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Earlier this month, I spent 24 hours experiencing something truly special — the Amanjena resort in Marrakesh, Morocco. I’ve only been to one Aman hotel before — Amanpulo in the Philippines — and while I had an outstanding stay, the sky-high rates generally make less-exclusive properties more attractive.
In the case of Marrakesh, high-end hotels can be booked for less than $100 per night, so Amanjena’s €570 ($676) base rate was a gigantic splurge — especially after adding in €124 ($147) worth of taxes — but some incredible benefits from my Platinum Card from American Express made it far easier to justify the expense.
In fact, the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program has since changed the way I think about hotel stays in general — assuming I have enough time to make the most of a hotel and its amenities, it can make a lot more sense to spend more than I otherwise would to make the trip even more memorable, if only for one full day.
The program is accessible to cardmembers with a Platinum-branded Amex card, including The Platinum Card® from American Express consumer version and the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. If you pay with an Amex card and book directly through the program — either online or over the phone — you’ll be able to take advantage of the following benefits:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique amenity, such as a food and beverage credit or one-way private sedan transfer
In the case of Amanjena, breakfast is already included for all guests, as is Wi-Fi, but the hotel provides round-trip private sedan transfers from and to the airport or train station — also included regardless of how you book — and a “unique amenity” of complimentary 50-minute massages for two people once per stay.
I was visiting alone — it didn’t make sense for any of my friends to fly all the way to Morocco for a 24-hour trip, no matter how incredible the hotel — and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get two massages myself; it was one for two people, or, in my case, one for one person. I could choose between a deep tissue or holistic massage, which normally run about $170 for 60 minutes, plus a 10% service charge. I wouldn’t pay that much for a massage under normal circumstances, but I’d easily value this benefit at $100 per person.
For me, the biggest perk was the upgrade. Occupancy was fairly low — about 50% — so I was upgraded to a pool pavilion, which normally goes for €1,000 (about $1,190) per night.
With tax added in, you’d be looking at €1,210, or about $1,440 — I paid just over half that amount, and got an incredible massage to boot. I was also eligible for noon check-in, based on availability, and a guaranteed 4pm checkout, which I took full advantage of — I left my room not a minute before 4pm.
Now one word of warning: Amex’s rates can sometimes be higher than those available on other third-party sites, but in the case of Amanjena the property was only listing rooms directly or through Amex, and the rate was identical — booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts didn’t cost an extra cent. Still, always do your research to make sure you’re getting a good deal overall — if you’re staying for a week and paying $100 more per night through Amex, an upgrade and free massages might not make up for the extra expense.
Going forward, I’m going to make a point of always checking the Amex FHR offerings, given how much value the program added with this stay. And while I’d prefer to stay put at one hotel during each stop, it could make sense to bounce around just to experience something extra special.
Generally, I’m more likely to book a 4th Night Free stay with my Citi Prestige card, since I’ll almost always come out ahead there, but Amex often offers rates that include a complimentary third night — plus all of the usual Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits — so if the price is right a longer stay might be in the cards.
Ultimately, I had an incredible stay, and a full 24 hours gave me enough time to experience a fantastic dinner, a great made-to-order breakfast and some of the most hands-on service I’ve ever experienced. Just as at Amanpulo, the staff made a point of getting to know me, even though in this case I was only there for one full day.