A beginner’s guide to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program

A luxury hotel booking service for elite Amex cardholders

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 2 minutes
POSTED: May 9, 2018
UPDATED: June 1, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: American Express Membership Rewards

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 look at some of the resources available to help dig into the 1000 or so FHR properties, key locations and some examples of the benefits—think: $100 room credits, spa treatments and room upgrades.

Given the huge sign-up bonus running on the Platinum Charge card, we are exploring a number of the perks of the card in detail. FHR is one of the first benefits you will want to look at after you’ve received your membership pack.

To clarify, you have to be a Platinum, Business Platinum or Centurion cardholder to access this benefit—no other Amex cards make the cut.

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 in it, these extra wins are a key part of getting value from the $1200 annual fee on the card. You will get:

  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
  • Complimentary breakfast for two guests
  • An additional amenity: often a $100 USD hotel or spa credit
  • A room upgrade (subject to availability)
  • 12pm early check-in (subject to availability)
  • Complimentary wifi

The most valuable benefit is usually the additional amenity. If it is 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 (OTAs), which would usually preclude you from earning points or status with the likes of Marriott, Four Seasons or Hyatt.

Key locations

Australia

Shangri-La, The Marina Cairns

COMO The Treasury, Perth

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

Shangri-La, Sydney

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

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

Popular leisure destinations in Asia-Pacific

  • Bali: 14 properties, including Bulgari Resort, COMO Shambhala Estate and The St. Regis

Bulgari Resort, Bali

  • Fiji: 2 properties, on Laucala and Yaukuve Levu Islands
  • Hawaii: 18 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: 2 in Queenstown and 1 each in Auckland, Christchurch, Glenorchy, Matauri Bay, Taupo and Te Awanga
  • Singapore: 7 properties, including Mandarin Oriental, Raffles and The St. Regis

The St. Regis Singapore

Price comparison through FHR and Hotels.com

In this comparison, I will look at booking three properties 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 would also have a $100 USD hotel credit to spend on food and drink.

Hotels.com had 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.

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 were not planning on spending much time in the hotel, then I would 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 is 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 are considering a Platinum Charge card, then understanding how much use you might get out of FHR should definitely part of the decision-making process. That said, it is 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 are 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.

Finally, there is the US version of the Amex Travel site, which is more modern than the Australian version.

None of these options will provide FHR room rates but you will 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: online, over the phone or by email.

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 will 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 1800 673 760 and 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 this link (when logged in), which is under Platinum Service > Concierge.

Amex Platinum Concierge Menu

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

Amex Travel Hotel Concierge Enquiry

Summing up

Fine Hotels & Resorts is a program that elite American Express 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.


American Express Platinum Charge - Up to 80,000 Membership Rewards points

With 80,000 Membership Rewards points bonus available on sign up, the American Express Platinum Charge Card is a great card for those who want to earn Membership Rewards points on everyday spend with lots of new and enhanced additional benefits. Read the Point Hacks guide for the full rundown.

  • 80,000 Membership Rewards points, when you spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible spend in the first 3 months of approval
  • $450 travel credit annually
  • Unlimited access to over 1,200 lounge across 130 countries - including Virgin Australia Domestic, Delta, Priority Pass and American Express lounges globally
  • Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts perks & discounts
  • Complimentary status & memberships with a number of hotel loyalty programs including Accor Plus Membership valued at $395 per year
  • Complimentary The Australian Financial Review Premium digital subscription
  • Complimentary Travel Insurance cover extended to additional card members (PDS)
  • Until 14 April 2019, earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 at restaurants in Australia, 2 points per $1 spent on travel and overseas, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else (except those in the 0.5 points category)
  • From 15 April 2019, you will earn to 2.25 Membership Rewards points per $1 on all eligible purchases, except for spend with government bodies, for which you will earn 1 point per $1 spent
  • Annual Fee: $1450 p.a.
  • Charge card, not credit card - balance requires payment in full each month but with no pre-set spending limit - more about this
  • Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for this offer. Previous and existing bank-issued American Express companion cardholders are eligible for this offer.

Find out more or apply →

Point Hacks receive a maximum of $300 per applicant for this card. More about this →

A beginner’s guide to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program was last modified: June 1st, 2018 by Keith