Hotels

A list of all the Secret VIP Hotel programs you should be using

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Start using these Secret Hotel VIP programs!

I thought it would be useful to have a fully compiled list of Hotel VIP programs that run tandem to their loyalty program. Booking with these programs involves contacting a rep that has access and then booking an eligible rate to get these VIP benefits. If you want to know what you may be paying before contacting a rep, usually a VIP eligible rate is akin to the BAR ( Best Available Rate ). The great thing is that these rates can stack with other elite benefits, and of course the earn rate of the credit card you book with kicks in as well. BAR is a typical rack rate, so weigh the benefits offered vs any discounted rates you could access to see if it’s worth it or not.

You can reach out to my buddy Spencer who will take great care of you

If I’ve missed something or a program needs to be updated, shoot me a comment and I’ll amend. Thanks so much, and hopefully this allows you to extract as much as possible out of your future bookings. I also added in a few credit card programs along with Virtuoso.

*Updated for 2022

Make sure you’re using the right credit card to get max points on your stay too – check out our favorite credit cards – updated monthly!

Miles Credit Cards

VIP Hotel Progams:

 

Marriott:

Marriott absorbed Starwood and integrated a new bifurcated VIP program for their higher end hotels. The benefits are fantastic if you’re booking an eligible rate. I’ve used STARS a couple of times, specifically at Ritz Carltons, and received upgrades both times. )

  • STARS
    • ( Available at : Bvlgari, Edition, Luxury Collection, Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis )
    • Complimentary breakfast for 2 ( continental or full depending on hotel )
    • Space available room upgrades on arrival
    •  $100 hotel credit or something similar
    • Welcome amenity
    • Early check-in if available/ Priority for late check-out
    • Strict no-walk policy
    • VIP status with hotel management
  • Luminous
    • ( offered at select Autograph Collection, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Marriott, Renaissance, Tribute Portfolio, W Hotels, Westin )
    • Comped daily breakfast for two people per room
    • Comped basic wi-fi daily
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to avail
    • Space available room upgrade at check-in
    • Local welcome amenity
    • $100 hotel credit at select hotels

We recently used STARS to stay at the exclusive St Regis Aspen

Hyatt

I’ve used Hyatt Prive a couple of times and it’s a paid major dividends. On a recent stay at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong I booked via Prive, used points to upgrade, and received a further upgrade. It was also nice enjoying an insanely extensive breakfast in the dining room even though the club level offered a smaller selection. Best part…the rate was the same as I would have paid in order to use points for a suite upgrade.

No minimum stay:

  • Park Hyatt, Andaz, Thompson, Miraval

Min 2 night stay

  • Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Centric, Alila, Destination, Joie de Vivre, Unbound

Min 3 night stay

  • Destination, Hyatt Ziva and Zilara

Min 4 night stay

  • AMR resorts

Park Hyatt 

  • One category upgrade confirmed within 24 hours of booking
    • Odds are you won’t pop from a room to a suite, but you can go from smaller suite to larger suite
    • based on availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two
  • Check-in as early as 9am and out as late as 4pm
    • based on avail  and late check-out
  • A welcome gift and letter
  • $100 property credit

Andaz, Miraval

  • One category upgrade confirmed within 24 hours of booking
    • Odds are you won’t pop from a room to a suite, but you can go from smaller suite to larger suite
    • based on availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two
  • Check-in as early as 9am and out as late as 4pm
    • based on avail  and late check-out
  • A welcome gift and letter
  • $50 to 100 property credit

Select Grand Hyatt, Centric, Regency, Unbound Collection, Thompson, Alila, and Joie De Vivre

  • One category upgrade confirmed within 24 hours of booking
    • Odds are you won’t pop from a room to a suite, but you can go from smaller suite to larger suite
    • based on availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two
  • Check-in as early as 9am and out as late as 4pm
    • based on avail  and late check-out
  • A welcome gift and letter
  • $100 property credit

