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Benefiting from Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts at Park Hyatt Hamburg

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One of the key benefits of the American Express Platinum charge card – apart from the 30,000 points (=30,000 Avios) you get for signing up! – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.

As I booked a stay via this programme last week, I thought it was worth running over the key benefits again.  I will also explain how you can get similar benefits without a Platinum card via our hotel booking partner, Bon Vivant.

FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 600 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel.  FHR bookings can be made online via the Amex Travel website (you must be logged in as a Platinum cardholder to see pricing) or by calling.  Bon Vivant can also book them for you – this is a little unnecessary, admittedly, as you can do it yourself online but you could always ask Bon Vivant if they have any better deals via Virtuoso or a ‘preferred partner’ agreement and if not to book FHR for you anyway.

The 2017 directory of FHR properties is here. This site is aimed at US Amex customers but the deals are the same globally.

The special FHR benefits are:

Noon check-in when available (I value this at nothing!  I want it guaranteed or it is useless.)

Room upgrade on arrival when available (can be very good but not guaranteed)

Free breakfast for two people (very valuable at expensive hotels)

GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable on some trips)

Free in-room wi-fi (can be valuable, some luxury hotels still like to charge)

An additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay

FHR

Where FHR really works for me is the guaranteed 4pm check-out.  If you are on a short break with an evening flight home, you really don’t want to be checking out of your hotel at 11am or noon.  Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.

On my trip last week, my flight out of Hamburg was 17.10.  Being able to keep the room and work until 3pm was a real benefit.

The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing.  Rates seem to be fixed in advance for the year so it is possible that, if the hotel starts discounting, the FHR rate may be higher than the highest flexible rate on the hotel website.  That said, on a shorter stay the $100 food and drink credit usually offsets that and you still have the benefit of free breakfast, late check-out and potential upgrade.  As it turned out, pricing was identical on my stay last week.

It is worth noting that Fine Hotels & Resorts rates DO quality for points and status credit if you stay at a chain hotel.

Park Hyatt Hamburg

I used Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a room at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg last Thursday.  This has been my ‘go to’ hotel in Hamburg for years, partly because it is 1 minute from the railway station and partly because it is very well run and maintained.   I even remembered my swimming trunks this time!

Park Hyatt Hamburg

The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rate was €245 – the same as the flexible rate on the Hyatt website.

The first time I stayed on an FHR package I was given a huge junior suite.  This time, like last year, I was upgraded to the executive floor, which meant I got access to the club lounge for free.  If I’m honest, this doesn’t add much because the other FHR food and drink benefits are so good.

For one night stays, the rebate you get on a Fine Hotels & Resorts booking is substantial.  I got:

free breakfast (I could have had it in the lounge as I was upgraded but I went to the restaurant as this was part of the FHR deal – and the Park Hyatt does a great breakfast.  This would have been valid for two people if my wife had come too.)

€85 of food and beverage credit, which I used in the casual dining area – it would also have been valid for the main restaurant, but not via room service.  This is equivalent to 30% of what I paid for my room.

additional evening snacks and drinks from the club lounge, due to my executive floor upgrade

check-out to 3pm (I could have had 4pm) for my 5pm flight

I also got a half-bottle of wine in my room (which I had to leave behind as I was only on hand baggage) and a bag of chocolates.  I don’t know if this was due to FHR, my previous stays at the hotel or my World of Hyatt membership – albeit I have no Hyatt status.

Based on previous experience, the stay will post to my World Of Hyatt account in the next couple of days.  FHR bookings do earn points, unlike most third party website bookings.

No Amex Platinum?  No problem!

If you don’t have an American Express Platinum card, you can access similar benefits at luxury hotels via Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant, who is the HFP hotel booking partner.   Emyr is an affiliate of SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency, which means that booking through him can get you access to similar benefits including upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in / late check-out and $100 hotel credits (or similar) at every Virtuoso member hotel.

To be fair, Park Hyatt Hamburg is not in Virtuoso, so it wouldn’t have helped here.  The Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten and soon-to-open The Fontenay Hamburg (built on the site on the now-demolished InterContinental Hamburg) are, however.

You can read more about our hotel booking service here, and more about Amex Platinum in my card review here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (40)

  • Talay says:

    $100 food credit on a $300 room is fine but what if you stay 4 days or a week ? The single $100 credit looks very poor then doesn’t it ?

    I have had a couple of hotels give me daily credit but also been refused even when suggesting the technical – I book for Mon, Wed, Fri and my other half books for Tue, Thur, Sat etc.

    On principle, I won’t pay more for longer stays outside the room rate changing. It is taking the michael.

    • Rob says:

      It does, I agree – but this article was about one night stays being excellent value.

