REMINDER: Get exclusive benefits on luxury hotel bookings via Head for Points

I wanted to give our luxury hotel booking service another mention today.  Since I relaunched this six months ago with Emyr Thomas of Bon Vivant, the feedback from Head for Points readers has been excellent.  Over £500,000-worth of rooms have been booked so far.

Here is an email I received recently from a reader, for example:

“I just wanted to give some feedback on Emyr and Bon Vivant. I have just used him to book three nights at the Conrad NYC for my brother’s wedding and also a night at the Park Hyatt in DC.  Fantastic service, emails answered promptly, very knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with.  Certainly offers a lot better service than other similar agents I have used through Flyertalk contacts.”

What we can offer

The luxury hotel companies 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. 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 offer a luxury hotel booking service for HFP readers.

Via our partnership with Emyr, 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.

Virtuoso travel agent UK

If you are considering booking a luxury hotel, I would strongly recommend contacting Bon Vivant to see what special offers are available for that particular property.

Bon Vivant is an affiliate of SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency, which means that booking through them can give you access to benefits including upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in / late check-out and $100 hotel credits (or similar) at every Virtuoso hotel.

Most of the top hotel groups (including Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, Four Seasons etc) have hotels that are a part of Virtuoso and you can access these benefits by booking through Bon Vivant.

There are many hundreds of other luxury hotels globally – including many Fairmont, One & Only, Hyatt, Corinthia and InterContinental properties – where Bon Vivant can access similar deals via 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.

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.  Some hotels may request a night’s refundable deposit, or similar, but this will be outlined at the time of booking.

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 London

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 Mandarin Oriental Prague 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.

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

IMPORTANT:  If you do not get a response within 24 hours, please drop me a note.  The form below is not foolproof and it occasionally fails to trigger at our end.  If you do not see the form because you are reading via Apple News, RSS etc, please email me at rob [at] headforpoints.co.uk with your requirements and I will pass it across to Emyr.

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Comments

  1. Interesting get Lounge access at Le Grand. Any way to use the AMB 2 for 1?
    Would love to go back again.

    Alan

    • What I did …. and obviously I can’t recommend this …. is that Emyr booked me a Friday and I then used a 241 for a separate booking for Sat/Sun which Emyr had the hotel link together. I continued to wander into the lounge on Sat (in theory I would have been OK until lunch anyway) and Sun without any problems – the staff don’t look up your details again if the recognise you. May not work for you of course ….

      (You could, of course, just book a Club room on the 2-4-1 for the other nights.)

      • What if I booked a club room via 2-4-1 and then had Emyr book the cheapest room with free lounge access for a 3rd night: how likely am I to get a decent upgrade on the 2-4-1 room (via ambassador membership–assuming that club rooms are nicer than standard rooms?) and how likely would they let me keep the better room for the 3rd night?

        • LeG is a bit odd like this. The club rooms are general ‘run of the hotel’ rooms which just happen to come with lounge access. You won’t get one of the super-small Classic rooms, but booking a Classic via Emyr gets you an automatic upgrade to a Superior anyway.

          So … yes …. book a Club room for 2 nights on the voucher and get Emyr to book you a Classic room for the 3rd night for cash. They will let you keep the same room for all 3 nights anyway. Give Emyr the booking reference for the other room and he’ll make sure it is all linked together.

  2. The 2 times I’ve got a quote from Bon Vivant the price has been way in excess of the hotel’s own website.

    It may be because I’m looking at prepaid rates, but the difference is still far too much to justify.

    Maybe more suitable to generous expense account business travellers than leisure travellers.

    • That’s been my experience as well. The last one I enquired about was fully double the price, although it did then include breakfast. The response times have always been top notch though, so I’ll keep enquiring in case he has better deals on other hotels.

    • It depends on hotel, I have a leisure booking coming up next week to an MO property and the benefits of the whole package (normally free breakfast, f&b credit and possible upgrades) out way any small difference when checking on Trivago. No expense account for me, I don’t have one, must be nice

      • It is clear from the article – couldn’t be clearer, actually – that these benefits only apply on flexible rates and not cheap pre-paid ones. That’s not to say that the benefits won’t exceed the price gap, because they often will, but this is a benefit-driven and not a price-driven package.

        For example …. we are at Chewton Glen over the weekend. The Virtuoso deal at Chewton Glen is a guaranteed upgrade at the time of booking, so we could book a cheap room one level below a suite and get it immediately confirmed into a full suite that will take all 4 of us. This is a substantial saving (we get free breakfast plus £85 hotel credit too) which ends up far cheaper than booking the suite directly on a pre-paid rate, which we didn’t want to do anyway.

        • This has been my experience with both Virtuoso and MO fan club, really good benefits. In the LMO Hong Kong received a 4 category room upgrade, VIP service at the airport (which was a little weird after an Air Asia flight) and F&B credit in Amber, which is their signature restaurant.

  3. I have found Emyr to be very helpful indeed, patiently answering questions even for a single night booking. He booked the Intercontinental in Madrid, with Club Lounge access, at exactly the same flexible rate IHG shows on their web-site, so I had a chance to check the likely rate before asking him. Which in this case is not much higher than the advance rate, so very well worth while for lounge access (including breakfast). And yes, the booking will earn IHG points, which will also help with the 3rd hotel brand.and completion bonus for the current Accelerate promotion, and go a long way towards paying for the second night booked using points. So definitely worth it occasionally for leisure travellers as well. And excellent service.

  4. Tom Horton says:

    Can Bon Vivant do anything for luxury cruises such as Cunard or does anyone have any other recommendations for cruise travel agents or good places to book?

