It was so so good to be back home, albeit temporarily, at the Berlin InterContinental Hotel, and the right royal welcome – shown above – made the gal, and all the other 599 people arriving that day, feel on top of the sunny world. Back up once again in an eighth floor room, this time 837, there was just time to look out at the city skyline, knowing that there would be no chance later for such luxury hotel meditating. The occasion for all this gathering was IHG Europe Conference 2017, convened by the company’s CEO, Angela Brav, and she had pulled in, all so willingly, her owners and GMs across all 12 of IHG’s brands (they even came from Israel, which is part of the massive Europe portfolio).
There were two and a half days of meetings, some parts for owners only, the entirety behind closed doors, as it were. Suffice to say that IHG is without doubt motivating everyone who is associated with it and more than one owner told me afterwards of his increased enthusiasm for the company. There was certainly a lot of applause for the new look that all the brands will be going through. Starting from the luxury level, InterContinental is going to make even more of its Club InterContinental lounges and extending the customer service from lounge-only to permeating an entire stay – and about 66% of the hotels are seeing refurbishments of rooms and public areas. Crowne Plaza is being re-imagined, emphasising a business base that is right for today. Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses are re-doing their lobbies to become welcome open spaces, for lounging, eating, drinking and working.
I really liked the new Holiday Inn Express bedroom which was put up, as an entire and working room – electrics and a full bathroom included – in the exhibition area. I liked the headboard, with its easy-clean tweed panel, and the side table, with pair of sockets and fibre optic light. Each one of the brands, by the way, was serving their standard breakfasts in their ‘exhibition room’, and jolly good the offerings were too. The exhibition not only included the already-mentioned rooms, and in some cases lobbies and club lounges, but also displays from suppliers, say ADA Pacific Direct’s array of toiletries, and iMediaCast telephones that not only charge any two mobile devices simultaneously but also transmit to and from room televisions.
The fact that there was a prominent Laurent-Perrier stand, dispensing all day long, was a good sign, as was a dedicated room given over to the latest Technogym equipment (this meant that there were two 24/7 gyms during the conference but 99.9% of those there were too busy – surely not too lazy – to try the pieces). The hotel, under its brilliant GM Aernout de Jong, had thought of everything: the gym team opened up specially early, at five, and the usual eighth floor Club was closed, with the team from there helping at the special-conference facilities which took over the entire ground floor of the hotel. There were even special in-room daily gifts, say Berlin apple juice, and black and white bread with local ginger butter and honey, all explained on a big paper mat. NOW SEE AN EXHIBITION VIDEO, BELOW