If you have an American Express Platinum card then you should know about the Fine Hotels & Resorts hotel booking programme. This is a grouping of 5-star hotels which offers special benefits to Platinum cardholders when they book via Amex Travel.
Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I place £0 value on hotel benefits if they do not have the word ‘guaranteed’ in front of them. Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings use the word ‘guaranteed’ a lot which I like!
The point of this post – which I am writing after a stay in the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm in Dubai – is to show how you can use the use the guaranteed 4pm check-out to your advantage, and how the hotel credit is maximised on a one-night stay.
The same principles apply whenever your trip involves a late night arrival and / or a late night or early morning flight out.
My Dubai schedule had me landing at 9.30pm on Tuesday and flying out at 7.45am on Friday. That meant three hotel nights for only two full days on the ground. Given Dubai hotel prices, this could easily have got expensive as I wanted to be on a beach.
This is where two Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits kicked in:
- noon check-in if available
- 4pm guaranteed late check-out
I booked myself into a cheap Hyatt Place downtown – which was great, review to follow. It was so good, I dumped my JW Marriott Marquis booking for Thursday to return. I arrived at the Hyatt about 11pm local time, did some work and went to bed about 2am (9pm UK). I woke up at 10am and was checked out by noon.
At the Waldorf Astoria I had booked a standard room to maximise the chance of it being available at 1pm when I arrived. It was. If I hadn’t been asleep I could have arrived an hour earlier and still checked in.
My check-out was guaranteed for 4pm the next day. I headed back to the Hyatt Place – which costs 25% of the Waldorf Astoria price – arrived at 5.30pm due to stupid weekend traffic, did some work, went to bed, and woke at 5am to head to the airport for my Royal Jordanian experience.
I had got a 27 hour stay at the Waldorf Astoria for the cost of just one night. It would have been 28 hours if I’d made it across by noon. This compares to 21 hours for a standard one-day stay, checking in at 3pm and leaving at noon. I didn’t lose much by downgrading to Hyatt Place because the only time I spent there was asleep or working.
Now let’s turn to cash.
Sometimes Fine Hotels & Resorts rates are a little more expensive than the Best Flexible Rate offered by the hotel. Surprisingly this one was cheaper, in fact it was cheaper than any other rate the Waldorf Astoria was offering.
The FHR package comes with:
- Free breakfast for two
- $100 property credit
The $100 credit is key. This is per stay, not per night. You are maximising the value when you only stay for one night. Given that breakfast was also free, I covered my entire food bill for the stay – two one-course lunches, one one-course dinner – with the $100.
I turned what would have been a 3pm check-in / noon check-out stay into a noon check-in / 4pm check-out stay and got a $100 food, beverage or spa credit too.
(If we are being fussy, you can argue that – as a Hilton Diamond – I should have been able to negotiate a slightly later check-out had I booked a normal rate. This is true but it would not have been guaranteed and it would not have been until 4pm.)
Because the 4pm check-out is guaranteed, Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings work particularly well if:
you have a late flight home or
you have a very early flight home and are happy to check-out at 4pm and transfer to an airport hotel for the last night
Either way, you can get good value. I got three hotel nights at peak season in Dubai for under £500 (and offset by the $100 food credit and free breakfast at the Waldorf) and still managed to spend almost all my daylight hours in a five-star beach resort selling for over £300 per night.
The key issue is the FHR price you are quoted, which can be more than the standard Best Flexible Rate (wasn’t in my case) or higher than any highly discounted Advanced Purchase rates on offer. Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings can be made online via the Amex Travel website, although you need to be logged in with your American Express Platinum details for the pricing to show.
PS. Full Waldorf Astoria Dubai review to follow
PPS. FHR bookings ALWAYS qualify for loyalty points despite being ‘third party bookings’. I got 10,000 Hilton Honors points for the Waldorf Astoria stay.
(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.)