Most Marriott hotels aren’t bookable through Amex FHR for 2021 stays: Here’s why I’m not worried

Nov 24, 2020

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The American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) programme is popular for (eligible) cardholders who want elite-type perks on hotel bookings. Currently, you can book Amex FHR stays through mid-October 2021. However, TPG reader Max recently noticed that Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Miami are only bookable through the FHR programme for stays through 31 December 2020. I took a closer look and found the issue is much broader than Miami — but also likely to be resolved soon. Here’s what I discovered.

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Which hotels are affected?

Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas grounds
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas is one of the affected properties. (Photo by Jane Frye/The Points Guy)

You can typically book select Marriott Bonvoy properties in the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Edition, W, JW Marriott and Westin brands through Amex’s FHR programme. But, out of the Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts currently bookable through Amex’s FHR programme for 2020 stays, I found almost none bookable for 2021.

To determine how widespread this problem is, I started going through a list of about 200 Marriott properties typically bookable through the FHR programme. I searched for 62 properties in 2020 and 2021. I stopped because I’d only found one property bookable in 2021 – The Ritz-Carlton Denver.

Interestingly, this property doesn’t list an experience credit when you search for a 2021 stay. But, when searching for 2020, the FHR website lists the experience credit as “USD$100 Property credit to be used during your stay”.

There’s no experience credit listed for the Ritz-Carlton Denver for this sample January 2021 search. (Image courtesy of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programme)

In most cases, Marriott Bonvoy properties bookable through FHR for 2020 stays don’t appear when searching for 2021 stays. For example, here’s an Amex FHR search for a stay in December 2020:

Sample Amex FHR search in 2020
(Image courtesy of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programme)

And, here’s an Amex FHR search for a stay in January 2021:

Sample Amex FHR search in 2021
(Image courtesy of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programme)

Likewise, if I navigate to the FHR page for most Marriott Bonvoy properties and search for a stay in 2021, I get a message saying, “No results were found for your search criteria, please try again.”

Amex FHR no results found message
(Image courtesy of American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programme)

So, something strange is certainly going on. Popular Marriott Bonvoy hotels that are currently bookable through FHR for stays in 2020 but not for stays in 2021 include:

Some non-Marriott Bonvoy hotels also appear in 2020 searches but not 2021. Still, compared to the number of Marriott hotels that aren’t currently bookable for 2021 stays, the number of other properties also not bookable for 2021 is minimal.

What does this mean?

The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
An oceanfront room at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I mentioned that some FHR properties aren’t currently bookable for 2021 stays to several other TPG staffers. Multiple noted that contract negotiations often cause some FHR properties to be temporarily unavailable for stays in a new year. But, the issue this year is much more wide-spread — and much more focused on Marriott Bonvoy hotels — than I remember in previous years.

I reached out to both Marriott Bonvoy and American Express with questions for this article. Amex didn’t provide a statement, but a Marriott Bonvoy spokesperson noted:

We are working with American Express to make our properties available for booking on Fine Hotels & Resorts in 2021.

The response from Marriott makes me believe that the disappearance of most Marriott Bonvoy properties from Amex FHR searches for 2021 stays is temporary. However, until the properties become bookable through FHR for 2021 stays, nothing is certain.

So, if you plan to stay at a Marriott Bonvoy hotel in 2021 that is bookable for 2020 stays through Amex FHR, I’d recommend making a refundable reservation directly with Marriott. Then, as your stay approaches, you can periodically check whether the property is bookable for your dates through Amex FHR at a price that justifies rebooking.

It would certainly be a loss if Marriott Bonvoy properties aren’t bookable for FHR stays after the end of 2020. Sure, most FHR perks are also provided as a perk of Marriott Platinum Elite status. But, the experience credit provides incremental value that you won’t get as an elite perk.

Bottom line

The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programme provides valuable elite-like perks to Amex Platinum cardholders at select hotels and resorts. I’ve personally found the programme incredibly valuable when staying with hotels I don’t have upper-tier elite status with. After all, FHR perks include complimentary breakfast, a space-available room upgrade, an experience credit worth at least $100 and guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout. One time, I even maximized these perks to get $160 of food and drink included on a $153 Fine Hotels & Resorts stay.

Hopefully, Amex and Marriott get things sorted out soon so travellers can book their favourite Marriott Bonvoy properties through FHR for 2021 stays.

Featured image of The West Hollywood Edition by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.

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