New Intercontinental in Bali, But A Greater Variety of Locations Would Be Nice

Intercontinental Hotel Group is opening a second Intercontinental property in Bali and has signed on an existing hotel to become a Holiday Inn.

The luxury resort’s 104 rooms and suites will be located in low-rise cluster pavilions and will be complemented by 54 private villas, all featuring private pools with underwater seating, outdoor showers and private landscaped courtyards. The resort will also offer a wide selection of premium facilities, including a luxurious Spa InterContinental with spacious indoor and outdoor treatment areas, an all-day beachfront restaurant and specialty dining.

Now, the existing Intercontinental in Jimbaran Bay is one of the very best Intercontinetnal properties in the world. Their club guests are met prior to customs and immigration and the airport and brought to the lounge while hotel staff process such formalities on their behalf. The club itself offers menu service 24 hours a day. And they treat their elite members well.

The only real drawback to the Intercontinental Royal Ambaasador program is the small number of properties Intercontinental has. So new hotels are always welcome. The fact that Royal Ambassadors also receive Platinum status with Priority Club doesn’t help matters much, as it doesn’t generally go very far (providing inconsistent benefits at best) across Crowne Plaza and Holiday inn properties.

If Intercontinental hotels were more widespread, Royal Ambassador would be the killer app in hotel status for sure.

Although the terms and conditions of the program no longer specify that Royal Ambassador upgrades are confirmed at booking they’re not subject to availability, either. Rather, a Royal Ambassador member is to be given an upgrade to an executive room or suite at check-in, period.

Sure, there’s still some weasel room in there. What exactly constitutes an executive room? It’s a real positive that there’s a new Intercontinental property in San Francisco, even though one already exists there. I had one of the last great stays as a Royal Ambassador, booking a AAA-rate for a club level room and using a free weekend night certificate to boot, receiving a ‘terrace suite’ with club access.

Royal Ambassadors at the Mark Hopkins used to get a choice of club access or a junior suite (with $30 discounted buy-up for club access) when booking a basic room. Higher-level room bookings could pretty well be assured a two room category upgrade. Alas, no longer. The Mark Hopkins started playing games with upgrades, calling a bsaic room with a fax machine a business — and therefore executive — room. Terms and conditions met, no meaningful upgrade provided.

On the whole, though, upgrades at Intercontinental properties outshine those of competing chains. I was pre-blocked into one of two Ambassador Suites at the Intercontinental Bangkok when I booked a club suite (and applied a free weekend night certificate) and received a further upgrade to the Diplomatic Suite on checkin. I had a lovely suite with club access at the Atlanta property… A two-bath suite several times at the Willard.. The list goes on.

Among other chains, only Starwood even writes suites into their terms and conditions, but they limit it to ‘standard’ suites (defined property-by-property).

It’s fairly run of the mill for chains to offer late checkout for elites. Intercontinental Royal Ambassador’s program goes further, guaranteeing 8 a.m. check-in.

And they offer one more unique benefit that no other program matches: complimentary drinks from the mini-bar! Now, again some hotels play games, the Intercontinental Bangkok is known to remove hard liquor from the mini-bar before a Royal Ambassador checks into the room. But just having complimentary drinks in the room is a nice perk. Snacks aren’t included in the benefit, but some hotels don’t charge for those either. And I’ve seen some very nice half-bottles of champagne and mini-bottles of Macallan scotch. Not bad!

So having another Intercontinental in Bali is a great addition. Still, I’d really wish for a wider geographic reach.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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