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April 22, 2009

Ryan InterContinental

Why is the luxury InterContinental like low-cost no-frill Ryanair? Read on.

What a deal! Mary went on Priceline and got us three nights in the Athenaeum InterContinental Athens for $100 night, just a little more than we paid for the three star Acropole Hotel in Delphi.

At check-in, knowing we were paying so little, I accepted the €30/night upgrade offer to a renovated room on a high floor. The room is nice and we can see the Acropolis, which is lit up at night. I'll never know what the un-upgraded room would've been like.

Well, of course the Acropole had free WiFi; it's €19.95/day for the cheapest option at the InterContinental up to €49.95 if you want 10Mps and need it to work not only in your own room but in public areas and meeting rooms.

Breakfast was included at the Acropole. It's €30/each at the InterContinental (but you can get your eggs other than hard boiled). Mary and I like cheap, greasy breakfasts (she actually prefers sticky to greasy) but the InterContinental is in a commercial zone which seems to be free of competing restaurants. That also meant that last night, when we were tired from a day on the Acropolis, in the Agora (birthplace of democracy), and walking around the old city, we ate in the hotel restaurant. Pretty good food but ouch! A bottle of three buck chuck equivalent goes for €26. A bottle of Jack Daniels (which we didn't have) is €140.

Ryanair will famously fly you for a single euro plus tax on some routes. But then there are the booking fees, credit card fees, baggage fees (where do you think US airlines learned that trick?), priority boarding fees (no assigned seats so you want to be able to make a dash to stay out of the middle), lots of opportunity to buy things inflight, and nada for free.

Has lnterContinental learned to use Priceline as a low cost lure? Probably not but it wouldn't be a bad strategy.

See http://blog.tomevslin.com/2007/03/easyjet_is_chea.html for my experience with Ryanair clone easyJet.

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