Is there something special about Fairmont Gold?

Old Jul 6, 18, 6:49 pm
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Is there something special about Fairmont Gold?

So, apologies if there is a better thread to post this that I missed, but I was just looking at the benefits by status to see if they have changed since bringing the new hotels into the fold and one thing I noticed is that lounge access excluded Fairmont Gold and that room upgrades exclude Fairmont Gold. I have never stayed at a Fairmont, and don't know much about the chain. But when I read this, I imagined some ultra-exclusive hotel-within-a-hotel type of setup, and decided to look it up. And on the Fairmont website, it mentions that Fairmont Gold customers, 'enjoy special privileges such as an honor bar'. And my understanding is that an honour bar means you need to pay, which sounds quite cheap and far from luxurious. (I mean, I don't really care so much about the alcohol, but the principle of offering a hotel lounge and then charging for drinks just feels petty) So is there something so special that makes these lounges worth the exclusivity or is it just an issue of the majority of them not having the capacity to handle all of the LC platinum members?
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Old Jul 6, 18, 9:42 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
So, apologies if there is a better thread to post this that I missed, but I was just looking at the benefits by status to see if they have changed since bringing the new hotels into the fold and one thing I noticed is that lounge access excluded Fairmont Gold and that room upgrades exclude Fairmont Gold. I have never stayed at a Fairmont, and don't know much about the chain. But when I read this, I imagined some ultra-exclusive hotel-within-a-hotel type of setup, and decided to look it up. And on the Fairmont website, it mentions that Fairmont Gold customers, 'enjoy special privileges such as an honor bar'. And my understanding is that an honour bar means you need to pay, which sounds quite cheap and far from luxurious. (I mean, I don't really care so much about the alcohol, but the principle of offering a hotel lounge and then charging for drinks just feels petty) So is there something so special that makes these lounges worth the exclusivity or is it just an issue of the majority of them not having the capacity to handle all of the LC platinum members?
Fairmont indeed markets the Gold floor as a "hotel within a hotel" instrad of thinking of it as a "club lounge".

A few general comments:

- in North America the Fairmont Gold lounges are much superior compared with the (often mediocre) lounges offered by any major hotel chain (whether it's Starwood, Marriott, Hilton): you'll generally find upscale furnishing, a quiet atmosphere, oustanding staff and restaurant-quality food
- Fairmont is quite successful in charging a (significant) price premium for rooms/suites on the Gold floor
- the value proposition has rarely really worked for me (since Fairmont Gold rooms/suites were also excluded from using upgrade certs under the former FPC program), but having stayed on the Gold floor occasionally, I can say that the service is generally truly 5* and generally a notch or two better than the hotel as whole (e.g. dedicated concierge team; highly personalized service)
- in North America, Gold lounges have an honour bar, whereas Gold lounges outside North America all offer complimentary alcoholic beverages at night (afaik)
- the size and capacity of the Gold lounges varies greatly, but I'd say most definitely don't have the capacity to accommodate any more guests without the lounge getting crowded (i.e. the usual "need to arrive by 5p.m. if you want a (decent) seat" problem common at many hotels)

Outside North America my evaluation would probably be somewhat different since various hotels (including Sofitel in some locations) have excellent club lounges; so offering Gold lounge access to Platinum members at all Fairmont properties outside North America would be more feasible IMO.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 5:36 am
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
Fairmont indeed markets the Gold floor as a "hotel within a hotel" instrad of thinking of it as a "club lounge".

A few general comments:

- in North America the Fairmont Gold lounges are much superior compared with the (often mediocre) lounges offered by any major hotel chain (whether it's Starwood, Marriott, Hilton): you'll generally find upscale furnishing, a quiet atmosphere, oustanding staff and restaurant-quality food
- Fairmont is quite successful in charging a (significant) price premium for rooms/suites on the Gold floor
- the value proposition has rarely really worked for me (since Fairmont Gold rooms/suites were also excluded from using upgrade certs under the former FPC program), but having stayed on the Gold floor occasionally, I can say that the service is generally truly 5* and generally a notch or two better than the hotel as whole (e.g. dedicated concierge team; highly personalized service)
- in North America, Gold lounges have an honour bar, whereas Gold lounges outside North America all offer complimentary alcoholic beverages at night (afaik)
- the size and capacity of the Gold lounges varies greatly, but I'd say most definitely don't have the capacity to accommodate any more guests without the lounge getting crowded (i.e. the usual "need to arrive by 5p.m. if you want a (decent) seat" problem common at many hotels)