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Hilton

  • Impresario
    • Waldorf, LXR, and Conrad hotels
    • Daily breakfast for two guests per room, served through in-room dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
    • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at check-in
    • Double Hilton HHonors points for the stay
    • $100 equivalent hotel credit once during the stay

IHG Luxury and Lifestyle

  •   Luxury available at select Intercontinental Hotels ( globally ), Kimpton ( outside US ), and Regent  (globally)
    • 2 night minimum stay required
    • Daily breakfast for up to two in-room guests
    • Upgrade to next room category, subject to availability
    • Welcome amenity on arrival
    • No walk policy
    • Free WiFi
    • Value-added amenity specific to hotel ($100 value once per stay at Regent and Intercontinental Properties )
    • Guaranteed late 2pm check-out
  • Lifestyle available at select Indigo and Kimpton ( within US )
    • Guaranteed Late Check-Out (until 2PM)
    • Upgrade to next room category
      • based on availability
    • $50 property credit, per stay
    • Bottled water, fresh fruit, and snacks in room upon arrival
    • Comped WIFI
Kimpton London

Belmond

  • Bellini
    • Comped buffet or full breakfast for 2 daily
    • Comped room upgrades on arrival, based on availability
    • For any $5,000 booking, receive a $500 gift voucher to be used for any new Belmond product (train, barge, or hotel or resort) of at least $2,500.
    • Fully flexible hotel or resort credit up to $200 per stay
    • Free internet access
    • Personalized in-room welcome amenity
    • VIP recognition by property management and staff
    • Waitlist priority for high demand properties or experiences

Dorchester

  • Diamond Club
    • Comped breakfast for 2 daily in room or room service
    • $100 or local currency equivalent in credit for room and junior suites on final bill
    • Daily $100 or local currency credit for suites
    • Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking for guest rooms, subject to avail
    • VIP Status at hotel with recognition
    • 24/7 Diamond Club Ambassador ready to assist you
    • Access to hotel GM
    • Unlimited internet on unlimited devices
Beverly Hills Hotel – Dorchester Collection

Four Seasons

  • Preferred Partner
    • Daily full American breakfast for two people per room ( Dining room or Room Service )
    • Space available upgrade of one category at check in  ( no signature suites, etc )
    • VIP Status recognized by hotel management
    • Top priority for best guest room inventory.
    • No walk policy
    • Priority for sold out locations

Langham

  • Couture
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability.
    • Welcome drink
    • 6 hour pre or post arrival to be used at discretion for early/late check out
    • Comped Wifi

Mandarin Oriental

  • Fan Club
    • Comped full breakfast for 2, daily
    • Either $100 Food & Beverage or Spa Credit for each room booked during stay
    • Space Available upgrade on arrival, one category
    • Unlimited in-room wireless Internet access
    • Personalized welcome amenity
    • Priority waitlist clearance

Oetker Collection

  • Pearl Partner
    • At booking, one category upgrade
    • Get “best room” within category
    • Senior management recognition with personalized amenity
    • Daily unlimited internet access for unlimited number of devices
    • Priority access to courtesy car, when applicable
    • Comped breakfast for 2, daily, includes buffet
    • Hotel specific spa or food/bev credit
      • 85 euros for one night
      • 170 for two nights or more.

Peninsula

I’ve used this benefit three times now, Beijing, Bangkok, and New York. Peninsula treatment is second to none, but having someone in management aware of your stay takes it to another level. We’ve received service and treatment that is second to none.

  • Pen Club
    • Daily full breakfast for 2
    • “Peninsula Time” for early check-in/out
    • Upon Arrival, space available, 1 category upgraded
    • Comped phone via VOIP in select hotels

Preferred Hotels

  • Platinum Partner
    • Daily breakfast for 2
    • $75 Credit per stay ( Resort, Hotel, FoodBev, etc )
    • Comped Wi-Fi
    • Upon arrival, space avail, room upgrade
    • When available, early check in, late check out

Relais and Chateau

  • Preferred Partner Program
    • Comped breakfast for 2 daily
    • Priority upgrades
    • VIP amenties

