May152016

Nordic Choice Hotels are the real deal for Sweden and Norway

My first Nordic Choice Hotel for summer in Scandinavia is booked for Stockholm, Sweden. The booking window for North America residents to book hotel reward nights using Choice Privileges points outside of their region is 60 days and 30 days prior to arrival for USA and Canada in our member region. I am within the 60 days window for my trip to Sweden in July. I plan to book several Nordic Choice Hotels in Sweden, Denmark and Norway for hotel stays in July.

Choice Privileges current promotion is earn 8,000 points after two stays from May 12 to August 18, 2016. The summer promotion is advertised as earn a $50 gift card after two stays, but that is only a redemption option to promote travel partners of Choice Privileges. The member actually earns a minimum 8,000 points after two stays.

I took advantage of the last Choice Privileges promotion, recently expired, to earn 8,000 points in early March with two $40 hotel stays at Monterey Econolodge and Monterey Rodeway Inn. The real value of having 8,000 points is the ability to then grow your account balance booking Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash rates, where you only need 6,000 points for a reward night and pay $7.50 per additional 1,000 points needed for the hotel night. An example is shown in this post how Points Plus Cash can be used to buy 40,000 points of a 64,000 points reward stay at a luxury hotel in Norway.

Last month I purchased 104,000 Choice Privileges points in Daily Getaways for $442. That was all I was able to buy before they sold out. Today I bought 8,000 more points for $60. That was actually a mistake purchase. I wanted to book one hotel night in Stockholm using Points Plus Cash. I was playing around with the website going back and forth looking at room types and paid rates compared to reward night rates. When I actually booked the hotel, it turned out I had booked two rooms. I canceled and rebooked one room, but it meant that I purchased 8,000 nonrefundable points. No problem for me with the redemption value of points greatly exceeding the cost of points.

Even with my mistake, my total room cost is about $69 for a hotel room rate of 1,680 Swedish krone = $203.65 USD.

The points I purchased accidentally at $7.50 per 1,000 points today were immediately redeemed for a room rate with a redemption value of $20 per 1,000 points.

Walk the Talk and Sleep in the Deep heart of budget hotel chains

I get a laugh out of bloggers writing about Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards when it is obvious they do not stay in these hotel brands frequently enough to point out where there are terrific redemption values to be found.

There are some phenomenal values in Scandinavia with Choice Privileges points. Forget about your preconceptions of what a Choice Hotel is like, based on what you find in the USA.

Farris Bad, Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Farris Bad website

Farris Bad, Nordic Choice Hotels Ascend Collection

Here are some photos I snapped in 2014 of Nordic Choice Hotels Farris Bad, an Ascend Collection hotel about an hour south of Oslo, Norway by train in the small coastal town of Larvik. This town has a port for ferry service to Denmark.

Farris Bad-ext1-reflection

On nice days there is outdoor dining for complimentary breakfast buffet.

Farris Bad ext-2

Farris Bad is a spa resort. In a shock to our American sensibilities, when I was a guest staying at the Norwegian spa in 2014, on Wednesdays the pool was reserved for nude guests. Just my luck to have my hotel stay check-out on Tuesday.

Farris Bad ext3 

The hotel rooms situated over gently lapping water 30 feet below is a sound memory I still recall after two years.

Farris Bad ext-4

My stay in early September was already in off-season for this seaside town. Summer season does not last long around these parts and generally starts in July and finishes before the end of August. Bob Dylan had played in July 2014 at a festival in the next town southwest on the coast during a weekend when it hit unseasonably high temperatures in the low 90s for Norway. There was an inch of rain on my first day in Larvik, before the weather brightened. I spent the next week in Bergen with everyday filled with sun and temperatures in the 70s. Bergen on the west coast of Norway usually has some of the rainiest weather in September. The cost was $50 to fly Norwegian Airlines from Oslo-Sandefjord-Torp Airport, about 15 miles from Larvik, to Bergen, Norway.

