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Why You Should Use a Travel Advisor to Plan Your Vacation & Book Luxury Hotels!


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I often work with travelers who have never used a travel agent or advisor like myself. Usually, these travelers think the best way to book travel today is through a booking engine like Expedia or Booking.com. These booking engines lure the last-minute traveler into their site and offer what appears to be a great deal on the surface! But buyers beware of terms and conditions as the last-minute deal may be a case of overbooking, which lands you at a property down the street or, even worse, a hotel room that looks great in the picture but when you get there doesn't reflect the one you purchased!


As (hopefully) your go-to/future travel advisor, I provide education, research, and consistent, up-to-date reviews and feedback from travelers returning from properties worldwide. I hope this compels you to consider using me than a hard to get a hold of the airline, booking engine, or online travel site. Whether it's a short domestic weekend trip, five nights in the Caribbean, or a bucket list tour of European cities, I want to provide a clear case for you to contact me the next time you plan a vacation. So here are a couple of great reasons and "Our Top 5 Luxe Resort Programs" exclusively for our clients!

VIP amenities for the same price as a DIY booking engine

My host agency, Gifted Travel Network, is a Virtuoso member, which enables me to provide amenities reserved for elite club members who earn points or are frequent travelers. Over the last 18 months, our host agency, as a top-performing agency, has added additional hotels and resorts and increased loyalty perks from all the top Luxury brands. Even if you are a part of the highest level in a respective hotel's loyalty program, we still have additional benefits like $100 hotel credits, which I often can add to your stay for the same price. You also still earn your loyalty points with the added comfort of our servicing of your needs pre-trip and while traveling!

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Unique Experiences Matched With Your Specific Travel Style

As a Travel Advisor, I work with the locals in the destination who guide you throughout your trip. These locals know all the best restaurants away from the tourist trap locations. They know about a little village where you can spend an afternoon with someone born there who loves to share their culture through a farm-to-table experience. Or they can lead you to local hidden stores, markets, or cafes in the large touristy city of Rome to make gelato!


It can be confusing when you are DIYing your trip to sort through all the terms and conditions, blackout dates, and lengthy disclaimers. But hopefully, these Top 5 Hotel programs will clarify why you shouldn't book luxury hotels directly and showcase a small list of benefits you can access! Our VIP client programs are simply unavailable directly to consumers through online booking engines or with the hotels.


Top 5 – Stay Balanced Travel Hotel Programs

Marriott Stars and Luminous Marriott have 30 brands worldwide and as of Jan 1st, 2022, Stay Balanced Travel is now a member of their exclusive Stars (luxury+ hotels) and Luminous (premium hotels) programs.

Photo Courtesy of Marriott

Stars – (Paris in photo), EDITION, Luxury Collection properties, Ritz-Carlton, and St. Regis. Book any of the Stars properties through us at the regular rate you'd pay direct and receive:

  • Complimentary full or continental breakfast daily for up to two people per room

  • Personalized welcome amenity and note

  • Hotel credit valued at $100 once per stay

  • Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in

  • Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily

  • In-person welcome

  • Personalized welcome amenity and note

  • Your total allocation of Bonvoy points for the room

Luminous – Autograph Collection, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Marriott, Renaissance, Tribute Portfolio, W Hotels, and Westin (many hotels in these various portfolios qualify). Book these properties through us at the regular rate you'd pay direct and receive:

  • Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily

  • Early check-in & late check-out, subject to availability

  • Complimentary room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in

  • Local welcome amenity and note

  • Hotel credit valued at $100 once per stay (at select hotels)

  • Your total allocation of Bonvoy points

Hyatt Prive

Not many travelers are aware of Hyatt's excellent program Privé, again only available to clients who book through a Privé invited travel advisor such as us at Stay Balanced Travel.



Photo Courtesy of Hyatt

Which properties does Privé include?

All Park Hyatt (Dubai pictured), Andaz, and Miraval properties, and many properties from brands such as Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Regency, and The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and Alila, some 200 properties around the world that participate in the program.


Exclusive benefits for booking at the regular rate you'd pay direct include:

  • We confirm a one-category room upgrade (room-to-room or suite-to-suite) within 24 hours of booking, based on availability at the time of booking.

  • A $50 to $100 property credit per room per stay

  • Early check-in (as early as 9 a.m.), subject to availability

  • A welcome gift and letter

  • A full allocation of your World of Hyatt loyalty points

Accor STEP

Photo Courtesy of Banyan Tree

Another mostly unknown program that adds substantial value to our client's stays is Accor's STEP program which we were selected to join at the tail end of 2021.


These luxury brands under the Accor umbrella may surprise you! The brand represents many luxury properties in over 40 countries: Fairmont, Raffles, Orient Express, Banyan Tree (Buahan Bali pictured), FAENA, Delano, Sofitel, SLS, Rizos, and M Gallery.

Exclusive benefits for booking at the regular rate you'd pay direct include:

  • Room upgrade (to the next room type category at the time of booking or check-in)

  • Daily complimentary breakfast for two (2) guests per day.

  • $50 to $100 credit for hotel extras during the stay

  • Early check-in & late check-out.

  • A VIP Welcome (greeting & amenity)

Belmond Bellini Club


Photo Courtesy of Castello di Casole

Belmond represents everything Stay Balanced Travel loves about luxury travel, and its stunning portfolio contains 34 properties spread over five (5) continents. Click on either Castello di Casole (Tuscany pictured) or Cap Juluca (Anguilla pictured below) for our personally crafted digital introduction to every Belmond property.

Photo Courtesy of Cap Juluca

And yes, the Bellini Club is another exclusive invitation-only program that Stay Balanced Travel is proud to be a member of. The program enables us to offer you the following incredible benefits which you can not receive when booking direct:

  • Upgrade at check-in, subject to availability

  • Full breakfast for two daily

  • A credit of $90 to $200 per room per stay, depending on the property

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

  • A $500 gift voucher when you spend $5,000+, applicable towards a future Belmond experience of $2,500+

  • VIP recognition by property management and staff

  • A welcome amenity

Virtuoso Hotels (See Catalog HERE)


Photo Courtesy of Montage Big Sky

The 1,400 hotels that are currently in the Virtuoso Preferred portfolio have a little overlap with the above four(4) programs. When a property is available through both channels, we make the informed decision as to which benefits work best for our clients. Two of our favorites not in any of the above programs but within Virtuoso would be Montage Big Sky (pictured) and Four Seasons Resort Papagayo Costa Rica (pictured).


Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Papagayo

Hopefully, I've made a solid case that you will be better off booking any Virtuoso property through Stay Balanced Travel than going direct to the hotel. The theme is the same. Pricing will be in line with the direct hotel booking engine, but you will receive the following extras(with some variation depending on the specific property):

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

  • Full breakfast daily for two guests per bedroom

  • $100 Resort or Spa Credit per booking

  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

  • Many hotels also offer an on-site specific experience, i.e., olive oil tasting, tequila tasting, and pasta making...


Ready to plan your 2022-2023 Luxury travel experience? We're here for you. Click the button here to get started.

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