Rocco Forte

  • Knights
    • Comped breakfast for 2 daily
    • VIP welcome
    • Hotel credit
      • $100 for rooms and Jr Suites
      •  $200 for suites with 2 night minimum stay
    • Space available room upgrade on arrival
    • Early Check-in/Late Check out when available
    • Comped high speed internet
    • 20% off spa services where applicable
Afternoon Tea at the Balmoral – A Rocco Forte Hotel

Rosewood

  • Elite
    • Complimentary Breakfast for two
      Space available room upgrade on arrival
    • Early Check-in/Late Check out when available
    • VIP welcome by staff and management
    • On property Elite rep to assist with your stay
    • Priority waitlist during peak travel
    • On property amenity…which could include a $100 credit

Sofitel

  • STEP Program
    • Sofitel and MGallery
    • Breakfast for two everyday of your stay
    • Space available upgrade on arrival
    • Comped Wifi
    • Space available early check-in/  late check out
    • no walk policy

Shangri La

Note a minimum stay value is required on many bookings

  • Luxury Circle
    • Comped breakfast for 2 daily
    • Space Available Early Check IN/ Late Check out
    • Space Available upgrade at time of booking
    • $100 credit or 10% of the average daily rate ( which ever is higher )
    • Priority waitlist at sold out properties

Credit Cards:

 

American Express

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used Amex FHR over the years. As much as I travel, I’d say this benefit alone makes up the annual fee of $550 on the personal card. If you stay a week at an Amex FHR property, the daily breakfast for two daily will come close to offsetting the fee in and of itself.

  • American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts
    • Avail to Platinum and Centurion cardholders
    • Room upgrade on arrival when space is available
    • Daily continental breakfast for two people
    • Guaranteed 4pm check out
    • Noon check in when available
    • Comped Wifi
    • Hotel, Spa, Food/Bev credit usually $100
    • When pre-paid earn 5x points using Amex Platinum
Ritz Abu Dhabi
  • The Hotel Collection
    • Avail to Amex Gold, Platinum, and Centurion members
    • $100 credit on dining, spa, resort ( chosen by property )
    • Gold gets 2x on prepaid
    • Platinum gets 5x on prepaid

Capital One Travel Premier Collection 

  • Book via Capital One Travel
  • Capital One Venture X cardholders will earn 10x points on Premier Collection
  • Earn Hotel Loyalty Points and Status when applicable
  • Other benefits
    • A $100 USD experience credit (or the local equivalent) to use on dining, spa, and other activities during their stay
    • Daily breakfast for two
    • Complimentary Wifi
    • Additional premium benefits when available, including early check-in, late checkout, a room upgrade, and more

Chase

  • The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection
  • Go here and enter your Chase card info
    • Daily breakfast for two
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi
    • Special benefit unique to each property, such as a dining or spa credit, greens fees, or other privilege.

Citi

  • Prestige 4th night free benefit + Citi Concierge
    • Get a 4th night free when booking online at thankyou.com or via the Citi Concierge when hotel is available online

We used this benefit to stay at both the Hilton Waldorf Caledonian and Nun Relais Assisi and will do it again this coming year.

Visa Signature Hotel Collection

  • Best available rate guarantee.
  • Automatic room upgrade upon arrival, when available.
  • Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, when available.
  • Complimentary breakfast for two.
  • $25 USD food or beverage credit.
  • VIP Guest status.
  • Late check-out upon request, when available.

Stand Alone

Virtuoso

This is a program I use all the time in lieu of Amex FHR. The biggest difference between the two programs is Virtuoso will provide a full breakfast while Amex FHR only provides continental breakfast. Additionally, Amex FHR will guarantee the 4pm late check-out vs when available with Virtuoso.

Program benefits

  • Preferred rates
  • Room upgrade upon arrival
  • Virtuoso-only amenities
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Early check-in and late checkout

If you’re considering a cruise vacation, complimentary extras tend to include:

  • Shipboard credits
  • Virtuoso-exclusive shore excursions
  • Welcome aboard receptions
  • Dedicated onboard hosts
  • Private car and driver
  • Specialty dining
  • Pre-paid gratuities

Have you used any of these programs?

