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 American Express 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 article is to show how you can use the use the guaranteed 4pm check-out to your advantage and how the $100 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.
Here’s an example of Fine Hotels & Resorts in action
A good example of when Fine Hotels & Resorts can really pay off was on a short HfP trip to Dubai a couple of years ago.
I was arriving very late at night (my flight arrived at 9.30pm on a Tuesday) and leaving very early (7.45am on Friday). This meant I was looking at three nights in an expensive hotel – as I wanted to be on a beach – for only two full days on the ground.
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 hotel for the Tuesday night. I arrived very late, woke up at 10am and was gone an hour later.
I headed down to the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, booked via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.
I had only booked for one night.
I had booked a standard room to maximise the chance of it being available on arrival around noon (remember I had a ‘noon check-in’ benefit). It was.
My check-out was guaranteed for 4pm the next day. I left at 4pm, heading to a budget hotel near the airport, went to bed and woke at 5am the next morning for my return flight.
I had got a 28 hour stay at the Waldorf Astoria for the cost of just one night. 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 the Hyatt Place because the only time I spent there was asleep.
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 hotel credit
The $100 hotel 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 free breakfast and 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 may not have been until 4pm. Note that Fine Hotels & Resorts rates earn loyalty points as usual.)
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, or
you want a weekend break (check-in at noon on Saturday, leave at 4pm on Sunday) whilst just paying for one 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). I 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 Fine Hotels & Resorts 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.
Book a couple of Fine Hotels & Resorts stays each year and it helps to justify the annual fee for The Platinum Card.