Berlin gears up for World Cup
by Anna Gouldman
Selected as the official headquarters for FIFA, the recently refurbished InterContinental Berlin is set to become the global centre during the 2006 World Cup finals, when it will play host to world famous dignitaries, football heroes, and international media.
BTN checked in to find out why the InterConti was chosen by the governing body of world football to host the biggest sporting event of 2006.
The World Cup, featuring 64 matches between national teams from 32 countries is set to take place between June 9th and July 9th with three million tickets up for sale.
One million tourists are expected to descend upon Germany each day during the World Cup period and hotel occupancy levels are set to increase by 300,000 guest nights.
According to an LRP forecast, direct tourism-related spending will be around $1.8 billion.
Despite this surge in visitor numbers, Peter Nerger, Berlin’s head of tourism, said he did not think there would be any security problems and anticipates “a family atmosphere and party mood” in Berlin during the tournament.
Regardless of these optimistic predictions, the InterConti’s high-tech security is one main reason why the hotel is a suitable headquarters for FIFA, with specially trained staff and services such as a security manager and video surveillance cameras available upon request.
The Presidential Suite, (€2,200) a 200-square metre palace, which has housed VIP’s including presidents of Russia, U.S. and Israel even offers bullet proof windows, doors and walls as well as internal monitoring.
Situated in the centre of Berlin, between Postdamer Platz and Kurfurstendamn, The InterContinental, which is a listed architectural landmark with its prominent black and white checkerboard façade, is eight stops (15 minutes) on the U Bahn (underground) from the Olympic Stadium, where the Gala Berlin and the final match will take place.
In terms of interiors, regular rooms (€165) have a sophisticated pallet of beige and browns with stylish black wooden paneling encasing each wall. Square spotlights and slick modern furnishings enhanced the art-deco ambience.
The deluxe room was about 20 foot by 18 foot. The bed was extremely comfortable although the two separate single duvets, which is traditional in Germany, took a little getting used to.
A smart brown leather platform formed an extension of the bed - upon which sat some grapes, an over-ripe apple and some ginger bread biscuits. A comfy, beige sofa was positioned neatly opposite.
The oak desk, complete with a power socket and Internet connection point, was rather grand, featuring a hidden mirror compartment. High-speed Internet access was available for €20 per 24 hours.
The bathroom was a resplendent piece of design that was built for display, with a wooden slide door that could disappear into the wall completely, creating an open-plan effect. Luxurious heated marbled floors, a separate toilet with a frosted glass slide door, and a separate multi-functional shower and bath with superb water pressure ensured a five star experience.
A neat rectangular window above the bath was a rather sexy piece of design and offered another view in and out of the bathroom. (Although Venetian blinds allowed privacy when wanted.)
The television in itself was nothing special (it was not the plasma screen that you come to expect from a five star hotel), but its swivel platform base meant it could be watched from anywhere in the bedroom, or even in the bathroom.
A red light built into the wall to replace the usual ‘do not disturb’ sign seemed like a novel idea, but unfortunately it did not prevent the hotel staff from disturbing on one occasion.
Another quirky feature exclusive to each room was a doorbell…..although it did cause disorientation when it rang rather early in the morning. I have never woken up in a hotel room to a doorbell, so I could probably be forgiven for thinking I was at home!
The service overall was excellent. Staff were efficient and friendly. The fact that employees come from over 35 nationalities and are all fluent in several languages is certainly going to be of advantageous during the World Cup.
The hotel features a 900m-sq fitness centre and spa area. The recently modernised, award winning Vitality Club, offers guests free access to an indoor pool, whirlpool and gym equipment. There a fee of €15 to use the saunas, a haman.
Conference facilities are impressive and vast, with 5, 000m-sq of event space and 36 conference rooms. The business centre is open 24 hours a day and there is wireless Internet connection throughout the entire hotel.
For dining and entertainment, the Marlene Bar pays homage to the Blue Angel and the movie star Marlene Dietrich. This cozy hove is tipped as the “Place to be” during the world cup with daily live-entertainment scheduled. Meanwhile Hugo’s Gourmet restaurant on the 14th floor offers 360¡ views over the entire the city and The haute cuisine of Chef Thomas Kammeier,
€60 million was invested on the modernization of the InterConti Berlin and it was worth every penny! Although if you are looking for a room during the World Cup you had better be quick - the hotel is already almost fully booked for this period!