As a luxury travel enthusiast, I have long looked for ways to maximise the experience of my travels. While with Elite status that tends to become more accessible, given you have access to many more perks, however, it still comes down to directly coordinating with the hotel if you have special requirements or a special occasion to celebrate. Enter Virtuoso.
Virtuoso is a leading global network of agencies specialising in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors. Virtuoso partners with over 1,800 travel organisations such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators around the globe. Virtuoso advisors use their connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, complimentary perks, VIP treatment and rare access.
Virtuoso’s Hotels and Resorts program feature everything from 4-room boutique hotels to 4,000-room resorts, as well as lodges, camps, villas, apartments, and private islands. Minimum qualifications for a property include:
- Five-star or four-star deluxe classification
- A desirable or unique geographic location
- Excellence in both service and quality, maintained at the highest levels, with a proven track record of luxury, attention to detail, and guest recognition.
- Daily breakfast, preferential rates, and a value-added, exclusive amenity for Virtuoso travellers
- References from Virtuoso travel advisors who have experienced the property
While I’ve used Virtuoso a few times, I am more of an I know what I need kind of guy and hence end up making a lot of my travel reservations myself.
As travel returns, I’ve been flooded with queries about the safety of travel, and people preferring to go out only for a staycation or a special event to be celebrated. To make sure these readers can be given the individual attention they deserve for their special life events as well as their staycations which might be a celebration after a long while, I’ve brought on board a Virtuoso travel advisor in ClassicTravel, a New-York based luxury travel advisor who has been working with Virtuoso for a very long time. I talked to a few people and decided to go with Classic Travel because of various reasons.
For one, ClassicTravel has an online booking engine you can access anytime and make your bookings online for yourselves and manage them too. If you are a new customer for them, Classic Travel might call you to understand your tastes and dislikes, but if you don’t like being contacted you can tell them that, and they will manage everything online in the future.
Secondly, ClassicTravel is also a partner with various other hotel programmes such as Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Marriott Stars, Hyatt Prive and so on. These are all programmes offered to select travel advisors, and these advisors then can offer better perks to their clients for the same price as the regular price.
Why book a Virtuoso Travel Rate?
A Virtuoso Rate is almost always priced the same as a Best Available Rate. Still, it adds on amazing perks in the form of unique amenities only offered to bookings made via a Virtuoso travel advisor. For instance, at many properties, you can get a USD 100 property credit as well as complimentary full breakfast for two, a benefit which might not be available for free otherwise. Business, pleasure or staycations, there is money left on the table if you are booking one of these hotels without going through Virtuoso.
Perks you can receive via Virtuoso Travel Advisors.
To illustrate the benefits of booking via Virtuoso over any other medium, I picked an example of an all-year-round hot destination in India, which is a personal favourite of mine as well, Udaipur. Udaipur in Rajasthan is home to many luxury properties. Still, some of the key luxury hotels there include the Taj Lake Palace, which is in the midst of the Pichola lake and has a gorgeous location for a hotel, as well as one of the best hotels to ask for in India.
Now lets’ look at the rates for this hotel via different channels.
Here is the directly bookable price via TajHotels.com or the hotel or their call-centre per night.
On the ClassicTravel.com website, you would find the same rate, except the promise to upgrade you on arrival if the hotel is not full. And a free lunch or dinner as a Virtuoso Member booking. Not just that, breakfast for two is now included in the price.
Virtuoso advisors get their commission paid by the hotels. Hence you won’t be charged anything extra to book via them.
More perks for elite members
If you are already an elite with a hotel chain, you get some perks already included in your price. But over and above that, there are still Virtuoso amenities that don’t come to you as a part of your booking. For instance, USD 100 F&B credit at over ten luxury hotels in Singapore or 28 hotels in Dubai. Or a free Spa experience for two people in the Maldives over and above USD 100-150 F&B Credit at about 18 hotels and breakfast included.
Earn Points/Nights with Virtuoso Travel Rates
When booking with Virtuoso Rates via ClassicTravel, you will earn elite-qualifying nights as well as points at hotels which have a loyalty programme, such as Park Hyatt hotels or Shangri-La hotels and Ritz-Carlton hotels and so on.
Pay at Checkout
Look out for the Virtuoso Rate, and you will pay at checkout at these hotels.
How to Book?
Head to ClassicTravel.com and book online. ClassicTravel also has other premium hotel programme rates, so when you look, you will also be provided with other hotel options with rates such as Marriott Stars programmes and so on. For booking multiple
If you need help with your booking and need to talk to a human, drop me an email, and I will direct you in the right direction.
It is now possible to book Virtuoso rates online. It gives you great value at the same price as your usual fully flexible prices and brings in a host of perks not available otherwise. Available for anyone around the globe.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I will try and answer them.
What do you think of booking with a Virtuoso Travel Advisor?
Ajay – this looks interesting. Do you have any thoughts on how this fares against Amex FHR or Visa Signature Hotels?
@Dare if I am ever booking a hotel which is on both platforms I usually go with Virtuoso given I can pay with any card I’d like. That is about the only difference if the pricing is the same and the benefits are the same. Visa I think is much lower down the pecking order.
Thank you for the reply!
Nice Article Ajay. Was not aware about this. Will try to use it now
Even after all these years Ajay still has a contempt and bad attitude toward readers that comes across so negatively in comment responses. It impacts your likability significantly.
Generally I like the blog content, you have limited competitors speaking about the Indian market, so I depend on you for news and updates.
I mean this in the nicest possible way of giving feedback, but you come across as thinking you are better than other people. Please stop it, you are not.
Completely agree. I follow other blogs in different areas but here the tone is downright offensive.
Lately, the complaints have really gone up in this regard.
Hey, is it something like Fine Hotels?
If booked through virtuoso would we still get hotel loyalty programs points?
@Pratik, I’ve confirmed that in the title itself 🙂
Does booking via amex fhr give us gold elite benefits at say st regis mumbai ?
For a passenger on round trip returning to the US from India, could you please guide what are the Covid formalities that needs to be done prior to departure from India. What portal has to be updated and how early with Covid results?
It was always possible to book Virtuoso rates online (by going to the Virtuoso website). One would automatically be assigned a travel agent (assuming you don’t already deal with a Virtuoso agent). What’s the innovation here?
@Sanjay Gupta who claimed any innovation around here?
@Ajay, do you even read what you post? “It is now possible to book Virtuoso rates online” – this is the innovation you were claiming.
@Kartikey, not sure where am I claiming innovation here. That is not my stance here and if you still beg to differ then I am sorry for you.
Can we book using Virtuoso and redeem taj gift cards at checkout ?
@Nipun yes you can.