InterContinental: When the President came to stay

InterContinental: When the President came to stay

Here at IHG we’ve been celebrating InterContinental’s 70th birthday all year. We’ve had a look through the history of the brand and some of the amazing stories that our exceptional InterContinental family have amassed over the years.

Now, while we’ve been collecting stories we realised that we’ve had some amazing guests stay in our hotels. Everyone from movie stars to heads of state; it’s a pretty impressive line-up. But none is more impressive that the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

With the US elections growing ever closer, signalling the end of Obama’s eight years as POTUS, we decided to collect some of our favourite stories about the times that the outgoing President has enjoyed some of Intercontinental’s famous hospitality.

Security detail

Security Manager at the Hotel Real InterContinental San José in Costa Rica, Mariano León, remembers the time when the President stayed with them back in 2013. It required a huge security detail with forces from both the US and Costa Rica present to protect the Commander in Chief.

Mariano remembers, “The protocols to enter and leave the hotel were very strict; it was the first time that there was not a single vehicle in the parking lot of the hotel.” 


Intercontinental San Jose

Common ground

Alma Beasenburg, Director of Housekeeping at the InterContinental San Francisco, shared a special moment with the president, when they realised that they were both raised on the same Hawaiian island, Honolulu.

Interesting fact, Barack Obama is the first US President to have been born in Hawaii.

Picture time

Of course, when one of the most powerful and influential people on the planet comes to stay at your workplace it’s natural to want to capture the memories of this once in a lifetime experience. For General Manager at the Presidente InterContinental, Mexico City Guillermo Valencia remembers,

When President Obama stayed at the hotel and we wanted to have a photo with him. The White House staff said yes but I never imagined the protocol we had to go through … check your records, copy of your ID, scanning before entering the function room, the White House photographer, the flag of the USA…”

Guillermo waited for 6 months to get his photo with the president – a treasured memory that was surely worth the wait!

“We finally had the picture taken with Mr. Obama who was very nice and warm with my team and I. Then we waited for 6 months to have the famous photograph in our hands, and this was thanks to Carla Cannonito from IHG in Washington who traced someone to have it sent.”


Would you like the chance to meet some of the world’s most exciting and influential people? Would you love the opportunity to make their stay at the InterContinental that extra but special, while making some pretty incredible memories for yourself? Then why not apply to work in the IHG family?

Head on over to our careers site, take a look at our vacancies and get in touch from us – we love to hear from people dedicated to making hospitality as magical as possible!


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