Outside North America my evaluation would probably be somewhat different since various hotels (including Sofitel in some locations) have excellent club lounges; so offering Gold lounge access to Platinum members at all Fairmont properties outside North America would be more feasible IMO.
A very good post Jasper. In asia from the looks of it I think I Would Just book the gold room and get the room upgrade within the gold level. I am not a big drinker So I could easily skip the alcohol and Just be on juices and etc.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 5:59 am
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For me, there are some properties where I always book Fairmont Gold, and some where I just don't care for it. For example, at Fairmont Tremblant, there are only 18 Gold rooms and 2 Gold suites on the top floor (which is smaller than the other floors). And, there are only King rooms on the floor; no Queen/Queen rooms holding 4 people. This means a very high level of service from the staff, and the lounge will rarely be crowded and often is nearly empty. If every guest decided to have breakfast at the same time, they would all get a seat. The service levels are top notch. The staff in the lounge even remember how we took our coffee from our previous visits.

I would hate to see the product watered down by opening up access to all Plat members, and I say this as a Plat member who would benefit from that access. I'll happily pay extra for the Gold product.

Now, moving to the opposite end of the spectrum, compare that to the Fairmont Banff Springs. I don't know how many rooms they have on the Gold floors (it's all of the 5th floor and about half the 4th), but I'm sure it's over 100. Sure, the lounge is larger to hold the expanded room count, and they actually have 2 lounges, and there are separate room-type areas within so it doesn't feel too expansive. And the food quality is excellent. And the décor and furnishings are top notch. However, I just feel it's too many guests to ever get a high level of service or a truly tranquil atmosphere. Besides, there are many great restaurants and lounges throughout the hotel that one can eat at. I'll book a regular 1-Bedroom Suite here instead of a Gold suite, and put the cash savings into some paid meals. Don't get me wrong, I won't say it's anywhere near as impersonal an elite airline lounge, but I think it's just too big, and is pushing beyond the limits of what the Fairmont Gold concept is supposed to be.

Again, I wouldn't want to see this opened up to all Plat members. The lounge is big and crowded enough with those who are paying for access. Adding more people who aren't staying in the gold rooms, is just going to make things worse.

Most of the Fairmont Gold offerings probably fit somewhere in between these two extremes.

Alcohol is free in some places. All lounges, wherever they are, have complimentary food and non-alcoholic drinks. I don't drink, so prefer the alcohol not be free, so I'm not subsidizing the drinkers through a higher room rate!
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Last edited by CanadaDH; Jul 7, 18 at 6:09 am
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Old Jul 7, 18, 8:56 am
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On the "free alcoholic" stuff. Most hotel chains within North America have now been charging for drinks in their lounges for quite a while. You go back 5-10 years when a few chains had complimentary beer/wine/liquor in Canada (most notably Hilton when the CDN division was part of Hilton International) - but since then, most have harmonized their offering within N.A.

I agree with most previous posters on access to Gold Floor. I have had access twice to the Gold Floor at a Fairmont property within Canada (@Fairmont Vancouver) and the lounges are private, quiet and with a premium food offering
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Old Jul 7, 18, 9:13 am
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It hasn't been mentioned yet, but the Fairmont Gold is more than just the lounge and the concierge services. In most (all?) properties, the rooms and suites on the Gold floor are generally nicer than non-Gold rooms and suites. They are often larger, or more recently renovated or have better furnishings. At Lake Louise, for instance, the overall layout of the gold floor is completely different from other floors, in that they actually run the guest corridor along the back of the hotel, with guest rooms off of one side of the hall only (at least in one of the wings), and windows along the hallway. This gives a much brighter hallway, allows for larger (but fewer) guest rooms, and also means that all but only a few Gold rooms are non-lakeview. They generally put a lot of thought into the hotel-within-a-hotel concept. It's not just sticking a breakfast room somewhere and calling it Fairmont Gold.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 9:35 am
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Thinking about this a bit more, if they wanted to make Fairmont Gold part of the Plat benefits, then it should include everything. Meaning, don't just offer access to the lounge, as that makes for crowded lounges. However, they could perhaps offer an annual "gold room upgrade", or similar, so the Plat guest will also be occupying the Gold room, not just getting lounge access. That might keep the product from getting overcrowded, if the Gold lounge guests were still limited by the number of Gold rooms occupied. Whether it was a Gold upgrade on availability, or fixed number of annual upgrades confirmed at time of booking like the old FPC cert system, I would want to see a system when any benefit access didn't overload the product. Personally, I would prefer a limited number of confirmed upgrades over unlimited upgrades on availability, to avoid playing the room lottery. Or, maybe a better option as a Plat benefit is to still maintain the exclusive hotel-within-a-hotel concept, and not allow any upgrades into Gold, but offer Plats a discount. Maybe a Plat benefit could be that a Gold room can be booked for only 50% of the posted rate premium over a non-Gold room? I'm sure if they really try, they could find some way to incorporate the product into the benefits without watering down the quality.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 9:55 am
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The discount idea I think would be a great idea if they could program it into the Accor website for plat members only like the plat member garenteed room booking. 50 percent discount on the full rate difference.

