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Virtuoso – How It Works, Travel Advisors, Upgrades & Benefits

Stephen Au's image
Stephen Au
Stephen Au's image

Stephen Au

Senior Content Contributor

485 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 24U.S. States Visited: 22

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3236 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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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!

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.

Virtuoso Benefits

Virtuoso breakfast
Enjoy special amenities when you book through Virtuoso. Image Credit: Virtuoso

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.

Hot Tip: Get in touch with Leigh, a next-level Virtuoso agent. UP’s very own Leigh Rowan has deep connections with some of the best hotels and hoteliers in the world. Reach out to him about your upcoming luxury hotel trip, and watch how he’ll upgrade your next stay. Submit your Virtuoso booking request to leighrowan@upgradedpoints.com.

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, Hilton Impresario, 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:

The Ritz-Carlton Osaka FHR
Image Credit: American Express

The Ritz-Carlton Osaka Virtuoso
Image Credit: Virtuoso

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Virtuoso travel work?

Virtuoso is essentially a travel agency network focused on luxury accommodations. With tens of thousands of approved travel advisors worldwide, Virtuoso allows you to enjoy extra elite-like benefits and perks when staying at thousands of luxury hotels and resorts around the world… but the real gem is you won’t need to pay extra to enjoy these benefits.

How much does it cost to join Virtuoso?

Virtuoso doesn’t hire travel advisors, but they recruit advisors for its member agencies. You can join Virtuoso as a travel advisor via a member agency or join Virtuoso as a member agency.

What are Virtuoso amenities?

Virtuoso amenities may vary by hotel and property, but they usually include preferred rates at hotels, room upgrades upon arrival subject to availability, property credits like spa and shopping credits, daily breakfast for 2, and early check-in/late checkout subject to availability.

How do I join Virtuoso?

Travel agents can join Virtuoso via its website, but if you’re looking to book a stay with Virtuoso, you’ll want to book directly with a Virtuoso travel advisor.

Who owns Virtuoso Travel?

Virtuoso was founded by Jesse Upchurch in 1986, but it’s currently helmed by his son Matthew D. Upchurch. Virtuoso is a private company and has hundreds of employees.

Stephen Au's image

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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