Jun202017

Poland Trip Report – Where my hotel loyalty lies

When I travel I tend to balance my hotel loyalty with hotel options that balance my points earning, points redeeming, and paid stays hotel spend with consideration for hotel location, transportation convenience and room quality comfort.

Warsaw, Poland

Originally, I planned to power our way into Warsaw city center after a 9pm arrival from Barcelona, Spain following a four hour layover after our Level Air flight from Oakland the night before. But, in the final decision, an airport hotel seemed more appropriate for the overnight transit stop in Warsaw, since we needed to catch a flight to Gdansk at 2:30pm the next day. This is my second pass through Warsaw this year without getting to the city center.

HIX Warsaw-1

Holiday Inn Express Warsaw Airport offered complimentary shuttle pick-up service at the airport terminal at 9:30pm.

HIX Warsaw Airport for 217 PLN or $57.50 USD for one night will earn over 34,000 IHG Rewards Club points with my IHG Accelerate offer.

This new summer promotion is my best value IHG Rewards Club Accelerate deal yet.

1a. Stay in June = 3,000 bonus points

1b. Stay once = 2,500 bonus points

2. Stay in any country outside Americas = 8,000 bonus points

3. Spend on IHG Rewards Club credit card = 1,500 bonus points.

4. Stay 5 nights = 10,000 bonus points.

Complete 3 tasks Achievement Bonus = 18,000 points.

I can earn 33,000 bonus points on a one night stay in Europe in June.

Loving my IHG Accelerate summer 2017 offer

HIX Warsaw-2

The HIX room rate earns around 500 base points + 250 Platinum elite points + 300 Platinum member amenity points. I originally chose a free beer and snack, then forgot to turn over my coupon when I ordered my $3 beer with salmon dinner ($10). At check-out the staff changed my free beer to 300 points.

Those 34,000 points will nearly cover a 35,000 points Holiday Inn reward night in London next month, where hotel rates are over $200 per night.

Gdansk, Poland

Radisson Blu Gdansk is about as good a location for Gdansk tourism one can ask for. Step outside onto Long Street and find yourself immersed in the densest tourism crowds of the city and more than 50 restaurant pubs within ten minutes walking radius of the hotel.

Gdansk Corpus Christi

Radisson Blu Gdansk is to the right of the historic Green Gate (1568-71) seen in this photo behind the concert stage. The Green Gate was the formal residence of Polish monarchs.

We assumed it was normal Gdansk summer tourism on June 15 when we found ourselves in a crowd of thousands. Turned out Thursday, June 15 was Corpus Christi, a national holiday in catholic Poland.

Radisson Blu Gdansk was 423 PLN or $112 at the time I booked. The first night earned triple points or 60 points/$1. I also received 35% bonus points or 7 points/$1 as a Club Carlson Gold elite member. One paid night earned about 6,500 Club Carlson points.

Rad Blu Suite 

A free suite upgrade was icing on the cake.

Rad Blu Gdansk-2

Krakow, Poland

Hampton Inn Krakow was my first time staying at a Hilton Honors category 1 hotel for 5,000 points. Those points cost $25 during a 100% bonus points purchase last month.

Hampton Krakow-1 

Hampton Inn Krakow is connected to DoubleTree Krakow at the Galleria Plaza Krakow shopping mall.

Hampton Krakow-2

The hotel location is by a shopping center about 2 miles from Old Town and fairly remote from anything else, except the Tauron Arena. Even considering a taxi ride is $5 to $7 from Old Town and $10 from the train station after 10pm when taxi rates go up 50%, the hotel was a significant savings compared to the $120 to $200+ for chain hotels like Holiday Inn (sold out), Hotel Indigo (sold out), Best Western Old Town ($132), Radisson Blu ($211), Park Inn ($147) and Sheraton ($227) around Old Town Krakow.

Galleria Plaza Krakow

Besides, I could not change hotels for our Saturday night stay since the Impact 2-day heavy metal festival at the nearby Tauron Arena meant my hotel reward night could not be canceled without a hefty penalty.

The Hampton Inn location in an apartment block residential area of Krakow is not a problem for me. Trams go to Kazimierz or Old Town every 10 to 20 minutes until 11:30 at night for $1.

The uncomfortably hard bed is my biggest complaint about the property. And I like firm mattresses.

Hampton Inn Krakow-1

Radisson Blu Krakow earned triple points + Sunday night 5,000 bonus points + mobile app booking 3,000 bonus points for over 14,000 points on a deeply discounted $99 rate. Radisson Blu Krakow is a Club Carlson Category 5 hotel at 44,000 points per night. Park Inn Krakow is category 3 at 28,000 points per night and about 10 minutes walk to Old Town.

Rad Blu Krakow-1

I earned 17,000 points for $211 on two paid nights at Radisson Blu hotels in Gdansk and Krakow. These provided a significant discount on the 38,000 points redeemed for one night at Radisson Blu Gdansk in the suite. The low rate for Friday night at Rad Blu Gdansk was $180.

Three hotel stays in January-February at Park Inn Prague on a 2-for-1 rate, Radisson Blu Wroclaw on 2-for-1 rate, and 4 nights at Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam earned 70,000 Club Carlson points in my account on $470 in hotel spend for 8 nights.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 70,000 points earned, $470 hotel spent on 8 nights.

In April, I stayed at the category 1 Park Inn Kaunas, Lithuania for 13,500 points and 2 nights at category 2 Radisson Blu Klaipeda, Lithuania for 30,000 points. And the net cost for our one night in a suite at Radisson Blu Gdansk was 21,000 points.

In total, I stayed 14 nights at Club Carlson properties in 2017 and paid for 7 room nights with 7 free room nights for under $700. Those hotel stays placed me in the city centers of Amsterdam (4 nights), Prague (2 nights), Kaunas and Klaipeda, Lithuania (3 nights), and Wroclaw, Gdansk and Krakow, Poland (5 nights).

A Business Class room at Radisson Blu Gdansk this Thursday and Friday nights is over $250 per night, whereas Radisson Blu Krakow is 764 PLN or $200 per night on those same dates.

An even better deal than my $99 room rate last Sunday is a 280 PLN ($74) rate available next Sunday night on June 25. That is an incredible rate deal for summer in Krakow and still within the June 30 end date for triple points + 5,000 bonus points for a Sunday or Monday night stay.

Rad Blu Krakow view

Wawel Castle view from Radisson Blu Krakow.

Where does my loyalty lie?

Significant room rate swings from one night to another are a major expense factor I consider in trip itinerary planning to be in the right city and hotel for the best deals on a trip like this, where we have bounced from Barcelona to Warsaw to Gdansk to Krakow.

And hotel rates have to be balanced against big swings in airfare, where one day has $25 airline tickets between cities like Gdansk and Krakow and the next day $80 tickets.

I am a loyalty traveler who finds great value in chain hotels without the effort needed to pick out properties with other lodging options like Airbnb or good value independent hotels.

I am not a monogamous hotel loyalty traveler. I like to sleep around wherever I find a good deal. I like to keep my options open for the best values for earning and burning hotel loyalty points when planning my travel hotel stays.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Gdansk is wonderful.

    Trip report posts on cities will probably not happen before next week since spending most of my time touring cities and not around my computer. Just not getting enough sleep to write a decent report on cities.

    In February I did a free walking tour of Gdansk, so I have a number of tips on transportation and sightseeing. Only three days there and never made it to Gydnia or Sopot, other cities with attractions near Gdansk.

  2. We spent 3 days in Gdansk in 2nd week of May after our Transatlantic cruise that ended at Copenhagen – Unfortunately it was the unusually COLD week thru out Europe with temperature 15 degree C below normal! It really hampered our stay because we did not have warm clothing for the low single digit and after windchill factor it is MINUS 2 degree! It was so cold that on our 4th day despite we had a very late flight to Krakow at 8:30pm we chose to stay at our Hampton Inn Airport room until the 4pm late check out, then continued to hang out at the lobby till 6pm before heading across street to the airport to spend the remaining hour at the sad PP lounge.
    Hampton by the airport is a 10K property. There are 3.80PLN one-way train to town, very convenient.
    We hope to return to Gdansk and the Tri-City area in better weather time as we barely walked the Long Market, then just crossed the bridge to take the obligatory pictures before we quickly headed back. It was too too cold with gutsy wind. All the locals told us that was ABNORMAL weather….

    Despite the freezing cold wind and frequent drizzle we did go to Gdynia (twice) and Sopot once. Both are quite nice. We had great local seafood in both cities The marina of Gdynia probably is where the Rich Polish go for their recreational activities. Never see so many VERY NICE cars in Poland anywhere including Warsaw, parked at the Marina parking lots – the owners must have sailed out at sea.

    The seaside resort area of Sopot is very upscale. Sheraton is an impressive spread of buildings by the sea. We had our only sunshine for a couple hours at Sopot – still very very cold but better than the drizzle that had been plaguing us the whole time.

  3. @FLL – We had a similar experience yesterday in #Krakow due to heat. It was officially 88F, however, city streets much warmer with local temps reading 95F. Heat is probably not an issue for someone from FLL, if that means Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Here on BoardingArea we tend to think in terms of airports).

    I even passed on 3 zloty (80 cents US) pints during 5-6pm Happy Hour because it was too hot to drink beer.

    We went back to our room to rest in air conditioning.

    Our house sitter told us it was 61F and foggy in Monterey, despite heatwave across western USA and 100F temperatures only 40 minutes drive from beach.

    I did a 2.5 hour free walking tour in Gdansk in late February and the group dwindled from about 30 tourists to around 10 tourists due to the cold wind blowing through the streets giving a windchill in the teens.

  4. Yes, FLL is the place we live.

    We can stand the teens, but NOT in 5 to Minus 2! That was even the day time temperature during our visit. During the coldest days on the Atlantic crossing, the temperature on the High Sea was never below 20 even with wind and drizzle. We have done European land trips post TATL cruise at least a doz times in April – NEVER have such cold weather on land after the cruise, even in late April. Therefore we did not have adequate clothing for this abnormally cold weather during our first 10 days in Poland. Ironically the weather got much warmer when we moved to The Baltic, in Vilnius and Tallinn.

    I often think about the term “Global Warming” is a misnomer. It should be correctly named as “Global Weather Disruption” or “Global Extreme Weather”… Because what we have in recent years are abnormal weather everywhere all over the world – from temperature to rainfalls.

    Forgot to mention, we also went to Malbork, a small town has the UNESCO site about an hour local train ride from Gdnask. Worth a visit to this meticulously restored Medival castle.founded by the Knights of the Teutonic Order.

    If you return to Gdnask, try to take some time to visit Gydnia / Sopot and Malbork – for a change to see some new sights instead of spending all the time pub crawling for cheap beer.

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