Virtuoso

Discussion in 'Luxury Hotels' started by techguru, Mar 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. techguru
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    techguru Silver Member

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    Virtuoso is an interesting program that has the "best of best" in travel agents in luxury, and confers benefits across the board to many of the world's best properties not just one program such as Peninsula, Ritz Carlton, etc. Properties need to be admitted into the program, and benefits are similar to FHR, FSPP, RC STARS. I have only had one problem with STARS benefits not being honored -- most of the other programs are based on BAR ( Best Available Rate ), and it seems at least the Ritz Carlton San Francisco -- "promotional rates" do not garner you Virtuoso benefits. My last two stays were on the Pay for 2 stay for 3 program. While this was disappointing I can understand on such deals that there are limits. I suppose I could have pushed it, but I had a perfectly decent breakfast in the club lounge.

    Generally speaking similar to others includes
    • Upgrade on arrival (one-category based on availability at time of check-in) -- although sometimes available at time of booking
    • VIP recognition
    • Free Continental Breakfast or Full Breakfast for Two each Day
    • Value Added Amenity (i.e. champagne, cheese plate, etc.)
    • Early check-in (usually 12pm) based on availability
    • Late check-out (usually 3 or 4 pm) based on availability
    • Stays eligible for credit, Frequent Flier Miles, etc.
    What I like is that similar to FHR this covers a lot of programs though out the world, and you can pick and choose to get the best value.

    I'd book with an agent that was FSPP, Virtuoso, and a STARS agent.

    Thanks Jasper2009
     
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  2. Jasper2009
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    Great thread!

    I´d probably modify the list of amenities as follows:

    - one-category upgrade based on availability at time of check-in (sometimes upgrade is confirmed at time of booking)
    - continental or full breakfast for two each day
    - welcome gift
    - one value-added benefit once during stay (e.g. bottle of champagne, comp. lunch or dinner once during stay, comp. activity once during stay, F&B credit, spa access/treatment etc.); benefit is usually valued at $100 by the hotel
    - early check-in (usually 12.00p.m.) based on availability
    - late check-out (usually 3p.m./4p.m.) based on availability

    Also, bookings made through a Virtuoso TA qualify for stay credit, miles etc. which may be relevant for those Interncontinental/Hyatt/Fairmont/etc. properties associated with Virtuoso.
     
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  3. NYBanker
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    I've been able to book pay 2 stay 3 packages through Amex and get fhr benefits. multiple times.
     
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  4. techguru
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    Yeah I have tripled dipped, FHR, Virtuoso, and IC-RA benefits at some properties. Kind of ridiculous the number of envelopes was crazy at check in.
     
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  5. NYC_Gal
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    Does it cost extra to book through a Virtuoso agent for a simple hotel booking?
     
  6. Jasper2009
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    No, the Virtuoso TA earns a commission from the hotel for booking the room.

    However, there are often cheaper rates than the Virtuoso rate which is about the same as the best available/flexible rate.
     
  7. DealHound
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    How does one find a Virtuoso TA?
     
  8. Linda Terrill
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    Linda Terrill Silver Member

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    There are a number Virtuoso agents on this forum, or google Virtuoso Travel Advisor. Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits trump Virtuoso benefits at many FS properties that are also Virtuoso members. Virtuoso agents who are also FSPP provide you better benefits. You should familiarize yourself with Ritz-Carlton STARS agent benefits, too. All RC are not Virtuoso; but RC STARS agents offer benefits at all RC. Hope that's not too confusing. In short, develop a good relationship with a Virtuoso agent who is also FSPP and Ritz-Carlton STARS.
     
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  9. techguru
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    Yes get an agent who is all three and you're good to go...
     
  10. viguera
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    I have to say I've been dealing with Linda Terrill for the grand total of about 3 hours and I already feel like a VIP. :)

    I don't know if I'm ever going back to booking the regular way.
     
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  11. techguru
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    A good agent is worth their weight in gold.
     
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  12. TRAVELSIG
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    Also a vote for DavidO who has treated me exceptionally well- and the hotels I have booked with him have all delivered outstanding benefits.
     
  13. RichardInSF
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    I think the folks who become Virtuoso agents generally are among the more skilled people working in the travel agency industry. They might get their affiliation through being associated with some larger agency but it's really that person you're dealing with, not the larger company. DavidO for example, booked some rooms recently for members of my family on very short notice. We ended up booking 5 rooms in the same hotel and all of them were nicely upgraded!
     
