Sunday, March 27, 2016

Where Travel Means Complimentary Stay: IHG Rewards Club Experiential

Travel is fun and that's never enough! But imagine when this fun comes complimentary, what an ecstasy it would bring to the one who's traveling. Well, that's exactly what we experienced from our recent trip to Gods Own Country, Kerala, with the world's biggest hotel loyalty programme IHG. Yes, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, one of the sought after luxury & leisure hotel chains all across the world offers a super-luring loyalty programme to it's frequent guests, rather the avid travellers. And, we got a chance to review this cool feature of IHG via it's plush hotels Crowne Plaza Kochi and Holiday Inn Kochi.

A Room With a View... Backwaters, Of Course! King-size Room at Crozne Plaza, Kochi
Surprisingly, it was our maiden trip this lovely city, and since it was a mum-daughter duo FAM, the excitement to know more about the place, about the loyalty feature of IHG, and above all to check out two of the well-known hotel chains of this group was unending. While Crowne Plaza, which is more of a business hotels was our first stop for the review and stay, the second one Holiday Inn that runs on Business & Leisure concept was our second rather longer stop of this beautiful four-day trip to Kochi, not to forget with IHG...

What's IHG Rewards Club?

Now, before we start telling you more about the hotel and it's key features, it's essentially important for our readers to know how exactly the trip was complimentary (apart from the fact that we were invited to review the hotels), and how an avid traveller can get to try this fabulous feature of IHG, which is lovingly called IHG Rewards Club. 
So, if you have ever stayed at any of the hotels of IHG, which are names like Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express in India, or internationally names like Hotel Indigo, Kimpton, or EVEN Hotels, just to name a few, you will be offered this loyalty programme with a membership ID, which will entitle you to the points that each travel of yours will add to your account. What we liked about this reward club is that the points not just offer complimentary stays, but can also be used for shopping, dining, cabs and even airline bookings. For this maiden trip to Kochi, we did all the bookings ourselves, and that too in no time!

Comfort & Luxury With Crowne Plaza, Kochi

The Beautiful Crowne Plaza, Kochi
Now, since you know much about the reward club, let us take you to the plush property of IHG, Crowne Plaza Kochi. Located bang on the national highway, but a little too far from the scenic Kochi airport, this hotel is a paradise. And, you don't realize it till you are handed over the keys of your cosy suite that's facing backwaters (see the pic above)
Yes, the hotel offers both city and backwaters view from the huge windows of your suite, in our case, it was a king-size room. Needless to say, we soon connected with the super-speed WiFi (that comes complimentary with IHG Rewards Club) of the hotel and the social media updates were literally teasing the world and our followers who were more than curious to know about the hotel and the features. Well, it was time to explore the property...

Mosaic, the Buffet Restaurant at Crowne Plaza, Kochi

Appam With Veg Stew...
This 15 storey hotel has around 269 rooms to offer with some giving waterfront and remaining the neat city view. We soon after getting fresh headed for the lunch that was at the family-friendly Mosaic restaurant, which is also open for the walk-ins. The restaurant has a good capacity and comfortable sitting for both families and groups. Since our table was reserved, we made our self comfortable there and decided to check out the buffet. This was a grand affair, from European, to Asian, to the typical Kerala cuisine, we could smell the lovely flavours that were inviting us to give them a try. No wonder we decided to stick to the Kerala cuisine for which we had travelled all the way from Delhi.

Kerala Rice With Thoran & Manga Curry 
While Kerala cuisine can be really vast, we realized that the buffet at Mosaic was more on Kochi style cooking with delicacies like Appam with veg stew, or Manga curry with Kerala Rice were typical of Kuchi cuisine. The flavours were super delicious, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

We were later told that the dinner will make us familiar to the authentic Kerala cuisine, which is a mix of three zones...

A Date With Kerala Cuisine at Trilogy 

Post the fab lunch, we headed straight to our room to relax for a good few hours. There was a rejuvenating spa appointment that was awaiting in the evening, but we are going to share more on the same in our next feature of our IHG experiential...

Skygrill That Looks Like Scenic Beauty in Itself...

So, it was time for dinner post a property round, We check out the entire hotel, the premium suites, the wellness centre, the luxe pool that was to be tried early next day before we check out, and of course the fab skygrill that looks like the USP of this hotel. Though, we couldn't give it a try as the lip-smacking Kerala cuisine was waiting for us at Trilogy, the fine dine restaurant located at the lobby.

When Entire Kerala was Served on this Plate... 

Trilogy, as the name suggests is an authentic Kerala cuisine fine dine restaurant of Crowne Plaza Kochi that offers Malabar, Travancore and Kochi cuisine. Now, you might wonder if these three key regions offer different styles of cuisines. Yes, from spicy, to tangy to sweet, the cuisines differ in many ways and that's exactly what the chef offered us during the satiating dinner. From kadla curry, banana flower thoran, spicy veg stew cooked in coconut milk, to pinapple rasam, banana flower kabab, we tried many different flavours of Kerala that very night!

Crowne Plaza Kochi makes a wonderful choice for your stay, if you plan a trip to this side of India, especially if you have some amazing points on your IHG membership card. This is just the first feature in our series of IHG experiential, as we not just tried the cuisines and enjoyed the stay here, we also got a chance to review one of their key facilities, which is Soham Spa, the world known chain of wellness, and Crowne Plaza Kochi boast of some authentic Ayurvedic spa treatments, one of which we tried and experiences! And yes, not to forget, our second stop that was Holiday Inn Kochi!

Stay tuned & keep watching this space... to be cont.

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