AmEx FHR Program - Basic Information

Discussion in 'Luxury Hotels' started by MSPeconomist, Feb 21, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    The AmEx FHR (Fine Hotels and Resorts) Program is available to all AmEx Platinum and Centurion charge card holders. Centurion benefits are a bit more generous, but this thread will focus on Platinum card members.

    FHR is a collection of hotels around the world that have met standards for this program and have signed a contract to participate. New participants generally appear in January. Some cities and countries have many properties, while the selection can be sparse in other areas.Most properties are five-star full service hotels, frequently the best in their location, although some four-star properties and boutique hotels are included. Some chain hotels, upscale ones, participate in this program and one can sometimes obtain benefits from both FHR and the hotel's own frequent guest program (although you are not entitled to a double upgrade). If this applies to you, you should probably ask to verify how your case will be treated and you might want to have the answer documented.

    To benefit from the FHR program, you must book your stay through AmEx Plat Card Travel, Centurion Card Travel, or their associated websites. You must pay a FHR rate (more on this below). You must pay for your stay (at least the room portion or everything that is charged to your room) with an (any) AmEx card in the name of the guest on the reservation. This means that, in particular, if you have an AmEx Platinum charge card and also a business AmEx Gold card, you can pay with the Gold card. You can also pay with any AmEx airline or hotel credit card (DL, SPG, etc.)

    FHR rates are unpublished and not listed on the hotel's website or available by calling the hotel, although sometimes the hotel will tell you the rate and then instruct you to call AmEx to book it. The minimum rate is usually for a deluxe king room and rates usually (always?) are the same for one or two guests. Most properties have a variety of room and suite categories available under FHR rates. It sometimes is worthwhile to explore this information because it can be the case that paying slightly more results in a much better upgrade.

    At some properties, the FHR rates are close to rack rates but at other properties they can be the best rate one can obtain. They're generally not seasonal (except in some resort areas), not different for weekends, and not dependent on how full the hotel is for your night(s). At most nonresort properties, these are not prepaid rates and have 48 hour cancellation policies, although rooms are guaranteed for late arrival using your Platinum card as standard operating policy. (I don't know if one can get a FHR reservation without the charge card guarantee.) A few times I was able to cancel without penalty when there were weather or flight problems.

    Every FHR stay includes the following benefits:

    ---Guaranteed 4 pm checkout. This really means guaranteed, no asking and no arguments, although it's courteous to inform the hotel of your anticipated check out time. Most hotels will not extend it beyond 4 pm without an additional charge.

    ---Complimentary continental breakfast every day for two; the hotel can specify restaurant, buffet, lounge, room service, etc., or let you choose. A few properties provide a credit for breakfast and you can order anything from the menu. You should always verify the breakfast arrangements at check in if this information is not volunteered. Also, ask whether you should simply sign for the breakfast or if the waiter/waitress will know from your room number not to bring a bill. If you do sign a charge slip, be sure to check that it has been taken off of your bill when you check out; you might need to allow some extra time if you cannot see from a bill delivered the night before your departure that this has been done properly.

    ---A one category room upgrade if available at check in. A few properties specify no upgrades beyond a certain category, such as junior suite.

    ---An additional special amenity. These vary widely and can be quite valuable. They're indicated on the FHR website and in the annual book of FHR properties. If in doubt, ask your AmEx travel agent by calling. The following is a partial list of special amenities that I've seen:
    upgrade at time of booking
    guaranteed noon check in time
    spa service
    $100 spa credit
    $100 food and beverage credit
    lunch for two, with or without beverages and service
    dinner for two, with or without beverage and service
    high tea for two
    wine or champagne in room
    airport transportation
    full or English breakfast for two
    local gift (hotel or coffee table book, pottery, pewter ashtray, specialty food item, etc.--it's hard to remember)

    When you check in, you should be given a small envelope containing a card setting out your FHR benefits.

    Because AmEx has a special relationship with these hotels, your PTS (Platinum Travel Service) agent can sometimes contact them to obtain a room for an otherwise sold-out date (but don't expect miracles if there's a special event) or request other favors.

    Most FHR properties treat FHR guests very well, although there are exceptions. A good PTS agent can suggest particular properties that are popular under this program or that are known to go above and beyond for guests.

