InterContinental Berchtesgaden Being Rebranded As Kempinski

Filed Under: Hotels, IHG Rewards


For me there are certain hotels that “make” a brand. In other words, I largely stay loyal to a hotel brand because of those aspirational properties I daydream about staying at.

Back in the day I was Royal Ambassador with InterContinental, which was their invitation only top tier status. I don’t love 90% of InterContinental properties (I find they’re mostly a couple of decades past their prime), though over time there were a few properties I really came to love, like the ones in Bali, Berchtesgaden, San Francisco, etc.

IHG Rewards Club recently published their qualification criteria for Royal Ambassador, which was long overdue. Since I live in hotels, I was almost tempted to throw enough stays their way to qualify for Royal Ambassador again (~60 qualifying stays, with at least 20 of them being at InterContinental properties).

InterContinental Berchtesgaden exterior

Well, I’m a lot less tempted to do that now, given that it was just announced that the InterContinental Berchtesgaden will be reflagged as a Kempinski Hotel in the first half of 2015.

InterContinental Berchtesgaden courtyard

An exact date hasn’t yet been announced, though the last day you can book a stay at the InterContinental Berchtesgaden through the IHG website is April 7, 2015 (at a cost of 210EUR or 35,000 IHG points per night).


The InterContinental Berchtesgaden is probably my favorite InterContinental property in the world. It’s certainly not the most expensive, but it’s simply gorgeous. It’s at the top of Germany’s steepest road, about a two hour drive from Munich, and a short drive from the Austrian border.

Area surrounding Berchtesgaden

Area surrounding Berchtesgaden

Area surrounding Berchtesgaden

I stayed at the InterContinental in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and was hoping to return again soon. I’m not a huge fan of the Kempinski brand as such, and don’t find their GHA Discovery Programme to be especially lucrative.

So I’d probably return anyway, since the property and surrounding area are that gorgeous.

InterContinental Berchtesgaden outdoor pool

Why are they rebranding the property? My guess is because a vast majority of guests at this hotel are German, and Kempinski has a lot more name recognition in Germany than InterContinental. This hotel could just as easily be a Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, or Ritz-Carlton, though.

Have you stayed at the InterContinental Berchtesgaden? If so, would you still return if the hotel were instead a Kempinski?

  1. NOOOOOOO!!!! I feel your pain on this one. My wife and I just stayed there for a night a few weeks ago during our trip to Munich for Oktoberfest (on your recommendation of course). We absolutely loved the hotel and Berchtesgaden and were planning to return next winter for more than just a night. I’m very glad we stayed now, 35,000 IHG points was a steal as the rates can be pretty high there. You are right that the hotel is a bit out of Intercontinental’s usual realm (especially compared to their US hotels), the hotel felt much more like a Four Seasons or Park Hyatt. Sad to see the change but the real question is, are there any transfer partners to Kempinski’s loyalty program and how do I match Elite status with them? haha. šŸ™‚

  2. For what it’s worth, Hotel Edelweiss would be a good alternative for folks willing to forego points. It’s newish, quite nice and right in town. A good spa and the top level pool area has stunning views of the Watzmann.

  3. Very sad. šŸ™

    I am thankful we got stay there once as RAs. It is a fantastic memory. If the price is right, we will probably stay again, although sadly with no RA benefits.

  4. So what is IHG’s end game here? Their Intercontinental list is shrinking fast. Are they destined to simply be middle of the road brands with no high end properties?

  5. @ Brian — Ultimately I don’t think they have an “end game” here, and I think this change is very much outside of their control. I’m guessing they weren’t performing as well as the management company was hoping, and they think they can get higher yields being associated with Kempinski. Agree it sucks for them!

  6. How very sad–we love the property, and have visited a handful of times.
    I can’t see anything at this moment that would lead me to think there is a points transfer option into GHA from any other program (Lufthansa?)
    Or is there another payment alternative, besides the obvious cash, going forward under Kempenski?

  7. Maybe what’s really going on is that the Intercontinenal brand has eroded and been lowered to the level of Sheraton and Hilton, so those properties aspiring to a higher quality and price level are handicapped by the Intercontinental brand. After all the London property shifted to Conrad.

    Many Intercontinentals have become dated and underinvested.

    It’s quite a shame as Intercontinentals were once the top property in many cities. Many of the early properties were built by Pan Am in cities where Pan Am flew and there wasn’t a 4 or 5 star hotel. But I think there’s been a long period of neglect since Pan Am sold off the chain.

  8. Maybe they no longer want to be associated with the IHG program because they are embarrassed about the mess that IHG are creating with their promos. Taking into account what a mess the IT department is at IHG I wonder if it impacts individual hotels.

  9. i love that hotel and plan to go back in March. Not sure how much the loyalty program change will influence me, but I could see myself staying elsewhere if the value proposition changes significantly.

  10. We’re booked there April 3 and 4th…and we’re going because of your glowing review. Glad I slid in under the wire.

  11. Soooo sad! It was on our to do list, but our next trip to Germany won’t be until Fall. Unless we can score a great rate (ha!), guess this will be one hotel that just won’t happen. šŸ™

  12. Unless they are willing to offer regular guests the same privileges as IC, we will keep on visiting the property. Otherwise definitely NO!

    The Kempinski loyalty program is horrible compared to IC Ambassador. Other regular guests are not going to return as well if they don’t offer us anything.

    Hotel Edelweiss has no airconditioning by the way.

  13. I stayed at the intercontinental four times a year each year from 2006 until 2012 staying three weeks each time having driven from great Britain across Europe with the two dogs Elliott and Junior as this hotel is perfectly located for wonderful walks for the dogs, always book a panorama suite as the views are fabulous from corner windows and are good value for money, as soon as we arrived and the two rear doors of the car were opened the dogs ran straight to the glass sliding doors, they could not get into the hotel quick enough they loved the place and the lovely walks round the grounds. this hotel is unique and in a wonderful position for fabulous views, sadly the two dogs have passed away but I keep returning and it should not matter which chain operate this wonderful property, if you’ve never been try it and if you have a dog treat the dog and book a nice long stay in a panorama suite you will not be disappointed.

  14. Stayed on the property several times from 2005-2009 (when it was IHG), and loved, loved, LOVED it. The Head Concierge (Alex) became a friend, and there’s always a lot to be said for the service experience.

    We don’t have much experience with the Kempinski brand, but have loved every IHG property we’ve stayed at/in… Prague, Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, Cannes, etc…

    Don’t know why IHG dropped the Berchtesgaden property from its portfolio, it’s a sad loss. (I’m sure it was related to profits, revenue growth and the lease agreement with the State of Bavaria – which, as I understand it, owns/leases the property to the “operator.”) Many friends I’ve spoken with, who are also IHG Ambassadors (and loyal to the Brand), missed their opportunity to stay at this property as an IHG Hotel, but I still highly recommend a visit – if solely for the location.

    What you’re willing to pay for this spectacular location is at your discretion, based on your personal experience with Kempinski properties/amenities/services. The location is truly unique, breathtaking, and beyond comparison… but the service can make (or break) the overall experience.

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