The InterContinental Cali is a major landmark in Cali and has given rise to an upscale neighborhood right next to it. The hotel is huge and occupies a large city block in prime real estate next to the Cali River.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, there is a free airport shuttle that runs the 20-minute drive roughly every two hours. I had called an Uber instead but an impending rainstorm made the drive much longer.
Check-in was very friendly and in fluent English. However, Rodolfo (who would sometimes stand in later as a quasi-General Manager) is the only English-speaking staff member at this huge hotel. And by ‘no English’, I mean not a single word would be understood by the staff. So be patient and bring your phrase book!
We got a quiet room in the extension building with a beautiful view over the pool.
The design was a bit too old school for me but the room was more modern than the pictures suggest.
The AC worked quickly and was not audible and the Internet connected quickly and would usually be fast at 10 Mbit (but occasionally slow to a crawl).
The bathroom was small but renovated and had the typical (good) InterContinental amenity pack.
The beds initially seemed a tad too soft but proved to be comfortable with the provided duvet covers and fresh linens.
The hotel has invested in soundproofed windows and while there was considerable noise outside, sometimes it was completely quiet inside (and luckily no noisy room neighbor either during our stay).
I had used 10,000 points from the current PointBreaks promotion for each night. Rodolfo mentioned that we had been upgraded to a free breakfast which sounded like a great benefit due to my IHG Rewards Platinum status.
The breakfast, however, was pretty miserable, with no high-quality items and mostly stale items with no real taste (or they were downright unhealthy).
I usually opted for an espresso drink (despite its relative closeness to Peru, cortados are not recognized here) and was charged extra for it.
The jewel of the hotel is the lovely pool area with a massive pool in the middle. With the exception of the Sunday morning, it was deserted and was our primary way to spend a few hours in the (intense) sun.
There is also a spa area right behind it with a sauna, steam bath, and Jacuzzi. The grassy area features a small soccer field and kids playground.
The hotel also features a casino and a rather popular pizza restaurant (with mostly outside guests).
Despite being surrounded by busy roads, the interior was well-shielded from the noise and pollution.
My biggest gripe with the hotel was the service. In a week of using the pool, we were asked if we wanted drinks or food there just once. None of the other staff could understand English (not even the basics) and housekeeping mesmerized us by alternating between supplying us with too many bathroom amenities or none. Our dirty drinking glasses were taken from the room but never replaced. Our comforters sometimes vanished and calling housekeeping did not result in much. Getting towels delivered proved impossible, especially after 7 PM. I have never seen such inconsistent housekeeping – four bottles of conditioner but no body wash one day and just shampoo the next – really?
The staff generally stayed completely out of our way as best they could, including at breakfast.
In conclusion, this could be a great hotel, with a lovely resort in a city atmosphere. It is being let down by its ‘soft product’, the service and food quality, which makes it look like a 3-star. The room rates of around $100 or PointBreaks make it a fantastic deal, though.