Sunday, February 22, 2009

Travelogue: Hotel Intercontinental, Managua, Nicaragua

Intercontinental Managua - lobby
Lobby of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua

We had some specific needs when we stayed in Managua, so we wanted to make sure we stayed at a place that could help us out and minimize any potential points of stress. On that score, Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua took good care of us. With the exception of one disappointing hiccup in our shuttle out to the airport as we were leaving, they were really terrific.

Intercontinental Managua - lobby
Lobby of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua

Our first request was that we could stash some of our luggage and souvenirs with them while we were in Havana. We started our vacation in Granada, bought a couple of hammock chairs as well as some ceramic pieces in Masaya and definitely did not want to schlep everything with us back and forth from Havana. The InterContinental agreed to hold our things for us. This was pretty impressive service. We would only be staying one night with them, but they allowed us to drop a significant pile of stuff off 4 days before check in and held them safely for us while we were in Cuba. Incredibly helpful.

Intercontinental Managua
Lobby of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua

When we did check in, on a Saturday afternoon, we had to make another special request. Our plan was to ship some things to the U.S. so we wouldn't need to bring them with us on the plane. However, we soon found out that one's UPS / Fed Ex options are limited in Managua on a Saturday afternoon. And our flight was very early the next morning, so we couldn't do anything ourselves on Sunday (and I imagine one's options are no better on a Sunday morning than they are on a Saturday afternoon). Thankfully, the concierge worked with us, lining up everything he would need to take care of it after we left. It wasn't necessarily easy and we wound up spending a decent amount of time and money coordinating the whole thing, but it was what we needed to do and again the InterContinental folks came through for us.

Intercontinental Managua - restaurant
Restaurant of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, with bird

Beyond the service, the property itself is solid. The decor and amenities are on par with anything you would expect from an upscale place in a warm U.S. climate like Arizona, California or Florida. This was nice because we were so tired that we didn't leave the grounds. Aside from shuttles to/from the airport, we spent 100% of our ~18 hours in Managua at the hotel.

Intercontinental Managua restaurant swan
Restaurant of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, with bird

We had a nice lunch in the hotel restaurant with artistically sculpted flamingos keeping watch over us.

Judy @ lunch in managua
Restaurant of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, with bird

And after zonking out for much of the afternoon, we hit the hotel restaurant again for dinner.

Managua Intercontinental restaurant
Restaurant patio of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, looking inside

Judy @ dinner in managua
Restaurant patio of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, Judy and I having some laffs

The restaurant staff for each meal was completely attentive and helpful. All in all it was a very mellow, but pleasant way to unwind with good food in a relatively quiet atmosphere, just lounging in the heat.

Short clip from the restaurant patio of Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua

My main disappointment with the InterContinental was something that I suppose they cannot really control. Based on nothing but hope and my interpretation of the claim on their website that you are "in the heart of the entertainment and commercial district", I was expecting we would be able to walk around something that resembled an urban neighborhood. That definitely wasn't the case. What comes to mind is a suburban commercial intersection. Like Tysons Corner in Virginia, but on a much smaller scale. And hotter. With a chicken-based fast food restaurant as one of the key hubs of activity and life.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. The guidebooks give you not so subtle hints, with things like, "Managua's layout is perplexing to the first time visitor", and "this big sprawling city has no real downtown", and "Managua is not an ideal city for walking". I did read all that, so I wasn't clueless. And from the little glimpse of Managua that we got during our car ride from the airport to Granada (wish I had video of that -- truly eye-opening stuff we saw on the side streets), I saw nothing to suggest the guide books were wrong. Just had a different expectation of what "in the heart of the entertainment and commercial district" might mean.

If we ever find ourselves in Managua again, our expectations will be re-calibrated. And we'll consider getting a tour of some kind, because a few of the places recommended in the InterContinental's video tour look pretty interesting.

1 comment:

AMVS said...

Sorry about your experience in Managua, Nicaragua. I am from there although I have not live there for years. Our city is definitely no for walking it never been. I agree with you they should advice tourist they will need to rent a car to visit all the touristic places we have and your will not be disappointed I assure you