If you love luxury hotels and have the habit of doing one-night stays (e.g. staycations), you will love booking the Virtuoso Rate which you can typically only access via a luxury travel advisor. The Virtuoso Rate is almost-always priced the same as the Best Available Rate (BAR) or the Flexible Rate but it offers you incredible perks like (but not limited to) a USD 100 property credit as well as breakfast for two. Traditionally, booking a Virtuoso Rate is only possible through a luxury travel agent but I have partnered up with ClassicTravel.com to facilitate this - bookings can be done online and you will get incredible perks which you will not otherwise be able to get!
What Exactly Is a Virtuoso Rate?
Virtuoso is basically a leading global network of agencies that specialises in luxury and they partner with over 1,800 of the world’s best companies such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more, to offer complimentary perks to their clients. A Virtuoso Rate is basically an opaque rate that cannot be accessed by the public - it is typically priced the same as the Best Available Rate or the Flexible Rate but it comes with amazing perks like upgrades, complimentary breakfast and property credits.
What Kind of Perks Are There with Virtuoso Rates?
Just to demonstrate how much value one can get out of Virtuoso Rates, consider a random weekend at The St. Regis Singapore where the cheapest rate a Marriott Bonvoy member can get is SGD 308++ (this is a non-refundable rate that does not come with breakfast). The cheapest Regular Rate (which is a Flexible Rate that allows free cancellation up to 2 days prior to arrival) which does not come with breakfast is priced at SGD 362++ for Marriott Bonvoy members and SGD 370++ for non-members. The Virtuoso Rate at The St. Regis Singapore for the same weekend is priced at SGD 370++ which is the same as the non-opaque Regular Rate that you get direct. However, when you book the Virtuoso Rate at The St. Regis Singapore, you will get the following benefits:
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
USD 100 Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, (excludes Sunday at St. Regis, Sunday Brunch at Brasserie Les Saveurs, Dim Sum Brunch or Sunday Brunch at Yan Ting)
Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
Why Should I Bother as an Elite Member?
Now you may think that as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite (or higher) member, you will already enjoy some of these perks like upgrades and breakfast. However, it is worth noting that at St. Regis properties, eligible elite members have to pick between having the complimentary breakfast or the 1,000 bonus points. If you book the Virtuoso Rate however, you will already have breakfast included in the rate (so you can graciously pick the 1,000 points or an F&B amenity). The main reason why people book the Virtuoso Rate is for the USD 100 F&B Credit - in the case of The St. Regis Singapore, this credit can be utilised for in-room dining which is great if you feel like spending a luxurious weekend in. Additionally, after speaking to a number of luxury travel agents and front office managers, they have confirmed that a guest that is booked under a Virtuoso Rate have a higher priority of upgrade versus one that is booked under a regular rate (e.g. Advance Purchase).
Why Should You Pick the (More Expensive) Flexible Rate over an Advance Purchase Rate?
It goes without saying that when deciding between a Regular Rate or Virtuoso Rate, one should always go with the latter since it costs absolutely the same but the latter rate comes with a lot more benefits. So the real question boils down to this - should you book the Advance Purchase Rate or the Virtuoso Rate?
|Comparison of Rates at The St. Regis Singapore|
|Advance Purchase (Member)||Regular Rate (Public)||Virtuoso Rate|
|Rate||SGD 308++||SGD 370++||SGD 370++|
|Final Rate||SGD 362.52||SGD 435.49||SGD 435.49|
|Upgrade||No||No||Yes, if Available|
|Property Credit||-||-||USD 100
As shown in the table above, difference between the Advance Purchase Rate and the Virtuoso Rate is approximately SGD 73 after all applicable taxes and service charges. However, assuming you do not have significantly status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, you get the following benefits for paying just SGD 73 more a night (and you truly maximise the value if you do one-night stays):
Ability to Cancel up to 2 Days Prior to Arrival
Breakfast for Two Adults
USD 100 (Approx. SGD 130) of F&B Credit
Room Upgrade, if Available
Honestly, if you were already planning to spend some money in the hotel, having SGD 130 worth of F&B credit at a discount of SGD 73 is a no-brainer. In fact, you can even stretch this if you stack your 20% F&B discount (assuming you are at least Platinum Elite or higher) when you charge your dining expenses in participating restaurants to the room.
Do I Earn Points and Nights with Virtuoso Rate?
This is probably the question at the back of everyone's head and the answer is yes, you will earn elite-qualifying nights as well as points with a Virtuoso Rate since you are essentially booking direct with the property.
When and Where Do I Pay?
When you book a Virtuoso Rate, you typically make payment upon checking-out so having the right credit card helps. While you will probably not be able to get up 4 miles per dollar on these transactions (versus booking hotel online), you will be able to easily earn at least 2 miles per dollar for hotels located outside of Singapore if you charge it in a foreign currency (my personal favourite? The OCBC VOYAGE Card which gives me at least 2.4 VMs per dollar as well as the opportunity to earn up to two free airport transfers each month).
How Do I Book a Virtuoso Rate?
You can check and book a Virtuoso Rate directly with ClassicTravel.com. While Virtuoso Rates used to be only accessible to high net worth clients that spend a lot on luxury travel, it is now available to everyone who goes through this route. If you tend to book quite a bit of luxury hotels and would love to have a person you can speak to (i.e. a luxury travel agent), reach out to me via email and I will be sure to point you towards the right person.