I LOVE ITALIA SERIES: PART ONE
This is the first of a series on Italy or Frugal Italy I should say. We will hit the highlights and little known gems, of course without having to hit a bank robbery to experience them.
- Getting to Milan and where to Stay
- What to do in Milan
I grew up in Europe and have to admit a bias towards Italy; it is my favorite country for so many reasons. A nation of so many head spinning icons, to name just a handful present and past … Ferrari, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Opera, Prada, Michelangelo, Italian football, Gucci, Ducati … the list is endless.
How can you not want to go and taste the nectar of this country as ancient as it is fabulous? For those of you who have been, let’s go back. So starting our journey from the North, our first city and region is Milan and the Lake region of Como.
Milan has two airports serving the second city of Italy, Malpensa and Linate, with the former being the main international one. Finnair are showing excellent fares out of JFK for under $400 each way including taxes and you will earn nearly 10,000 American Airlines or other oneworld carrier miles for your trouble. For these fares I would not recommend redeeming miles. Earn instead of burn is my advice as far as coach is concerned.
As far as premium class redemption’s probably the best value is through Star Alliance (United, Air Canada, etc) on Lufthansa through Frankfurt for 67,500 miles in First class. Lufthansa has a solid first class product (not the best in my opinion) but it’s still pretty sweet. Coincidentally the current United MileagePlus Visa offers up to 65,000 miles. If you are combining Milan with another first European stop(s) be sure to check whichbudget.com for a search of all the low cost carriers in Europe to get there.
If you happen to have a Hyatt credit card, or have time to apply for one and receive the bonus of 2 free nights this is a top redemption location. As many of you know Park Hyatt is the luxury division as Conrad is to Hilton, JW is to Marriott, etc. however has the least amount of locations worldwide. The positive is they tend to be more striking and more exclusive.
The Park Hyatt Milano is actually part of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, connecting the most famous landmarks the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza del Scala. It is a landmark in it’s own right being a stunning double arcade built in 1867 for the first king of Italy and now houses chic shops, boutiques, and cafes. Back to the hotel itself, rates for the summer are $1000+ a night so using your free night awards here is more than a good idea, it’s a great one. Experience the utmost of luxury in a world class location for free.
After (or before) using your free nights there are plenty of affordable options in this city. This is the epicenter of design and fashion with literally the who’s who of designer brands calling Milano home. In the capital of style in THE country of style you would expect the hotels to have some panache and one of them is the Uptown Palace, with beautiful appointments throughout. With rates of $159 a night for a true 4-star in August, it’s fairly affordable for Europe. Book on Hotels.com for an effective 10% off as part of the welcome rewards program. This is your 10th night free and mix and match any hotel worldwide on their site.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49