Apr252016

Norwegian Flights in Europe and Wyndham Rewards deals in Switzerland

When Wyndham Rewards points went on sale during Daily Getaways two weeks ago, I was on a Norwegian Airlines flight from Stockholm to Oakland. I wanted to publish a piece on the value of Wyndham Rewards points in Switzerland, only to find that I had never written a dedicated post on Wyndham Rewards points and Switzerland hotels. This post covers that topic and also explains a little more about how my research in Norwegian Airlines routes around Europe that has me studying hotel rates and points value in different places around Europe.

Switzerland is one location I analyzed hotel rates using loyalty points. I have also examined hotel deals for Croatia, Helsinki, the Baltic countries, Nice and Cannes, Lisbon, Vienna and Bratislava, Belgrade, and Prague covering Club Carlson, Starwood, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Hilton, Best Western and Choice points opportunities. This post on good value hotel rates using Wyndham Rewards points at Ramada hotels in Switzerland is a sample of the kind of research I spent the past three days doing as I examine potential destinations for my September trip to Europe. I will publish several more location specific articles on which hotel chains have good value reward nights in different countries. I was surprised to see that there are definitely loyalty program points advantages spread across different hotel chains in different places around Europe. I think I found best deals in every one of the programs for a specific location.

From AA Executive Platinum in 2016 to Norwegian Air frequent flyer in 2017

It may seem ironic that an American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum member is planning a Norwegian Air flight segment run around Europe. I will have at least AAdvantage 50,000 Platinum elite in 2017, but I will likely lose interest in AAdvantage when the program goes revenue based for earning miles. My whole value system is based on cheap travel.

This loyalty traveler is about travel value. Many flyers place higher value on flying Business and First Class flights than I do. Been there and done that. While flying up front is almost essential for a business traveler frequent flyer to survive many days in the air and flying premium cabin aircraft are a significant part of the leisure traveler vacation experience, I am less of a vacationer and more of a traveler. I want to go to places. How I get there is a balance of comfort and budget. Economy class flights are fine with me, especially when that means I can spend a larger proportion of my travel budget on hotels, food and travel expenses in my destination rather than the airline tickets to get there.

The math in planning a Norwegian Air flight segment run in Europe is basic value to me. Fly 18 flight segments in 12 months on Norwegian Airlines and earn the frequent flyer benefit of free seat assignment and free checked bag for following 12 months. The basic deal is I have found Norwegian to be the best deal on several of my flights within Europe and flying around Europe is fairly easy to do on Norwegian at $30 to $40 per flight segment. Norwegian flies to 31 countries around Europe, plus Morocco, Turkey, Dubai and Israel. Norwegian also flies nonstop from Oakland and Los Angeles to London Gatwick LGW. That is a route I look forward to flying sometime over the next year.

Here are two background posts to explain Norwegian Airlines frequent flyer program and why I am planning a flight segment run in Europe over the next 12 months.

Loyalty Traveler – Why I am planning a Norwegian Reward mileage run (April 24)

Loyalty Traveler – Norwegian Airlines flies between 30 countries in Europe (April 25)

14 Unvisited Countries and Norwegian will take me there

I looked over my list of countries with Norwegian Airlines routes and counted 14 countries in Europe I have never visited. That is quite a few Norwegian flights I can use to visit new places. The problem is prioritizing where to travel with due consideration given to seasons and climate. I don’t particularly want to be in Belgrade, Serbia in February or Alicante, Spain in July.

My July trip is already planned with two flights on Norwegian: Stockholm to Krakow, Poland and Copenhagen to Stavanger, Norway.

In September I am giving strong preference to Croatia and the Adriatic coast. Hotels are more expensive there, but I’d love to see the area while the weather and sea are hopefully still warm. Then Riga, Latvia RIX is another consideration for very low flight price ($50 round trip Norwegian from Oslo) and very low priced hotels to make up for splurging in Croatia. September seems like it would be pleasant there too. French Riviera, Lisbon, Gdansk, Helsinki, and Prague are also places that appeal to me for September.

More on hotel deals in Croatia, Latvia and those other destinations later.

This post shares a hotel deal for travel to Switzerland and Wyndham Rewards points.

