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Sun 1 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Raffles Dubai joins elite club

Hotel opens exclusive American Express Centurion Suite.

Hotel opens exclusive American Express Centurion Suite.

American Express has upped the stakes when it comes to loyalty offerings for affluent clients. The card provider launched the Centurion Suite at Raffles Dubai last month, making it the seventh addition to the collection of luxury suites available to Centurion cardholders globally.

The Centurion Suites - also available at Raffles Hotels in Singapore, China, The Grenadines, Vietnam, Cambodia and the US - are reserved exclusively for holders of American Express Centurion cards, which are said to be the most exclusive cards in the world.

The Centurion membership is strictly by invitation only.

Guests staying at the suites will be able to take advantage of privileges such as a free night's stay for every paid night, dinner for two prepared by the chef, use of the hotel spa, and 24-hour flexible check-in. The suite at Raffles Dubai features a boardroom, bedroom, lounge, kitchen, and his and hers bathrooms.

"Today, Raffles is the only hotel that features exclusive Centurion Suites, but we also have a Centurion Lounge at the Mexico City Airport, for example, and we offer other exclusive travel benefits and upgrades at some of the world's finest hotels to our Centurion Cardmembers," said a spokesperson for American Express.

American Express does not disclose the number of Centurion cardholders or the criteria for membership, but they are typically current American Express cardholders in excellent standing who spend well above the average.

The number of members is not capped, but is carefully regulated to maintain levels of service.

"Today, American Express Centurion is regarded as the most exclusive card in the world and is specially designed to meet almost every need of the most demanding and highly affluent customer," said Sam McGoun, vice president, membership travel services, American Express.

"Customised personal service, unsurpassed lifestyle benefits and the ultimate in attention and service are what the Centurion is renowned for delivering to its members. The Centurion membership is strictly by invitation only, to a very select group of Cardmembers in major international markets."

Holders of Centurion cards can make use of concierge and travel services worldwide, and are invited to private events organised specifically for them.

In the past, Centurion cardholders have been invited to private concerts, exclusive shopping experiences, Formula One or celebrity chef events, and backstage access to fashion or cultural events.

The Centurion service is specially shaped to meet the demands of its elite customers. One example is when a cardholder asked American Express to arrange something special for his wife's birthday.

"The Cardmember let us know that his wife has a real interest in astronomy," explained an American Express spokesperson. "To make her birthday truly extraordinary, we arranged a private evening at an observatory in the German Alps with an astronomer to guide their stargazing."

"Following that, we arranged an elegant dinner for two at the observatory with a private chef. Then the two spent the night in a luxuriously appointed igloo, which we planned and had built entirely of ice on this mountain."

Fortunately, cardholders admitted to the Centurion Suite at Raffles Dubai can be assured of a warmer welcome: the suite's design is inspired by the element of fire.

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