My first InterContinental experience

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Those of you who know my standard travel procedures know that I usually stay in the Starwood brand of hotels (Westin, Sheraton, etc). I have easily been able to keep Gold Preferred status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program for the past 3 years by directing my stays to Starwood group hotels.

However, I have found it difficult to move beyond Gold status due to the diminishing number of properties in the program and have found some stays especially in North American properties to be completely underwhelming.

For this reason I decided to have a look to see what else was out there and decided to try the InterContinental Ambassador program. While it does have a joining fee, the benefits looked worthwhile and it also gives you Gold status in Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and other InterContinental/IHG hotels) so I joined.

My first stay as a member of the program was 3 nights at InterContinental Wellington in November and I am very satisfied thus far.

Some observations:

  • Shortly after booking, my reservation changed to a higher category room. While it was only one category higher than I booked, it was also the highest category non-suite room. Upgrades are a guaranteed benefit for members when staying at InterContinental.
  • When I arrived my registration was already done and my keys were waiting at reception. After a quick ID check and confirmation that I had the on file credit card in my possession I was briefed about the hotel and directed to my room  - totally painless.
  • In my room was a welcome note, fresh fruit including freshly cut pineapple, two bottles of spring water and a bottle of sparkling mineral water (complimentary and replaced daily).
  • Other benefits included a free in room movie.

While I receive upgrades at Starwood hotels that I frequent, they’re not a guaranteed benefit (I have never been upgraded at some properties) and I loved the other touches at the InterContinental. Given the wide availability of properties in IHG, I should also be able to reach Platinum status in 2011 - something I’ve been unable to do with Starwood.

Here’s a quick video walkthrough of my room 804 at the InterContinental Wellington. This room type is a King Bed Spa Club.

Of course it’s too early to make a final determination until I stay in more properties, but InterContinental is certainly off to a good start and hopefully one day they’ll beat the upgrade I received at W Times Square (New York) to the 111sqm Extreme Wow Suite on the 56th floor.