“I hate the Mountains” – Kelley, and now she wants to go to Switzerland

I mentioned in some of my pre-Lithuania trip articles in March that my wife is reluctant to travel to new places. Given her preference we would rarely travel beyond London and Amsterdam. Yet, she adored Lithuania and now she is looking forward to our stay in Krakow, Poland in July. She even mentioned last week she thinks a trip to Switzerland would be nice.

She has repeatedly said to me “I hate the mountains” over the past few years, especially during several summers of road trips crossing the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains to visit her, now deceased, mother in Denver. I think her recent change of attitude came when I told her about data I read recently on Switzerland being the most expensive place in Europe for a tourist to travel right now. She wants to test my budget travel skills.

Think Outside the Box and into the Ramada Hotels of Switzerland on Points

I know about some great Ramada deals in and around the Swiss Alps for 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points and 77 CHF ($79 USD). Norwegian Air flies to Milan MXP and Geneva GVA. This is one of the Norwegian route options combined with hotel deals I researched over the weekend.

I checked out hotel deals in Switzerland last September when I considered flying to Milan on my AAdvantage elite status mileage run. I remembered Wyndham Rewards stood out as one of the better value prospects. Unfortunately, Milan did not make my final destination cut last September to travel through the Italian Alps, although I did end up traveling through the French Alps and flying from Geneva to Copenhagen after a week in France.

Wyndham raised the GoFast copay from $95 USD to $150 USD on their top hotels during the past year. This change impacted the copay for some of the Ramada hotels in Switzerland, but there are still GoFast deals for several Ramada hotels in Switzerland at around $79 to $100 copay and 3,000 points per night. That is a significant discount for hotel rooms that average over $200 USD per night.

Locarno, Switzerland is in the low Alps at an elevation around 700 ft and surrounded by higher mountains. Locarno is 2.5 hours by train from Milan MXP airport.

Milan MXP Airport to Locarno, Switzerland

2.5 hours to 3 hours by train.

Google Maps MXP to Ramada Locarno

Two Ramada Hotels in Locarno, Switzerland

GoFree = 15,000 points per night Sep 11-14. Both hotels are available for GoFree reward nights.

Go Fast Rewards

Ramada Locarno CH

TripAdvisor ranks Ramada Arcadia #6 of 30 Locarno hotels and Ramada La Palma #7.

Ramada Locarno rates Sep11-14

Ramada La Palma au Lac Locarno room rate for Sep 11-14 dates is 157.50 CHF for a nonrefundable rate or 210 CHF for flexible cancellation rate.

3 nights at 630 CHF = $646.60 USD. That is an expensive hotel stay beside a lake in the Italian speaking portion of Switzerland. There are probably better hotelswith better deals.

But the rate for a flexible cancellation GoFast Reward is only 9,000 Wyndham Rewards points and 231 CHF ($237 USD) for three nights. I was on a Norwegian Airlines flight when Wyndham Rewards points were sold on Daily Getaways at $150 for 15,000 points with option to buy 30,000 points for $300. I purchased 15,000 points about 14 hours after the initial Daily Getaways offers went live. Wyndham Rewards points were not a popular purchase item. In fact you can still buy 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points for $150 on DailyGetaways (must be U.S. resident).

Basically $90 in Wyndham Rewards points saves over $400 USD on this Ramada hotel in the Swiss-Italian foothills. Higher mountains over 10,000 ft in elevation are nearby Locarno.

Ramada Engelberg, Switzerland and Mt. Titlis with highest suspension bridge in Switzerland

But why stop with Locarno? Another four hours by train from Locarno and you reach Engelberg, Switzerland, a small Alps village known for its cable cars up 10,623 ft. Mt. Titlis. The first cable car opened in 1913. To mark the centennial, there is now the Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest suspension bridge in Switzerland at over 10,000 ft. Even in July, alpine weather around the summit of Titlis averages around freezing.

Check out this ski transportation map from the Titlis.ch website for the Engelberg Valley.

Engelberg ski resort lift map

Engelberg at 3,300 ft and 3,800 population is definitely a Swiss Alps rural location.

