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.
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