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A few weeks ago, I flew American Airlines’ new 777-300ER first class from New York JFK to Sao Paulo, Brazil to check out the city for a few days and attend the amfAR Inspiration Gala. Thanks to a lot of reader suggestions, I was considering staying at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo and using my final Free Suite Night Award, but I found the rates at the Intercontinental Sao Paulo to be much lower and decided to stay there instead.
My entire stay was going to be for four days, so originally I booked the first two nights using my Priority Club points at 35,000 points per night and then I paid a rate of $280 per night for the second pair of nights, so I was getting a rate of 0.8 cents per point – just above the 0.7 cents per point you can buy them for (see this post #7 for details).
The hotel has 195 rooms and 38 suites. My points reservations was for a Superior Room, while my paid reservation was for a Superior King Plus Room one category up that goes for about $20 more per night, so I made sure to request staying in the same room for the entire length of my stay.
A few days prior to my stay, I was contacted by a representative from Guest Relations who recognized that I am a Platinum Ambassador and asked what time I would be arriving and if I would like to be upgraded to a Club Floor Deluxe room for $120.00 more for the 4 nights of my stay, which I accepted. Here’s what his email said:
“It was noticed that you quoted a regular superior room. It is possible to upgrade to a Club Floor Deluxe room for additional USD 120,00 and include breakfast, happy hour with drinks & finger food and besides it, get a totally renovated room. This would be accumulated with your Ambassador Upgrade, so in case you book the Club Floor Deluxe, you will get then two room Upgrades. Let us know, and we can arrange that for you!”
Well, paying $30 per day for Club Lounge access and all those services seemed worth it to me, especially because a Deluxe King Club room goes for $120 a night more than the room I had booked, so I was getting it for a quarter of the premium. Plus, breakfast alone can cost more than $30 a day, so considering I’d get it included every day, and snacks, etc., it seemed like a good deal to me.
When I accepted the upgrade I emailed to confirm that the $120 would be the total extra cost and received confirmation, so I booked it. However, when checking out I noticed that they had charged me $120 per day – or $480 total! I brought it up at the desk but was in a hurry to catch my plane back to the States, so I had them make a note and I followed up with the hotel upon my return. I was again quoted $120 per night by the reservation agent I was emailing with but I escalated it to a supervisor and within two days, they had reviewed my email correspondence and room bill and determined that the misunderstanding was not my fault (I had been very clear about the rate wording) so I ended up being charged just the $120 I had expected.
It was clearly a mistake on their part, but I applaud the hotel for resolving it so quickly and fairly – and I would caution people who plan to stay at this hotel to check and double check the rate details before upgrading like I did in case this happens to you.
I arrived on Wednesday morning around 10:00 am Brazil time and was able to go right up to my Deluxe King Club room on the 20th floor. All Deluxe rooms at the Intercontinental Sao Paulo are about 350 square feet and newly renovated.
Although the furniture did feel fresh, it was all still a little drab for my taste – all in taupes and grays with just a spot of color in the bed runner and the workdesk chair. I liked that it had a little sitting area with two armchairs and the work area was slightly separated from the main bedroom area by a sort of half-wall, on the other side of which sat the wall-mounted LCD television. My room overlooked the street, but wasn’t too loud because of the floor it was on.
The bathroom was decent – fairly spacious with pink marble fixtures, though just one sink.
It was stocked with the usual L’Occitaine bath products, which I like, because they’re sort of herbaceous and clean smelling rather than too soapy or floral.
The closet was in the entry foyer along with the small minibar – alas no raiding the minibar for me anymore now that I’m not a Royal Ambassador!
As I mentioned, my room had city/street views rather than overlooking the pool, but that was fine by me since it’s my first time here and I am excited to see the city in all its glory and chaos.
Other than the room amenities, the hotel has a business center, a fitness center that was renovated in 2010 (I need to work off the sundae I had in American Airlines first class!) and an outdoor pool. It also has a nice lobby bar called the Godet Bar near reception and a French-Brazilian fusion restaurant called Tarsila. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.