Titlis tourism

Ramada Regina Titlis Engelberg

Ramada Regina Titlis Engelberg, Switzerland for six Nights August 9-15

2 Twin Beds Room 195.42 CHF Prepaid, nonrefundable or 229.90 CHF ($236 USD) best flexible rate.

  • Six Nights = 1,379.40 CHF ($1,416 USD).
  • GoFree = 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night = 90,000 points
  • GoFast = 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night + 77CHF ($79 USD).
  • Go Fast Six nights = 18,000 points + $474 USD.
  • 18,000 Wyndham Rewards points saves $942 on Ramada Engelberg hotel rate.
  • $474 + $180 to buy 18,000 Wyndham Rewards points (Daily Getaways sale)  = $654 for 6 hotel nights.
  • $109 USD per night compared to $236 nightly rate to pay for Ramada Engelberg standard twin beds room without Wyndham Rewards points.

Ramada Regina rates Aug9-15

Working on a Norwegian Dream

I have been working on a routing problem around Europe for several days as I plan my Norwegian Airlines flight segment run for September 2016. The basic deal is I plan to focus on flying Norwegian Airlines around Europe in September for a couple weeks of travel and pick up six to ten flight segments for the benefit of free seat assignments and free checked bag for 12 months as a Norwegian Reward frequent flyer.The value of free seat assignment and free checked bag is not lucrative enough to focus my efforts mostly on flying. There is actually a Helsinki-Oulu $25 segment that flies several times daily and 12 segments could be done in a few days for $300 if flight segments were my main purpose. Instead, I want to make leisurely trips to places I really want to visit and pick up good value hotel stays along the way.

This sample itinerary for Switzerland is one of many options I have researched for September travel. At this point my travel plans favor Croatia and Latvia for September. Portugal, French Riviera and Switzerland are other places I have connected the dots for low fare Norwegian Air travel and low hotel rates. I’ll write more about hotel deals with low rates or good value reward stays in different places around Europe in coming days.

There are so many choices to make when selecting an itinerary for flights and nights in Europe. Too much choice is not necessarily a good thing. One of the filters I use to limit my searches is plan on travel to places where I can earn and burn loyalty points. Through that filter I come across places like Locarno and Engelberg, Switzerland that I could have easily never thought about for the rest of my life if it had not been for a few Ramada hotels.

I’d actually like to walk the highest suspension bridge in Switzerland. But, that needs to be my solo adventure. I know for a fact that Kelley will never step foot on a suspension bridge 10,000 feet high in the Alps. She hates the mountains.

Loyalty Traveler – Value in Wyndham Rewards Bonus Points rates (Feb 16, 2016) Here is an article where I looked at Ramada Engelberg previously.

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 »

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Comments

  1. Loving this Euro value series, Ric. You are unique, most especially on BA.

    I too have a wife who’s quite fond of Europe, and who may have been spoilt by luxury travel over the last few years. Going to work on adjusting flight expectations towards Y class to Europe (“it’s such a short flight from the East coast!”), but need to compensate by getting great value on luxury hotel stays. Your nordic choice series has been an inspiration, although Wyndham free nights at $150 through Daily Getaways or even the $100 with GoFast seems too much per night. Looking forward to what else you have found across the Old Continent.

  2. Cleaning cat boxes and thinking, ‘How can the Ramada Engelberg be $94 per night when it is $79 + $30 for Wyndham Rewards points?

    Answer: Bad addition.

    Corrected room rate to $109 per night rate with Wyndham GoFast rewards at 3,000 points + 77 CHF per night.

  3. Rick, I just pulled the trigger on the Wyndham rewards $150 purchase, thanks to this article and the great value you pointed out for Switzerland (where I might be headed). In fact, I got the credit card too, since it’s at 45K signup bonus right now.

    My question is about making speculative bookings using hte Cash+Points rate. Can they be easily cancelled? Do you have experience with that? (If they can be cancelled, then they are even more valuable than you wrote in your example because your comparison was to non-refundable rates.)

  4. @bluecat – Wyndham GoFast rates are generally same cancellation policy as flexible rate. I have booked and canceled GoFast rates with no problem. Points generally go back into account. I think I had to call one or two times when points did not automatically redeposit and then they were put in while I was on the phone.

    In my comparisons I used the Best Flexible Rate as the equivalent to the GoFast rate for savings calculations.

    I am thinking about Switzerland more seriously as a destination for my September trip too.

  5. I do admire your different viewpoint for travel. We were initially planning to go to Switzerland last May, but then they uncoupled from the Euro and prices shot up. We ended up going to the Moselle valley in Germany instead, which I don’t regret, but I would like to go to Switzerland eventually. Thanks for pointing out the value of Wyndham there.

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