    Speaking personally, my worst experience was a "tea" that was literally a cup of tea from an ordinary generic teabag, served with one tiny stale store cookie. Some of my best were champagne, flowers, and chocolates in the room; champagne and a big local apple cake; a 100 Euro unrestricted F & B credit, but YMMV.
     
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  2. thetenken
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    thetenken Silver Member

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    Sounds like an interesting program. I wonder if the premium paid for the rooms cover some of the amenities/privileges?
     
  3. MSPeconomist
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    Sometimes the FHR rates are a very good deal relative to the price one would pay without FHR and sometimes they're roughly rack rate, but I've never seen FHR rates that were higher than rack rates, so I'm not sure what would be considered a premium.

    I also don't know what commission arrangement these hotels have with AmEx, although the program certainly brings them more bookings. For the record, there is no booking fee or travel agent service fee for these bookings.
     
  4. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    I have used the program about a dozen times and found the rates to be equal to or better than the rates listed on the Resort / Hotel websites.
     
  5. thetenken
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    thetenken Silver Member

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    Ah, well that is good. I feared they would charge extra for the benefits and amenities. Definitely something to look at, especially if we were able to generate a list of properties that had better benefits/amenities than others. Of course, they would probably change throughout...
     
  6. Thanks for the initial summary - it is much better than the clunky amex website info when I log in. Of note it seems like the specials page is really the thing to watch to get the most bang for your buck. Are there any forums / threads on here that are/can be specifically for extraordinarily good deals like the recent fairmont lifetime platinum debacle??
     
  7. Morgan
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    Morgan Silver Member

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    Any specific information on what chains allow "double dipping" (e.g. getting points/stay credits on an FHR rate)?
     
  8. The benefits definitely change, partly for even the same property. I say that because the best deals are when a property is running a special - perhaps the second or third night free with a stay. That is on top of the guaranteed late check out, breakfast, and other special bonus (i.e. a 100 food voucher, etc.) When you book one of the specials that is when you can really come out ahead. To see all specials that are currently active (and they do rotate but I'm not sure of the schedule - I think it varies actually) just log in click travel then FH&R then view all special offers and you're set.....
     
  9. As long as you are a member of the program you're staying at I've never been denied credit with that hotel's loyalty program - has anyone not gotten credit and if so which chain????
     
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  10. Averroes
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    Averroes Active Member

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    My last booking with them the price on their website was slightly higher than the hotel website rack rates -- so I called and asked them to match the rate, and they were happy to oblige.

    Also, they've consistently been able to get rooms in any category available on a hotel's website, not just the categories listed on their own website.
     
  11. free101girl
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    free101girl Silver Member

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    You absolutely should get loyalty program credit, as FHR is a travel agency booking and that should qualify. FHR is not considered a third-party booking site like Expedia, etc. The only annoying part is that if you book online through FHR, you'll then have to call and have your frequent stay number added to the booking. There's currently no way to add it online.
     
  12. Emos-closet
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    Emos-closet Silver Member

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    I have found that the value is best if one stays only 1-2 nights. As you get the special amenity per "stay", a one night stay that comes with, for example, a $100 food credit makes the deal worthwhile. Its almost like getting $100 bucks off plus, the extra amenities, breakfast, late check out, upgrade, etc...

    The FHR program is an excellent value in Asia. I used it at the Mandarin Oriental in Jakarta, Ritz in Hong Kong and Mandarin in Singapore. The room upgrades were always suites with amazing views!
     
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  13. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    I don't know why no one has yet mentioned that you can now check Amex FHR rates online and also book online. That's been the case for about a year. Of course, you have to log in to your account and be a plat or cent card holder to do this.

    Try http://www.americanexpressfhr.com
     
  14. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    Believe this is for US-based Plats/Cents only.
     
  15. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    OK, thanks for noting that.
     
  16. Raffles
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    Raffles Silver Member

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    No trouble getting credit from a Jumeirah stay last year, which was a good result because I wasn't expecting it.

    A couple of extra points to add:

    1. Because FHR rates are fixed (see original post) they can offer very very good or very very poor value at times. A rapidly tanking economy, for eg, can see FHR rates (set months ago) being higher than hotel online rates.

