Virtuoso Travel Agents Can Offer Perks At Luxury Hotels

Virtuoso Travel Agents Can Offer Perks At Luxury Hotels

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EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Virtuoso benefits at no extra cost, including a room upgrade, free breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He doesn’t charge booking fees, and may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

While I ideally like staying at hotels with robust loyalty programs, the reality is that there are lots of charming independent hotels out there that don’t have a loyalty program. Often there’s a tradeoff for staying at these properties, though — you may not get complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, or a number of other amenities that you may otherwise be accustomed to.

The great thing is that there are ways to get extra perks for stays at these kinds of hotels. Arguably the most useful and largest of these is Virtuoso, so in this post I wanted to explain what exactly that is.

What is Virtuoso?

Virtuoso is a network of luxury travel agencies, with a total of over 20,000 travel advisors worldwide. Virtuoso travel advisors can get you extra perks when staying at over 1,500 luxury hotels around the world, and often it won’t cost you any extra to book through them.

The concept is simple — hotels use all kinds of techniques to sell rooms, and one strategy is to offer special privileges to the clients of select travel advisors, as a way of encouraging them to book their clients there.

That means when a Virtuoso travel advisor books their client at a hotel, the client can expect to receive all kinds of extra perks that they wouldn’t have access to on their own.

Cheval Blanc Paris is a Virtuoso property

Basics of Virtuoso luxury hotel perks

The above probably sounds great, though how does it actually work? After all, getting something for nothing typically sounds too good to be. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how Virtuoso works.

What hotels participate in Virtuoso?

There are over 1,500 hotels participating in Virtuoso, and they include everything from independent luxury hotels you may have never heard of, to properties of many of the world’s top hotel brands, including Aman, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood, Shangri-La, etc. Some Virtuoso member hotels cost under $200 per night, while others cost over $2,000 per night, so there’s a huge range here.

You can see all hotels participating in the program directly through Virtuoso’s website by entering your destination (there’s no need to enter dates if you don’t want to).

Singita Boulders in South Africa is a Virtuoso property

What are the amenities of booking hotels through Virtuoso?

Typically you receive the following perks for booking a hotel stay through a Virtuoso travel agent:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
  • Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
  • A special Virtuoso amenity once per stay (usually a $100 property credit, free massage, car transfer, complimentary lunch or dinner, etc.)

To see the Virtuoso amenities available at a particular hotel, just search the hotel on the Virtuoso website, and then click on the “Virtuoso Amenities” tab, and you’ll see what that hotel offers.

Receive complimentary breakfast when booking through Virtuoso

Are hotel rates the same when booking through Virtuoso?

Generally speaking the pricing available through Virtuoso matches the best flexible rate being offered directly by the hotel. That’s the standard rate offered by hotels, so pre-paid rates, promotional rates, points redemptions, etc., typically wouldn’t qualify.

However, it’s worth noting:

  • Some hotels offer discounts to Virtuoso guests; for example, this is the case with Fogo Island Inn
  • Virtuoso sometimes has free night offers, where you can get a third, fourth, or fifth night free (to see if a hotel is offering this, search the hotel on Virtuoso’s website, and this would appear under the “Virtuoso Amenities & Offers” tab)
Fogo Island Inn is one of my favorite Virtuoso properties

Is there a minimum stay length to receive Virtuoso perks?

There’s no minimum stay required to take advantage of Virtuoso perks. They’re valid on a one night stay, or on a much longer stay. Note that the amenities like free breakfast and an upgrade apply for the entire length of stay, while there’s a once per stay amenity offered as well, so you’ll get disproportionate value from that on shorter stays.

Does booking Virtuoso hotels require a membership?

As consumers there’s no membership required to book a Virtuoso hotel. Travel agencies and hotels have to join the Virtuoso program, but there’s no need for individual guests to get any sort of a membership.

There’s no membership required for booking through Virtuoso

Do Virtuoso travel agents charge extra?

Virtuoso travel advisors are paid a commission by hotels on bookings they make (and again, you’re not paying extra, so they’re just getting a commission on the standard rate), so many Virtuoso agents don’t charge any sort of planning or booking fees. That’s not the case across the board, though:

  • Some Virtuoso travel advisors have a minimum dollar amount for bookings
  • Some Virtuoso travel advisors do charge planning fees, in particular for more complicated itineraries where you want a more customized experience (for example, if you want help with transfers, activities, etc.)

What else can Virtuoso travel advisors help with?

