Mini Trip Report: The Park Hyatt New York | FHR Booking, Amex Offers, and More.
Amex Fine Hotel & Resorts, no extra upgrades, discounted massages and more
A staycation was in the cards. I didn’t feel like getting too far away from home — just enough to feel like I wasn’t in my apartment.
I knew how to accomplish that—a stay at one of New York City’s best hotels, the Park Hyatt New York, in mid-November.
Usually, for Hyatt stays, I would book directly through the hotel to take advantage of my Globalist (Hyatt’s highest elite tier) benefits: upgrades, complimentary breakfast, early check-in/late check-out, and more. But instead of making my reservation through Hyatt, I used a program from American Express — Fine Hotel & Resorts — which I’ll talk in-depth about below.
This will not be a full review — there are other places for that. Instead, I’ll talk about how combined with Amex Offers and benefits from my Amex Platinum card, I saved around 38% on the room rate — but why I won’t book Hyatt hotels through this program again.
Ready? Let’s get it.
Why I booked With Amex FHR Instead of Hyatt
One of the most popular features included in the Amex Platinum and Biz Platinum cards is a program called Fine Hotel & Resorts. It’s a program that allows you to book premium (read: expensive) hotel rooms worldwide and get outsized benefits you wouldn’t ordinarily get.
Fine Hotel & Resorts are premium hotels focusing on the room and the experience at the property. FHR bookings are treated to upgrades (when available), daily breakfast for 2, and early check-in and late check-out. You get these benefits whether you have elite status with a hotel chain or not.
To encourage travelers to use the benefit, Amex Platinum and Biz Platinum cards come with a $200 yearly statement credit for FHR bookings. You get it at the beginning of the calendar year, and you have to use it before the end of the year. If you don’t use it all in one year, it doesn’t roll over to the next.
With the end of the year fast approaching, I didn’t have many opportunities to use the credit — until I saw how expensive a night at the Park Hyatt cost.
See, the Park Hyatt is one of the city’s priciest hotels; even on a cheaper weekend, it still costs around $1,050 for a one-night stay. The $200 FHR credit dropped the price to $850, which is around how much you’d expect to pay during non-peak travel season at the PHNY.
But that wasn’t the only credit I used on this booking. As this is a deals newsletter, I wanted to save as much money as possible.
There was another $200 credit, this time in the form of an Amex Offer, for $200 back, after spending $850 or more on FHR bookings — and even before the FHR credit, I had met that spending requirement.
Stacking offers like this is why I strongly recommend checking your Amex Offers (and Chase Offers) before booking flights and hotel rooms. The Amex Offer and the FHR credit brought my all-in total to around $680, for a total savings of about $400 — a great deal, in my opinion.
But as I detail below, booking through FHR for this Hyatt stay probably wasn’t the best option.
If you’re staying at the PHNY on an FHR reservation, you get the following:
Free breakfast for 2
What’s known as an “Experience Credit:” A $100 property credit to be used during your stay (read below for how I used mine)
4 p.m. check-out
Room upgrade at check-in, when available
It was a busy day, so I couldn’t check in at noon, but the front desk gave me a key to get up to the top floor to access the spa and pool.
As this was a staycation, I was eager to use the hotel property credit on something that would help me relax. However, you can also use the credit on food + beverage.
I decided to splurge on a massage at the on-site spa for the “relax” massage, which cost $150. After the $100 property credit, this service only cost $50.
The Spa Nalai is located on the 25th floor of the hotel, just off the pool area. On the day I was there, they were pretty booked, but the staff was gracious to extend me a slot for a 30-minute massage. While it wasn’t the best massage I’ve ever received, it was pretty relaxing and did the job well enough.
But the highlight of the amenity space is the pool. It’s a gorgeous space — airy, serene, and the perfect place to wait until my 2 p.m. check-in. You get a fluffy robe, PHNY-branded slippers, plus water to sip on. Later, I settled in with a book and relaxed in the jacuzzi.
After the massage and spa day, I was pretty hungry and headed down to the Living Room, the PHNY’s bar & restaurant.
I split drinks with my travel companion and, as this is a New York City hotel, paid entirely too much. We split some apps and drinks, and the bartender was extraordinarily kind and brought over a complimentary charcuterie board.
The following day, I grabbed complimentary breakfast at the Living Room, courtesy of the FHR reservation, and it’s a good thing it was free — as breakfast cost around $50 a head.
I’d initially booked a king bed room on Amex Travel, which was quickly upgraded to a king bed studio suite before check-in.
At 700 square feet, it was easily one of the largest New York hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. It’s a posh space — my travel companion and I were highly impressed at the modern details and finishes.
The room (and hotel, for that matter) evoke a bit of “old New York,” with its dark finishes and aesthetics. But the room was tastefully done and a relaxing place to spend the night. I’ll say that the bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in in a long time!
I won’t get too much into the nitty-gritty of the room, but it was stocked with standard mini-bar features, like soda, snacks, wine, and liquor. Two TVs — plus one in the bathroom! — were a nice touch.
Why I’ll book direct vs. booking through FHR
Price-wise, my stay at the PHNY was a great deal, and I had an absolutely fantastic time.
But I probably won’t book this hotel (or, really, any other Hyatt hotel) through FHR in the future, at least as a Globalist. Globalists get room upgrades at check-in (when available), and even in prime cities like New York, London, and D.C., I’ve rarely not had an upgrade clear.
I asked a few of my points and miles friends, like my boy Richard Kerr, about whether another upgrade — as an FHR + Globalist — would clear, and the resounding answer I got was YMMV — or “your mileage may vary.” Meaning some people have had both upgrades clear successfully; others have not.
When I got to the hotel, the front desk immediately acknowledged my Globalist status and the FHR booking but said only one upgrade — the FHR — would apply. And before check-in, I called Hyatt’s Globalist line to ask whether I could use a suite upgrade to the booking. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, either, as FHR bookings are considered third-party and aren’t eligible for upgrades (though I still got the night credit).
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still book an FHR stay with another major hotel, even if I had elite status with that chain.
During a Las Vegas work trip a while back, I saw first-hand how an FHR booking plus elite status could get you amazing perks. I got to check out my homeboy slash colleague Nick’s room at the Crockfords, which completely blew me away.
Nick is a Hilton Diamond, so many of the same benefits would apply to him regardless of whether he booked directly through the hotel or through FHR. Notably, though, when he checked in, he received an upgrade from the FHR booking and an upgrade for being a Diamond member. I didn’t get that as a Hyatt Globalist, even after inquiring whether I was eligible for one.
The Final Point
If I hadn’t been present for the exchange at the Crockfords, I would probably say avoid FHR bookings if you’re hoping for multiple upgrades if you have top elite status with any hotel.
In this case, I likely would have had both upgrades clear (Globalist, if there was space, and the suite upgrade) clear had I booked through Hyatt instead of FHR.
There’s excellent value in booking FHR rooms, particularly if you’re using the $200 credit to save money, or don’t have elite status.
Still, I’d say avoid booking FHR reservations at flagship hotels such as the PHNY, where they’ll accept your elite status — without acknowledging the perks that come with it.
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