Mar 8th, 2004, 04:32 AM
Original Poster
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Has anyone stayed at the INTERCONTINENTAL SYDNEY? Is it a good location with good views?
sharij is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 04:45 AM
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Sorry, stayed at the Park Hyatt, it has the best views in Sydney, but, boy, do you pay for them! Still, as a treat, it can't be beaten. Wake up to your window full of Opera House. Awesome.
Jimbo is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 09:59 AM
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I've never stayed at the Intercontinental, but the location is good - in the business district, but not far from Circular Quay and the Botanic Gardens, Opera House, etc. Views would depend on the room and the floor - higher up there should be harbour and/or garden views. You get what you pay for.
margo_oz is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 03:06 PM
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We stayed at the Intercontinental twice two years ago. Most prices were quite reasonable then given the Aussie$ but Intercontinental provides a great view of the harbor and bridge at better rates than the hotels over by George Street. The location is great for getting to the ferries (about two blocks), the Opera House or the park. The Sidney Museum is just across the street.

The hotel has been built on the old Treasury Building so the ground floor is beautiful using the original stone structure. Incidentally on our second visit we tried the view of the park and saved a bit more. You can check it out at their website.
carlc is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 10:04 PM
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Stayed at the Intercontinental about 7 yrs. ago and liked it a lot. Had a great veiw of the Opera House and Harbour. It was in a very convenient location within walking distance of the Rocks area, Opera House and other tourist sites etc.

Found the rooms and service at that time to be good so am hoping this has not changed as we are returning to Oz in May and will spend a few days at the Intercontinental again before continuing on with the rest of our trip.
DJE is offline  
Mar 9th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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Here's my review of the hotel from epinions - I wasn't impressed

I stayed here in May 2001 during Sydney Fashion Week.

I found the service to be somewhat lacking in this 5* hotel, and overall I would not recommend it to you.

Arriving by car, you drive to the lobby entrance, entering what looks like the car park. Check-in is a very small and crowded area.

I had specifically requested a non-smoking room when booking my room. However, when I got to my room, it was obviously a smoking room. I complained to the bell boy who rang reception to request a room change. I was told this was not possible as the hotel was full. I explained (truthfully) that I was on medication for a chest infection and that I would be unable to sleep in the room. A new non-smoking double was then somehow found!

The new room was off a corridor that smelt a little damp. The room itself was of a reasonable size, and well furnished. The bathroom was not particularly large, and didn't have a separate bath and shower. Maid service was somewhat erratic. On one day I returned to my room at about 5pm to find the room still hadn't been serviced. It also seemed pot-luck as to whether you got the promised nightly turn-down service. One of life luxuries is to have a single malt as a night-cap, I was amazed to find that I was expected to pay a service charge to have ice delivered to the room. This is completely unacceptable in a 5* full service hotel. I used the hotels laundry service and found that I had to chase them up for the return of my clothes.

I only used the hotels restaurants for breakfast. The breakfast was okay - standard buffet. The breakfast room was quiet pleasant - apart from the morning I was squeezed into the small room off the main restaurant, which definitely feels 2nd rate.

Views from the pool on the top floor were excellent. The pool however itself strongly of chemicals - not the usual chlorine smell though, and affected the eyes quickly. Bags of chemicals were evident in the pool area, which struck me as strange. The towels in the changing room were very poor, small and very worn. The changing room was cold.

On check out there was the usual quibble over something on the bill, which was resolved in my favour. This certainly isn't unique to the Intercontinental and seems to be the norm these days.