Farris Bad ext5 

Room Rates at Farris Bad July 10-14 four nights

Farris Bad rates

Farris Bad reward rates

One of the interesting competitive advantages to Choice Privileges and also Best Western Rewards and Wyndham Rewards is the ability to book higher category rooms for the same number of points as a standard room. This is not always an option, but frequently there is a choice of room types when booking with points.

All three room types: Standard, Superior and Deluxe are available with points at Farris Bad during these July dates.

Farris Bad Deluxe Room is $352 USD per night or $1,408 for four nights in July. Pay with points and the rate is 16,000 points per night or 64,000 points. I generally book Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash to conserve my Choice Privileges points.

24,000 points + $300 buys 4 reward nights at Farris Bad in a Deluxe Room. 24,000 points saves $1,100.

That is a phenomenal redemption value of $45 per 1,000 points with this reservation. The $300 payment is the price to buy Choice Privileges points for $7.50 per 1,000 points. The cost for my 104,000 points last month during Daily Getaways was $4.25 per 1,000 points. Farris Bad is a redemption value ten times greater than the price I paid for 104,000 Choice Privileges points.

I still have enough points to book another 20 reward nights with Choice Privileges points. I have Choice Privileges Platinum 20-nights elite status primarily due to reward stays using Choice Privileges points. While I actually have a 75-day window for booking international reservations, that window does not work online when booking Nordic Choice Hotels. I am only able to book Nordic Choice Hotels reward stays online within the same 60 day window as every other U.S. member.

Here are my trip report posts from two weeks in Norway at Nordic Choice Hotels in September 2014.

Norway September 3-17, 2014 Trip Posts

Norway for two weeks on a budget with a $541 United Airlines round trip ticket SFO-OSL and $300 spending cash for the trip.

Climbing hills for a few days in Bergen was the highlight of my trip. While Norway is expensive, in top three countries worldwide for cost of living, the hotels I picked for stays provided most of the food I wanted to eat. I only needed $25 or about 150NOK for food and I spent about $275 for train, bus and a plane ticket to travel OSL (airport) – Oslo Central-Larvik (southeast Norway)-Sandefjord TORP Airport – BGO Bergen (Norwegian Air) – Express Bus Bergen Center – Bergen Line to Oslo (bus/train) – OSL (airport).

There was no corporate or tourist board sponsorship for this trip. My objective was to find out what value Choice Privileges have in Norway? Answer: Terrific value. Sweden and Norway have about 170 Nordic Choice Hotels. The focus of my trip was checking out Nordic Choice Hotels with stays at six hotels and site visits at four other hotels in Oslo, Bergen and Larvik and also a visit to Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic, a unique hotel/whaling museum  in Sandefjord, the whaling capital of the world a century ago on the southeast coast of Norway, 75 miles south from Oslo.

I redeemed 216,000 Choice Privileges points for 13 nights with $6,000+ in hotel stay value. Most of the points were purchased at a rate around $4.00 per 1,000 points through U.S. Travel Association annual Daily Getaways promotion, generally held between April and June each spring and limited to U.S. residents. Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways Choice points are good deal for Europe Hotels (May 14, 2014).

Floyen-city-view_thumb.jpg

Bergen seen from Mount Floyen

  1. Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
  2. Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
  3. Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
  4. Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
  5. Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
  6. Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
  7. Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
  8. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
  9. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
  10. Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
  11. USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
  12. Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Sep 12)
  13. Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
  14. Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
  15. Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
  16. Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
  17. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
  18. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
  19. Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
  20. Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
  21. How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
  22. Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
  23. The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
  24. Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is recommended Nordic Choice Hotel (Sep 27)

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.

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Comments

  1. Rick, you probably know this already but I’ve found that if you are doing a multi-night award stay, you can book the entire thing when you are 60 days out from the START of your stay.

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