  14. thegrailer
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    I've been looking at booking agents for a bit and the benefits seem great but can someone give a sort noob rundown on how these programs work. I've read the first post and even searched the web. What did I miss that I keep missing and feeling that I am still a bit clueless. Is It anything more than booking through a certain agent? PM messages are fine if we don't want to clutter up the thread. Better if one of the agents reads this and is looking for business
     
  15. Linda Terrill
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    I'll pm you to introduce myself and give you an explanation of Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner and Ritz-Carlton STARS benefits.
     
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  16. NYBanker
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    How can you get FHR and virtuoso on the same booking? To get the benefits of each, you need to book through different travel agents.
     
  17. TRAVELSIG
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    Great question- I also have no idea how to do this- my experience however leans heavily in favour of Virtuoso- I actually cancelled my Platinum card this year instead of renewing as there is no real benefit- whereas Virtouso has been excellent.
     
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  18. NYBanker
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    I find the platinum card very worthwhile. The airline lounge access more than pays for the card. They also offer the $200 in incidental airline fee coverages and $100 for global entry. If you use the buy-one, get-one on international j tickets even once every few years, that is also valuable.

    One thing i dont recall---Does virtuoso give guaranteed 4pm check out?
     
  19. TRAVELSIG
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    One point- when I was based in North America a platinum charge card with AMEX was very valuable- in Europe not at all. Airline lounge access in Europe is not a problem in my case as I have it with both OneWorld and Star- and avoid Skyteam most of the time. Buy one get one free tickets are usually far more expensive than 2X Z fares or even D fares.

    In reference to the 4pm checkout- I have received even more through Virtouso- 18:00 in Los Angeles (Four Seasons Beverly Hills) and 21:00 in Bangkok (Four Seasons Bangkok).
     
  20. NYBanker
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    Agree on lounge access in the States vs EU. Before AA was in the Amex lounge program, I kept a BA silver or gold card to get AC (or FL) access.

    The 2-4-1 deal on Amex, has, for a long time, been principally good for short-notice purchases, where D or I fares might not be available. Though they haven't publicized it, they now offer 2-4-1 on fares other than full J on a number of the program carriers. In a few cases, those fares were pretty close to a D-type fare and were eligible for the 2-4-1. Amex also now offers a single-traveler deal, where you get a pretty decent discount (not 50%, though), off of J - ideal for single travelers. Also, compared to D/I type tickets, while J is often 1.75x the price of D/I (making the original amex deal not so great), J is a fully refundable ticket - which many D/I fares aren't - so even if you're not saving large amounts, you are getting a lot more in terms of flexibility.

    On the checkout, is 4pm guaranteed checkout a standard amenity with all Virtuoso bookings?
     
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  21. RichardInSF
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    I've never heard of Amex having discounts on J fares for single travellers -- NYBanker, please provide more info about that, I certainly cannot find anything about it on the website.
     
  22. Jasper2009
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    None of the programs (FHR, Virtuoso etc.) offer guaranteed early check-in / late check-out.
    Generally it´s only offered "based on availability".

    That being said, some properties offer guaranteed early check-in / late check-out as a bonus amenity or for a limited time only.

    It works quite similar to the one-category upgrade:
    Most hotels will only upgrade you at check-in, while some hotels (I´d say 5%-10%) offer confirmed upgrades at time of booking.
     
  23. NYBanker
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    Amex's FHR program offers a guaranteed 4pm checkout, if request at time of check-in.

    I looked around in what i had from Amex and saw the word guaranteed in some of their literature, but not all of it. So, I called pts yesterday (had to deal with some other travel matters as well) and the agent I spoke with (I have her name and extension) confirmed the guaranteed aspect, but specified that you need to notify the hotel upon checkin for the guaranteed aspect. She went so far as to say I should call pts if a hotel tried to not honor the 4pm request and that they would intervene on the cardmember's behalf.
     
  24. NYBanker
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    How did you stack FHR and virtuoso?
     
  25. TRAVELSIG
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    I have found that working through Virtuoso- they will guarantee- not necessarily for free- however they will advise what is the cost and what is guaranteed (and quite a few times it has been free)- really an excellent service.
     
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