Overall, the hotel isn't a 5* hotel. It feels like a fancy 4*. The mark of a 5* hotel, for me, is facilities, upkeep and personal service. Many people claim you can't get personal service in a hotel with 500 or so rooms. You only have to look at the hotels in places like Hong Kong and Singapore to realise that it doesn't have to be that way.
Mar 9th, 2004, 03:39 PM
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We have stayed at the Intercontinental several times in the past 2 years and have received excellent service each time. Will be returning at in April.
Certainly had no problems with maid service, standard of room or anything of that nature, and the bookings were made on Wotif each time. However, there is no doubt if arriving by car the lobby area is very small and congested.
It is certainly convenient to most parts of the CBD, and obviously very close to Circular Quay, the Opera House etc.
I rate it below the Sheraton on the Park where we normally stay, but certainly would recommend it.
prue is offline  
Mar 17th, 2004, 08:12 PM
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ttt for australiabound
prue is offline  
Mar 18th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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How sad for PJKeay!

Prue, it was nice of you to top this post for australiabound, but, personally, I rather wish you hadn't; I managed to miss PJKeay's post the first time around, and now that I have finally seen it, it's practically spoiled my Fodor's session. I sometimes wish that people like that would choose some other destination, not Sydney. You see, I LOVE this city, but somehow I know that it could never measure up to expectations like that. Australia just isn't that "tight" a ship -- Aussies are too laid back. Now, I've never stayed at the Intercontinental, because I can stay at home and save the $300, but if I did, I would consider it the last word in luxury; I certainly wouldn't measure the bathroom or criticises the car park, or expect someone to bring me a bucket of ice instead of me making that LONG elevator journey all the way down to the floor where the ice machine sits! I just don't have a checklist of passes and fails for trivial matters like that, and the point is that most Aussies, I'm afraid, are a bit like me, and wouldn't really understand what PJKeay had the gripes about. They would, I think, categorise him as one of those complaining Americans who expects everyone to bow and scrape when he walks into the lobby. We're just no good at bowing and scraping -- it must be our convict ancestry.

My attitude to the hotels I stay at is actually so "slovenly" that, were I to walk into my room at 5 p.m. and find the maid hadn't visited as yet, I would simply ewalk down the corridor until I located her, smile, and ask her if she wouldn't mind putting us next on her list. My wife is even worse -- she'd just get right into it and make the bed herself! PJKeay wouldn't put up with her for five minutes!

I fear that the rest of Sydney may have disappointed this gentleman (or lady) just as much as the Intercontinental did. A five star hotel that only performs like a four-star! Horrors! Sydney is just a five star city that performs like a four-star: the trains run late, you have to queue at the supermarket, waiters sometimes forget you're there (and, to boot, call you "mate"), you wait fifteen minutes for a taxi (and then the taxi driver calles you "mate"), and in many areas everything is closed by 9 p.m.

Sorry we let you down, PJKeay! Next time, try New York -- or anywhere, Mate.
Alan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 01:50 AM
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I'm sorry Alan but if you?re paying $300 at a chain hotel you do expect a certain standard, I doubt very much whether I'm alone in thinking that. I do also stay in places that cost $100 a night and obviously I don't expect them to come up to such a high standard. I've also come to expect that some places are more laid back than others and that independently owned boutique hotels can be delightfully quirky.

I object to the personal nature of your post. You seem happy to accept that standards are awry and criticise me for mentioning them. Let's not forget this is a 5 star hotel, charging 5 star prices and boasting 5 star service.

Nowhere in my review did I criticise the people or city of Sydney yet you insinuate that I probably didn't like them and it. This is completely unfounded.

If you?re happy to make your own bed, trundle down 15 floors to get a glass of ice, put up with a smoking room when you're asthmatic, have additional charges put on your bill for things you haven't ordered, have breakfast in a small windowless annexe to a restaurant, dry yourself with the equivalent of tea towel, wander down to reception to pick your laundry up ? then that?s fine and this hotel is "Jolly Nice". After all what do you expect for $300 night? Most importantly the building sure looks nice from the outside.

With such a wide choice of excellent hotels, people looking for feedback on a 5* hotel, need to be told more than "its jolly nice"!

To say Sydney can't come up to such standards is wrong. The Four Seasons and Park Hyatt are wonderful hotels, with top notch friendly service and location, (OK the Hyatt is a bit pricier).