Virtuoso travel advisors don’t just help with hotels, but many help with cruises, tours, and all kinds of activities. Some Virtuoso travel advisors strictly book hotels, while other Virtuoso travel advisors are focused on arranging tours, booking cruises, or focus on specific destinations, for example.

If your Virtuoso travel advisor can’t help you with a request, they can probably refer you to another agent who is specialized in the area you’re looking for.

Can Virtuoso travel agents help with existing reservations?

If you already have a reservation for a Virtuoso hotel, can a Virtuoso travel advisor help and add perks retroactively? It depends:

  • In some cases hotels will let Virtuoso travel advisors “take over” reservations and add perks, assuming you booked a rate in line with the best flexible rate
  • If you’re outside the cancelation period you can always cancel your existing reservation and then rebook with a Virtuoso travel advisor

Who bills you when you book a Virtuoso stay?

When you book a hotel through a Virtuoso travel advisor, you’ll still be billed directly by the hotel you’re staying at. The travel advisor is simply making the booking for you, and your credit card information is being shared with the hotel, just like if you were booking directly.

On your credit card statement you’ll be billed directly by the hotel, so make sure you use the best credit card to maximize points on hotel stays.

The Ritz Paris is a Virtuoso hotel

Can you earn points when booking a Virtuoso rate?

If you’re booking a Virtuoso hotel that also happens to belong to a major loyalty program (for example, Ritz-Carlton belongs to Marriott Bonvoy), then you can absolutely still earn points, elite nights, and take advantage of elite benefits, when booking through a Virtuoso travel advisor.

You can still earn Bonvoy points when booking a Ritz-Carlton through Virtuoso

How does Virtuoso compare to other similar programs?

Virtuoso is the largest independent luxury hotel perks program that doesn’t require memberships and that isn’t affiliated with a specific hotel group.

However, there are some hotel group specific programs out there that select travel advisors have access to as well, including Belmond Bellini Club, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Hilton Impresario, Hyatt Privé, Mandarin Oriental Fan Club, Marriott STARS, Rosewood Elite, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, and more.

Generally speaking (but not always):

  • The perks are better through the programs affiliated directly with a hotel group; not only are the published benefits often richer, but generally speaking upgrades are prioritized for those who booked through a hotel group’s direct program, rather than through Virtuoso
  • Fortunately most Virtuoso travel advisors have access to most of these programs, and if you get in touch with them they can advise you as to what the best option is for your stay
The Four Seasons Preferred Partner program is the best option for Four Seasons stays

How does Virtuoso compare to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts?

Many people may be familiar with the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which is available to those with the Amex Personal Platinum Card and Amex Business Platinum Card. This is a similar program to Virtuoso, though there are some minor differences:

  • There’s not 100% overlap between hotels of the programs, and the benefits also differ mildly
  • In many cases the perks are much better through Virtuoso than through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; for example, at the Ritz Paris, those booking through Virtuoso get a confirmed upgrade at booking, confirmed early check-in and late check-out, and a roundtrip airport transfer with VIP meet & greet, and that’s not offered through Amex

How to book Virtuoso hotels with a travel advisor

All of that might sounds great, but how do you actually go about making a Virtuoso booking? You can either book by contacting a travel advisor, or you can book directly online with Virtuoso.

How do you find a Virtuoso travel advisor?

You can find a travel advisor directly through Virtuoso’s website, based on your preferences. Alternatively, you can find plenty by Googling. My husband Ford is a Virtuoso agent and is happy to help with Virtuoso inquiries (he can be reached at [email protected]). He is a top agent with many hotel groups, so has lots of experience with these programs.

Can you book Virtuoso hotels online?

You can book Virtuoso hotels online, though you have to do so through a Virtuoso advisor’s portal. See this post for how to book Virtuoso hotels online, as it’s pretty straightforward.

Bottom line

The best way to book many luxury hotels is through a Virtuoso travel advisor. Virtuoso travel advisors can enhance your stays by adding perks like breakfast, room upgrades, and more, at 1,500+ luxury hotels around the world.

There’s no membership required to book through Virtuoso, but rather you just have to find an eligible travel advisor. I constantly book reservations through Virtuoso, as well as through other programs belonging directly to major hotel groups. I’d highly recommend keeping Virtuoso in mind the next time you’re ready to book a luxury hotel.

If you’ve made a booking through Virtuoso, what was your experience like? Any other questions about Virtuoso that I can answer?

EXTRA PERKS AVAILABLE Enjoy breakfast, upgrades, & more

Want to take advantage of Virtuoso benefits at no extra cost, including a room upgrade, free breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He doesn’t charge booking fees, and may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.

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