Saturday, August 21, 2010
Gunmen Invade Intercontinental Hotel in Rio
[Photos: Left, the Rocinha favela where gunmen were fleeing to when they took refuge in the Intercontinental Hotel, shown after the siege today.]
Armed men believed to be part of a drug gang from a nearby favela, or slum, took refuge in the Intercontinental Hotel in Rio de Janeiro and held 30 hostages till police overwhelmed the gang a few hours later.
According to the AP report: "The upscale, beachside neighborhood where the Intercontinental Hotel is located was transformed into a virtual war zone as the 10 suspects, armed with high-caliber rifles, grenades and pistols, exchanged fire with police in a shootout that killed a bystander as she was getting out of a taxi.
Here's a link via the Huffington Post.
Here's the report -- in Portuguese, though with pictures, in Globo, the Brazilian newspaper.
As always, tourists are advised to exercise care when visiting crime-ridden Rio. Authorities there are working hard to try to combat the crime problem as Rio prepares to host the 2014 World Cup games and the 2016 Olympics.
The Intercontinental, in Sao Conrado, is being widely described in news accounts today as a "luxury" hotel, but I'm not sure it quite fits that description. It's more of a convention hotel.
On the always useful hotel reviews at TripAdvisor.com, it generally gets good reviews but is also described as being less than 5-star in quality. And more than a third of the reviews are not so good. I've always found the bad reviews on TripAdvisor to be more useful than the raves, because some of the raves are suspect. Anyway, some excerpts from TripAdvisor reader-generated reviews of the Rio Intercontinental:
"I cannot recommend this hotel to anyone. The staff is very unfriendly and the rooms are not very good. The view from my hotel room was the only good thing that I can say of this hotel. The hotel is very expensive, so you would expect some quality. Anyway, the hot water was there only occasionally, the room was very simple, the service was non-existing... Also, they try to rip-off your money in every occasion. And the hotel is very far from everything else except for the largest Favela (Rocinha) of Rio. The city is lovely, but I recommend to take another hotel."
"I am an airline pilot primarily flying an international schedule. I spend as many as 180 days in hotels throughout Europe, and Central, South, and North America. I also vacation and cruise in various parts of the world. The Intercontinental is similar in quality to the Sheraton up the street towards Impanema in terms of service, bar, and restaurant amenities. The pool area is nice, but not nearly as nice as the Sheraton. It is situated next to the Fashion Mall, perhaps the most overpriced in all of Rio. Food in the hotel is ridiculous in price. $48R/ US$28 for breakfast. The beach across the street is pretty, but completely unused by the rich clientele that live in the area, as they don’t seem to mingle too well with the massive population of the favela (slum) that hovers over the beach and hotel. You have to go 15 minutes south or 15 minutes north to get to a beach where you would want to spend much time at. There are very few reasonable restaurant options in the immediate area.
"As a member of my company's International Development team, I spend many nights on the road around the world. My stay in this hotel was shockingly bad. Several employees in this hotel have very bad attitudes as reflected in their job performance. It was as if these hotel employees were doing you a favor by helping you! Also, someone in housekeeping stole my credit card numbers while I was downstairs at the gym. I had to file a claim with my credit card companies and have all my cards replaced. The hotel promised to look into this issue and said they would call me back with in one week (this was 3 weeks ago) and still nothing. My very humble opinion is that you are much better off finding another place to stay."
And a French visitor had a veeeery bad impression:
"Chambre petite avec salle de bain sale (paroi de baignoire pleine de moisi!). personnel peu aimable qu'il ne faut surtout pas déranger si on a une question! petit déjeuner assez léger pour un 5étoiles! piscine peu avenante. Internet dans les chambre hors de prix pour une connexion qui ne marche pas! à éviter!!"