How I Booked a Westcoast Luxury Hotel Trip with American Express

How I Booked a Westcoast Luxury Hotel Trip with American Express

By |2018-12-30T19:06:43+00:00May 28th, 2018|Categories: Case Studies, How To Travel Hack|Tags: , , |

Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip Introduction

Over the course of this week I’ll be publishing a series of hotel reviews from a small road trip Brad and I took to celebrate the New Year! While we had originally planned to go somewhere more exotic for the Christmas break, we thought it would be cool to pack the car with the dogs and experience a sort of Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel tour.

When setting out to book, we knew that spending New Year’s Eve in Portland would be ideal, but didn’t really like the idea of driving 6 hours straight in either direction. Instead, we thought it might be great to spend a night in Seattle on the way down, and again coming home. This solution was ideal, as there were actually a few properties I wanted to check out in Seattle. In the end, our itinerary looked like this:

Day 1: Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle, booked through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts

Day 2: The Hi-Lo Portland, an Autograph Collection Hotel, booked using Marriott Reward points for a free-night stay

Day 3: The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, booked through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts

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Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip – Choosing The Properties

Portland – The Hi-Lo, An Autograph Collection Hotel

Whenever I set out to book hotels, I always look at point redemption options first. Portland is a bit a weird hotel market (it’s kind of a weird city, in a good way), and I wasn’t feeling too inspired with the high-end properties available on points. Furthermore, it was a bit of a challenge to find a hotel that allowed dogs, which is quite surprising considering how pet-friendly Vancouver is! After a bit of searching, there was one property that stood out though – The Hi-Lo Portland, an Autograph Collection Hotel.

While not what I would consider a luxury hotel, it’s certainly new, and nice, and (seemingly) hip, and seemed like a good spot to bring in The New Year!

The Hi Lo Hotel - Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

The Hi-Lo Hotel – Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

Love The Use Of Reclaimed Wood In The Guest Rooms

Love The Use Of Reclaimed Wood In The Guest Rooms

Stylish Common Areas

Stylish Common Areas

Hi Lo Portland Exterior

Hi-Lo Portland Exterior

Free nights were available for 40,000 Marriott Reward points per night, which was relatively good value considering paid rates were around $400 per night during our stay. Best of all, the hotel is pet-friendly, and didn’t impose any fees (or so I thought).

Seattle – The Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Seattle was a bit of an easier city to choose a couple of properties, with a good representation by most major brands. However, similar to Portland, I had a difficult time finding a hotel that allowed dogs for a reasonable fee. In the end, there were no decent point redemptiion options, so I turned to American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts.

Being the off-season, Seattle hotel prices were decent, and I was able to book The Fairmont Olympic Hotel for less than $270, which included daily breakfast and a $100USD property credit, which seemed like a pretty great deal!

The hotel is quite historic, having been part of the University of Seattle and more recently a Four Seasons Hotel (before the new property was built). While the exterior and common areas have a lot of history and charm, I found the guest rooms to be bland as can be, which was disappointing considering the hotel recently underwent a renovation. Regardless, it was perfectly nice, and given the rate through FHR, a heck of a deal.

Fairmont Olympic - Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

Fairmont Olympic – Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

Recently Renovated But Quite Bland, In My Opinion

Recently Renovated But Quite Bland, In My Opinion

Fairmont Olympic Hotel Exterior

Fairmont Olympic Hotel Exterior

Seattle – The Four Seasons Hotel

Four Seasons is probably my favourite hotel brand overall. If money wasn’t a concern, I would probably stay exclusively at Four Seasons and forget about hotel points. That being said, money is is definitely a concern, and I only choose Four Seasons for very special occasions, or when the price is right.

This hotel is expensive, and even in the off season it was pricing out at almost twice the Fairmont – nearly $600/night. While I wasn’t too keen on the price, it was bookable through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, which came with the same food/beverage credit and daily breakfast. I knew we would be tired at the tail end of our trip, and wanted to save the best for last, knowing it would be an amazing experience. Also, I just HAD to know if it was worth a 100% price premium over the Fairmont property around the corner.

The Four Seasons Seattle - Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

The Four Seasons Seattle – Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip

Loved The Contemporary Style

Loved The Contemporary Style

Four Seasons Seattle King Bed

Four Seasons Seattle King Bed

Luxurious Marble Soaking Tub

Luxurious Marble Soaking Tub

Outdoor Patio With Heated Pool And Harbour View

Outdoor Patio With Heated Pool And Harbour Views

Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel Road Trip Bottom Line

In the end, all of the hotels failed to deliver in some regard. Service recovery was the theme of the trip, with the service standard getting progressively worse as we became more tired and disillusioned. I wrote a post outlining what went wrong at each property shortly after the trip (including how the management responded), which I thought was fair given the circumstances. In the end, The Four Seasons Seattle was the biggest letdown – not because it was the worst hotel (it was actually the best, by far), but because expectations and price set the bar really high compared to the other properties, which made it all the more disappointing when things went sideways (and they really went sideways).

In the end though, still a great trip to Portland and Seattle – two of our favourite places, and especially nice since we were able to travel with the dogs!

Look for all of the property reviews from our Pacific Northwest Luxury Hotel road trip coming this week! 

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About the Author:

Champagne taste on a beer budget has always been reminiscent of Tyler’s travel style. Raised in British Columbia, Tyler has an unquenchable thirst for more adventure, which is fueled by leveraging airline and hotel loyalty programs to travel the world in luxury and style.

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