How To Be Treated Like You’re A Loyal Hotel Guest (Even When You’re Not)

As many readers of OMAAT know firsthand, being loyal pays off – whether it comes to airlines or hotels, loyalty is rewarded with preferred status, miles, and points that can be redeemed for free nights and international first class tickets that would otherwise break the bank.

While you can’t amass miles and points at most boutique or independent properties, you can still be treated like you have top-tier status, even if you’ve never stayed at the property before!

How to be treated like you’re a loyal guest (even when you’re not)

Cue Virtuoso – an invitation-only travel alliance of nearly 1,000 luxury hotels and resorts in 80 countries that offers the amenities many top-tier guests of hospitality brands like Starwood, Hyatt, and Hilton know and love – daily breakfast, complimentary room upgrades, and free internet to the clients of affiliated Travel Advisors – in addition to resort credits. These perks are available by booking the best available/flexible rate through an affiliated Travel Advisor, and the cancellation policy is the same as the hotel’s standard flexible cancellation policy.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one, really. Independent and boutique hotels know they’re up against big competition with large hospitality brands and chains that reward loyalty, so they offer similar perks as an added incentive and sales tool for Travel Advisors.

When to book through Virtuoso

Anytime! If you’re staying at a property that is a member of Virtuoso, it’s a no-brainer and a simple way to add value if you are planning to book the best available rate anyway.

For those of you that are die-hard loyalists to a particular hospitality brand, you’re probably stumped from time to time when traveling somewhere without many options. For example, Starwood enthusiasts don’t really have choices when it comes to Scandinavia. When Ben and I traveled to Oslo in June, we chose to stay at Hotel Continental for this very reason, and we were rewarded well for booking through Virtuoso with a complimentary upgrade to a charming Junior Suite with a massive terrace and views of the city. While Starwood’s presence has recently expanded with the partnership with Design Hotels, these properties don’t offer the same elite perks.

Hotel-Continental-Oslo - 14
Hotel Continental Oslo

Hotel-Continental-Oslo - 24
Hotel Continental Oslo

Other times, you may want to stay in a property with a bit of local flavor, which chain hotels sometimes fall short of providing. Los Angeles has endless options, many of which do offer a genuine and unique ambiance, although this doesn’t necessarily rule out the charm of an independent and iconic property like Sunset Tower, for instance. Ben and I stayed there in 2015 and were upgraded to one of four rooms in the entire hotel with a terrace that offered views of the Hollywood Hills and famous Sunset Strip. We then went downstairs and enjoyed dinner on the house at the hotel restaurant with the $100 USD food and beverage credit.

Sunset-Tower-Hotel - 22
Sunset Tower Hotel Los Angeles

Sunset-Tower-Hotel - 31
Sunset Tower Hotel Los Angeles

Maybe you’re fond of a hospitality brand that doesn’t have a loyalty program, or simply doesn’t have a very good one. For example, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts doesn’t have a loyalty program at all, while Sofitel Hotels and Resorts is part of Le Club Accor, which isn’t especially rewarding in terms of elite recognition or points. Together they have 24 properties affiliated with Virtuoso offering amenities like breakfast, room upgrades, resort credits, and more.

Rosewood-Abu-Dhabi - 22
Rosewood Abu Dhabi

Sofitel-Cartagena-Hotel - 21
Sofitel Cartagena

From time to time, you may choose to stay at a property that does reward loyalty and status, but you’re not a preferred guest – like a Ritz-Carlton property, for example. Ritz has over 50 properties that are Virtuoso members, giving you access to the perks of preferred status without spending the time and money to achieve it.

How to book through Virtuoso

To book, check a rate, or learn more, feel free to contact me at fordb@travelsociety.com. I’d love to hear from you. You can also find a list of Virtuoso affiliated Travel Advisors at Virtuoso.com as well as a comprehensive list of hotels and their amenities.

