Rates is similar to normal flexible rate so in most cases you can get cheaper rates elsewhere but the guaranteed early checkin / late check out, daily breakfast and property bonus eg. $100 F&B credit can make it a better value. I had an overnight stay at a property earlier in the year, paid $210 and got upgraded 3-tier above the rate I booked (just shy of a full suite) with access to club lounge. Full breakfast at their flagship restaurant and $100 F&B credit which I used for lunch before checking out at 4pm.
What makes FHR rates pretty good is that for large cities with lots of FHR properties, they usually have 1 or more deals that offers buy 2 get 3rd free nights or buy 3 get 4th free night offers. If you mix this in with the standard FHR benefits, it works out to be fairly good value when compared to the best available rate.
Not sure if PTS agent have got that right for you.
How it worked for me usually was that I'd book a property at the FHR rates through PTS (I always call) and the buy X get Y free offer was applied at the hotel at the time I settle the bill. This makes more sense because FHR is always a post-payment service, where you don't pay anything at all to Amex and everything is paid directly to the hotel instead (hotel must pay Amex a cut but that is not our problem).
Usually, the front desk agent that checks me in confirms the rates and the buy X get Y free offer when he goes through my reservation & FHR benefit details.
To book the FHR rates, go to the Australian Amex site and then the travel section. You then search for hotels in your chosen city and if you are logged in you will see the FHR properties at the top of the list.
Details of the benefits will be listed there and you can book online by yourself... You do have to be logged in however to make the details and rates show up.
I kind of dislike using the Australian FHR online booking system for two reasons.
1. It doesn't show all rooms available (and what the upgrade policy of the hotel is, which I always ask before booking a particular room to make sure they at least upgrade from that room)
2. It doesn't pull any special promo rates available like my example above. This probably will still be honoured at the hotel (I recall Island Shangri-La agent proactively telling me of a stay 4-pay 3 FHR promo when I checked in even though I wasn't even aware this promo was on) but there's no guarantee.
So yeah, while less convenient, I still like calling PTS to make FHR bookings.
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