IHG PointBreaks list of hotels will preview Friday, July 28 at noon EST. Booking these hotels will not be available until Monday, July 31 for stays through October 31, 2017.
The listing of Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand Centre, France is deja-vu for Loyalty Traveler. I stayed at Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand in 2015. The only reason I chose Clermont-Ferrand as a destination was due to the ability to stay several nights for 5,000 points per night at the Holiday Inn.
I am sitting in Holiday Inn Brno, Czech Republic writing this post.
Babinsky Bistro at Spilberk Castle, Brno, CZ.
We are leaving Brno today after three nights at Holiday Inn Brno on PointBreaks for 15,000 points, a hotel booking I made when the last list of PointBreaks hotels were released in April. These three hotel nights cost me $23 per night when I picked up 20,000 points last April for $92 on a Hotel Indigo Chicago Points and Cash booking I canceled.
Holiday Inn Brno, Czech Republic (Sep 14, 2015).
A one night hotel stay at Holiday Inn Express Warsaw Airport in Poland last month earned 35,000 IHG points with my Accelerate promotion.
Which brings me to the point of planning travel around IHG PointBreaks hotels.
In September 2015, I embarked on a ‘three trips to Europe’ itinerary to complete an American Airlines Executive Platinum Challenge by flying 30,000 miles in 5 weeks between the last week of August and the first week of October. Little did I know at the time how badly AA would gut their frequent flyer program in 2016.
I am not the kind of person who spends time flying around the world just for the sake of being in airplanes. I flew one round trip ticket from Orange County to Copenhagen, and two round trip tickets from Bergen, Norway to San Francisco with flights to other countries and cities on each trip.
To minimize my travel expenses while traveling in Europe, IHG PointBreaks nights played heavily into my 2015 AA Challenge travel planning.
On my first trip, after arriving in Copenhagen and staying at the Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance in Malmo, Sweden for 8,000 points per night, I flew to Prague and caught a bus to Brno, Czech Republic for several nights at the Holiday Inn Brno.
On my second trip I flew from Bergen, Norway to Harstad in Arctic Norway using 10,000 SAS miles for the round trip ticket. I had spent a week in Bergen in September 2014 and love that city, but I had always wanted to go to the Arctic and it was a lovely experience, despite coming down with some illness while I was there.
On my third trip, I skipped the final flight leg from London to Bergen. Instead I flew Air France London to Paris and redeemed a free night from the IHG 2014 Into the Nights promotion for a one night stay at the InterContinental Le Grand Paris before flying to Clermont-Ferrand for an extended stay on PointBreaks at the Holiday Inn.
InterContinental Le Grand Hotel, a storied institution of Paris (Sep 30, 2015).
I am a ‘second city’ kind of tourist
Coming back to Brno, Czechia is something I did not think would ever happen. So many places to visit and roads to travel in the world.
I thought the weak link for our current trip in my itinerary was Brno. I was not sure if Kelley would be happy with coming to Brno after a week in Prague.
In fact, I think Kelley has enjoyed Brno more than Prague. Don’t get me wrong. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world we have visited. There were simply too many tourists in the Stare Mesto-Old Town. Some streets and Charles Bridge were difficult to walk due to the peak season summer crowds.
Kelley and I found ourselves wandering residential neighborhoods in Prague around Nove Mesto, Vinohrady, Smichov, Letna Park and Holesovic, in large part, simply to be away from the crowds of people concentrated around the main tourist attractions.
Our time in Brno restaurants and pubs in the central city have been dining and drinking experiences surrounded by nearly all Czech patrons. Some establishments had to find the person in the place who spoke English to explain the Czech language menu items to us and take our orders. At night the streets in the city center were filled with locals living the way they live in summer. That was a great aspect of authentic Czech culture to experience.
My sentiments on Brno were expressed in this tweet I wrote yesterday:
Prague and Brno? Bratislava and Kosice? Paris or Clermont-Ferrand?
Our 2016 travels revolved around Central Europe and the Baltic countries. Kelley and I went to Vilnius, Lithuania in April (Crowne Plaza Vilnius on PointBreaks), then in July we totally fell in love with Krakow, Poland (Holiday Inn Krakow for 15,000 points/night, but now 20K). Last September, I spent two weeks traveling around Slovakia, starting in Kosice in the east and ending in Bratislava in the west. Holiday Inn Bratislava is 10,000 points per night, but I have not been to that hotel.
Brno has had me thinking about Kosice, Slovakia again. That was another second city destination I stayed in last year. There were no obnoxiously drunk British stag parties in Kosice like I saw in Bratislava.
The culture seems more authentic to me when everything is not geared to tourism. Food, beer, hotels and attractions cost less in these second cities.
Getting back to the point of IHG PointBreaks, Clermont-Ferrand is hardly the second city in France to Paris. I had never heard of Clermont-Ferrand until the Holiday Inn came up on PointBreaks in 2015. Still, I have fond memories of my time there, in a place I would likely have never visited if not for IHG PointBreaks.
Today, Kelley and I are taking a Student Agency bus from Brno to Bratislava, Slovakia as our last destination before flying to London on this current trip to Europe, then back to California.
Just as I thought I would never find my way back to Brno, and did, Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand might be in my plans again too.
I had already planned to return to Europe in October to visit Nice and Monaco to use a prepaid stay I won in auction last year at Riviera Marriott Hotel La Porte de Monaco.. Kelley did not want to go to France this summer.
I have been waiting for this list of IHG PointBreaks to come out and see if there will be some hotels I can book for places I would like to visit.
Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand will probably not be in my October plans, but I would not mind visiting there again. Next time I would rent a car to get out to the National Parks in the region, since I learned the public transportation network for regional travel from Clermont-Ferrand is quite limited after mid-September.
There are a couple of other hotels in central France I would like to visit, including a Best Western Premier historic hotel near Clermont-Ferrand and another hotel I have had in my sights this year where there is a Presidential Suite available for a ridiculously low number of hotel points.
I am looking forward to tomorrow to see where IHG PointBreaks might be taking me in Europe this October.