Caution: You May Not Be Searching For American Express FHR Properties Correctly

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I’m in the process of trying to plan a trip to a Ritz-Carlton on the Spanish island of Tenerife and, as part of my research into the best way to book the property, I decided to check what offers I could find for the property on the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts site. Annoyingly, the property wasn’t there.

The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) site can be a great way to book high-end properties because not only do FHR bookings entitle guests to the elite status privileges and the elite earnings that the major hotel chains offer, but they also often come with great added benefits like late check-out, complimentary breakfasts, and property credits. When the value of all the FHR benefits are added up, it can often make a lot more sense to book a property through Amex FHR rather than directly through the hotel’s own website.

In the case of the Ritz-Carlton on Tenerife, it made particular sense for me to see what the FHR site was offering as the Ritz-Carlton brand doesn’t honor a lot of the key benefits that I get at the majority of other Marriott brands courtesy of my Bonvoy status (e.g breakfast), so any extras that FHR could offer would be very welcome. Needless to say, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find the property on the FHR site but I didn’t give it any further thought until a Twitter user (who had read about my dilemma with this particular booking) mentioned Amex FHR and got me thinking about why this Ritz-Carlton wasn’t being offered by Amex FHR. It didn’t make sense.

Amex FHR is well known for offering deals at a lot of top-end properties around the world and the Ritz-Carlton on Tenerife is one of Marriott’s best properties in Spain…so why wasn’t it on the FHR site? I decided to search the FHR site again and this time, using a different way of searching, the property appeared in the list of options. As pleasing as this was, it was still more than a little annoying that I had to think a little laterally to get the property to appear.

Why I Thought The Ritz-Carlton On Tenerife Wasn’t Part Of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

The official name of the Ritz-Carlton on Tenerife is the Ritz-Carlton Abama (as the property’s homepage will show you):

a screenshot of a phone

When I logged into the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts website I started typing “Ritz-Carlton Tenerife” into the search box but, before I could get past the letter “T”, the FHR site indicated that no results were to be found.

a black rectangle with white text

Fair enough. That was on me as the property isn’t actually called the Ritz-Carlton Tenerife.

Next, I started to type “Ritz-Carlton Abama” into the search box but as soon had I got to the letter “A” of Abama, the FHR site showed me just one result – the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi.

a black rectangle with white text

Unperturbed, I continued typing “Abama” to see what would happen and, sure enough, no results were returned.

a black rectangle with white text

In one last throw of the dice, I thought I would see what would happen if I just searched for “Spain” but, when the results came up, there was no mention of “Abama” or “Tenerife”.

a log cabin with a door open

In hindsight, this was an error on my part as the Ritz-Carlton Abama’s actual address is Guia de Isora, Tenerife and you’ll see that “Guia de Isora” is third from the bottom in the list of options in the screenshot above…but I still think that this makes the search for this particular property unnecessarily hard.

This is the point at which I originally gave up and allowed myself to believe that the Ritz-Carlton Abama wasn’t being offered as an option by Amex FHR but, as I’ve already said, I later returned to the site and found the property.

How I Found The Ritz-Carlton Abama On Amex FHR

After I was prompted to check the FHR site again, I took a different approach to my search. I took two things that I knew about the property for sure – it’s in Europe and it has a golf course – and used those two facts to search the FHR site.

a screenshot of a hotel

Sure enough, part-way down the list of 33 properties that the FHR site offered up, was the Ritz-Carlton Abama.

a screenshot of a hotel

The property is very clearly called the “Ritz-Carlton Abama” so why didn’t the property appear when I searched for it by that name? Why was I offered the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi and nothing else?

The answer is irritating.

If you search for “Ritz-Carlton Abama” you get no useful results but if you search for “Ritz-Carlton, A…” the property will appear.

a screenshot of a website

If you don’t insert the comma in the property’s name into the FHR search the site will act as if it has never heard of the property and, as you can see from the screenshot above, the same will apply to searches for the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, the Ritz-Carlton Aruba and the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta. Presumably, this will also apply to any other property whose name has a comma in it.

Is it just me or is it wrong that the FHR search facility is set up this way?

I’m prepared to shoulder some of the blame here as I probably should have checked the full address of the Ritz-Carlton Abama before I started searching as that would have prompted me to notice its location appear in the “Spain” search results…but the FHR search facility is also very culpable here.

If I misspell a property’s name then, fair enough, I shouldn’t expect the search facility to accurately guess what property I’m looking for…but who uses punctuation in a search query??!! And how many other people have searched the FHR site for properties whose names include a comma and left the site thinking that they were out of luck? I’m guessing I’m not the first!

Bottom Line

If you’re searching for a high-end property that you’d expect to find on the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts site but can’t seem to get it to appear in the search results, don’t assume it isn’t there – check to see if the property has any punctuation in its name and check to see if FHR is using a more specific address than the one you’re associating with the property. There’s a good chance the property is actually available on the FHR site and you’re only not seeing it because you’re not searching in the way that FHR would like you to search.


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