Last edited by tris06; Jul 7, 18 at 9:04 pm
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Old Jul 7, 18, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by YOWCDNFF View Post
On the "free alcoholic" stuff. Most hotel chains within North America have now been charging for drinks in their lounges for quite a while.
It's interesting. I don't go to North America that often, maybe once or twice per year. But I have seen that the Marriott/Hilton lounges tended to charge for alcohol in the lounges, but just kind of assumed that was because they are 'upscale' hotels, whereas my impression was that Fairmont was marketed as 'luxury' and the times I have stayed at Ritz Carltons, etc. even in the states, I feel like they had free alcohol. And if Fairmont was competing with Marriott/Hilton, I wouldn't think much of it, but my understanding is they are more competing with Ritz Carlton type hotels and so I guess that is why I am surprised.

I really do find it interesting that people do seem to feel that they are often quite special, because this just strikes me as unnecessary penny-pinching, which is not something I normally associate with luxury hotel stays, and makes me wonder where else they try to save a few quid.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 1:45 pm
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One problem may be liquor laws in most if not all Canadian Provinces & some USA States, which forbid free distribution of alcohol because it may encourage drunkenness. In the USA such laws may date from the end of Prohibition in 1933, when they were enacted as a compromise to get some anti-booze people to relent!
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Old Jul 7, 18, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Brendan View Post
One problem may be liquor laws in most if not all Canadian Provinces & some USA States, which forbid free distribution of alcohol because it may encourage drunkenness. In the USA such laws may date from the end of Prohibition in 1933, when they were enacted as a compromise to get some anti-booze people to relent!
The laws are rather complicated. I know Ontario actually has a rather lengthy set of regulations that govern the minimum price that various alcohols may be sold at. Other jurisdictions may have something similar, and perhaps Fairmont is picking a consistent model in the region that will comply with all rules.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 6:40 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
It's interesting. I don't go to North America that often, maybe once or twice per year. But I have seen that the Marriott/Hilton lounges tended to charge for alcohol in the lounges, but just kind of assumed that was because they are 'upscale' hotels, whereas my impression was that Fairmont was marketed as 'luxury' and the times I have stayed at Ritz Carltons, etc. even in the states, I feel like they had free alcohol. And if Fairmont was competing with Marriott/Hilton, I wouldn't think much of it, but my understanding is they are more competing with Ritz Carlton type hotels and so I guess that is why I am surprised.
I'd argue that Fairmont Gold lounges are *much* superior compared to Hilton/Starwood/Marriott/etc. lounges in North America (less so outside North America), but probably a notch below the Ritz Carlton Club experience.

Ritz Carlton has only added club lounges to various hotels fairly recently, and generally only at their top properties. This has definitely changed the competitive environment in quite a few markets..

Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
I really do find it interesting that people do seem to feel that they are often quite special, because this just strikes me as unnecessary penny-pinching, which is not something I normally associate with luxury hotel stays, and makes me wonder where else they try to save a few quid.
I'm not sure the original decision to have an honour bar was based on "saving a few bucks", but more about offering a more exclusive, quieter environment for people who would pax for a few drinks at the bar anyway.

