Health & Fitness

How To Score Hotel Room Upgrades, Free Breakfasts & Much More

  • Mar 20, 2024
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How To Score Hotel Room Upgrades, Free Breakfasts & Much More

Higher-tier hotel status offers guests a bunch of tangible benefits, including room upgrades, free breakfasts, and late check-outs…

However, achieving the required amount of room nights, playing the credit card game, or deploying other tricks to lock in status are often beyond the average traveller. But did you know most major hotel chains run programs that allow one-night-a-year guests to tap most, if not all, of the benefits of top-status guests?

These programs are an insider’s secret. One reason so few people know about them is that they generally cannot be booked online. Instead, you need to use certain travel agents. Which travel agent? There are accredited travel agents in major Australian cities, and a simple Google search will find one near you…

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Accor’s STEP program is worth looking at if you are an irregular guest at upscale Accor brands such as Raffles, Sofitel, and Fairmont. You pay the standard flexible room rate, which is usually slightly more than the non-refundable inflexible rate but less than the fully flexible rack rate…

For that, you can expect a full daily breakfast, a room upgrade (subject to availability), early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability), and USD100 credit to spend in the hotel. Those kinds of perks are on par with what an Accor All platinum member could expect, except they wouldn’t get the credit.

Four Seasons has its Preferred Partner program, Hilton’s Impresario covers its Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR brands, Hyatt has its Prive program, Shangri La hotels have their Luxury Circle program, and Marriott has Stars for its most upscale brands (think BVLGARI, Ritz Carlton, and St Regis) and Luminous for its lessor brands such as Le Meridien, Marriott, Westin, and W Hotels. What they have in common is a suite of benefits usually only offered to top-tier status guests.

Another program to consider is Virtuoso, which isn’t affiliated with any particular hotel chain (but does cover many of the best hotels from chains). It offers the same deal — high-status benefits in exchange for paying the standard rate and booking through an accredited agent.

On a Tuesday night in late March, the Hyatt Prive rate to stay at the understated but stylish Park Hyatt Melbourne is AUD452. That’s the same as the standard rate on the Hyatt booking engine and what’s available on online travel agencies such as Expedia at the time of writing. 

What’s the advantage of going the Hyatt Prive route? You’ll be eligible for an upgrade on arrival, full daily breakfast for two, early check-in/late check-out, and a USD100 credit to spend on site. Not even Hyatt Globalists get the credit.

On the same night in Singapore, the online travel agencies are taking the mickey out of you and charging AUD763 for a room at the St Regis, a Marriott property. Marriott’s booking portal has a room-only rate of AUD 748. Virtuoso is charging AUD631, and the Virtuoso rate includes a fully daily breakfast, an on-arrival upgrade, early check-in/late check-out, as well as the USD100 credit to spend on-site.

You may have heard about the Peninsula Hotel that recently opened in Belgravia, London. DMARGE recently wandered past it after scoffing a couple of lobster rolls in nearby Harrods. You can smell the money in the air in this part of London. It’s a fine enough smell, but you know your wallet will bleed when you cross the threshold. This hotel is too posh to do online travel agencies.

If you book directly, the non-refundable lead-in rate for that Tuesday night is AUD1,822, and the flexible room-only standard rate is AUD2,143. The Virtuoso rate is 1,822, the same as the lead-in rate. Unlike the lead-in rate, this rate includes a full daily breakfast, early check-in/late check-out, room upgrade, and a USD100 food and beverage or spa credit. It’s a no-brainer, really.

If you do have status with a particular chain, these programs are still well worth looking at because you’ll get the status benefits (such as lounge access) and the program’s benefits (such as the credit). Stays booked under these schemes also accrue points and status nights in the relevant hotel loyalty program. It’s double dipping but perfectly within the rules, and it maximises the value of your accommodation spend.

Why aren’t more people in on this? Unlike their in-house loyalty schemes, the hotels don’t advertise these programs. They leave that to the travel agents who quietly shop them to their clients. But there is nothing to stop you from becoming a client — it’s as simple as picking up a phone and, if you are in the habit of booking all your travel online, the benefits and value for money an old-school travel agent can offer may be a revelation.

In any case, there’s no excuse for not maxing out your hotel stay like a top-tier status guest…

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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