    2. For Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton properties, you can get similar deals via Four Seasons Preferred Partner and STARS travel agents, eg a Virtuoso agent. These do not need you to be an Amex cardholder. The Four Seasons Preferred Partner deals are especially good, because these offer the ACTUAL ONLINE RATES - including packages such as 'stay 3, pay for 2' - whilst throwing in extra benefits such as breakfast, upgrade at check-in if available and a lunch credit.
     
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  17. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Excellent tip- Four Seasons+Virtuoso is a GREAT way to go.
     
  18. jackplum
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    jackplum Gold Member

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    The program usually has various complimentary night offers, some of which are very attractive.
    For example, two years ago, there was an offer for a complimentary second night at the Ritz in Madrid. I found the rate to be in line with a regular offering and I was definitely recognized as a "valued customer" from the moment they checked my reservation. We were 'upgraded' to a room overlooking the Prado, received free breakfasts and an afternoon tea, the concierge obtained tickets for an art show that was completely sold out (apparently AMEX FHR arranged for a block of tickets for their patrons), plus a host of other add-ons.
    I am very happy with their service.
     
  19. free101girl
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    free101girl Silver Member

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    This is an excellent point about FHR bookings. It's not just all the benefits included -- it's the way you're treated by the hotel. Almost without exception, I've felt like my FHR bookings netted me better treatment overall during my stay.

    I've even stayed in the same hotel on an Expedia booking (which is nearly the bottom of the barrel in a hotelier's eyes, just above Priceline) and then on an FHR booking. There was a world of difference in how I was treated. Not fair, but true.
     
  20. jackplum
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    jackplum Gold Member

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    Absolutely.

    I entered the lobby and received a very cordial greeting as any customer would at the Ritz. However, as soon as they looked up my reservation, they took on a different tone. I was personally escorted everywhere from check-in to the concierge to the room. (hmmm ... maybe there were reasons for that!). Later, sitting in the lobby, I watched others check in with no similar fanfare. It was also mentioned several times during the stay, that they appreciated my business and that I was a 'valued" AMEX FHR customer.
     
  21. jetsetboy

    jetsetboy Silver Member

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    Agree 100%. It's definitely worth investigating on your own, deciding which type of room you'd like to stay in, and then booking the category just below that in anticipation of the upgrade. That way you don't pay more money than you have to, but also won't be disappointed by getting a lower quality room than you expected. This will also save time if you wind up calling Amex and having an agent do the booking for you.
     
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  22. entrep4343

    entrep4343 New Member

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    Hey guys just want to update some ideas if you want to take advantage of some of the perks of FHR and still get some discounted rates. I'm cheap when it comes to family vacations, as it allows us to have more of them rather than 1 big one a year, so always looking for best deals.

    I have an upcoming family trip to Vegas, and did the following -
    - Booked 3 of 4 nights using the discounted rates on AmexTravel, and getting 2x points. This was only $93/night + $20 nightly resort fee.
    - I booked one night using FHR to get the $100 spa credit and free breakfast (for two) for one night. This was $188 + $20 resort fee at Bellagio.
    -- Total Trip: $500
    -- Total benefits - $100 spa credit, $40 in breakfast credit, likely a free upgrade to a suite at Bellagio. The first hotel rate was in line with lowest internet prices.

    * NOTE: In my case, these are 2 different hotels. First one is the Westin in Lake Las Vegas and second one Bellagio on the strip. Since I'm going with my wife and kids, we wanted to stay at the Westin (we have before when it used to be Loews). Also, with the SPG Gold status from Platinum, I should hopefully get some perks (upgrade?) at the Westin hotel.

    My point - Wonder if you can book discount rate at the same hotel (i.e. Bellagio), and then get 1 night with FHR and only possibly have to change rooms (for the upgrade)? Combine that with a tip to the check-in agent ($100?), and you might possibly be able to have a suite for your whole stay :)
    I will try this towards the end of summer when it's just me and the Mrs.
     
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  23. tondoleo
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    tondoleo Gold Member

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    Welcome to MilePoint entrep4343. Thanks for sharing your plan.
     
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  24. DavidO
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    DavidO Silver Member

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    Bellagio in my experience does not do upgrades from Deluxe Rooms to Suites.
     
  25. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    But the $100 trick works well ;)
     

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