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Why You Shouldn’t Book Luxury Hotels Direct

Why You Shouldn't Book Luxury Hotels Direct - The Opulent Explorer

Too aggressive a blog title? We have a compelling argument that all luxury hotel bookings should be through The Opulent Explorer, and we don’t charge fees for simple hotel bookings. See how we optimize domestic weekend getaways, five-nighters in the Caribbean, and a bucket list tour of European cities. 

Whether you’re into following trends or seeking concrete evidence, Dorchester has made a significant move by withdrawing all their hotels from Virtuoso. They’ve decided to concentrate their VIP perks on the select few who have received invitations to Dorchester Diamond Club. Booking a hotel might be within everyone’s reach, but enhancing an experience is a skill only a few possess.

pref partners of The Opulent Explorer

“But I am Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite! Why do I need you?”

  • Every hotel says, “Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability,” but as Marriott executives say, “Someone has to be on the top of the list, and for us, that someone is the client of a Stars & Luminous advisor . . . there is no higher level.”
  • So, even if you are at the highest level in a hotel’s loyalty program, we can add even more value during your stay and for the same pricing.
  • You still earn your loyalty points while having us in your corner if you need help. 

This article will clarify just a segment of what we can access, with programs not available directly to consumers. Finally, our easy search engine lets you book thousands of Virtuoso hotels directly and collect on the benefits outlined.

Four Seasons Preferred Partner

Four seasons preferred partner graphic

Maintaining the utmost exclusivity associated with the brand, we cannot disclose the many particulars of this partnership. However, if you’ve had the privilege of experiencing a Four Seasons stay, you’ll likely be able to estimate its extraordinary value.

  • The lowest rate possible for your stay
  • The most flexible cancellation terms
  • Daily full breakfast for two per bedroom served in the hotel’s dining room or in-room
  • Varying hotel and resort credit, based on room category, from $100-400 to use in the spa, on activities, or dining
  • Upgrade of one room category at check-in if available
  • Early check-in and late check-out, if possible

Belmond Bellini Club

Bellman Bellini club
Castello di Casole (Tuscany) – our photo from our trip

Belmond represents everything The Opulent Explorer loves about luxury travel—exceptional service at stunning hotels whose decor ideally emulates the destination where the hotel resides. Stuart Marra was honored within the small circle of Bellini advisors in 2022 with an invite to Bravissimo in Taormina, Sicily. Belmond invites only ten advisors from the USA and ten from abroad to the annual event. To say our relationships run very deep here is an understatement. 

Amenities Exclusive to a client of The Opulent Explorer, a Belmond Bellini Club member:

  • Upgrade at check-in, subject to availability
  • Full breakfast for two daily
  • A credit of $90 to $200 per room per stay, depending on the property
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • A $500 gift voucher when you spend $5,000+, applicable towards a future Belmond experience of $2,500+
  • VIP recognition by property management and staff
  • A welcome amenity

Rosewood Elite

Rosewood Elite - The Opulent Explorer
Rosewood Elite – The Opulent Explorer

Rosewood Elite is an invitation-only program for luxury travel specialists dedicated to going above and beyond traditional service levels. The program provides special recognition and benefits at all Rosewood Hotel Group hotels and resorts worldwide.


  1. Daily breakfast for up to two people per bedroom 
  2. Complimentary one-category upgrade at booking or upon arrival (varies by property)
  3. Elite Guests will receive a note and amenity from the property Managing Director on behalf of the Elite Travel Advisor, reaffirming the exclusive partnership with Rosewood
  4. The best rates and exclusive offers. Take note Amex platinum holders – Amex Travel does not have access to our pricing!

Marriot Stars & Luminous

Marriot Stars & Luminous - The Opulent Explorer
Marriot Stars & Luminous – The Opulent Explorer

Marriott International has 30 brands worldwide, and The Opulent Explorer is a member of their exclusive STARS (luxury+ hotels) and Luminous (premium hotels) programs.

