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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Rialto, Intercontinental at Melbourne

I woke up at 9am, about one hour before my flight out to Melbourne (10.10am). I’d set my alarms (on both the radio clock and my mobile hp) for 6.50am, intending to call a cab early and reach the airport by 8.15am so that I could do some duty free shopping. As it was, I found myself jumping out of bed, calling a cab and then rushing to get changed. The cab came at 9.20am just as I was hauling my luggage out of the front gate and I literally begged the driver to get to the airport as fast as he could. I’m sure he thought it was a lost cause (as did I) but we reached the airport at 9.40am thanks to his spiffy driving. The counter staff expedited the check-in procedure (for my check-in luggage too) and clutching my airplane ticket, I rushed through the immigration check and made it to the boarding gate just as boarding for the flight commenced.

The flight journey was about 7 hours and I watched 3 movies – The Town (which was excellent (8/10) but predictable), Conviction (which was also excellent (8/10) – we are talking about Hilary Swank here playing a driven sister hell-bent on saving her wrongly convicted brother) and Millennium 3: The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest (which was horribly boring and slow-moving). Clearing the Australia customs took another 40mins and by the time I stepped into the arrival hall where my pick-up was waiting, it was 9.20pm local time (Melbourne is 3 hrs ahead of SG).

Checking in at Intercontinental, The Rialto where my new boss had made reservations (wonder why she picked this hotel) took less than a couple of minutes. The outlook/facade of the building is very unique - here is a picture I took during the evening the next day before dinner:

I don't know if the building was built in 1890 but the porter there helped me take the picture below of one of the sides (the other side is exactly the same) of the main entrance.

There is a plague as you can see from the picture below, next to the entrance of the hotel along the facade. It has a brief writeup on the history of the building but the reflective nature of the plague makes taking a photo of the words quite impossible!

Anyway, if you thought the facade of this hotel was something, the inside of the hotel, upon stepping in through the main entrance and into the lobby, looks like this. The red lights on the left of the pic are the balconies of the hotel rooms while the middle bottom portion is the restaurant. It looks very impressive indeed!

The room that was reserved to me was a king deluxe room (more than AUD 300 a night) and it was spacious with a large comfortable bed. However, the false french windows at the end of the room cannot be opened for security reasons and one is therefore denied fresh air and access to the balcony.

I particularly like the fact that there is a large business desk in the room which makes this room very convenient for business. The work desk faces the TV so one can multi-task but if you will note from the picture above, the TV is placed at a right angle to the bed which isn't practical.

What stood out though was the lack of a bath tub in the bathroom. I suspect it is because of water conservation efforts. The rain shower doesn’t quite make up for the lack of the tub, esp given that this is a five star hotel. The toiletries provided are from the Elementis brand which apparently is a higher end brand than normal hotel toiletries.

As my room package didn't come with complimentary wireless/internet access (it cost AUD10 per hour), I decided to take a one minute walk to the MacDonald’s just diagonally across the hotel to use the free wireless there and get some grub (the room menu here isn’t spectacular and seems a tad overpriced). As Australia is famous for beef, I ordered the Grand Angus burger meal which cost AUD 8.80.

The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Although the burger was supposed to have mustard and mayo, I asked for mayo only and the staff made it from scratch. And while I appreciated the effort, I didn’t really enjoy the burger as the beef was really raw-tasting which may be how beef is done here. However, the wireless did work fine and I managed to send an email to the folks back home before going back to the hotel room for a warm bath and to write this entry. Given that it is 1am local time and I have to meet the pick up at 8am tomorrow, I better go to bed now to avoid a repeat of this morning!

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