Sydney didn't let me down, I'm due in the city in 5 weeks time, and it remains one of my favourite cities, I note that Customs and Immigration staff in Sydney are the friendliest I ever met anywhere in the world, and this is typical of the people I have met during my stay.

To suggest that I go anywhere other than Sydney, because I have the nerve to say I didn't like one of the city's hotels is amazing, and if you think New York hotels are any better you?re just confirming what I suspect.

We must not let large corporations get away with sloppy unprofessional service, when the management should have the ability to deliver better. It?s a management issue, not a Sydney, thing. Take Thailand, generally regarded as one of the best countries in the world for hotel service (irrespective of star rating) yet I can think of one hotel, run by a large American chain, that is probably one of the sloppiest hotels I?ve ever stayed in the world ? purely down to management!

You?re not a hotel manager are you?
Mar 19th, 2004, 03:15 AM
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No, PJKeay, I am not a hotel manager, and, in fact, I am no friend of any of these five-star, overpriced hotels that have sprung up all over Sydney in the last decade and sent prices sky high while delivering what might best be called a "gloss" of service. I often post here ranting and raving against the particularly bad offenders. So, we are not really too far apart on that one. I think that these hotels are the death of the spirit of tourism, and what they substitute is something I don't like to think about too much -- they encourage travellers who pay an astronomical amount for a room and then, in order to feel that they have got their money's worth, demand that their treatment be "up" to a certain standard. And so often that standard seems to involve, as it did in your case (with the ice and the maid) being SERVED by another human being who is supposed to be at your beck and call.

Sometimes the shortfalls of such establishments can be quite serious; I do support your complaint about having items charged to you that were not ordered or supplied, and if, by "trundled", you meant that you had to walk down all those flights for your ice, then I am surprised you didn't keep walking, straight out the door, never to return. I assumed you only had to press a button and ride down -- my mistake.

So, on those grounds, at least, I apologise unreservedly for offending you. I still feel that most of your other complaints might possibly be described as nit-picking, but maybe that's a sign of my small-mindedness; I recall having a similar reaction when someone else wrote in complaining about a hotel with "dingy" wall colours, and my only thought was, in a brand new city with all these exciting things to see, who'd bother checking out the colour of the walls of their hotel room? I think the size of a bathroom would probably fall into the same category.

Anyway, I am relieved that you had an otherwise positive experience in Sydney, and I have really done you a bit of a service here, for by responding to your list of complaints, I have allowed you to do quite a bit more bad-mouthing of the hapless Intercontinental. No matter -- at those prices, they should be able to withstand that, and much more. I agree, they don't deserve, on what you've told us, to charge anything like that -- but, frankly, none of the others that you mentioned in a more favourable light deserve to charge their exorbitant rates, either. It's them I am contemptuous of, not you -- the only mistake you made was by going along with their deal and paying out all that money, just to feel all the time that you were being ripped off. You probably would have been better off paying $65 at the Criterion and then not feeling like you had to check all the time that the establishment measured up to some predetermined standard. In Sydney, no one has to pay a king's ransom to sleep well.
Alan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 09:56 AM
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I have to reiterate that we found the Intercontinental to be well run and beautifully situated the two times that we stayed there. The rates were quite competitive give the view and the proximity to the Circular Quay. I wasn't aware that it was a 5* hotel at the time but would refer you to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal indicating that ratings at that end of the scale are more driven by the thickness of the bathrobes and other attributes which are not critical to my enjoying a stay at a hotel.

We found the staff to be both friendly and attentive when we visited. They got us an excellent dentist on a Friday afternoon and handled a complicated drop off and pick up between our visits. I have stayed at a number of hotels in Asia and Europe and would rank the Intercontinental right up there. I won't expect perfection, however, if I'm there for Sydney Fashion Week , Mardi Gras or New Years.
carlc is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 12:56 PM
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I don't know where they get these stars from? I had always though the Park Hyatt was the only 5* hotel we had. I would have automatically assumed the Intercontinental was 4*. Also they offer discounted rates so often I would imagine not too many people actually ever end up paying the full rack rate so would be less likely to demand the full service.

