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From the way overdue files…
This time last year, I celebrated the start of 2014 in Sydney at the InterContinental.
I got in on the annual Daily Getaways promo to buy 150,000 IHG points – and promptly redeemed them for three nights in a “King Standard City Side Room.”
Now, I expected the area downtown to be crazy for New Years Eve. The location was amazing.
I don’t remember how, but I was somehow Gold with IHG at the time. This was with zero stays – maybe I status matched? Whatever the case, I am still Gold with them today despite not having any paid stays in 2013 or 2014. Mysteries of the universe.
I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d get some sort of upgrade for being Gold during a time where there would be a lot of tourists with no status. I didn’t expect it, but thought I had a ghost of a chance.
The entire staff was nothing but welcoming from beginning to end. There was a short line, but I was soon waved over to check in. The desk agent recognized my status, confirmed my stay was an award stay on points, then furrowed his brow. All the “King Standard City Side Rooms” had been filled up. The hotel was beyond its capacity, he explained, and they had begun to turn people away.
I did that thing where my mind raced in a thousand directions at once as I clutched all my luggage and prepared to go to Plan E or F – this was the highest of high times in one of the most popular NYE destinations in the world. I probably had the weirdest look on my face.
He phoned the manager of the hotel, who came within a couple of minutes. I don’t know what kind of voodoo they conjured, but after they pressed some buttons, they told me I could have a handicapped room with a Harbor View – if that was alright. “You’ll see all of the fireworks tonight. The other rooms with that view sold for over a thousand for the night.” Talk about an upgrade!
They explained that by law they had to keep a handicapped room open on the off-chance that a guest needed it. But since they were beyond filled, they could release it at their discretion.
And that is how I got a view of the harbor in Sydney for New Years.
The room itself was on the smallish side. The bed was huge though, and sure enough the bathroom was fitted with bars and a fold-out seat in the shower for someone who might need it.
It was a corner unit, and as I pulled the curtains open, I gasped. It was my first time in Australia, and in Sydney. The view was magical. A year later, I can still see the fireworks display from the vantage point of that room in my mind.
So yeah, not huge or anything too fancy, but it was a room in Sydney on New Years Eve. And I paid hardly anything for it, and got a sweet upgrade. Here’s the view:
And then the view that night:
And of course the fireworks…
I can’t say enough about the location. Simply wonderful. Right downtown. A quick stroll to numerous bars and restaurants, and easy distance to the Sydney Opera House, Botanical Gardens, and Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Toronga Zoo or Bondi Beach. For a first stay to do all the touristy things I wanted to do, it was perfect.
It was so well-located that I didn’t spend a ton of time inside the hotel, but rather out and (ab)out. (Sorry, had to.)
I did find time to have tea in the restaurant, which was lovely.
I also found occasion to go up to the lounge at the very top. There was no way they were going to let me in, so I asked it I could take a quick snap of the view and scram. They agreed, and I came away with this image:
Talk about a view!
I must say again that the staff was nothing short of completely kind the entire stay. Everyone from the desk agent, lounge attendants, hotel managers, everyone… all so sweet, especially considering they were under the crush of high season. Seeing them perform so well at full capacity made me wonder how a stay would be there in the off-season. I’d love to come back to this property to properly experience the breakfast service, lounge, pool, etc. It was all just so fast and crazy to come for New Years.
I’d also looove to stay at the Park Hyatt with a slightly different view of the Harbor and Opera House, just to compare.
This was the property that made me seriously consider getting a Chase IHG Visa, if only for the free night every year. I’ve had a few stays at IHG properties now and then, though my loyalty still lies with Hyatt and Club Carlson. Every once in a while though, I find they are the best option and it leaves me wishing I had the card just for status, or just threw in the towel and stayed with them exclusively. Ah, in another lifetime.
I had a really great stay here, and would go again any time. If you get the chance to experience all the offerings of this property (location, upgrade, lounge, breakfast), definitely take it.
And a big thanks to the wonderful staff here!
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