    • I have found Julie Barker at Select Travel Holidays (01234 326758) to be pretty good/helpful on cruises – mind you I have only done 3! Mention the Cormack, Neville, Jackson Italy cruise this Sept and she might remember! Worth a try even just for a comparison.

    • Hi Tom,

      I can help with luxury cruises as well, often with additional benefits, depending on the company / voyage.

      Thanks,
      Emyr

    • barnaby100 says:

      If you want queens grill you often have to book sharply when they are released.

  5. Rich01924 says:

    OT – opinions valued – have a Qatar ARN to DUB flight booked for November (grabbed in last Qatar sale) – I know it’s ages away but can’t decide whether I should be pestering Qatar to reschedule me on an alternate airline at this early stage (whether they even would) or wait it out and see if things change…any thoughts?

    • Rich01924 says:

      That should read DXB (i.e. Dubai) not Dublin :)

    • I heard from a reader last week who is having real trouble with Qatar – they are trying to reroute him Doha to Istanbul (4 hours?) and then Turkish for Istanbul to Abu Dhabi …..

    • Rob Brown says:

      I bothered Qatar many times about my DXB-DOH leg of my flight (In July) and they kept saying that they would not be able to discuss anything until 72 hours before departure. (By which time we would already be in Dubai.)

      In the end I just sucked up the cancellation fee (It was a points booking) and changed to BA – Qatar said they would definitly reroute me but that it would most likely be via Kuwait and involve a 6am start from Dubai to make my connection in Doha. I figured the extra fee was worth the peace of mind (as well as an extra 2 hours in bed and 5 hours less flying/airport time) But I guess as yours is a Sale fare it is probably non-cancellable? so you may have to wait.

      Good luck in whatever you do.

      • Rich01924 says:

        Thanks for the heads up both Robs :)

        Just spent an hour on the phone with Qatar – so they acknowledge the policy / position is fluid but here is the latest:

        – re-routing is via Kuwait Airways or Turkish (as per your point Rob) but ONLY on the Doha leg – I pushed hard for a re-route for ARN to DXB but they couldn’t do it, apparently the arrangement they have in place doesn’t allow it

        – also Turkish arrangement apparently only currently in place until 30th Sept so our option was solely Kuwait given we don’t fly until November, specifically night flight and 7 hour lay-over waiting for a connection (where was we’d book day flight an 1hr 25min layover given we’re taking our youngest) – in effect losing a day of our 4 day trip just on the outbound leg and I suspect having a v. grumpy 13 month old

        – in short not happy but waiting a month to see if the situation resolves itself and believing their refund offer

        Oman or Salalah also offered as alternate final destinations (no willingness to allow us to extend to HK / Singapore :()

        • I was in a very similar position (flying stockholm to Ras on Qatar in Oct), and spoke to them a couple of times over the summer. First time I asked for an alternative desination (muscat) which they agreed too although I asked for a couple of days to think about it. After some deliberation though I opted to cancel the booking and get a regubpnd. Qatar did this with no quibbles (it was also a business saver rate). refund did take 6 weeks though, that was the only sticking point.

        • Kuwait are dry i think if that’s a consideration

  6. James Wagner says:

    I will certainly look at this when I am thinking of very high end stays. I don’t really book Best Flexible Rates so these stays would come out more expensive than I’d usually choose but would be willing to see what additional benefits I’d get for the increase in cost.

    I hope that others who book Best Flexible Rates more often than me are making good use of this service so that its still there when I can afford to use it :-)

  7. James Wagner says:

    OT – Le Club Accor. Extending my points expiry date.

    Does a stay (within the 12month period) need to be a cash paid stay or can it be an Accor voucher paid stay (from converting Accor points) ?

    Also, is there a general policy towards honouring Platinum benefits on voucher paid stays ? Different across the brands ?
    Do the hotels actually know whether you paid cash or vouchers online ?

    related:
    http://www.headforpoints.com/2017/06/08/when-your-le-club-accorhotels-points-expire-and-how-to-stop-it-2/

    • My experience with Le Club is that Platinum Benefits are honoured when you use points to pay for a stay. Had them honoured at multiple Pullman’s, Sofitel Macau and multiple M Gallerys.

      Unsure on whether a Points stay extends expiry, sorry.

    • Given the points directly translate into a cash discount I find Accor don’t treat those stays any differently, so still counts as a stay and still receives Plat benefits.

  8. I was wondering if anybody has a sense of how the Bon Vivant benefits tend to compare to the Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits when booked via Amex Platinum Travel? I’ve got 2 Flex bookings coming up at the IC Cannes and Penha Longa Resort in Sintra, so might get some comparative quotes but don’t want to waste Emyr’s time if the benefits are similar.

    • Hi Philip, I’m happy for you to ask me to quote on any booking. If you booked a while ago, your existing quote might well be cheaper but I can always check.

      Thanks,
      Emyr

    • If FHR is quoting you more than Best Flex then Emyr will be cheaper because his price will be Best Flex.

      These are the IC Carlton benefits:
      Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
      Buffet breakfast for up to two in-room guests, served at the restaurant
      Carlton gift in the room (offered on behalf of the travel agency)
      Carlton Beach : Free access to the beach sunlounges (exclusivity for Virtuoso). Value is up to 45 euros per day and per person
      Dedicated Guest Relation Manager and daily complimentary in-room internet access
      For guests staying in the 1 Bedroom Suite Category or higher: One Way Transfer
      Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

      Penha Longa – you’d get the Ritz-Carlton STARS benefits which is the Preferred Travel Agent Partner scheme, this is very similar to FHR package to be honest.

  9. barnaby100 says:

    I am typing from a hotel booked by Emyr. The 4 seasons Nam Hoi. The rate was cheaper than we were originally booked on (which was before it was a 4S hotel). We have been upgraded to a 3 bedroom pool villa (from the 1 bed booked).

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