LivingSocial.com, a coupon discount site based out of Washington, D.C. and London, offered two online deals yesterday. One deal priced at $10,000 provided a one-night stay for four people in the recently remodeled for $20 million Fairmont San Francisco hotel’s 3-bedroom penthouse. The Fairmont San Francisco, situated at the top of Nob Hill with beautiful San Francisco Bay views, has been the grande dame hotel of San Francisco for over a century since opening in 1907 one year after the great earthquake destroyed the city.
The penthouse suite is 6,000 square feet of luxury spanning the entire eighth floor of the historic main building of the Nob Hill hotel. The penthouse includes a dining room with seating for 60, a two-story circular library, a living room with grand piano, kitchen, a billiard room and terrace with panoramic views of San Francisco. In the summer of 2009 the newly remodeled room carried a rack rate of $15,000.
The deal on LivingSocial.com:
- A One-Night Stay for Two in the Presidential Suite ($2,000)
- Or, a One-Night Stay for Four in the Penthouse ($10,000)
- Both Packages Include Health Club and Group Exercise Classes, Wi-Fi, and Permanent Platinum Status to The Fairmont’s President’s Club Program
- Penthouse Package Includes a Four-Course En Suite Dinner for Four, Exclusive Tiffany’s China Set for Four, Monogrammed Robes to Keep, Bvlgari Amenities, Red-Carpet Welcome Package Valued at $500, and a Full Day’s Access to the Penthouse Mase
The deal also included the cheaper option for a one-night stay in the Presidential Suite at the Fairmont San Francisco for $2,000. $2,000 for one night in the Presidential Suite or even the $10,000 package for the Penthouse suites were not exactly great bargain rates for these rooms.
The Real Deal is Fairmont President’s Club Platinum elite status for Life
The component of this offer that set off a buying frenzy over a few hours on the morning of Thursday, February 24 was the side component to the room purchase offering Fairmont President’s Club Platinum elite status for life.
Fairmont President’s Club Platinum elite membership normally requires 10 hotels stays or 30 hotel nights in a calendar year. FPC Platinum elite includes a variety of high value-added benefits, including:
- One complimentary free night certificate annually (one night at Fairmont Savoy London will generally be a US$500 value.)
- Two complimentary suite upgrade certificates annually (basic category room nights at the Fairmont Scottsdale are often under $150 per night for a beautiful hotel property. Suite upgrades may be worth $200 to 400+ per night.)
- Two complimentary room upgrade certificates annually
- $100 Fairmont dining certificate or Willow Stream Spa certificates annually
- 1,000 airline miles per stay (regular members receive 500 miles per stay).
Taking into account annual value-added benefits of Platinum elite for a free night and four room upgrades annually makes the potential value of Platinum elite worth at minimum $1,000 a year for someone who spends at least 5 nights annually in Fairmont Hotels.
Assume the FPC Platinum member plans on $2,000 in Fairmont Hotel spend annually. That $2,000 will include 2 suites, two upgraded rooms, one free night and $100 dining credit. Fairmont President’s Club members also receive notice of special rates each month offering good discounts at a variety of Fairmont Hotels.
Loyalty Traveler values the FPC Platinum membership at about $2,000 in added value for someone who spends $2,000 at Fairmont Hotels over ten nights in a calendar year.
Assume 20 years of Fairmont Hotels travel as a FPC Platinum elite and this deal for $2,000 works out to a $40,000+ value for the frequent guest.
All this is on top of the real value for a night in a Presidential Suite at the Fairmont San Francisco as the centerpiece of the original offer.
A Day of Wonder
Stage 1: Recognize ‘The Deal’
I first saw this deal posted Wednesday afternoon by Scott Carmichael on Gadling.com in the post “Group buying gone upscale: Half off $20,000 penthouse suite at the Fairmont San Francisco”. The Gadling.com article primarily discussed the $10,000 Penthouse offer with a short reference in the end of the post about the $2,000 Presidential Suite and included the line “permanent platinum status in the Fairmont President’s Club”. I didn’t investigate the deal further.
Thursday morning’s Boarding Area post title “Lifetime Fairmont Presidents Club Status for $2000 (and a free Presidential Suite night too)” appearing on Gary Leff’s View from the Wing blog put the real value offer right up front on this deal and certainly caught my attention. The offer had been posted a couple hours earlier by member “whitedoor” on MilePoint and on FlyerTalk. (As Dan of DansDeals.com points out in comments, the deal was mentioned first on FlyerTalk by Shenanigans at 1:32pm Wed, Feb 23, but the more active threads for discussion of this deal became the Thur, Feb 24 “whitedoor” thread on MilePoint (no time stamp) and the FlyerTalk thread Thur, Feb 24 started 5:55am by Ktremor.
My immediate reply on Gary’s blog questioned whether this offer was meant to be. Lifetime FPC Platinum elite being offered from a third party (LivingSocial.com) is a deal that seemed rather odd to me. Considering the cost of this offer at $2,000 and the benefits being offered were for a lifetime, I felt this deal seemed way too generous.
Unfortunately, I was in transit all day traveling from D.C. to Monterey and I knew I couldn’t check the deal out carefully.
$2,000 for a lifetime of top elite frequent guest benefits at Fairmont Hotels seemed like a no brainer for one-night’s work of staying in a luxury suite in San Francisco if you travel in locations where you can really use Fairmont’s regularly every year.
Stage 2: Buy The Deal
Another component of this $2,000 Fairmont Deal on LivingSocial.com was the option to refer three people and get the deal for free. Before long members of Dan’s Deals, FlyerTalk and Milepoint were creating referral groups whereby the cost of 4 people buying the deal was only $6,000 and the individual cost for Fairmont President’s Club Platinum elite lifetime status was reduced to $1,500.
And each person still gets the one night at the Presidential Suite too.
So yesterday, I am talking about the deal all the way to IAD on the Metro and the Washington Flyer as my smartphone internet comes and goes while I check updates. (Aside: Washington, D.C. had the worst coverage I have had in years on my Verizon Wireless phone.)
My wife kept asking me if I had bought the Fairmont deal yet.
“No honey. We actually do not have $1,500 right now to spend on lifetime FPC Platinum.”
By the time I had reached Los Angeles I learned the deal was dead.
Stage 3 of Travel Mistake Fares and Rates – Anxiety Over The deal
Today I have been watching the third stage of the DEAL. This is the anxiety stage when you wait and wonder if the deal will be honored at the original terms that motivated you to make the purchase in the first place. By Thursday afternoon February 24 there was discussion on DansDeals.com that the offer was an error and should have only been listed as one year of Fairmont President’s Club Platinum status.
All day Friday there was organizing, anger, and concern as it looked more and more like this deal was indeed a mistake deal regarding the lifetime Fairmont President’s Club status. Dan of DansDeals mentioned (post #83) hearing from Ana in the Sales Dept about a corporate meeting being held to discuss how to handle the offer.
Stage 4: Relief when The Deal is honored
At 2:45pm Pacific time Friday afternoon, February 25 the word came –
Ctownflyer on MilePoint/aka Dan of dansdeals.com seems to deserve kudos for keeping buyers and gawkers informed through his web presence.
Stage 5: Find the next DEAL
Cardinal rule of travel – another deal is waiting around the corner.
Be ready, be quick, don’t hesitate, and expect to get burned now and then when a deal doesn’t work out so well.
As for Fairmont Hotels Lifetime Platinum elite membership for $2,000.
This was the real deal!
And a Presidential suite one-night stay is just a bonus.