I’d heard about booking hotel rooms through a Virtuoso agent for years, but had never done so. I always figured that the hotels in the program were out of my price range like the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental or one of the Aman resorts. That’s when I found out that my dad’s travel agent is a Virtuoso rep and booked them for a room at a hotel in Costa Rica that upgraded them to the Honeymoon Suite. Our acquaintances who went on the Four Seasons jet also use a Virtuoso travel agent for their trips.
What’s Virtuoso, you ask? Here’s a snippet from their website:
When you book with a Virtuoso advisor, you gain access to a world of personalized travel experiences. Plus, you’ll get special perks and upgrades only offered to Virtuoso travelers.
So while you can book cruises and tours through a Virtuoso rep, I was just interested in booking a hotel room.
Booking a hotel room with a Virtuoso travel agent gives you similar benefits to booking through American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts (available to AMEX Platinum cardholders) and Visa Signature Hotels (for Visa Signature cardholders).
I knew we wanted to stay at the Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg. When I looked at prices during our stay, paying less than $300 a night for a room seemed a better deal than the 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points they were asking. I don’t have an AMEX Platinum card, so an FH&R booking wasn’t possible and the hotel wasn’t part of the Visa program.
However, I checked and the Goldener Hirsch is a Virtuoso hotel. Having never booked through Virtuoso before, I went to my primary reference on the subject, the article I read on One Mile at a Time.
I checked the Virtuoso website and found the benefits offered at the hotel.
We were staying for two nights so we’d get a free breakfast, $100 (equivalent) food and beverage credit and late check-out (we weren’t arriving until 4PM, so we didn’t need an early check-in). An upgrade, subject to availability, would also be nice.
Since I’d received all of my information on Virtuoso from Ben’s website, I felt I should use Ford’s account to make my reservation. I followed the directions in the article, but the only reservation I could find was prepaid, which I didn’t want to do several months in advance. So, I emailed Ford.
I received a quick reply saying that he checked with the hotel and they require prepayment for reservations, but it’s refundable up until the cancellation date. OK, that’s fair. I provided my booking information to Ford and expected to pay as soon as I made the reservation, but it turns out the hotel didn’t collect the payment until 6 weeks before the stay, which was unclear to both of us from the terms they provided.
Once confirming the booking information with Ford, I received an email from him as well as one from the hotel. The reservation also showed up on our Marriott Bonvoy account.
We were expecting the service at the Goldener Hirsch to be excellent, but this stay even exceeded our expectations. Upon checking in, we were informed we were upgraded to a suite.
Through the arch past the tapestry, and then to the right, that’s the entrance to half of our room.
We received breakfast each morning, which generally would cost 34.00 EUR per person. Now it was good, but not that good. We could have gone down the street to Starbucks for breakfast if it wasn’t included.
We spent the $100 in the Goldener Hirsch lounge for drinks each evening and a late-night snack of sausages.
When we asked for a late check-out, the hotel couldn’t have been more helpful. We were able to go sightseeing the morning of our departure and return to the hotel to freshen up and collect our bags before heading to Munich.
I’ve already posted about the fantastic room we had for our stay in this article. Now, did we get a suite upgrade because of Virtuoso? Was it because Sharon’s a Marriott Platinum? Maybe Marriott has just learned how much influence we have, jeesh. I hope that’s not the reason. It could just be because this is an awesome hotel. We got a great room here last time, and we were only Starwood Gold, so who knows.
You can be sure the next time I’m looking to book a hotel for a cash rate, I’m going to check to see if the hotel is available to book through Virtuoso. I didn’t pay anything extra, still received all of our loyalty benefits plus a bunch of extras we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Virtuoso is also a way to get these perks from hotels that aren’t a part of any hotel chain. Here’s what my dad got from his hotel in Costa Rica.
Upgraded room. Free WiFi. Free breakfast. It sounds like what you’d get if you were a top-tier in a loyalty program but this is an independent hotel.
I’ll take all of the perks for the same price, all day, every day, please and thank you!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary