TIP: Become an Amigo of the Paradores and Check the Website

Cloister at Parador de San Estevo

By Peter & Jean Richards

UPDATE 5 June 2013: We have been told by a reader that the free parking benefit is no longer being offered. The Paradors are experiencing economic difficulties. We would suggest you check on the current status of these offers if you are planning a trip.

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The Spanish government owns and operates some of the best hotels in the country — a chain of 93 hostelries, many of which were developed to preserve historical sites.

Anyone who is planning to stay at the Paradores can benefit by joining Amigos de Paradores. It is a loyalty program offering substantial rewards.

Members get an point for each 3€ spent on lodging and food. This was sufficient so that on our last trip when we spent 16 nights in paradores the final night was free. That saved us upwards of 260€ (full price for the night, but we probably could have gotten a better rate because it was low season).

Besides accumulating Amigos points, members get a welcome coupon good for a free drink at each Parador (wine, beer or soft drink) and free parking. The parking is not an issue in rural paradors, but in urban ones it can be significant. In Santiago de Compostella, where we stayed three nights, the parking fee would be been 18€ a day.

Parador at Santillana del Mar

There are also special offers for members. At Benavente, we stayed a night with half board (breakfast and dinner) for 120€, which was a real bargain. Members can also avail themselves of the Customer Service Center (cannot speak to that since we have never used it).

Guests can sign up for Amigos membership at a parador or when making an online reservation.

The other strategy we strongly recommend is to check the website thoroughly. The website is not easy to navigate, but you can access several rates: fixed price, Golden Days (30% off for those over 55 but you must take breakfast), young persons getaway, and 5 nights card. Check them all out to determine which is best in your situation. On our recent trip we found some very good rates, but we were traveling in February and that is usually a good time to get travel bargains.

The URL for the site in English is: http://www.parador.es/en/  You can switch to Spanish if you wish.

Copyright © 2012 Peter and Jean Richards


About oldmainetravelers

The Old Maine Travelers are Peter and Jean Richards, who met more than a half century ago covering President John F. Kennedy on what would become his last trip to Boston.  They worked for many years as wire service and newspaper reporters and editors.  Peter did a nightly television show on WGBH, Boston, before he went into government in the administration of John V. Lindsay, mayor of New York City. After they moved to their brownstone in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Jean did a spell on Madison Avenue in the real “Mad Men” days and later became public relations officer at Chase Manhattan Bank.  Since 1973 they have worked together first as owners and publishers of a group of award-winning newspapers in Dutchess County, N.Y., and then as antiques dealers.  Now they are old and live on the coast of Maine and in the Southwest of France when not traveling further afield. In the red barn by their house in Damariscotta, Maine, they tend an antique shop specializing in 18th and 19th century furniture, metalwork and accessories, buying objects they know about and like and selling them from May to October to delightful people of obvious discernment and taste. In France, they live in an old stone house in the shadows of the remaining towers of an unfinished 17th century church and above Roman drains in a town along a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. They love it — for its authenticity and abundant boulangeries.  The rest of the time they travel the world together seeing the sights, seeking out museums, stumbling into interesting conversations, savoring local specialties and otherwise bumbling along in their own style. For years they have sent article-length postcards to family, friends, fellow travelers and some media. Many of these will now be posted here.
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