To look up specific hotels, go to this page of the Virtuoso website, and you can search hotels by name, location, etc. When you find a hotel you’re interested in, just click on “Virtuoso Amenities,” and you can see all the benefits. Then you can contact a Travel Advisor to book the stay for you.

sofitel-cartagena-virtuoso

Bottom Line

With nearly 1,000 properties in its portfolio, Virtuoso offers complimentary amenities at independent hotels as well as a number of luxury hospitality brands small and large, including Auberge, Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons, Jumeirah, Mandarin Oriental, Oberoi, Park Hyatt, Raffles, Relais & Chateaux, Ritz Carlton, Rosewood, Shangri-La, Six Senses, Sofitel, Taj and more.

Virtuoso doesn’t just include uber-expensive hotels, but there are also plenty of charming independent hotels in the collection that are priced similar to what you’d pay at a major chain hotel (or in many cases even less).

Comments

  1. I am a loyal reader of this blog. All I get are some credit card links.

    There should be readership loyalty program. The writers on this blog seem a bit stiff. Perfectly polite, but not genuinely friendly.

  2. What skills, education or training do you have that makes you a good Virtuoso agent, and label yourself as a “Luxury Travel Guru & Writer” other than riding Lucky’s coattails for the past year?

  3. Frankly I find this very useful, thank you. I think there are many readers who are like me, who perhaps often book through Amex FHR, but who don’t have a relationship with a travel agent and could use a referral for potential future bookings via Virtuoso.

  4. I almost forgot about Ford and his “travel consultant job”… for sure that’s, without a doubt, an ad and should be labelled as such… maybe something isn’t going with his enterprise

  5. Posts like this make me really fed up with the Lucky/Ford stuff on this blog. I’m happy that both are in a great relationship with each other. I don’t need to consistently read about it and I especially do not need to see posts that blatantly pimp each other.

  6. @ Dan – What do skills, education or training have to do with being a travel agent? It isn’t like brain surgery. As for the coattails, you really think the guy would be more qualified just because of some community college courses or maybe one of those online schools that keep churning out agents?

  7. Thanks for this Ford. Without your posts I wouldn’t be aware of Virtuoso, and it would have meant nothing to me when our preferred agent/ agency joined the program. We now have access to this service.

    Thanks again.

  8. Ford, I ve send you an email back when lucky did a piece on St Regis on Lankawi Island in Malaysia for possible booking, but you never did reply. I even inquire with Lucky why you dont reply but he said you were travelling. was very disappointed

  9. @choi – Sorry about any miscommunication. I did reply to your email just a few hours after you sent it to me, and I just now forwarded you the conversation. I would love to work with you!

  10. Thanks Ford. This is great information and I have never had the time to look into Virtuoso at all. I appreciate it!

  11. “I’m happy that both are in a great relationship with each other. I don’t need to consistently read about it..”

    Actually this article says nothing about their relationship, just says they traveled together.

  12. This is weird.

    There are two groups:

    Group 1: The people calling Ford/Lucky out
    Group 2: The people upset at Group 1 and want to get back by saying they’re going to make use of the service when they really have no intention to do so

    Bizarre.

  13. some ppl responding on here are sooooo damn bitter…. go get laid or something jeeez all the vitriol spewing out

  14. You should focus on being your role as Ben’s lover, please don’t write here as you are not very professional as other distributors

  15. Shannon, is your comment meant to be serious or rather a parody of an ESL student?

    lopere, sorry, but I’m not in either group. Just wasting time shaking my head at how silly some people are.

  16. @Shannon – Have you ever heard of stones and glass houses? I guess not!

    A free lesson on your one paragraph writing:

    1. “distributors” should be “contributors”.
    2. “being your role” should be “your role”.
    3 “not very professional” should be “not as professional”.

