While most independent luxury brands do not have classic loyalty programs that involve points and redemptions, there is a growing movement by some of these more exclusive hotel groups to find other ways to reward travelers who are regular guests at their properties around the world. Let’s look at the elite status benefits of the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental hotel chains.
Comparing Elite Status Benefits At Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental
Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental are two examples that are leading the way in this regard in offering special Elite Programs to its most frequent guests. More than just a vanity card or luggage tags, this status actually returns value in other ways.
First, the most important distinction between these elite levels with Mandarin and Four Seasons is that there is no real idea of how you obtain it. It just happens one day. Spending and nights are of course all factors, but there is no published level at which you can anticipate getting it. One day, it seems, you just get a letter in the mail welcoming you.
So, which of the two is better? One of our regular readers carries elite in both and has shared his thoughts with me on the two as to his experience.
Mandarin Oriental Elite Status
First, Mandarin is unique in comparison to Four Seasons in that there is a base membership called “Fans of MO” that anyone can join. Even without Elite status, it offers members excellent benefits that are often chosen at the time you make your booking. Late check-out, Free Breakfast, Room Upgrades, or Complimentary pressing are examples of what you might find during the online booking process that you can choose from. What is wonderful about this base membership is that while costing nothing to join it does reward in a way one might expect with higher tier levels at other hotel groups.
MO’s elite status though takes this one step further. With the most substantial difference is that elites are also given $100 food and beverage (F&B) credit for short stays or a generous $200 for three or more nights. As well, stays are far more personal, often including being met at the door by a team of managers and escorted directly to the room for check-in. Upgrades are often far superior as well and tend to be larger suites vs. just a “view upgrade.”
Four Seasons Elite Status
Four Seasons, while offering similar benefits, has no base membership like MO. You are Elite or nothing. There is no entry level for everyone. As well, while offering breakfast and other perks like MO, the F&B credit is limited to $100 for standard rooms or $200 for suites at Four Seasons. Nor do you get to select a preference at booking like MO. Some might find this an advantage in that Four Seasons technically offers everything within its Elite program (when applicable or available), while MO supposedly offers just what you choose. However, our reader explained that the reality is MO rarely denies a perk just because you chose others. They are typically all honored if available.
Which Status Is Best?
So, which is best? Here is his list of advantages and disadvantages of each in terms of achieving Elite Status.
- Higher F&B credit for stays of three nights or more
- Choose your preferred benefits at booking
- More consistently delivers a personalized stay with reliable upgrades to larger suites and manager greetings.
- An ability to be a base member “Fan” as you work your way towards Elite.
- Much smaller footprint outside of Asia
- Lack of an app to utilize at properties for requests
- A state of the art App, including a special new Elite version, just launched, which allows communication before, during, and after your stay directly with the hotel or your personal concierge at Four Seasons corporate offices. Questions and requests are typically addressed in under two minutes.
- A strong footprint in the U.S. and Europe and growing rapidly. For those travelers who are primarily focused on these regions, Four Seasons is the clear winner.
- Upgrades can be sporadic compared to MO and often are just slightly better rooms or those with an enhanced view
- A bit less personal with less consistency between properties in how Elites are treated
- Perhaps a result of there most likely being far more Elites with Four Seasons than with MO
- A smaller F&B credit, even on longer stays
- No base loyalty membership with perks as you wait for Elite
Our reader explains that, if given a choice, there is no doubt at similar rates that he would choose Mandarin over Four Seasons if properties are similar and locations equal.
“With Mandarin Oriental, I really do feel a bit more that my experience is personalized and perks more consistent. However, both do offer a great return on value as an Elite and the differences are not glaring.”
While not points-oriented, Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental do offer programs that reward regular guests and return value in exchange for this loyalty. For those who prefer these higher-level luxury properties in comparison to Park Hyatt and Ritz Carlton all is not lost in getting something in return. How you get to that level is the only mystery.