My response to MJKeay and Alan's conversation is that here is a very typical example of cultural difference. Alan does probably explain why there is little demand for 5* service in Australia and that is because Australians are very uncomfortable with class structures.

Where I am working the cleaner comes in early to start emptying bins because she likes to interact with the office workers and have some jokes etc etc. A recent immigrant to the country that works there is complaining that the cleaner should come after hours and not be seen. This attitude offends Australians working there. In this case though because she is an immigrant her views need to adjust, not ours.

However with visitors if we do advertise accomodation using an Internationally recognised rating system then these places should deliver on their promise, whether they are Australian owned or not. We do have a responsibility to ensure advertising aimed at overseas visitors is not misleading and that every endeavour is made to make their stay here enjoyable.

So basically agree with both sides. Cultural differences can be interesting really if we want to see it that way.

Hope you enjoy your next visit PJ, just remember some of us are typical aussies and if you demand a cup of coffee for eg you may end up wearing it!

DropBear is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 02:37 PM
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I certainly would not rate the Intercontinental as 5* - and was not aware it was rated above 4*, which would be similar to many of those hotels clustered in the Circular Quay area.
Also I have always used Wotif when we have stayed there and never paid rack rate.
prue is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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I will be staying here at the end of March. I have stayed in many 'luxury' hotels, both major chains and boutiques. I have found both to be exceptional. I don't plan to spend lots of time in the hotel. A more moderately priced hotel would have sufficed. However, I wanted a comfortable hotel to get a good night's rest because I figued I would be very tired enjoying the site.

I chose the Intercontinental over the Four Seasons and Park Hyatt because it was a toss up. I have stayed at all 3 chains in the US, Europe and Asia and always found the service to be acceptable and staff to be friendly. Hopefully, I can add the IC to my list after my trip in early April.

australiabound is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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I am glad you have settled on the Intercontinental and hope you thoroughly enjoy your time in Sydney.
We plan on being there too in early April (we are Aussies but live 4 hours from Sydney) to enjoy a concert at the Opera House and the Royal Easter Show.
prue is offline  
Mar 19th, 2004, 09:58 PM
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Hi DropBear

AAATourism is the official body for deciding star ratings for hotels, motels, caravan parks, B&B's etc. It employs inspectors who are assiduous in rating according their incredibly detailed criteria. Inspections are made regularly and often without much notice. By using an incorrect star rating in advertising, the accommodation house can lay itself open to a very hefty fine.

The criteria for 4 star hotel is: Exceptionally well appointed establishments with a high level of facilities, plus quality furnishings offering a high degree of comfort. High standard of presentation and guest services provided.

5 stars is:
International standard establishments offering a high degree of facilities, outstanding appointments, furnishing and decor with an extensive range of first class guest services. A number and variety of room styles and/or suites available. Choice of dining facilities, 24 hour room service, housekeeping and valet parking. Porterage and concierge services available as well as a dedicated business centre and conference facilities.
pat_woolford is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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It always fascinates me that people travel all this distance to get here, and then stay in hotels identical to those at home. Why bother!
margo_oz is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 03:29 PM
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I guess it is all a matter of taste Margo, and some people would prefer to stay in an enviroment they are used to rather than the unknown. It doesn't mean they are not going to get to see and experience just as much of the city they are visiting away from their hotel as those that choose to stay at smaller hotel or B & B.
Surely that is what life is all about - freedom of choice?
prue is offline  
Mar 20th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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What fascinates me, Margo, is that you would expect people who save, sometimes for years, and spend many thousands of dollars on what could be their one-and-only trip of a lifetime, to sleep in an old hotel with second-class service simply because it's been around forever.
You certainly don't take that attitude when they ask about "the best restaurants", even though I'm sure Sydneysiders don't make a habit of eating at those establishments.
As Prue so aptly pointed out, when people are out and about, they're seeing the same sites and having the same experiences as the person next to them, who might have slept in an old, less comfortable "native" establishment.
Les is offline  

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