 Affiliate link via Card Ratings

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


4.8
4.8/5

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based. 

Welcome Offer

60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months

Annual Fee

$95

Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

  • 3x on dining
    •  including eligible delivery services for takeout
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
  • $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Primary rental car coverage is my favorite

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

36 Comments

  • Rebecca Harrison May 15, 2023

    How do you sign up for these vip programs? I read about it in your book but unsure how to get enrolled.

  • Rob Hoitt November 17, 2022

    I would add FoundersCard to this list, while you do need to pay a membership fee, you get some incredible benefits from many of the properties you’ve identified here. I am a huge fan of their Caesars Entertainment partnership where I get Diamond status with Caesars as well as Wyndham Rewards.
    https://founderscard.com/membership?code=FCROB927

  • […] per night, and compared to peak season rates of well over $1000 a night, we splurged and paid cash. If you’re unfamiliar with using VIP programs, check out this article we […]

  • […] of the awesome perks of using a VIP program like Hilton Impresario ( which can be used on LXR, Conrad, and Waldorf properties ) is the list of perks below that […]

  • […] The Hotel Collection is a VIP hotel booking program, and is listed in our “Secret List of Hotel VIP programs.” […]

  • Bill n DC June 27, 2022

    Yes to Thank You! And to Vicky for sharing her knowledge.

    My guy is Toby@fordbtravels Next month’s Birthday trip got changed which allowed me to use a 3rd night free promo with Hyatt Prive at the Abu Dhabi Park Hyatt the upgrade to sea view was confirmed by the hotel within 24 hrs of reservation. And similar for Four Seasons in Sydney’s late spring

    My hometown New hotel is tribute so I’ll have to get Toby on that for late October

  • […] of the awesome perks of using a VIP program like Hilton Impresario ( which can be used on LXR, Conrad, and Waldorf properties ) is the list of perks below that […]

  • […] chain you’d want to book a night with has  VIP program that anyone can book through – the full list is here. With that said, it’s always good to have another option to compare […]

  • Ashli July 7, 2021

    I live in Columbus, OH and want to go to bora bora. I bave chase freedom cc with ultimate rewards with 31000 bonus. What is the best way to book a trip. I live in the middle of nowhere and flying/ staying in even closest places cost an arm and a leg. Thank you

  • Maggie July 4, 2021

    Please add me to your email list. Thanks.

  • David Lackey July 4, 2021

    Great resource.

  • DavidB February 16, 2021

    So how do you join these programs?

    • Vicky Malakoff February 16, 2021

      You don’t. You book through a travel advisor who has that affiliation. The only one – to my knowledge – where you can book yourself is Virtuoso. If you go to the Virtuoso website and create a login for yourself, you can book directly there, you just have to enter the name of your Virtuoso advisor.

  • Brian February 15, 2021

    Amex FHR offers free nights which is an additional benefit. Does any of the other programs give free nights? I think only virtuoso, but not as many as FHR.

    • Vicky Malakoff February 16, 2021

      The other programs often have their own promos too. So unless you’re absolutely committed to the lowest possible, non-refundable rate, I don’t think you’ll lose out. The hard part as a consumer is that you can’t necessarily see the promos.

  • Ed February 15, 2021

    I’d heard of some of these programs individually but have never seen such a comprehensive list compiled on one page. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together. I’m book marking for future reference.

  • Christian February 15, 2021

    Is there a way to tell which hotels qualify within the Marriott program? I like the Le Meridien Siem Reap but don’t want to bother anyone if the hotel doesn’t qualify. Thanks!

    • Vicky Malakoff February 15, 2021

      Well, I can confirm that that particular Le Meridien participates in Luminous. I have to look that up on the STARS/Luminous website, I’m not sure if there’s another place to do that. Generally, most hotels in each brand will participate, and let me tell you, just about any travel advisor will be more than happy to look that up for you and get a potential booking out of it, especially in this travel climate. I have several clients that only book hotels through me because of the perks, and if occasionally one of their inquiries doesn’t turn into anything – oh well, I’ll live.

