Putting Visa Signature Benefits to Use at the St. Regis Houston

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My husband and I have never been a big “Valentine’s Day” couple.  I mean, flowers are much cheaper after Valentine’s Day, romance-on-cue isn’t our style, and it’s generally much easier to have a quiet nice evening out almost any other day of the year rather than February 14th.  However, since we have been traveling much less the last few months, and with Baby #2 on the way, we decided to sneak out for a night away in Houston (just the two of us!) the day before Valentine’s Day.  We live near Houston, but don’t actually get into the city that frequently, so it felt like a mini vacation!

If we are going to go through the hoops of setting up a night away from the old dog and young kiddo, you can bet it won’t be to head down the road to a rundown motel.  In fact, since I am teaming up with Visa Signature the next couple of months to help cardholders learn how to better maximize their built-in card perks, this seemed like the perfect time to try out a hotel from the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.  I may not be into “on cue romance”, but I am a sucker for some hotel luxury and built-in perks and freebies thanks to my credit cards!

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The Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection has over 900 participating hand-picked hotels around the world that will provide Visa Signature cardholders perks such as room upgrades, free continental breakfast, free internet, a $25 food and beverage credit, and late check-out if you book via their program.  These perks come at no additional cost, and they even have a “Best Rate Guarantee” in the event you find a lower price for the hotel on a different site within 24 hours of booking.  I’ll talk much more about these different perks in a subsequent post, but for now I’ll tell you all about how the pre-Valentine’s Day stay went with these included goodies.

There happen to be two Visa Signature Luxury Hotels in Houston, The Houstonian and the St. Regis Houston.  I’m sure they are both fine properties, but since I am a points junkie, I went with the St. Regis, a Starwood Preferred Guest property.  You typically can’t book via a third party website and still expect to earn hotel points for your stay, but the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection site is one of the few exceptions to that rule.  This means I got to earn SPG points/stay credit and get all the Visa Signature perks!

St. Regis Houston

Check-in and Lobby at the St. Regis Houston:

We pulled into the circle driveway at the St. Regis Houston on a Friday afternoon around check-in time.  The hotel is valet-only at around $30/day for valet, which stinks, but it was very convenient.  Thanks to Houston traffic, we were running late for some early dinner reservations and the valet was happy to just hold the car up front while we checked into our room and changed clothes.

St. Regis Houston

At the check-in desk, we were very pleasantly surprised that our base room reservation (called the Superior Room) had been upgraded all the way to the Astor Suite!  I knew that the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection entitles you to an automatic room upgrade when available at check-in, but I never dreamed we would be so lucky as to have that upgrade be all the way to a suite.  I have had some similar luck before on a Vegas stay with Luxury Hotel Collection a long time ago, but I would not count on that great of an upgrade on a regular basis.

In fact, we purposefully were not staying using my husband’s SPG account since he has Platinum status and we wanted to see what just the Luxury Hotel Collection and my SPG Gold status would get us.  I did, however, email the hotel in advance to let them know we were celebrating Valentine’s early…who knows if any of that helped, but it never hurts.

St. Regis Houston

St. Regis Houston Lobby Entrance

At check-in we were also told of our Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection benefits such as continental breakfast for two in the hotel restaurant and an additional $25 food and beverage credit.  We were also given a printed letter that outlined all the perks, which I am always grateful for – especially when I am in a bit of a rush at check-in.  I especially liked that the Continental breakfast option was essentially a $48 value towards breakfast in the event we wanted something different from the menu.

St. Regis Houston

St. Regis Houston Visa Signature Benefits

We actually forgot to ask about late check-out until the following morning, but the hotel did grant up to a 4PM late check-out without any issues.  Every time we visited the check-in desk, all of the staff members were just as polite and welcoming as you would hope from a St. Regis Hotel.

St. Regis Houston

St. Regis Houston Hallway

The St. Regis Houston Astor Suite:

We headed to the top floor of the hotel to check out the suite, and we were immediately impressed with the amount of space in the room.  This was not some kind of junior suite, but it was indeed a full suite with a living room, two bathrooms, and a separate bedroom.

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Living Room

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Living Room

A well-appointed half-bathroom sat immediately to the left of the hall when you walked in the suite.

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The living room then housed a couch, coffee table, TV, wet bar, and work table in the living room.

St. Regis Houston Living Room in the Astor Suite

St. Regis Houston Living Room in the Astor Suite

There was also a bowl of fruit and a couple waters waiting for us in the living room.

St. Regis Houston Suite Amenity

St. Regis Houston Suite Amenity

The bedroom had a very comfortable king bed with lighting that we actually knew how to use (not always the case in hotels these days), and the blackout curtains were pretty effective.

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bedroom

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bedroom

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View from the suite

The bathroom was quite large and had a double vanity, large tub, separate shower, and separate room with a door for the fancy heated toilet.  The water pressure, temperature, etc. were all very good.

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bathroom

St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bathroom

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St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bathroom

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St. Regis Houston Astor Suite Bathroom

 St. Regis Houston Butler Service:

I already mentioned my fondness for hotel luxuries, especially when they come at no extra charge.  The St. Regis brand in general is very good with those little indulgences and they include tea or coffee from the butler the day of arrival and each morning for no additional charge.  Each property manages who has access to a butler a little differently, but those upgraded to suites pretty much universally get butler service.

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We didn’t see our butler upon check-in since we were not in the room very long, but we did receive a note from him and took advantage of hot tea the first evening just before bed and then French press coffee delivered free of charge the next morning.

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St. Regis Hot Tea Butler Service

We also tried to take advantage of the complimentary shoe shine service, but that didn’t work quite as smoothly and my husband ended up walking around the hotel just in socks the next morning trying to track down his shoes (the only pair he packed!).

