Claims Clinic: Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, Reservation and Credit Issues American Express FHR

This week the Compensation Clinic stopover at Waldorf AstoriaBangkok where I stayed on a booking made through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Last week.

Don’t forget you can always email us, send a message via Facebook Where to use Twitter and include photos too. We will try to cover a compensation clinic case here regularly.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts comes with a $100 “Experience Credit” (or local equivalent) that the customer can redeem at designated outlets, but what to do when said outlets do not offer seats for internal customers due to be fully booked?

I had such a case last week when I stayed one night at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok booked through Amex FHR and encountered several issues along the way.

Here is a detailed article on American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts that I wrote a few weeks ago:

Confusion with American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts: Why is the Expedia booking indicator eligible for points?

What happened this time?

The booking was originally supposed to be a few days later, but due to bad weather in Phuket and a flight cancellation by THAI, I moved it forward to February 14, Valentine’s Day. The rate was the same ($192++) and the hotel was actually not very busy, but that should become an issue when it comes to using F&B credit.

Here are the details and benefits for FHR customers as provided at check-in:

Since I’m also a Hilton Honors Diamond, many benefits are duplicated and therefore don’t make much of a difference.

I received an upgrade to a deluxe suite with a city view (rooftops with air conditioners) and very noisy air conditioning which made the room too hot or too cold.

The hotel has several food outlets including The Loft which is a popular bar and I called the day before to reserve a table for the evening. I hadn’t planned to spend $100 on booze, but it would amount to exactly that.

When I asked in the evening (6pm) where to get something to eat I was told that all the F&B outlets were full and there was no possibility to eat anywhere on the property. I noticed the credit and told them I could eat in the room if absolutely necessary, but they declined because “the credit is not eligible for room service”. Seriously?

The hotel had no senior manager for the whole week. There is no general manager at the hotel despite the welcome letter signed (electronically) by Mr. Simeon Olle who is apparently the general manager. He may have failed to appoint a qualified replacement when he is away, but the hotel was left in the hands of a local service manager and the executive chef. How these people are qualified to run a hotel is anyone’s guess. The executive chef is definitely an expert in his field, but running the hotel is not his job. The concierge asked us to dine at a nearby hotel (Anantara, St. Regis, or Grand Hyatt) or “try our luck” at Central World. We ended up going to the Grand Hyatt and eating something there, which landed us a $55 dinner bill.

Booking at the Loft was the next curiosity. Despite the reservation it wasn’t a table but a seat at the counter and even it wasn’t really a reservation as the hostess asked where we wanted to sit, at the bar or at the counter by the window. In the end, we decided to do a little cocktail tasting because credit has become anything but fun money at this point. A cocktail is 400 baht, order six and the credit is gone. Realistically we would have ordered maybe 2-3 and sparkling water.

The breakfast was actually quite nice but nothing extraordinary. I did, however, appreciate the brasserie as a place, probably the strongest element of the whole stay.

the same duty manager the night before refused to refund the Grand Hyatt dinner bill, so I left with the note that I would open a case with Hilton Guest Assistance, which I promptly did.

The next day, the front office manager emailed and offered 5,000 points compensation which she thinks is worth $50 (LOL!). I declined and asked them to stop communicating with me and go through HGI instead. They had their chance to regulate it and chose not to.

Hilton Guest Assistance replied:

Dear Sebastian,

Thank you for contacting Hilton Guest Assistance. It will be my pleasure to help you with air conditioning problems.

I understand your frustration and thank you for contacting us to share your concerns. I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.

I validated all the details of the case and the inconveniences you encountered due to air conditioning problems. I have taken it upon myself to help you with the best possible resolution. The hotel team have apologized and are working to resolve the issue for future stays. The hotel team credited 5,000 as an apology, which equals $50 based on the cost of buying Honors points. I also credited an additional 5,000 as a goodwill gesture.

As a Valued Diamond Member, your feedback is very important to us and we greatly appreciate that you have taken the time to raise your concerns with us. At Hilton Corporate, we thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and for your loyalty to our portfolio of brands. As a sign of goodwill, I am pleased to enroll you in the promotion where you will earn 2,500 points on your next qualifying stay within just 60 days. …

The answer doesn’t even mention the FHR credit issue. At the end, the total compensation I received was 10,000 Hilton Honors points and a weird listing for a separate promotion, offering 2500 points on my next stay within 60 days. This is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing, but I guess we learn something new every day. I decided to rest my case at this point and instead add the property to my Don’t stay listing.

After informing American Express, I received the following response from them, including a USD 100 travel credit for a future reservation (hotel or flight) elsewhere:

It wasn’t Amex’s fault, they just negotiate with the hotel what benefits a member is supposed to receive. Hotels can very well include blackout dates or initiate a stop sale for this type of reservations on specific dates of high demand if they see fit. Revenue management did not choose to do so.

There are much better properties in Bangkok, especially at this price and these days. Waldorf was 4x the price charged by Conrad.


I would by no means call this a satisfying stay. Considering this is Hilton’s first property in Bangkok, the service experience was chaotic. Even the Conrad would have been a better experience and definitely much better value. Since this was an FHR reservation, an alternative would have been the nearby St. Regis where I have stayed before and they let me use room service credit.

Waldorf Astoria is a strange brand. It’s really hard to put your finger on it when it comes to brand standards. I loved staying at the original WA in New York, but then it grew into a brand in its own right by capitalizing on the famous name. The experience in Shanghai, the Maldives and now Bangkok has always been lackluster at best. The fact that there wasn’t even a general manager or hotel manager on the property is also mind boggling. Luckily, that stay ended quickly, and 10,000 points is a small token compensation, but better than nothing to move on. The $100 voucher from Amex Travel is a nice gesture especially since it wasn’t their fault.

This kind of customer service resolution makes it easier for me to justify the rather high annual fees on my Amex (US, ICC, Japan) payment cards.

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