    With practice you might work your way to a C grade, but in this instance you get an F (U). Ford gets an A+

  17. I love this blog. That´ s why I follow it. I still don’t understand why someone needs to criticise the authors when he does not like the post. And why he need’s to add personal comments. It is just disgusting. Guys, you are doing good job here, no matter of the comments from those, who have not achieved even riding on anyone’s coattail 😀

  18. @Jana – AAA/gov’t rates cannot be combined with Virtuoso amenities, but in many cases the benefits offered by a Virtuoso rate make booking the Virtuoso rate (which is the same as the best available rate) worth it

  19. @Jimmy Gottfredson – yes, absolutely! Another great way to book Four Seasons is through Four Seasons Preferred Partners, which I also have access to. They offer similar perks to those available through Virtuoso.

  20. If the byline on this piece had been Tiffany or Lucky would the comments have been more civil? Ford’s special status with Lucky shouldn’t and doesn’t invalidate the valid contributions of this piece. His work continues to show significant improvement.

  21. Just to confirm, Virtuoso is for paid rates, correct? What if I’m using points for part of all of the stay? Is there any benefit in contacting you?

  22. “Thanks for this Ford. Without your posts I wouldn’t be aware of Virtuoso”

    I can’t tell if you are being serious or sarcastic. I mean, Lucky was mentioning Virtuoso long before he and Ford hooked up. It isn’t like this was something new Ford discovered. Also, how is it someone who runs a travel blog going back as far as 2011 has not heard of Virtuoso?

    “If the byline on this piece had been Tiffany or Lucky would the comments have been more civil?”

    Probably not. The issue isn’t the byline. It’s that the title seems to suggest various ways to be treated well at hotels, possibly giving us a list of hotel hacks, when really, the answer to the title is for us to hire Ford.

  23. I keep forgetting to check Virtuoso! Have a trip in Mexico coming up that I think I will be in contact on. Thank you.

  24. @Ford

    Sorry, I have to give you a fair bit of constructive feedback.

    This post has too much of self-promotion, but insufficient depth to reach the levels of say Lucky and Tiffany’s detailed reviews and analysis.

    Try something like:
    Compare a Virtuoso Property of a major Chain (ie Starwood, Hyatt), vs a Virtuoso Property of a non-chain, preferably in the same city, and see how they compare, in areas of pricing, upgrades, room quality, facilities, breakfast offers, and the special amenity ($100 USD?) and its ease of usage, and overall value for money-ness.

    Or Virtuoso benefits in lesser known chains (or where chain benefits are not given at these properties – i.e. Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria) and compare Virtuoso benefits vs the Elite benefits (that are not given) in the given city.

    Eg, Which Sofitels offer Virtuoso, and how is Virtuoso better than Accor Platinum
    Virtuoso @ Fairmont vs Fairmont Platinum & Accor Platinum benefits and recognition
    Virtuoso @ Ritz Carlton vs Marriott Platinum (or Ritz Carlton Platinum) benefits and recognition
    Virtuoso @ Waldorf Astoria vs Hilton Diamond at Waldorf Astoria benefits and recognition

    Or synergies:
    Better recognition (if any) at St Regis/Luxury Collection/Westin/Park Hyatt/Grand Hyatt/Conrad (any?), if it is Virtuoso rate vs non-Virtuoso rate.

    If you can bring us to so many non-chain Virtuoso properties that are of much better value, I will be sold, to be loyal to Virtuoso (and hence you).
    Or if you can compare and indeed point out how Virtuoso works in synergies with chain hotels in recognition, I could be swayed.

    The above, does not have any real analysis, other than informing what is Virtuoso is about. Add value like Lucky; book and stay hotels and compare with and without Virtuoso, knowing that most readers here are into some points games.

    Tell us your findings. This is how your post should look like here – one with depth and analysis; and not like an advert.

    Anyway, just constructive feedback. Hope it is taken for positive improvement – I do hope to see some real comparison and analysis on the above that I have mentioned on this blog. (Will be nice if you can split your stays and see the impact/effect – maybe there are really a lot more better value Virtuoso hotels if we stay off hotel chains, and upgrades/recognition/benefits can be similar, if not better. I have no idea. If you can calculate the “rebate points” that we would have lost and factor that into the overall cost analysis, and compare if non-chain Virtuosos can still be better value, that would be great.)

