Friday, November 9, 2007

Madrid & The Intercontinental Madrid - By Cliff

I just returned from 4 days in and around Madrid hosted by The Intercontinental Madrid and our Virtuoso onsite company, Made in Spain. I flew Delta in Economy from JFK. That Delta terminal at JFK is a disgrace. It is about 5 times too small and way too antiquated for modern air travel. That said the in-flight service was standard and the flights were on time in each direction.

I haven't been to Madrid in almost 8 years and found the city to be almost a new destination. It has grown into a very cosmopolitan city with all the amenities of any world class destination. New skyscrapers are rising all around the city, many with international corporate names on them. The Prado Museum has recently opened a new addition, and there are many other museums covering many interests. There are many restaurants offering all types of food from traditional Spanish to Michelin star award venues. The city feels safe and is clean and is most definitely a late night destination. The people are well dressed and very fashionable. The shopping looks to be as good as any other high end international city. It is also a wonderful place to explore on foot or using its extensive mass transit system.

We took a day trip out to Segovia which is a very interesting city, with its well preserved aqueduct and the Alcazar Palace. This was no more than an hour and a half from Madrid. We also visited a historic town called Pedrazza which had mostly locals and Spanish daytrippers. I am told that there are many towns like this to explore rather than spending all the time at the usual tourist attractions. Travellers who base themselves in Madrid can do day trips to many different places. Our Virtuoso on-site "Made for Spain" put together a great touring program for the short time we were there. They are very knowledgeable and are always looking to expose clients to more than just the typical expected locations.

The hotel is a very deluxe (Virtuoso) property. It is located in a very affluent area surrounded by high profile offices, upscale homes and embassies. It is a short walk or cab ride to the Prado via the Paseo de la Castellana, which is a well manicured, walker friendly street. The Ritz and Palace are right next to the Prado. This makes them always surrounded by hoards of tourists, shops, street performers and the fast food operations that go along with them. The IC is just slightly away which is very much an asset.

The hotel itself is very traditional. Here you feel the warmth of the staff from the time you enter the lobby. The public areas are very upscale and
attract many locals to its bar and restaurant. The Sunday Brunch is an elaborate feast where the Madrilenos come to celebrate an occasion. The Club Lounge, located on the 2nd floor, offers full scale food presentations and cocktails until 1130pm. Booking the Virtuoso rate automatically puts your client in a Club Room with access to this lounge. With the US dollar so weak, having a cooked to order breakfast and drinks and hors d'ouvres in the afternoon are a huge savings. The Virtuoso rates vary but are generally surprisingly low.

The Club rooms are scattered around the hotel and not on any one floor. These rooms are larger and offer upgraded amenities, robes and have all the products and services any traveller could want. Rooms that overlook the Paseo de la Castellana generally do not have balconies but courtyard rooms
have sliding glass doors to a deck that overlooks well kept gardens where concerts are performed on some evenings. The bathrooms have double sinks, large walk- showers with an attached drying area and a separated w/c. The beds are comfortable, the rooms quiet, and high speed internet is free.

With the US dollar so weak this hotel is a great bargain (relatively), in the best area, offering amenities and service that will surely impress even your most demanding client. No matter what your client says this place is very "Ritzy" too.

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