[ Note : This is the first guest post by Tom Fakes. If you have a chance, you will definitely want to check out his site FHRNews. It is a wealth of information about the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program unavailable anywhere else. In the coming months TravelZork will be featuring many luxury hotel reviews. Quite a few of these hotels are part of the FHR program. Enjoy! baccarat_guy ]
The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program is quite simple – if you have an Amex Platinum (or Centurion) card, and you book a stay at one of the 800+ luxury hotels in the program through the Amex Platinum Travel services you will get a nice set of benefits.
These benefits include a free breakfast, free wifi, early checkin, late checkout (4pm guaranteed), and a unique property benefit worth about $100 during your stay. You may also get a small room upgrade at checkin, if there’s one available.
In addition to booking through American Express, you must also pay at checkout with an Amex card on that account. In the USA, I use my Amex Everyday Preferred card at checkout to maximize the number of Membership Rewards I earn for each stay.
Related: ZorkCast TravelZork Podcast | Optimising One Night Luxury Hotel Stays
Where can I stay?
Amex has contracts with over 800 luxury hotels worldwide – almost 300 in the USA, over 200 in Europe. In each of these hotels, you can book most types of room. You can also book up to 3 rooms at the same time to get the benefits, so if you travel with family, everyone can get a free breakfast and WiFi.
I recently stayed at The Wynn Las Vegas, and this hotel is in the FHR program. I booked a Wynn Tower Suite, and got upgraded at checkin to a Parlor Suite. I was also offered a further upgrade to a Salon Suite for an extra $200 for my 2 night stay.
Want to know what a Salon Suite is like? Read Blackjacker1979’s recent review of his stay in a Salon Suite
This stay also scored me free breakfast at Tableau, which is a very nice, but quite expensive place to eat. I could have had room service breakfast too.
The Wynn Tower Suite booking may be the best FHR deal in the program. The room upgrade alone is worth over $300 per night. But they do make this back in Spa charges, even with a $100 Spa credit with every booking.
Due to the size of the property, this upgrade path seems to be fairly reliable too. I visited during a large conference, and still managed to get this deal. Unlike Blackjacker1979, I don’t have casinos offering me free nights, so for me the Fine Hotels and Resorts program is a great way to get an upgrade and some freebies.
Hidden benefits of the program include that you get to stay in the rooms you want, not just the lowest room level in the hotel, and your existing hotel loyalty points program continue to work with FHR bookings.
You must call American Express to add your Hyatt/SPG/Marriott//HHonors loyalty number to your account – and existing bookings – and you will earn both points, stay and night credits for your Fine Hotels and Resorts stays.
Free Breakfast and full nights and stay credits are cool, but is there any more?
The best part of the Fine Hotels and Resorts program is the ability to get a free night at many of the hotels in the program. Over 300 hotels at any time have discounts where you book 3 or 4 nights, and get the last night free, depending on the property. This can give you an immediate 1/3 or 1/4 off your total cost, in addition to the regular benefits I described above.
These offers have start and end dates, and often some blackout dates over holidays, so you need to keep track of what offers are available if you’re looking for a hotel in an area you want to visit.
Many of these offers can also be reused on the same stay. I have an upcoming 9 night stay in Hawaii, and because of a 4th night free offer, I’ll also get the 8th night free. I stay 9 nights and only pay for 7. And I get free breakfast for 2 people for 9 nights too – that alone is worth over $550 at this property.
How do I find offers?
American Express has a web site that you can search for Fine Hotels and Resorts hotels, and these are marked when a special offer is available. However, it’s up to you to spend your time searching for all the hotels you may want to stay in, and you may never see the free offers if you never look. Oh, and the search function is a bit hard to use, and sometimes misses hotels completely.
I run a newsletter – FHRNews – that tells you about all the new offers that come available for all the Fine Hotels and Resorts in a specific area. I send this out every Monday and Thursday, with relevant news about FHR hotels in that region. You may find offers at your favorite hotels, or notice that a great offer has come available in an area you might want to visit, but didn’t know there was even a FHR hotel there! The FHRNews site also has a better hotel search facility, so it’s much easier to find hotels in the areas you want to visit.
If you have an American Express Platinum card, the Fine Hotels and Resorts program is the easiest way to recoup the cost of the annual membership fee, whilst staying in some of the nicest hotels in the world.
Tom Fakes runs a free newsletter to help American Express The Platinum® Card holders better use their Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits to get free nights at 800+ great hotels worldwide. Sign up to get new special offers in your inbox every Monday and Thursday: https://www.fhrnews.com