Prime Travel Time: Fall '97
There's good news tonight, especially for those of us hooked on Switzerland. This exquisite little country, you see, seems to be getting affordable.
In the last two years, our dollar has risen nearly 50% in value against the franc. A 200 Sfr. hotel room that translated to $183 in the spring of 1995 now goes for $125. A 25 Sfr. entrée in a restaurant was $23 then but is now less than $16. A 4 Sfr. beer that was $3.67 is now $2.50. Big savings.
There are even a few genuine bargains. You will note in our story on Sion that Pierre Menegale-Duc, owner of Hotel des Vignes, has extended a special 15% discount to Gemütlichkeit subscribers (you must reserve in advance and identify yourself as a subscriber). This means his standard east-facing double rooms will cost you less than $100 (175 Sfr. less 15% = 148.75 Sfr. = $93). I don't know in the last five to seven years that I've seen any double room in what I would consider a decent Swiss hotel for less than $100. Des Vignes is an elegant building in a beautiful setting and operated by a family who cares. If somehow we could place a blinking neon sign on this page it would blink BARGAIN! BARGAIN! BARGAIN! with an arrow pointing toward the words "Des Vignes."
The news is equally good in Germany and Austria. Earlier this month the dollar neared 1.9 marks but at press time had fallen back somewhat to 1.82. In Austria it now buys almost 13 schillings.
The surge in the dollar, coupled with continuing low car rental prices (less than $17 per day including tax for a compact VW Golf or Opel Astra in Germany) and low airfares currently being announced for late fall and early winter travel, make the next few months perhaps the best time to go to Europe so far in this decade. And, since most American tourists will be back home by mid-October, you can have the continent virtually to yourself.
Gemütlichkeit & the WWW
You may be wondering why there is not yet a Gemütlichkeit page on the Internet's World Wide Web. All I can say is it's coming. We have the domain name reserved gemut.com and hope before the snow flies to have it up and running.
The idea is to build a page that will be THE place to go for those planning a trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We'll have links to the best web sites on those three countries; there will be frequent updates of special airfares plus hotel, rail and car rental deals and an opportunity to look at past issues.
Gemütlichkeit Via Email
While some of you have told us you'll never be on the Internet, it is obvious that more readers than we imagined have on-line access.
So beginning now, we're making Gemütlichkeit available via email. That way you'll get it as soon as it's written, even before it's printed. The printing, mailing and delivery process currently takes from two to three weeks. Email compresses that to a few minutes. If you're interested in email delivery, here are your choices:
- Replace your regular mail delivery with email delivery and the price stays the same.
- Select email in addition to regular mail and the charge is $3 per month.
Call us at 800-521-6722 to start your email service.
Swissair-Delta Code Share
You may be aware that Swissair is now involved in a close relationship with Delta Airlines. Called "code sharing" in the industry, what it means is the two airlines book some of their passengers on each others flights.
This, as it relates to their low fare privileges with Swissair, is good news for Gemütlichkeit subscribers. It means that many of you who, in the past, couldn't use the Swissair deal because you live in a city not served by Swissair, can now do so. From many cities other than the "Swissair Gateways" of Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal Swissair will now either fly you to Europe on a Delta flight or pay the fare on another airline to get you from your town to one of these gateway cities.
I said most cities, but not all, unfortunately. In order to obtain the Swissair/Gemütlichkeit fare reductions some of you will still have to find your own way to a gateway city.
Perhaps at this point we should review the bidding regarding the Swissair deal.
- Paid subscribers are eligible for from $50 to $600 off Swissair's regular and sale fares. Right now the reduction is $50 for economy tickets priced under $1000, and $150 if the economy fare is $1000 or more. Business and first class reductions are $400 and $600 respectively. However, purchasers of full fare economy tickets (about $3300 from the West Coast) are entitled to a free business class upgrade.
- A coupon is not needed but you must book directly with Swissair. Reserve through Swissair at 800-221-4750, then call Shirley at Swissair in L.A., 310-335-5900. She will confirm with us your subscriber status and issue the tickets at the lower price.
- All persons traveling with the subscriber on at least one leg of the transatlantic journey are eligible for the reduced fares.
Our geography-checker didn't do so well in the June issue. The Austrian town of Bregenz is, of course, at the eastern rather than the western end of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). RHB