The hotel also came to do turn-down service the night we were there, complete with little chocolates they left by the bed.  If your room does not come with butler service, there is complementary tea and coffee in the lobby each morning.

St. Regis Houston Breakfast:

Since I don’t have SPG Platinum status, normally we would not have any breakfast benefit for St. Regis stays.  However, since we booked via the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection website, we got continental breakfast for two, which was essentially $48 toward breakfast.  We also had a $25 food and beverage credit we could add to that if we wished as part of the benefits.  This meant we could enjoy pretty much whatever we wanted in the hotel restaurant for breakfast without having to shell out extra cash.

St. Regis Houston

The Remington Restaurant was located on the ground floor, and it was a very bright and beautiful space that was not busy at all for our mid-morning Saturday breakfast.

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St. Regis Houston Remington Restaurant

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Just like in the rest of the hotel, the service was prompt, polite, friendly, and very enjoyable.  We opted not to get the continental breakfast, but instead I ordered the “Power Breakfast” that came with a blueberry and granola parfait, egg white omelet, and dark chocolate croissant with cacao nibs (I don’t know what that means either, but it tasted good).

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St. Regis Houston “Free” Breakfast

My husband went for the Southwestern breakfast burrito with breakfast potatoes.

St. Regis Houston "Free" Breakfast

St. Regis Houston “Free” Breakfast

I loved everything on my plate, and my husband liked his burrito other than it perhaps having a bit too strong of a chorizo taste for him.

We both had orange juice with included free refills and the total after tip came to about $67 which we charged to the room.  I would never spend that much on breakfast at home, but it felt like the perfect Valentine’s morning to be able to order whatever we wanted without worrying about the price.  Ultimately the entire breakfast came off the bill, presumably because of the $48 breakfast allowance + $25 food and beverage credit.

Apologies for the shadow, but here is the full breakfast menu for Remington’s at the St. Regis Houston.

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St. Regis Houston Breakfast Menu

St. Regis Houston Pool and Amenities:

After a leisurely breakfast, we walked around the hotel to check out the pool and other amenities.  The hotel has an attractive outdoor heated pool that was actively being used even at 8AM on a Saturday in February!

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St. Regis Houston Pool

St. Regis Houston Pool

They offer food and drink service by the pool during select hours, which would be a great way to spend a Texas afternoon!

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St. Regis Houston Pool Menu

There was also a gym that I didn’t get to visit on this trip, a car that would take you to nearby destinations at no charge, and a computer/printer that we actually had to use.  Printing was free for us up to a certain number of pages.

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Overall Impressions of the St. Regis Houston:

Overall we had a very nice stay at the St. Regis Houston and were pleasantly surprised by the suite upgrade!  It is not the newest and flashiest hotel out there, but it is solid and offers very good service.  The Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection perks were very much appreciated, and I feel like an idiot for not paying more attention to which hotels are eligible throughout the years as I’m sure we have missed some opportunities to pay that same rate, but get some very nice freebies.  Especially as we are stepping away some from elite status, I am very interested in ways to get things like breakfast included or occasional upgrades, and built-in credit card perks may be the perfect way to accomplish those goals.

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I’ll have a couple more posts describing ways to maximize the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection perks over the next few months, so stay tuned if you like maximizing perks as much as we do!

Have you ever put to use your Visa Signature perks like the Luxury Hotel Collection?

Comments

  1. You never told how much the hotel night cost in points/cash? Usually these Visa properties are way too expensive to make any sense to splurge

    • Grad, great question. Of course rates vary based on the day, but I have seen the hotel has low as close to $200/night on my random checks. Our night was $250 + taxes fees, so not cheap, but in my view a better deal than booking directly with SPG and not getting the breakfast and other perks. On points the hotel is currently a Category 5 at 12k – 16k points per night, but it is about to go to a Category 6 this month.

      In my view if you are going to book one of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection properties anyway, it makes sense to book them via the program to get more perks and freebies, but you are right that these aren’t going to be your super budget properties.

  2. Good property write-up!

    Quick question: Would the same be said for Hyatt, IHG, Hilton, etc when it comes to being OK to book through VSB and still get points/status/the works like normal?

    Thanks!

  3. I know this is a post about the Visa Signature program, but I checked to see whether the St. Regis Houston was in the AMEX Fine Hotels program, and it is – with pretty much the same benefits, except you get a $100 food and beverage credit instead of just $25 with Visa.

    • Greg, yeah if you have both cards you should always check both programs as some properties are in both.

  4. Thanks Summer. Timely post for me as I have a stay booked at St Regis Houston next month. Good to know about Visa Signature perks, but I just compared rates and Visa Signature is $230/nt vs AAA, which is $186/nt. AAA also includes valet parking, which is usually an additional $30/nt. I’m platinum so will get the upgrade / breakfast / late check out benefits. The $25 f&b credit doesn’t make up for the higher rate. I’ll stick with AAA this time, but will consider Visa Signature at non-SPG properties. unless I’m missing something?

    • Eric, love that the AAA rate includes valet parking – hadn’t seen that at too many properties! In your case, as a Platinum who already gets breakfast and may get an upgrade I think you come out better with the AAA rate. The Visa Sig will match rates via SPG, but not special rates like AAA, so I think you found the best deal for your situation. Have a great stay!

  5. Clearly if you wanted to test the upgrade benefit of the Visa Signature card, you shouldn’t have mentioned the anniversary.

    • Mark, didn’t mention any anniversary, just replied to the hotel when they sent the email out asking if there was anything they should know about the stay or anything that we were celebrating that we were there celebrating Valentine’s Day (as I’m sure many were that weekend).

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