Buenos Aires property blends classic, modern

Travel Weekly senior editor Mark Chesnut recently stayed at the Inter-Continental Buenos Aires in Argentina. His report follows:

ow do you make an 8-year-old hotel jibe stylistically with a neighborhood lined with turn-of-the-20th- century architecture?

Start with marble floors, elegantly conservative furnishings, attractive woodwork and a grand staircase -- that's what the Inter-Continental Buenos Aires did.

"The [interior] areas look like an old, refurbished building," said Alvaro Rey, the property's general manager.

Granted, the hotel's shiny exterior is a modern facade. But it actually works well at reflecting the 100-year-old church next door (which is a great view from some guest rooms).

The hotel, in the neighbor-hood of Monserrat, may have a classic touch, but it is designed to cater to the modern needs of business and leisure travelers.

And while this property is one of the city's most luxurious and most expensive, today's favorable exchange rate makes it an exceptional value for U.S. tourists.

Service is impeccable, probably due to the fact that Rey spent two years managing operations at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan (concurrent with a stint as general manager at the Inter-Continental in the same city).

The Inter-Continental Buenos Aires has 315 guest rooms, all with security boxes, dual-line telephones and soundproof windows. Nonsmoking rooms are available.

Club Inter-Continental features three, private-access floors of rooms and access to the Executive Club Lounge, which offers free use of meetings rooms, continental breakfast, tea and coffee served all day and afternoon cocktails.

Additional amenities for Club guests include a business center with computer, photocopier, fax and cellular phone.

Butler service, early check-in and late checkout, and fitness center access also are included. Club rooms feature all the amenities of standard rooms plus stereo and VCR. There also are eight junior suites and two presidential suites.

The hotel offers multiple options for dining and drinks. The Mediterraneo Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving European cuisine. The Terraza del Virrey outdoor cafe is open during warmer months. Cocktails, gourmet coffee and snacks are available at Cafe de Las Luces on the lobby level.

The hotel's fitness center, Vilas Club, features Nautilus equipment, a swimming pool, an aerobics center and a solarium. Massage and other spa services also are available.

Among the business facilities are 11 meetings rooms that can accommodate up to 900 attendees.

Location is a big selling point for the Inter-Continental Buenos Aires. It's two blocks from the Avenida 9 de Julio, the largest boulevard in the city.

A short walk or taxi ride brings guests to many attractions, including the Casa Rosada (seat of the national government) and the Teatro Colon, which stages programs throughout the year.

The hotel offers several packages. See Room Key below for contact information.

Room Key: Inter-Continental Buenos Aires
Address: Moreno 809, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (011) 54-11 4340-7100
Fax: (011) 54-11 4340-7119
E-mail:[email protected]
Web:www.buenos-aires.interconti.com
General manager: Alvaro Rey
Rates: Standard rates run $129 per room, depending on the time of stay and exchange rate; some rates include breakfast.
Commission: 10%
Built: 1994
No. of Rooms: 315. Twenty-four Club Inter-Continental rooms offer access to the Club Floor lounge and additional amenities, including separate check-in; 15 business rooms feature an office environment; and there are eight junior suites and two presidential suites.
Location: Centrally located in the neighborhood of Monserrat, two blocks from Avenida 9 de Julio.
Facilities: Fitness center, meetings rooms, business center, restaurants and bars.
Noteworthy: Even the lowest room category (deluxe) has plush amenities such as multiple pillows, high-quality sheets, separate showers and tubs. Nice touches like the coming day's weather forecast are left in guest rooms every night. The location is good for walking and quick taxi rides to business and tourist activities.
Not worthy: Deluxe rooms lacked an ironing board. There is a small charge (about $2.50) to use the gym facilities, although there is no charge to use the swimming pool.

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