    • oliuk says:

      It’s worth checking both the FHR offer and the Virtuoso offer for a property. I booked a hotel recently where the FHR benefit is $100 credit per stay, but the virtuoso benefit was $100 credit per night. Room rate was the same, and all other benefits identical except FHR guaranteed 4pm late checkout whereas Virtuoso only offered 4pm late check-out if available. Emyr was able to contact the hotel and ask them to guarantee the late check-out on the Virtuoso rate, so I got the best of both offers and he got some commission instead of amex. Highly recommended.

      • the real harry1 says:

        how does this Virtuoso stuff work?

        it seems once one gets qualified as a Virtuoso agent, you can grab commission & ask hotels to give better deals in terms of extras – which they readily do?

        • Rob says:

          Virtuoso, centrally, negotiates the deals which its agents can then offer.

          You need to understand why they do this. It is a US business, virtually unknown here. In the US, wealthy individuals tend to use individual travel advisers for their bookings and they mainly subcontract to Virtuoso.

          (It’s a bit like a travel version of St James’s Place financial management, which is the only business in the UK I can think of which serves the wealthy market via independent contractors)

          When a hotel offers a good deal to Virtuoso, the agents who work for it are highly likely to suggest such a hotel over one which does not have a Virtuoso relationship and so has no special benefits. And think how cool the adviser looks when he says “I can book you into this place and you’ll get a deal you can’t get when you book direct”. It’s the same reason hotels offer a good deal to Amex Platinum FHR, because their customers are likely to be Platinum cardholders and Platinum cardholders are likely to favour FHR properties. When you get critical mass it is a virtuous circle.

          • the real harry1 says:

            thanks for explanation

          • Talay says:

            Thanks for the explanation of Virtuoso but can you refresh us on the means of using Virtuoso as looking at their website it asks us to find an advisor.

          • Rob says:

            Use Emyr at Bon Vivant, he is one of the very very few UK based advisers – https://headforpoints.com/virtuoso-agent-london/ – and very good. We’ve done £320,000 of booking for readers since January.

          • Talay says:

            Cheer Rob but honestly, in 21st century, I am expecting a little more than having to email someone with tight specifics on what I want against having filters options made available at the touch of a button.

            How do I even know which hotels he might be able to use ?

            For instance, I am going to Singapore and looking at the Capella on Sentosa. However, on any modern search facility, I can instantly see other potential properties and their respective rates which may drop significantly if booked the day after or (similar to you) we need either connecting rooms or a large enough suite. Alternatively, some hotels have specific rooms which well suit having a 3rd persons bedding down.

            I don’t feel I can go back and forth to an agent and yet I don’t think I have enough comparative information to make a singular request and then get a take it or leave it price.

            For a specific hotel on a specific date then perhaps it works but I am trying to make it work for me and I’m struggling.

          • Rob says:

            It isn’t designed to be used that way though. It is designed to be used by home-visit travel agents in the US.

            Emyr can also access all of the Preferred Partner booking schemes with Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La etc. You should start on the basis that he can get something, and if he can’t he’ll tell you quickly.

            However, let me sort out your problem for you. Take one of the residential villas in the grounds of Sentosa. We did this 2 years ago. They are HUGE – designed for families who live there permanently. There is an extra pool for villa guests and a private lounge where you can have breakfast. It is fantastic. All of the hotel facilities are available to you 90 seconds walk away.

            These are NOT in the hotel booking system, although from time to time booking.com has had them showing. There is a separate website where you can enquire about availability.

          • Talay says:

            Rob – you mean in the grounds of Capella ? Sentosa is the island.

          • Rob says:

            Yes, sorry, the villas / apartments in the grounds of Capella.

            This is it – http://www.theclubcapellasingapore.com/

            We were there with both kids and a nanny – as my wife was at a conference during our time there and so not around much – and it worked very well. The (very public) beach is literally a minute away.

          • Talay says:

            Sorry for dragging this Capella this on but do you mean the 1/2/3 bedroom suites or the separate Manor houses / Colonial rooms ?

          • Rob says:

            The separate Club bit as per the link. We had a 3-bed apartment. I can send you some pics from May 15 if you drop me an email.

  • Bill says:

    I concur, I’m very anti food at hotels and prefer going out for local cuisine in the area. Don’t mind if it’s free though 🙂

  • JP says:

    How does the actual booking process with Bon Vivant work?

    I have enquired a couple of times, but it’s never been clear to me how the booking actually worked – it seemed like the person who replied to me was suggesting that I send my credit card details via email to complete the booking, but surely that can’t be correct?

    Perhaps it was because I was enquiring about single-night stays, but I did find it strange that there wasn’t a “if you want to proceed with this booking, please do X” part of the email reply…