If you routinely focus on luxury travel, you might have heard of Virtuoso, an incredible network of travel agencies that deliver huge added value to your hotel stay.
With tens of thousands of travel advisors worldwide capable of delivering extra perks to thousands of luxury hotels in the world, you’ll want to keep this company in your back pocket.
Sure, we pride ourselves on being able to use points for luxury hotel stays, but what if you want to save your points for a different trip? What if you don’t have enough points? Or what if wherever you’re traveling to doesn’t have points hotels?
That’s where Virtuoso can come in. In this guide, we’ll show you how Virtuoso can fit into your travel plans. We’ll walk you through the A to Z of what Virtuoso is, what benefits you can get, and how you can book Virtuoso rates.
Let’s get started!
Access Luxury Perks & Upgrades: If you’re looking to book a luxury hotel stay via Virtuoso — Leigh Rowan, a member of our UP team as well as a Virtuoso agent, can help get you complimentary room upgrades, daily breakfast for 2, late checkouts and more (for no extra cost). Contact Leigh for a fast reply at [email protected] to access these special perks.
Everything You Need To Know About Virtuoso
What Is Virtuoso?
So what exactly is Virtuoso? Virtuoso is a worldwide network of travel agencies with specializations in luxury and experiential travel.
Virtuoso’s network consists of more than 20,000 travel advisors, each of which falls under a larger member agency.
Its travel advisors bring personalized travel recommendations and bookings to the table, whether you’re looking for hotels, cruises, or tours.
Importantly, though, bookings made through Virtuoso come with value-added perks for no additional cost to the traveler.
In almost all cases, hotel stays booked through Virtuoso come with the following benefits:
- Daily breakfast for 2 guests per room
- Room upgrade (subject to availability)
- Early check-in (subject to availability)
- Late checkout (subject to availability)
- A special Virtuoso amenity (typically a $100 property credit or other amenity valued at a minimum of $100, like a free massage or round-trip car transfer)
Fees To Use Virtuoso
Virtuoso rates almost always cost the same exact price as the best available flexible rate.
This isn’t the same as a prepaid, advance purchase, non-refundable rate, corporate rate, or member-only rate.
However, if you usually book the best available flexible rates, you’ll literally get hundreds of dollars in added value just by going through a Virtuoso advisor.
In addition, Virtuoso advisors generally don’t charge you any commissions for hotel bookings — they get a commission on the back-end, but that cost won’t be passed on to you most of the time.
This isn’t the same as a planning fee — if you’re booking a complicated trip, you might be quoted for this extra fee depending on the travel advisor.
Virtuoso Hotel Properties
The complete catalog of Virtuoso hotels includes name-brand luxury chains like:
As you can see, this more or less encompasses all luxury hotel chains. In addition, you can book luxury boutique properties that may not have multiple locations. These properties are incredibly helpful if you’re looking to book a more exotic vacation where there aren’t many luxury hotel options.
Earning Points on a Virtuoso Rate
Booking Virtuoso rates is a lot like stacking benefits! Because a Virtuoso hotel rate still goes through the hotel’s internal system, you can earn hotel points, elite night credits/stays, and even enjoy hotel elite benefits when booking through a Virtuoso travel advisor.
For example, if you’re a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium member and you’re booking a Virtuoso hotel stay at an eligible Marriott property, you will earn Marriott Bonvoy points and enjoy Titanium benefits on your hotel stay.
The reason this works is that your travel advisor will also enter your loyalty number when booking your stays.
Virtuoso Travel Advisors
The first thing you’ll need to do is have a stay in mind. You can view the rates for hotels by visiting the hotel search catalog, but you will need to contact a Virtuoso travel advisor (such as Leigh Rowan from our team) to enjoy these benefits.
Hot Tip: You can even browse Virtuoso travel advisors by their destination specialties or travel interests!
Other Programs Like Virtuoso
Virtuoso is the largest consortium with thousands of luxury hotels and resorts within its purview.
However, other programs offer similar benefits, including Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Belmond Bellini, Dorchester Diamond Club, Rosewood Elite, Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous, and Mandarin Oriental Fan Club.
Virtuoso actually includes all of the brands above and offers similar benefits — as a result, Virtuoso offers a “one-stop-shop” for booking luxury hotel stays and getting benefits regardless of which exact chain you stay at.
Virtuoso vs. Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is similar to Virtuoso in the sense that it offers perks like free breakfast and room upgrades. However, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts offers a guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout.
Virtuoso is bookable without a specific credit card, while Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts requires a premium Amex card like The Platinum Card® from American Express.
However, you need to have a Virtuoso travel advisor to help make your booking for you (online or over the phone). On the flip side, you’ll also get a human who can offer recommendations and advice based on your destination and travel style.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso both have overlapping hotels — that’s not terribly surprising when you consider that these luxury hotels are worldwide chains.
One thing you might notice is a significant markup on Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rates. For example, if you look at The Ritz-Carlton Osaka stay searched through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and compare it to a Virtuoso search, you’ll see a big difference in rates:
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is charging $568 per night before taxes and fees, while Virtuoso’s rates are $511 per night. In this case, booking through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts would cost 11% more than booking through Virtuoso.
Sometimes, the 2 programs have the same rates — however, in many cases, Virtuoso’s prices will beat out Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.
On the other hand, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts may have special offers such as a fifth-night free benefit, so you’ll need to evaluate the economics on a case-by-case basis.
Virtuoso is the secret tool that luxury travelers use to get hundreds of dollars worth of extra value on their bookings, especially hotel stays.
Some of the world’s most prestigious hotel brands like Four Seasons, Aman, Rosewood, and The Peninsula are available to book through Virtuoso. It also includes small luxury boutique hotels that aren’t a part of a larger hotel brand, so you can enjoy a boutique experience as desired.
With this program, you’ll enjoy benefits like free breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in, late checkout, and so much more — all for the same price as the best available flexible rate. Virtuoso rates are also often cheaper than Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rates, so it’s definitely a no-brainer to consider Virtuoso!