all properties)

Belmond (ex Orient Express) Bellini Club

Upgrade based on availability at check-in, US$90 credit towards in-hotel spend (US$200 for suites), free high-speed internet, welcome gift

Dorchester Collection – Diamond Club

Guaranteed one category upgrade at time of booking (most hotels, not suites), $100 / £100 / €100 credit towards in-hotel spend, free breakfast via room service or in the restaurant, free internet

Mandarin Oriental Fan Club

Free high-speed internet access, free breakfast, $100 food and beverage or spa credit per stay, one category room upgrade based on availability at check-in

Peninsula Hotels – Pen Club

Flexible check-in and check-out times, welcome amenities, free breakfast, upgrade based on availability at check-in, free 30-minute extension to most 50-minute spa treatments, free internet

Ritz-Carlton Stars

Varies by property, includes guaranteed 4pm check-out if requested at time of booking, free breakfast, free internet

Rosewood Elite

Free breakfast, upgrade based on availability at check-in,

Starwood Luxury Privileges (St Regis, Luxury Collection, W)

Free breakfast, $100 credit towards in-hotel spend, free internet, priority for early check-in and late check-out, upgrade at check-in if available

Couture By Langham

One category upgrade, early check-in / late check-out for up to six hours, VIP perks by property

Jumeirah Passport to Luxury

Room room upgrade to the next category upon arrival (subject to availability), complimentary buffet breakfast for two, early check-in / late check-out (subject to availability), $100 food and beverage or spa credit

Rocco Forte Hotels Sir Rocco’s Knights

Free breakfast, food and beverage credit of £75 / €85 / $100 per room per stay, welcome amenity, upgrade on arrival (subject to availability), early check-in / late check-out, 15% off spa services (excluding Hotel Savoy, Hotel Amigo, and Hotel Astoria)

Shangri-La Hotels Gold Circle

complimentary full breakfast for two, including in-room dining, upgrade to the next room type within category at the time of booking, hotel credit of $100 per stay, dedicated concierge, early check in / late check out (subject to availability)

Sofitel STEP

Management greeting upon arrival, upgrade between Classic – Superior – Luxury – Suite at check-in (subject to availability), gift from the General Manager

Preferred Hotels & Resorts Platinum Partner (Legend and LVC Hotels only)

Welcome amenity and room upgrade, complimentary breakfast for two daily, $75 hotel credit for use during stay, complimentary internet, priority check-in/out

Relais & Châteaux

Complimentary continental or buffet breakfast (or a cash discount if the property offers free breakfast to everyone), VIP Welcome Amenity per room and per stay

Virtuoso travel agent London
In addition, there are many hundreds of other luxury hotels globally – including many Fairmont, Trump, One & Only, Hyatt, Corinthia and InterContinental properties – where Bon Vivant can access similar deals via its membership of the Virtuoso network.  At InterContinental Le Grand Paris and InterContinental London Park Lane, for example, you will receive free club lounge access (usually €140 / £120 per night) when you book any room at Best Flexible Rate.

None of these hotel offers involve paying in advance.   Bon Vivant will make the reservation for you and send you a confirmation outlining your exclusive benefits.  You pay the hotel as usual on departure.

Reservations booked under these deals are fully flexible and have the same cancellation rules as a standard booking at the same property.  The price is usually the same as the flexible rate shown on the hotel website and, by negotiation, the hotel can often be persuaded to match any promotional rates.

When a hotel is part of a loyalty programme, you WILL receive points and any elite benefits as well.  This is not usually the case when booking via a third party travel agent.

Virtuoso travel agent Great Britain

Contacting Bon Vivant

If you already have a hotel stay in mind and want to see what additional amenities may be available via Bon Vivant, please contact Emyr Thomas via the form below.

Please be as specific as possible about your requirements.  For example ‘I am looking at booking a Deluxe Room at Four Seasons Hampshire for 21st to 24th March.  Can you please confirm the additional benefits you can offer at this property and the rate available?’.

Remember that, in most cases, you will need to book a refundable rate to unlock these additional benefits.  This programme is NOT about getting you a cheaper rate than booking direct – it is about getting you valuable additional benefits for the same price.

Please also get in touch if you have a luxury hotel stay booked – if it is cancellable – as you may be able to rebook on a better package.

If you have any comments about Bon Vivant and their service, please email me directly at rob [at] headforpoints.co.uk.

