Guide to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts: a luxury hotel booking service for Platinum cardholders

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 5 minutes
POSTED: March 16, 2017
UPDATED: March 16, 2017
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Program Summary

Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) is one of the key benefits of holding a Platinum Charge, Business Platinum Charge or Centurion card.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the resources available to help dig into FHR properties, key locations and some examples of the benefits – think $100 room credits, spa treatments and upgrades.

Given the current 120,000-point Membership Rewards bonus running on the Platinum Charge card, we’re looking at a number of the benefits of the card in detail. FHR is one of the first benefits you’ll want to look at after you’ve received your membership pack.

To clarify, you have to be a Platinum Charge cardholder to access this benefit.

Be sure to compare the benefits and participating properties of this program to the separate The Hotel Collection program, which covers high-end properties rather than the super luxury hotels that FHR does.

Why book through Fine Hotels & Resorts?

FHR offers a number of benefits for hotel stays booked through the program, and for frequent travellers who like to stay at the kind of upscale hotels included, these extra wins are a key part of the value of the $1200 annual fee for the Platinum Charge card.

  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
  • Breakfast for two guests
  • An additional amenity – often a $100 USD hotel or spa credit
  • Room upgrades, subject to availability
  • 12pm check-in, subject to availability

The most valuable benefit is usually the additional amenity. If it’s a credit, it is valid on single-night stays as well, so conceivably the out-of-pocket cost of a one-night stay including room service or a hotel meal can be reduced significantly by booking through FHR.

Occasionally some FHR properties have some special offers running when booking through Amex Travel such as a third or fourth night free.

Park Hyatt NYC FHR Special Offer

The other key win of booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts is that you will earn points and status with the hotel’s loyalty program. This is unlike most other online travel agents, which would usually preclude you from earning points or status with the likes of Starwood, Four Seasons or Hyatt.

Key locations

Australia

  • Gold Coast: Palazzo Versace
  • Hamilton Island: Qualia Great Barrier Reef
  • Hayman Island: One&Only
  • Melbourne: Crown Towers, Park Hyatt and The Langham
  • Perth: COMO The Treasury

COMO The Treasury, Perth

  • Sydney: Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Shangri-La and The Langham

Shangri-La, Sydney

  • Wolgan Valley: Emirates One&Only

Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart are notably missing, unfortunately.

Popular leisure destinations in Asia-Pacific

  • Bali: 13 properties, including Bulgari Resort, COMO Shambhala Estate and The St. Regis

Bulgari Resort, Bali

  • Fiji: 1 property in Laucala Island
  • Hawaii: 16 properties, including Fairmont Orchid, Four Seasons and Grand Hyatt
  • Hong Kong: 8 properties, including The Peninsula, The Ritz-Carlton and The Upper House
  • New Zealand: 1 each in Auckland, Glenorchy, Matauri Bay, Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo and Te Awanga
  • Singapore: 7 properties, including Mandarin Oriental, Raffles and The St. Regis

Raffles Singapore

Price comparison through FHR and Hotels.com

I ran some comparisons of a few different Fine Hotels & Resorts options for a specific date in June 2016.

In this comparison, I’ll look at booking through FHR vs Hotels.com, as I’m a fan of the Hotels.com Member Rewards program.

Park Hyatt Melbourne

Through FHR:

Park Hyatt Melbourne FHR

Park Hyatt Melbourne FHR Pricing

Through Hotels.com:

Park Hyatt Melbourne Hotels.com Pricing

FHR had the nightly rate for the selected date at $285 for the base King Room, along with the standard FHR benefits which would have you hopefully upgraded into a better room, with late checkout. You’d also have a $100 USD hotel credit to spend on food and drink.

Hotels.com has the same room at the same rate, with an equivalent rebate of 10% of the cost ($28.50) by using Member Rewards for a future stay in another hotel.

The Langham Auckland

Through FHR:

The Langham Auckland FHR

The Langham Auckland FHR Pricing

Through Hotels.com:

The Langham Auckland Hotels.com

FHR and Hotels.com nightly rates match once more, but again the $100 USD hotel credit, free breakfast and late checkout would have this hotel much more appealing to be booked through FHR.

Shangri-La Sydney

This one isn’t as much of an obvious win for FHR as the other examples so far.

Through FHR:

Shangri La Sydney FHR

Shangri La Sydney FHR Pricing

Through Hotels.com:

Shangri La Sydney Hotels.com

Hotels.com has the room for sale around $30 cheaper than FHR, plus the 10% credit worth $25 via Hotels.com Member Rewards. FHR would once again offer breakfast, $100 in hotel credit, plus possible room upgrade and late checkout.

In this case, if you weren’t planning on spending much time in the hotel, then I’d consider booking through Hotels.com for the savings, otherwise for the better room and hotel credit via FHR.

General comparisons

Of course, if you’re not limiting yourself to FHR properties you can spread your hotel net a lot more widely but then you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the upgrades, credits and other benefits of FHR either, so there’s not really a clear comparison that can be made.

Each city and hotel stay will have to be decided on a case-by-case basis as to whether there is an FHR hotel that meets your needs, and whether that deal is worth compromising on a broader choice.

Researching Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits without access to a Platinum Charge card

If you’re considering a Platinum Charge card, then understanding how much use you might get out of FHR is definitely part of the decision-making process. That said, it’s hard to access FHR rates without being a cardholder.

It is possible to see which properties are included, and the benefits they offer, though, by using the Fine Hotels & Resorts Digital Directory.

Fine Hotels Resorts Directory Website

If you’re interested in understanding which hotel brands in detail are likely to be included in FHR, then the brand directory section of the Digital Directory is very useful.

There’s also a digital version of the latest FHR print brochure/catalogue at finehotelsresortsdigital.com but the Digital Directory is much better.

Finally, there’s the US version of the Amex Travel site, which is much improved over the Australian option.

Amex Travel US Website

None of these options will provide FHR room rates but you’ll be able to research the properties that are in the program, the specific benefits they offer, and whether they are running any other special offers.

How to research & book FHR properties as a Platinum Charge cardholder

There are three ways you can book FHR properties though American Express as a Charge cardholder: on the phone, by email or online.

Online through Amex Travel

Once logged into your account on the American Express website, click through to Platinum Travel, then ‘Book a Trip’.

Amex Platinum Travel Book a Trip Menu

From there you can start inputting your search criteria, with examples like those above spat out. You’ll find that FHR properties are usually shown first in search results.

Amex Travel Search Input

Enquire online, by email or by phone with the Platinum Travel team

Amex really like you to call them as a Platinum Charge cardholder and this is a bit frustrating. If you know what you want and can make a decision on the spot that can work well. If so, call 1 800 673 760, then press 1 for travel services.

Otherwise, you can email the Platinum Travel team at this unpublicised email address – [email protected]. Just outline your requirements to them in writing, ask them to do the research and they will probably need to give you a call back to confirm and book.

Finally, you can also submit a hotel enquiry through their enquiry form which can be found here (when logged in), which is under Platinum Service > Concierge.

Amex Platinum Concierge Menu

You’ll then get an enquiry form from which you can submit a hotel booking request.

Amex Travel Hotel Concierge Enquiry

Summing up: Fine Hotels & Resorts

Fine Hotels & Resorts is a program that American Express Platinum cardholders globally can access and, as a result, Amex have thrown a fair bit of weight behind ensuring that their premium members are given bespoke treatment at each property.

How well that is executed is of course completely up to each hotel on a stay by stay basis but the benefits of booking through FHR are generally pretty consistent.

Have you had any great Fine Hotels & Resorts wins? Let us know in the comments!

Supplementary images courtesy American Express.