Just a couple of weeks before the pandemic shut down much of the United States to travel, I wrote about my experience booking a room in Chicago using American Express’s Hotel Collection. At the time, I assumed that this offering was pretty similar to the fancier-sounding Fine Hotels + Resorts program, with the latter merely adding a couple of perks to pricier properties. While that’s partially true, it turns out that there’s more to it than that.
So what are the benefits of the Fine Hotels + Resorts program — and how does it differ from the Hotel Collection? Let’s me break it down and share my recent experience.
How Fine Hotels + Resorts Differs from the Hotel Collection
Platinum cardholders only
A big difference between the two programs that I didn’t realize is that, while the Hotel Collection is open to American Express Gold and Platinum customers, Fine Hotels + Resorts (hereby abbreviated as “FHR”) is only for Platinum cardholders. While I wouldn’t say that this perk is worth upgrading from the Gold to the Platinum, it’s worth noting nonetheless.
One night stays available
Another key difference that I discovered involves the number of nights you’ll need to stay in order to book through each program. In the case of the Hotels Collection, you’ll need to book a stay of at least two nights. However, FHR allows you to book just a single night and still enjoy all of the same benefits. This is extra notable to me since the credits you enjoy as part of either program are per stay. Thus, booking through Fine Resorts and Hotels could actually give you more bang for your buck in some cases.
Late check out/early check in
With the Fine Hotels + Resorts program, you’ll also be able to enjoy your room for longer. That’s because each FHR booking includes guaranteed late check-out, allowing you to stay until 4 p.m. What’s more, you may also be able to check-in as early as noon — although this perk is listed as “when available” and not “guaranteed.”
Sure, free WiFi might seem like a common perk these days — yet, when you do have to pay for it, it can be expensive. That’s why it’s nice to know that such issues won’t arise when you book with FHR. As I learned, this benefit can also materialize in some surprising ways, but we’ll discuss that in the next section.
In addition to these other benefits, FHR stays also include free breakfast for two guests. Unlike the overall property credits that are per stay, this credit is good for each morning of your stay. Even as someone who isn’t a big breakfast person, this is still a pretty great perk.
My Experience with Amex’s Fine Resorts and Hotel
Where we stayed
For our recent visit to reopened Las Vegas, we choose to spend a night at the Delano (which is attached to Mandalay Bay). On this particular night, the rate was $170, but that was partially offset by the $100 dining credit we’d enjoy for booking through FHR. If you’re not familiar, Delano is an all-suites property, so this booking also gave us plenty of room. Plus, it provided us with a nice view of one of our favorite hotels, Luxor. All in all, I think it was a smart choice for us and was among one of the more affordable Las Vegas properties featured in the Fine Hotels + Resort program.
Early early check-in
Seeing as we were driving to Vegas from Springfield, our arrival was kind of up in the air. In the end, we got into town around 9 a.m. — well before the noon check-in. Luckily, using the MGM app, I was still able to get a room and receive a digital key. But, when we entered, I noticed that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
When I initially went through the online check-in for Delano (days before our actual arrival), the MGM app updated to show us in a Scenic Suite. Yet, what we ended up in was just the standard suite. Lest you think I’m complaining, I’m aware that this was likely the trade-off for being able to access our room so early. Also, since I booked the regular suite to begin with, there was no reason to be disappointed. Personally, at that moment, I was much happier to have a room in which to nap than to have waited for a room with a larger window. At the same time, I’m looking forward to future FHR experiences when I might be able to experience room upgrades.
Using our dining and breakfast credits
Something to note is that, in recent years, the property credit at Delano has been $100 for spa services. But, given the circumstances, that has been swapped out for a dining credit since the hotel reopened. Like with my Hotel Collection experience, all you needed to do to use this credit was charge the bill to your room.
Since there weren’t many restaurants open at the time, we opted to order room service instead. Magically, the bill came to about $98 before tip. As for breakfast, we hit up the hotel’s coffee shop in the lobby.
Before we checked out, I noticed that my folio still hadn’t been adjusted. Rather than let the charge hit my card and have to make phone calls, I just went to the front desk to make sure everything was fine. As soon as I started to explain my concern, it seemed as though the desk agent knew exactly what was wrong. A minute or two later, she let me know that it had been taken care of and gave me a copy of my bill, which only showed the resort fee (more on that in a moment) and the tip for room service — in other words, the breakfast and the food itself had been removed. Woohoo!
My guess is that this unique situation was due to the property (temporarily?) transitioning it’s credit. Honestly, while it would have been nice if everything had just worked, it really wasn’t a hassle to visit the desk and get it straightened out. Plus, the desk agent was very helpful and apologetic, so I’ll give Delano a pass for sure.
Regarding resort fees
Like most hotels in Vegas, Delano does charge a nightly resort fee, which is not waived from FHR bookings. That said, since the program boasts a “free WiFi” benefit and the property’s resort fee language says that the costs cover WiFi, you’ll actually get a small deduction in the resort fee you pay. In my case, this took it down from $35 to $30. While I’m happy to save the money, I found this whole thing kind of funny — but I’ll take it.
So, was it worth it? I definitely think so. Compared to the going rates of other hotels during the night we were looking at, booking Delano through FHR was a great deal once the credits were taken into account. In fact, looking at some select nights now, you could book a night at Delano through Fine Hotels + Resorts for $96 — meaning that your food credit would outweigh your nightly rate. Of course, there is still the resort fee to consider, but the breakfast credit could outweigh that as well. Really, it just comes down to what’s available and what your needs are.
To my surprise, it turns out there was a lot about the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program I didn’t know before booking through the program for a recent stay in Las Vegas. Based on that experience, I’m excited to try it out for future travels. Specifically, I think it can be a really good value for those wanting to stay somewhere semi-upscale for a night. Not only will the property and breakfast credits help offset that main cost but the potential early check-in and guaranteed late check-out can help you get more time for your money. Therefore, if you’re an Amex Platinum cardholder, it may be worth giving this program a look.
Originally published at Money@30.