A link to this form will be added to our ‘Hotel Promos’ page and to the sidebar so you will be able to find when needed.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. What’s happened to Propeller Travel? They do all of this too.

    • I never had any luck with them… they never seemed to get back to me and in the end always ended up having to find someone else to make the bookings.

      Will Bon Vivant be able book GUFs?

      • Same here – I emailed Propeller twice before a Belmond stay we had last year, but they never got back to me.

    • Yes, I was wondering that. Are we better off using Bon Vivant rather than Propeller Travel?

  2. That’s what I was thinking aswell! I’m using my iPhone but can’t see the email address only a form to submit is that right?

  3. This is very helpful indeed Rob, thank you. Already sent an email to Emily for my upcoming trip.

  4. Good to have access to a Virtuoso agent easily in the UK via this route. My impression is that there’s reasonable overlap with Amex FHR but that some properties are only with one or other of the schemes so worth checking both?

  5. Notgoingback says:

    This looks great but yes what has happened to Propeller? We booked with them last year to stay at the Four Seasons Orlando. Admittedly it wasn’t the most straightforward experience…

  6. I use Amex platinum travel in conjunction with the concierge service. You can be a specific or as general as your plans dictate. As for finding a Virtuoso agent, just go to the website virtuoso.com/advisors#

    A good agent will easily find the best deal for your requirements and will offer alternatives as well.

    Sorry, but it seems a pretty poor service if I have to feed the agent dates, hotel and room type.

    I’d pass on this.

  7. Agents are not always necessary, just call hotels directly and try to negotiate your own deal. I’ve had notable successes of late, e.g. a UK Hilton BAR RO in sale £86, called hotel £50 B&B, room upgraded and a substantial dining discount. All points came through fine. As diamond the benefits were not all necessary for me but deal would be great for those without status.

  8. +1 for what happened to propeller. I’ve got a booking with them for April at the Mandarin in Vegas.

  9. Although saying that I can’t actually find the confirmation!

  10. Ok, let me tell you the story about Propeller, which is really in two parts.

    Propeller was primarily a flight booker for complex routings but they could also access these hotel deals. Daniel was very familiar with the frequent flyer community and was an obvious person to partner with,

    Unfortunately, dealing with the ‘community’ brought problems. A lot of people booked ex-EU tickets through him (eg Dublin London New York London Dublin) and then failed to fly the last leg. This is strictly against the BA rules and, as booking agent, Daniel was jointly responsible.

    BA responded by telling the company for whom he was an agent to fire him, which they did (you don’t mess with BA). Daniel lost everything overnight – not only could he not book BA but he couldn’t book anything else either, including hotels. All pending commission, including a substantial sum due to me, was frozen pending possible claims by BA. BA is legally entitled to reprice trips where the last leg was skipped and recharge the agent the difference, who is expected to sue the customer for a similar sum.

    Over the last 18 months Daniel has rebuilt and is now able book BA flights again under a new arrangement. If you have a GUF2 for example he can book it.

    What became clear during our partnership, though, was that whilst he was a genuius at complex flight bookings his team was not set up well to handle luxury hotel bookings. The luxury hotel market needs a different appoach to the flight market and they were best suited to the latter.

    Emyr is first and foremost a luxury hotel booker and that should make a difference.

    I continue to recommend Daniel / Propeller for complex flight bookings and especially GUF2 bookings. (A GUF2 booked by a travel agent does NOT require Avios availability to use it, unlike booking it directly with BA.)

    • Thanks for clarifying that Rob. I’ve read a few horror, ex EU stories, (dropping last leg) and I empathise with him. Glad he’s rebuilt his business and you still back him.

    • I really do hope that Buy on Board is a big enough catalyst to start to bring BA down. What a smug, nasty, management regime they have. ‘Show me the ***ing money’: it sums their culture up perfectly. Short BA!!

      • It sums up the culture of virtually every major company on the planet… It surely can’t be news to you that their primary function is to earn money, not help you out?

        While a disproportionate response (I’m glad he’s back up and running), he knew full well that he was assisting people in getting cheaper BA tickets by breaking the conditions. I can’t imagine why BA wouldn’t like that….

      • None of their payment machines were working today on my CPH to LHR flight. They were filling in those manual triplicate credit card payment forms by pen last seen by me 30 years ago when I worked in a petrol station at school. Took five mins to fill one in. I had to eat my bacon roll on my knee as I got it 5 mins before landing. Avios payment wasn’t an option. Easy jet have 4 crew and two trolleys it’s surely going to be hard for BA to get round everyone on short flights as only 1 trolley with 2 serving. 1 serving CE and I heating the food etc down the back.

    • This makes me want to avoid BA more than any perceived lack in seat or cabin service.

      • I wouldn’t say that. If you ran a business and one of your retailers was causing you disproportionate amounts of difficulty then you would cut them off, partly to save yourself trouble, partly to set an example and partly to reward all your other retailers whose end users do play by the rules.

        • I don’t like the idea of a huge company demanding someone is sacked so sorry I’ll stick with my view.

          • Truth is, I would probably have done the same thing myself if I was BA. If you were a widget manufacturer and one of your sales reps who represented just 0.001% of your annual sales was undermining your business in some way, you’d do the same. At my kids school they quickly boot out the 1% of kids who cause 50% of the disruption.

          • We’ll agree to differ on this one.

          • +1. It was blaming the retailer for something the buyer did. Not remotely the same as kicking out the disruptive kid.

    • As an “expert” surely Daniel did know that people go for ex EU deals and skipping the last leg. I am not an expert but frequent HFP, FT, and other travel blog reader, And I know it is happening on a large scale( it is a well documented item as you well know!). For him to run a business largely on the back of this scheme was risky, and always doomed to fail in my opinion. Trying to make money from a loophole is never a long term business plan!

      • It could be that he trusted people when they said they would fly all sectors knowing that, as experienced fliers, they would know that dropping the last leg was against the rules.

        • He asked people to declare that they would fly all the legs when booking. However, in the harder core elements of the FF community there are people who would say or do anything in order to access a good deal irrespective of the consequences.

          Did any HFP readers apply for a Curve Card and tick the box saying “I have a form of self employment income” when they didn’t?

        • That is a valid point Sean, but in business trust does not rule, contracts do, and in this case he did not have a binding contract with his clients explaining the rules. If I was asked to be able to book a great fare and sign a contract to commit to all flights, I would not have a problem with that. did he not create such contracts, because it is not legal to do so, or did he know, “frequent flyers” would never sign the contract?

      • All true. I would not have considered operating that way.

        More to the point IMHO, is whether these terms of business are reasonable and fair. Anyone know if they have been tested under the Unfair Contracts Terms Act (I am not sure if that is is its correct name!)

        • There’s nothing remotely “unfair” about this, in the sense that the Unfair Contract Terms Act uses that term. “Unfair” in that context means something like keeping the customer’s money even if you don’t provide the service you’ve contracted to provide, or disclaiming liability arising from your own negligence, or having a provision which allows you to unilaterally change a contract after it’s been entered into.

          In this case, BA has offered to fly you from A to B at a cost of £X. You’ve accepted that offer and paid £X, but then you’ve actually flown from A to C. You are clearly in the wrong.

          • No, BA have offered to fly you A-B & B-C for £x. You’ve accepted that offer and paid £x, but only used one of the two flights you’ve paid for.

            Sometimes if I want to buy a bottle of water at WH Smiths, it’s cheaper for me to buy a newspaper I don’t like which comes with a free bottle of water. If I do this, I don’t actually take the newspaper, but leave it on the display stand at the till – does this mean I’ve somehow not fully for the water? If the offer saved me 20%, have I shoplifted 100ml of the 500ml bottle? Of course not.

    • What is GUF2? Thanks

      • A ‘Gold Upgrade For Two’ voucher, given to Gold members who hit a high level of tier points (can’t remember how many, 2500?). It lets you upgrade a cash ticket by one class. If you use it online, there must be Avios availability in the higher class. A travel agent, on the other hand, can book it into (in First) the ‘A’ cash ticket bucket.

        This is a SUBSTANTIAL benefit, given how tricky it is to find flights which a) are on sale in Club World and b) have 2 F Avios seats available.

        • Oh wow never heard of it before. Sounds like a great perk… so you could buy a cash premium econ ticket and be upgraded into club world, or its only from club to first?

        • Nick Burch says:

          If you’re happy to use your GUF2 / 2*GUF1 for an avios redemption, then they can also be combined with an Amex 2-for-1, and with a GGL joker. (Can’t be combined with a 2-for-1 on a TA cash ticket, and you shouldn’t need the joker for those). If you combine all 3 (booking on the phone with BA!), you could eg get 2 seats in Club World for one lot of WTP avios + 2 lots of CW taxes, on a flight that didn’t otherwise have any avios availability (eg peak holiday time). That seems to be a common use of them on Caribbean and Australian flights!

          • Wow, this is so technical. lol

          • Yep :) In fairness FlyerTalk is pretty good when getting down to the real nitty gritty of these sort of things – some excellent guides on there plus some good threads for people going over the ins and outs of things.

  11. So as Bon Vivant use the Virtuoso ‘network’ will bookings be exactly the same price (and benefits) as Virtuoso?

    • You can’t book direct with Virtuoso, you need to use one of their agents and Emyr is one. They all access the same pricing AFAIK.

      • Oh right. Going to drop him an email as I’ve got a hotel booking to sort out. Very good that you still get the points for the underlying brand.

  12. Just sent him an email. Be interesting if he can better my existing booking :)

  13. I just love the fact that if you search for propeller articles on this forum you get an automatic redirect……….to this article!!!! business as usual on HFP!!!!!

    • That is done for Google reasons. If Google sees that you are running ‘duplicate content’ on different pages of your site (in order to try to get the same page showing twice in search results) it downgrades your ranking. When I run an article which is very similar to an older article I always redirect the old one.

  14. We will shortly be staying at the Sofitel in Bangkok but I don’t believe it’s one of the few hotels in the Virtuoso programme – correct me if I’m wrong here. I will be crediting our stay to my Accor account which will be helpful in terms of both points (miles) and status this year. However, if I book a Sofitel through Bon Vivant, would I get any credit on my Accor account? Some hotels will not credit if you book through a travel agent.

    • Sofitel Bangkok is not Virtuoso – Bangkok properties are Anantara Siam, Mandarin, EDITION, Peninsula, The Siam and St Regis. However, Emyr is a Sofitel STEPS agent so he can book it through that for the (modest) benefits note above. This would in effect be a direct booking so points should be given.

  15. Graham Walsh says:

    O/T – With the HHonors free night voucher, anyone know how long it is emailed to you after triggering it? Website says 6-8 weeks, but I could do with it sooner. Just wondering what others have experienced.

    • I wrote an article on this once. They seem to be sent out in batches so it can be very quick (I got my last one in 10 days I think) or slow, but it never seems to be more than a month.

  16. Could this be combined with the IC Ambassador free night voucher?

  17. Hi Everyone and thank you for your e-mails throughout the day.

    There is no rift between Rob and I, nor a cause for concern. Rob is absolutely right (as he wrote in his comments), while we represent the same programs and Amex’s FHR, we are primarily a complex air / corporate agency that does best with those kinds of bookings. Since the “ex-eu issue” last December (2015) we have been focusing on stabilising our business which we have successfully done. To those who use us, I would be delighted to serve you, being well aware that we have failed some of you during our troublesome time mainly by not responding in a timely fashion. If you are current customer I would love to serve you. If you are not, I always trust’s Rob recommendations on travel suppliers and encourage you to do the same (even when it does not serve my personal agenda). The travel world has space for many players and it gets everyone to be better at their game.

    With very kind regards and best wishes to you all,

    Daniel

    • As a side note Daniel this week went the extra mile sorting out a MCT issue following a BA schedule change. He rebooked my flights in a jiffy with no cost or trouble even grabbing extra legroom seats for free. It was an eight flight multi class intra Europe plus KL and Langkawi booking. Whilst I appreciate he has had some issues he did keep me in the loop and came through with no dramas. We go next week.

      I have used him since for a mixed class Spain to tallinn TP trip in March including getting free prebooked seats on all legs.

    • Simon Schus says:

      This was an excellent post, Daniel :) Thanks for taking the time :)

      • Thanks to Daniel from me too – had a Tallinn itinerary I’d found on ITA Matrix that I couldn’t get to price up anywhere (certainly no websites, and no luck with Amex Travel) – he sorted it straight away!

    • Oonagh cacioppo says:

      I’m having problems emailing you can you please confirm your email address without gaps? Thanks!

  18. Well I emailed Propeller a couple of days ago as I could get a better rate with the new guys and I’ve still not received a reply.