      • Christian February 15, 2021

        Thanks so much for the response! I have an agent who’s Hyatt Prive but if he doesn’t do Luminous I’d love to use you since you were so kind to answer.

  • Aleks February 15, 2021

    First, a good list of those subprograms. Good job!

    Second, need to mention that those perks available ONLY when booking through them. I suppose any benefits of regular loyalty program, like Hilton or IHG, would not apply (i.e. 4th night free, room upgrade or free breakfast) – hence would make sense to use mostly for Rack Rate, and for people who don’t care much about the price.

    The listed benefits won’t work on award reservations, I suppose?

    • Vicky Malakoff February 15, 2021

      Hi Aleks,

      You’re right in that those benefits don’t work on award reservations – with the exception of Amex (which is extremely cumbersome), you can’t make award reservations through travel advisors.
      You can certainly attach your rewards number to bookings made through those programs, and benefit from the points. Yes, usually these bookings would be at the best available rate, i.e. the lowest refundable rate. Often Virtuoso will have a 4th night free etc. promo too. I think there are few instances where there may be a slightly lower member rate (I know Marriott does this), but given the choice between $5 off a night and free breakfast for 2 every day, I know which one I’d choose …

  • Jamie Chapman September 6, 2020

    Thank you. The inclusion of links and telephone numbers would have been useful. Best, Jamie

  • Larry September 2, 2020

    Do credit card bookings through these hotel programs (Prive, STARS, etc.) code as “travel agencies”? If so, the Citi Prestige 5X points are quite valuable.

    • Miles September 3, 2020

      Hey Larry – yep, you can stack with cc benefits. for instance, booking via STARS just codes your stay, and when you check out you pay the bill, so it’s reflected on your cc bill as a stay at Ritz Carlton, etc

  • Clarita Volovitz August 28, 2020

    Great job consolidating this list. Im actually a luxury travel advisor with access to every single one of these programs and a few more such as Small Luxury Hotel’s withIN program, Juneirah’s Passport to Luxury so please feel free to reach out for any booking requests.

    My email is clarita@azaluxurytravel.com

  • Vicky Malakoff August 27, 2020

    It’s crazy how many consumers don’t realize these programs exist. I’m a Virtuoso travel advisor and am a member of just about all the hotel programs listed above, and the benefits are huge. I’ve had some clients come to me and be kind of suspicious and wonder where the catch is, but it’s really just a loyalty program for travel agencies rather than consumers – you make enough bookings, your clients get perks.
    In my experience, being a Virtuoso guest is better in terms of priority for upgrades, early check-in/late check-out than even the best credit card programs. Also good to note is that Four Seasons preferred partner benefits are virtually identical to Virtuoso benefits (and most Four Seasons properties are also Virtuoso members), but you get a full American breakfast through the preferred partner program, and only a continental breakfast through Virtuoso. Seems a little nickel-and-dimey, but I suspect they want people to book through their program rather than Virtuoso if they have the choice. Just my two cents.

  • Nick Holland August 27, 2020

    Amazing. Emailing you now about Hiltona nd IHG. Thnak you.

  • Christ August 26, 2020

    Excellent list — thanks. I’m kicking myself for not having used it for past stays, but going forward it will be useful

  • Franz August 25, 2020

    Bookmarked! Thank you for this!

    • Miles August 26, 2020

      Awesome!

    • mbh June 28, 2022

      Ditto! Thanks so much for the list. And thanks to the agents posting helpful comments, too.

  • Christian August 25, 2020

    Thanks for the super comprehensive list as it must’ve taken a ton of work. I’ll bookmark this momentarily. I’ve used the Hyatt Prive program before and it was quite nice and stacked with my Globalist membership as well. One thing of note is that many Hyatt Regency hotels don’t participate in the program. Not a huge deal but better to manage expectations before reaching out to your contact.

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