I still remember my first trip to Vegas when I was 21 years old: I landed with $233 to my name and a reservation at the long-since-closed Sahara Hotel & Casino for about $40 a night. I’m pretty sure the bedspread had at least one cigarette burn, and the felt on the $1 blackjack tables was as worn and tired as the looks on the dealers’ faces (not that I blamed them — the Sahara was well on its way towards the end at that point). But what can I say? It was cheap and I’ve always been a bargain shopper. Fast forward more than 15 years and I’m still a bargain shopper — still no high roller, but I enjoy relaxing as though I am one…especially if I can do it cheaply:
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is a program available to American Express Platinum card holders — both Business and Personal. Bookings are made at www.americanexpressfhr.com or over the phone with the Platinum concierge. When booking through Amex FHR, rates are typically about the same as the publicly-available rates on most online travel agencies. But FHR bookings come with a few nice benefits:
- A “unique property amenity” (an approximately $100 value — usually either a general property/dining credit or a spa-specific credit, though some properties may offer something such as a round trip private car transport to and from the airport)
- 12pm check-in when available
- 4pm guaranteed late checkout
- Breakfast for 2 daily
The relative value of those credits certainly varies, but one place where the benefits really shine is Las Vegas. There are a number of nice properties in Las Vegas that can be a terrific value, especially for shorter stays. A couple are MGM properties, meaning you can earn Hyatt night credits and points on your stay to boot. While breakfast is a daily benefit, the ~$100 property credit is a once-per-stay benefit. Of course, if you’re traveling light and are willing to check in and out of different properties (which is relatively easy in Vegas thanks to noon check in and 4pm check out), you can enjoy those benefits nightly.
For example, here is the rate for the room pictured above, a Delano King Suite, on November 26th-27th, 2017:
That rate is somewhat misleading — tax and resort fee are additional. Altogether, the rate will be about $149.38. In fact, it’s the same exact rate I saw when logging into my Mlife Platinum account (matched from Hyatt Diamond before the new World of Hyatt):
Granted, this is a Sunday night. A Friday or Saturday will be more. But even those days can be had for under $150 before tax and resort credit. At the rate above, it’s certainly not a bad deal when you consider that for $149.38, you will receive:
- $100 property credit good at most of the restaurants at both Delano and Mandalay Bay
- Breakfast for 2
- 12pm check-in
- Room upgrade if available (likely to a room with a view as the property is all suites)
- Guaranteed 4pm check out
- Oh yeah, and a suite in Las Vegas
While you surely can grab a McDonald’s-esque breakfast for a couple of dollars somewhere, the Delano breakfast can either be taken in their restaurant or as room service. I’ve done both on separate trips, and as much as I am a sucker for a McGriddle, breakfast at Delano was quite good in both the restaurant and via room service.
And the $100 property credit is good at a range of restaurants, including the top-floor Rivea restaurant, where my dad and I enjoyed both a nice view of the sunset over the mountains and the glitter of The Strip as it lit up that evening:
Though, truth be told, the $100 credit didn’t cover the meal at Rivea and the food didn’t overwhelm me. My wife and I ate at Fleur by Hubert Keller after FTU Las Vegas last year, where the credit did cover our meal — and I’d probably go back. Maybe not before trying a couple of the other options at Mandalay Bay. When we go to Vegas, we generally eat — and we enjoy restaurant dining, so the $100 property credit is nearly as good as cash to me.
Staying at Delano, you also have access to both the Delano pool and The Beach at Mandalay Bay, complete with sand and a wave pool:
And during my trip with my dad, we did hotel-hop over to Bellagio. The room rate that night was $166 and we had a similarly excellent breakfast for two and used our $100 credit to enjoy a nice dinner there as well. We got to skip to the front of the endless line at check-in and got upgraded from the basic room that I booked to a nice suite there as well:
And for those wondering how much Saturday night is that weekend — well, it sure wasn’t too bad. At these rates. If you were looking to hotel hop, Saturday night at the Four Seasons (also located at the Mandalay Bay complex) and Sunday at Delano wouldn’t be a bad one-two punch at these rates:
Of course, it’s not just in Las Vegas that you can find great value from American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. But the number of participating properties combined with the relative proximity in Las Vegas make it an interesting destination for hotel-hopping. Combined with generally very competitive rates, you can really score a pretty sweet deal with FHR in Vegas.