Zermatt, Switzerland — Exploring the Alpine Countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland Collette Tour

How about hiking the valleys surrounding the Matterhorn, pictured above, in the summer? So many adventures are available through Collette Tours using Club Points. If you think you might like to take a tour — read on!! This will help you out!

It’s hard to identify one tour that will help you understand the types of experiences you can have for everyone.  That’s like going through a buffet line and only having one item to choose from.  But the questions are the same for everyone.  Is it worth all the Club Points (these aren’t cheap). How do you find a tour that will provide the experiences you dream of? Are the tours a good value for your points? How do I MAX my experience and MAX my value at the same time? These are all questions that I try and help you as Marriott Owners understand.

I decided to pick a tour that I would LOVE, and walk you through my process as if I were going to do this.  That might help you understand what you need to consider in planning your own tour.

Exploring the Alpine Countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland Collette Tour

Start off by watching the video highlights of the tour to see if this is the type of thing you want to do.  I love that Collette does this with most tours – kind of like a preview for a movie.  It doesn’t spoil the surprises, but gives you a good sense on what you would be doing. The video for this tour is at Exploring the Alpine Countries Video

Then go to the dates offered for this tour.  This is where you can potentially save on some points if you plan right. You can find the information right under the large “Itinerary” heading as you scroll a little down. Collette does a great job of adjusting the Club Points required with the time you select to go – similar to low and high seasons.  You can see from the chart below that the points required range from 15.500 points (Double) to 17,000 points. Do some research on what affects the “low season” will have on your travel. Just like with MVC resorts, shoulder/low seasons are often just as good as high seasons with less points required.

Analyze the specific points of the tour.

This tour is 12 nights, 17 meals – mostly being breakfasts, and an activity level of 3.  This tells me that on almost every day breakfast will be provide and half the days I will be fending for myself for dinners – not a bad thing for me, as I like to discover and try little quaint restaurants that might not be able to accommodate an entire tour group. But you might feel more comfortable eating more dinners as a group, and not worry about going out on your own.

Pay particular attention to the Activity Level.  If you have health issues, this can make or break your tour.  For Activity Level 3, this is the description of the type of capabilities I would need to have:

You’re an on-the-go traveler. You don’t want to miss a thing, so walking and standing for longer periods of time (1-2 hours) isn’t a big deal. You can navigate hills and uneven ground, climb into various modes of transportation (tuk-tuk, cable car, zodiac, etc.), and could possibly anticipate changes in elevation. You can expect some longer days balanced with free time to recharge or set out on your own adventure.

This wouldn’t work well for someone who had mobility issues.

Next, I would consider the “Enhance Your Trip” options – tab at the top of the webpage.  These are hand-picked excursions that you can reserve, similar to shore excursions on a cruise.  The BEST news about these is that you can use your Marriott Vacation Club Tour Promotion if you are Executive status or higher for these.  You will receive the following credits to be used towards these excursions:

Chairman Owners receive up to $400/couple or $200/single
Presidential Owners receive up to $300/couple or $150 single
Executive Owners receive up to $200/couple or $100 single
For this tour, I can go to “Eagle’s Nest” which was Hitler’s private refuge – for $75/pp.  Or I can take the Matterhorn Express cable car, meet my personal tour guide, and hike through stunning scenery in Zermatt – for $75/pp.  If that wasn’t enough to get my heart beating fast, I can also ride the steepest rail car in the world to the top of Mount Pilatus. Then descend in a gondola – all for $85/pp.
For me, I would choose ALL THREE excursions ($150 + $150 + $170), and end up paying only $70 with the promotion I would receive as a Chairman Owner.  Ka-ching ka-ching!!  I’m happy with $70 for all those excursions!!!

I also read the reviews.  These aren’t a “make or break” deal for me.  But I like to see what issues other tourists have had on this tour to see if it would pertain to me. This tour has 5 out of 5 stars – that makes me happy!! !! A PLUS that Collette does with Marriott Owners is that they don’t require a minimum number of reservations to carry the tour. They will provide the tour even if there isn’t the max capacity reserved. 
If after doing all these steps, you’re still drooling over the opportunities the tour will bring you, make the call. It’s easy and convenient to reserve.  Call Owner Services and tell them you want to reserve a tour.  They will call Collette and merge the calls – all three are on the line at once.  You tell Collette what you want and they answer your questions, all while the Marriott representative listens.  When it comes to reserving your points, Collette talks to Marriott, getting the necessary information from them and it’s done!!  They both are there to help you throughout the process.  Be aware of the cancellation policy. Put the deadlines to cancel without penalties in your calendar. MVC Travel Insurance does not cover these tours.

Make your reservation sooner than later. I haven’t followed the tours religiously for a long period of time, but in the last 2 months, I have noticed a Club Point increase for many of the tours.  I don’t know if those increases happen frequently, but they happen, and nothing irritates me more than to wait to make a reservation and end up paying more because of it.
Lastly, I will mention VALUE of these tours.  I did an analysis on 35 tours.  The value ranged from 63 cents per point to 40 cents per point — much better value than redeeming Club Points for Insurance (25 cents) or Disney Tickets.   Interesting to me, the more expensive tours tended to have better value.  And the tours that had a sale for those paying cash had the least value for Marriott Owners using Club Points.  Personally, I REALLY wish that when Collette had a sale on a cash price for a tour, they would discount the Club Point requirements proportionally. It really dings the value of the tour for Marriott Owners when those paying cash get a discount, and those paying with points don’t.  There are NO discounts or sales on Collette tours for Marriott Owners. 
I’m hoping that helps you as Owners in understanding the ins and outs of finding a tour that is perfect for you!!!  Let me know if you have any more questions in the comments below.  I may not know the answer, but I know the person who is responsible for these tours, and I’ll get the accurate information to you.
Related: All You Need to Know About MVC Tours
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