But I agree to a certain degree, complimentary drinks would definitely appeal to quite a few people (and I'll happily admit I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, especially when travelling); and since Fairmont Gold lounges outside NA already offer this benefit, I wouldn't rule out that properties in NA will offer it too eventually (IIRC the Fairmont properties in Bermuda recently introduced a "happy hour" in their Gold lounge).
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Old Jul 7, 18, 7:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
I'd argue that Fairmont Gold lounges are *much* superior compared to Hilton/Starwood/Marriott/etc. lounges in North America (less so outside North America), but probably a notch below the Ritz Carlton Club experience.
No no. Don't get me wrong. I am not claiming they aren't. My comment was merely in response to the comment that it is the standard practice in North America. So my comment was that it is standard practice for Hilton/Marriott, but not at RC, and as I presume they are competing with RC rather than Hilton/Marriott, I am less accepting of the argument that it is standard practice.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 7:23 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
No no. Don't get me wrong. I am not claiming they aren't. My comment was merely in response to the comment that it is the standard practice in North America. So my comment was that it is standard practice for Hilton/Marriott, but not at RC, and as I presume they are competing with RC rather than Hilton/Marriott, I am less accepting of the argument that it is standard practice.
That's a fair point. Per my post above, I'd rank Fairmont Gold somewhere inbetween - much better than the club lounges at most NA hotels, but not quite as good as RC Club lounges (at least on average).

FWIW, the honour bars inside Fairmont Gold lounges are true "honour bars", not the "grumpy bartender guarding the bar" setup you'll find in some other club lounges.

I'd also say that RC Club rooms tend to be more expensive on average than Fairmont Gold rooms. But I agree that offering complimentary drinks in all Fairmont Gold lounges (not just outside NA) wouldn't be that far-fetched, and a change I'd personally be in favour of.
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Old Jul 7, 18, 7:28 pm
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Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
It's interesting. I don't go to North America that often, maybe once or twice per year. But I have seen that the Marriott/Hilton lounges tended to charge for alcohol in the lounges, but just kind of assumed that was because they are 'upscale' hotels, whereas my impression was that Fairmont was marketed as 'luxury' and the times I have stayed at Ritz Carltons, etc. even in the states, I feel like they had free alcohol. And if Fairmont was competing with Marriott/Hilton, I wouldn't think much of it, but my understanding is they are more competing with Ritz Carlton type hotels and so I guess that is why I am surprised.
It is hard to categorize where Fairmont fits in. Accor tried to do that over a year ago when they first acquired Fairmont via a survey. If you ask me, generally speaking, most Fairmont hotels are solidly 4 stars hotels. Although in Canada, Fairmonts tend to occupy historic buildings or were built in the 19th century as railway hotels. Keep in mind, not all cities have real 5 stars hotels other than places like New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris. You ought to treat Fairmonts in Canada separately from the rest of the world. Fairmonts in the USA are more comparable to the chains you mention, more generic. In Canada, their locations and history tend to make them feel unique and special.

Here is what a Fairmont Gold Lounge in Canada looks like:





Originally Posted by AlwaysFlyStar View Post
I really do find it interesting that people do seem to feel that they are often quite special, because this just strikes me as unnecessary penny-pinching, which is not something I normally associate with luxury hotel stays, and makes me wonder where else they try to save a few quid.
In Canada, they can be special, not so much in the rest of the world. I mean Fairmont Singapore is really nice, they even upgraded me to a smaller Penthouse Suite on my last visit and the service was exceptionally good but they are just not that different from the St. Regis in town for instance. Or the Fairmont Orchid in Big Island for instance, they are nice but still had to compete with so many other brands which have similar resorts in the area. None of them is considered 5 stars per se.

Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
I'd argue that Fairmont Gold lounges are *much* superior compared to Hilton/Starwood/Marriott/etc. lounges in North America (less so outside North America), but probably a notch below the Ritz Carlton Club experience.
It depends on the location. Some Fairmonts take their Gold Lounges more seriously than others. Some even serve coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops) as evening hors d'oeuvres, others are less memorable.

Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
But I agree to a certain degree, complimentary drinks would definitely appeal to quite a few people (and I'll happily admit I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, especially when travelling); and since Fairmont Gold lounges outside NA already offer this benefit, I wouldn't rule out that properties in NA will offer it too eventually (IIRC the Fairmont properties in Bermuda recently introduced a "happy hour" in their Gold lounge).
I tend to ignore alcohol offerings at hotels given that they are generally mediocre at best. If you are going to spend that kind of money for Fairmont Gold, then surely, you can buy yourself a nice bottle of wine or champagne which tends to cost less.
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