  25. I think its only fair that you mention that this is effective a promoted article.The headline is very clickbaity and then right in the end, you sneak in the bit about would love to hear from you blah blah blah. Lucky is welcome to have anyone he wants post on his blog. However, it would have been nice to have the bit about Ford being a Virtuoso agent right up front, and not hidden in the bowels of the article.

  26. Typically trolling by some people. However, I like Flyingfish’s suggestions. Those would be the type of articles that typical readers of this blog would appreciate. After all, this blog is more about gaming/ get the biggest bang for the buck, than lifestyle. I assume then, perhaps you will get less trolling…or not… plenty of negative/jealous people around.

    We use virtuoso a lot whenever we travel as true luxury hotel brands do not have any loyalty programs and the only way you can “game” the system is by reserving through virtuoso agents or Amex plat/cent card. Some of the amenities you may also want to mention as a virtuoso agent on your future blog posts (or at least my virtuoso agent does for us) are:

    1. Hotel suggestions. Most of the time, your virtuoso agents would have been to plenty of hotels him/herself so they can actually make really good suggestions as to where to stay. If they have not been, other people in their office may have and can make good suggestions. Not all virtuoso hotels are the same. And depending on your clients’ preferences, you may suggest one over the other such as super modern sleek hotel vs. old world luxury. Sometimes your agent can turn you onto a brand you never stayed at before. We pretty much stick with Four Seasons, Aman, Mandarin. Our agent turned us onto Belmont, Rosewood, etc. which we also like. A slight step down from Four Seasons/ Mandarin but def better than Park Hyatt or Ritz Carlton.

    2. Itinerary suggestions. Often times I want to go to this city and my partner wants to go to another. We have 3 days of do nothing day in between so we would ask our virtuoso agent where should we go? Hop to another city or do some kind of excursion? On one such occasion our virtuoso agent suggested we visit San Sebastian and Island of Madeira (while we were doing a Spain/ Portugal trip). Both destinations were not on our radar and we loved both.

    3. Smooth out credits from hotels that were not credited. This happens more often than not at virtuoso hotels that’s not named Four Seasons/ Aman. We disdain check out process and usually just tell front desk to email folio to us. Often hotels such as Rosewood and occasionally Four Seasons “forgot” to give us breakfast/ spa credit etc. We just email our virtuoso agent and she iron it out with the said hotel. No muss no fuss.

    4. Gifts. Since we spend a lot yearly with our agent, we get surprise gifts from her here and there when we arrive at our destinations. Last time we were at Amankila, we got a lovely set of mother of pearl spoons. Or on birthday trips, we got cakes before. The kind gesture is always appreciated.

    5. Guarantee upgrades. Sometimes our virtuoso agent would have a great relationship with certain hotel so she can get us guarantee upgrades vs. upgrade upon availability. But of course she has to pull favor and will only do so with clients that spend decent amount of money with her (understandably).

    Anyway, I can go on with other benefits that a virtuoso agent can provide. As a virtuoso agent, you know what you can offer your clients. I would find a niche and stick with it (maybe you are the beach guy and have been to all the fabulous beaches around the world and can advise secluded beaches that not many people know about, etc).. There’s ways to talk about the service you can provide that differentiate you from the other agents. As you do this more, you will get better at it (you are lucky, pun intended, to have this blog to promote your expertise/ business. So make the best use of it). Always be very upfront with what you get out of it so people don’t feel like this is a click bait, etc. Ie. when you started this post, you should state something like “I’m a virtuoso agent and let me tell you why you should hire me versus using your Amex platinum card”. You will still get trolling like every other blogger. But hopefully a lot less of it down the line. Good luck with your future posts and I look forward to reading them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *