Tuesday, May 28, 2013

InterContinental Berchtesgaden

Hotel Stay Detail
Hotel: InterContinental Berchtesgaden
Dates: May 25-28, 2013 
Rate Paid: 30,000 Priority Club Points/night 
Regular Room Rate: $307/night (incl. tax) 
Total $ Benefit: $921 
Point Redemption: 1.0 cents/pt

"Wow." All I can I say is "Wow." If you've been following my family's travels, you'll know that we're Starwood Hotel loyalists with a propensity to cheat sometimes with Hyatt, but this was our first stay at an Intercontinental Hotel (the luxury flagship of the Intercontinental Hotel Group which includes Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza).


The Intercontinental is located atop a windy mountain road above the village of Berchtesgaden. It's a little hard to find because you have to take a side road off the main mountain road and only a small sign to show you the way. Thank goodness for GPS.

When we pulled up, I knew we'd be in for a treat. They immediately came out to greet us at the car and helped us unload our car. The front desk welcomed us to the property and the general manager even came out to greet my father.

The hotel was quite sleek and modern in its style. It reminded me of how a Howard Roark building might look if he were asked to design a luxury hotel in the German Alps. It's really quite stunning, especially with the snow topped mountains all around.

Hotel Room

My mother and I were taken to the room while my father made a trip back down the mountain to get some baby supplies. The room was very clean and classic, but had just enough of modern touches without being over the top (hear that W Hotel?)

The hotel was shaped like a horseshoe with an expansive interior lawn between the two sides. We had Room 126 which was an interior area facing room, but we had a nice patio area that looked across the grass to the other side of hotel rooms. I'm sure the exterior facing rooms were great, but we were pretty happy, especially since it was a free hotel room on points!

The hotel had a very nice looking lounge off the main lobby, flanked by a library area (with a flat screen TV) and the Rocks bar. It also had 3 formal restaurants in case you were up for either a Michelin star restaurant or some local Bavarian food or just wanted a regular international meal. IC Berchtesgaden also had the Mountain Spa with a heated indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

Special Features

But the highlights that really set this resort apart were the following:
  • Amazing service (from the front desk, to the bellmen, to the housekeeping, to the room service, to the valet parking). Everything and everyone was exceptionally well trained and enthusiastic to help you. It was a welcome change from some of the grumpy TSA agents we met at JFK airport.
  • Heated bathroom floor. There's nothing worse than walking into the bathroom and feeling the icy cold floor sending chills up your body. (Well, that's not true, especially since I've been known to have a few baby diaper blow outs now and then. And trust me, those are MUCH worse). But having a warm heated floor to walk on as you step out of the shower or as you brush your teeth...that's something special.
  • Free drinks in the mini-bar. They don't stock it with any alcohol since this is a "wellness resort," but they do have an assortment of mineral waters, teas and fruit juices.
  • A well stocked supply of baby amenities, including a crib, bath mat, diaper pail and, my personal favorite, a baby sized Intercontinental Berchtesgaden bathrobe. Best. Baby Hotel. Ever.
  • They even have a Kid's Club on the weekends. We didn't get to use it this time, since I wanted to go with my parents to see the Lake, but we'll be sure to use it next time we come back.
  • The indoor swimming pool is located in the spa, but so is the outdoor swimming pool. Confused? Maybe these photos will do the trick.

Loyalty Program & Points

As I mentioned, the Intercontinental is the flagship luxury brand of the IHG (who have a loyalty program called Priority Club). We don't actively go after Priority Club points because we focus our points on Starwood and Hyatt, but IHG has some great properties like this one.

We heard about this hotel from the same blogger I mentioned yesterday (OneMileAtATime) who loved Berchtesgaden and the Intercontinental here. If you want more photos of the resort, I'd check out his blog. He's a sort of travel hero of mine. He travels in premium class flights all over the globe and stays at some of the best hotels all over the world. And best of all, he's only a little older than me (23 years old).

But I digress. As I was saying before, we didn't have many Priority Club points to spend. While my father could have transferred some of his Chase Ultimate Reward points into Priority Club, he thought the Chase UR points were too valuable and kept them for future United Airlines or Hyatt conversions later on.

So he opened a Priority Club Visa credit card from Chase. The official offer was only 60,000 points for signing up, but he was able to get a special 80,000 point sign up bonus by asking the Chase representative to give him the better offer out there. But at 30,000 PC points/night, he was just shy of 3 free nights which cost 90,000 points total. (Note: the hotel has since gone up in points and now costs 40,000 Priority Club points per night.)

But of course, my father had an ace up his abnormally short sleeve. Using a trick he read about, he booked 1 night online using $70 cash & 20,000 points. He then cancelled the booking and received 30,000 points as a refund, but lost the $70. In other words, he "bought" 10,000 points for $0.7 cents/point. So now he had 90,000 total points available in his account. For a cash outlay of just $70, he had enough for 3 nights at the amazing Intercontinental Berchtesgaden.

While the redemption rate for PC points was relatively low (1 cent/pt), these points aren't as valuable as Hyatt or Starwood. And also, my father didn't have a better redemption in mind for his Priority Club points, so saving them for a better opportunity didn't matter.

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