STARS (luxury+ hotels): Ritz Carlton-Paris, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, EDITION, and The Luxury Collection properties. Book any of the above properties through us at the regular rate you’d pay directly and receive:

  • Complimentary full or continental breakfast daily for up to two people per room
  • Personalized welcome amenities
  • Hotel credit valued at $100 once per stay
  • Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
  • Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily
  • In-person welcome
  • Personalized welcome amenity and note
  • Your full allocation of Bonvoy points

Luminous (premium hotels): Autograph Collection, JW Marriott, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Jakarta, W Hotels and Westin Hotels & Resorts (many hotels in these various portfolios qualify)

  • Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily
  • Early check-in & late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
  • Local welcome amenity and note
  • Hotel credit valued at $100 once per stay (at select hotels)
  • Your full allocation of Bonvoy points

Hyatt Privé

Hyatt Prive - The Opulent Explorer

Most consumers are unaware of Hyatt Hotels Corporation‘s preferred partner program, “Privé,” because it is by invitation only for travel advisors. The Privé benefits are only available to clients who book through a member agency like us.

Note the brands in the photo above and the bennies below! Is he going to tell me again I can book it directly with the link here, on his site, or in the signature on his email!?! Yep!

Amenities Exclusive to a client of The Opulent Explorer, a Hyatt Privé member:

  • A one-category room upgrade (room-to-room or suite-to-suite) is confirmed within 24 hours of booking, based on availability at the time of booking.
  • A $50 to $100 property credit per room per stay
  • Early check-in (as early as 9 a.m.), subject to availability
  • A welcome gift and letter
  • Full allocation of your World of Hyatt loyalty points

Park Hyatt, Miraval Resorts & Spas, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Zilara, ANdAZ, Alila Hotels, Thompson Hotels, Caption Hospitality.

Accor STEP 

Accor’s STEP is an even more unknown program that adds substantial value to our clients. These luxury brands under the Accor umbrella may surprise you! Over 40 countries are represented by luxury properties belonging to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Orient Express, Banyan Tree Group (Buahan Bali above), FAENA, Delano Hotels, Sofitel, SLS Hotels, Rixos Hotels and MGallery Hotel Collection 

Amenities Exclusive to a client of The Opulent Explorer, an Accor Step member:

  • Room upgrade (to the next room type category at the time of booking or at check-in)
  • Daily complimentary breakfast for two guests per day.
  • $50 to $100 credit to be spent during the stay
  • Early check-in & late check-out.
  • A VIP Welcome (greeting & amenity)

Dorchester Diamond Club

Dorchester Diamond Club  - The Opulent Explorer
When you book your stay with The Opulent Explorer, you’ll automatically have Dorchester Diamond Club perks applied to your stay at no extra cost

The Dorchester Collection – Diamond Club is an invitation-only program for the highest-tier of luxury travel agencies. Their collection includes The Dorchester, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Plaza Athénée, Hotel Meurice, Principe di Savoia, Hotel Bel-Air, Coworth Park, 45 Park Lane and Hotel Eden. Our clients receive:

  • Guaranteed one-tier upgrade at time of booking (!!!) in all hotels
  • $100 credited to final bill per stay for rooms and junior suites
  • Daily full breakfast for two in any outlet, including in-room dining
  • Complimentary highest-speed Wi-Fi for an unlimited number of devices
  • A personalized handwritten welcome card on behalf of Souvenir & Far and from the General Manager
  • A Diamond Club amenity offered in addition to any standard amenity
  • Direct communication with the Diamond Club ambassador

Small Luxury Hotels – SLH

The program connects a community of the most creative and experienced travel advisors with the world’s most individual, intimate and intense hotel and travel experiences. Our clients receive:

  • Complimentary continental breakfast daily for up to two people per room
  • Hotel credit valued at $50-$100 per room, per stay
  • Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
  • Early check-in & late check-out, if possible

Deciding where to go next is both exciting and daunting. It’s hard to know where to start! Think about how you want to travel – setting sail on an expedition cruise, unpacking at a luxury Beachside resort, or savoring incredible vistas for the legendary train. Or consider experiences you’ve always wanted to have, like touring a Scottish distillery or witnessing the “Last Great Race on Earth” in Alaska. However you want to approach your next trip, you can rely on the Opulent Explorer to make it a reality.

Stuart, Jill & Amira

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