UK’s IHG to open 15 Holiday Inn Express Hotels in Australia

UK’s InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said that international investment company, Pro Invest Group, has established a $150 million fund to develop a portfolio of 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels across Australia.

Pro Invest will set up a hotel operating company to initially build and operate 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels. The hotel chain will have a total of nearly 2,150 rooms, spread across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. IHG will enter into franchise agreements for each of the hotels, and the first hotel will open at Macquarie Park in North Ryde, Sydney in the autumn of 2014.

The company claims that the hotels will be clean and simple, and provide a clear choice for business and leisure travellers that require a high quality hotel with free breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Holiday Inn Express North Ryde will have 190 rooms to meet the growing demand from the local business community for quality accommodation at a competitive price.

Ronald Barrott, principal of Pro Invest said, ‘This fund is comprised of a group of offshore investors, all who see the potential of investing in both the Holiday Inn Express brand, and Australia. We believe now is the time to grow this brand in the market and travellers will certainly benefit from having one of the world’s biggest hotel brands to choose from.

‘My previous experience in the UK tells me this partnership with IHG will be a long and successful one, and that there is plenty of opportunity to grow this initial portfolio of 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels to become many more in the years to come.’

Barrott had previously led Stannifer Hotels to become one of the UK’s largest and most successful select service hotel groups.

IHG Asia, Middle East and Africa CEO, Jan Smits commented, ‘The announcement of this investment fund comes at a great time for IHG in Australia. Our current hotel brands here, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, are already well known and regarded by our hotel owners, and Holiday Inn Express is a welcome addition. We announced our first signing under this brand earlier this year and that hotel will open in Perth, Western Australia in 2015. Pro Invest’s portfolio will launch with the opening of Holiday Inn Express North Ryde in autumn 2014.

‘We have established a strong hotel franchising model to provide owners and investors in Australia, such as Pro Invest, with a reliable and profitable alternative to our equally-successful management model. This is an exciting example of the growth and development of IHG in this market, and a strong sign of confidence in IHG’s offering,’ he added.

There are currently 30 hotels open and operating under IHG’s InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands in Australia. Launched in 1991, the Holiday Inn Express brand has now grown to over 2,200 hotels worldwide, the biggest brand within the IHG portfolio. A further 450 hotels are due to open in the next three to five years.

OFT Brings Malpractice Allegations against Booking.com, Expedia and Intercontinental Hotels Group

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), a UK government department, has alleged that three of UK’s biggest travel names, Booking.com, Expedia, and InterContinental Hotels Group, have infringed on competition law by restricting the online booking of hotel rooms.

The OFT has issued a Statement of Objections charging Booking.com and Expedia for breaking the law by entering into an agreement with IHG to offer discounted prices of room-only accommodation.

The agency, which had conducted an investigation in September 2010 following a complaint by a small online travel company, feels that such agreements are anti-competition, restrict the entry and expansion of smaller travel agents selling discounted accommodation to customers, and hence break the Competition Act of 1998.

The UK’s Competition Act of 1998 provides a guideline for the recognition and control of restrictive business practices, when utilised by a dominant market leader to control competition.

Clive Maxwell, the OFT chief executive officer, said, ‘We want people to benefit fully from being able to shop around online and get a better deal from discounters that are prepared to share their commission with customers.

The OFT’s provisional view is that Booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels Group have infringed competition law. However, these are the OFT’s provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our Statement of Objections before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.’

IHG owns around nine hotel brands in round 100 countries, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, as well as two new brands, EVEN Hotels and HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts.

 

Intercontinental London Westminster to Open in November 2012

InterContinental Hotels Group, a UK-based owner, manager and franchiser of hotels and resorts, is all set to open the new Intercontinental London Westminster in Britain in 2012.

The new hotel is the first InterContinental Hotel to open in the UK in the last 36 years, after the existing InterContinental London Park Lane. The hotel is a six-floor structure featuring 256 rooms, including a Penthouse, 14 one-bedroom suites, and 30 studio suites, and it will be opening in November 2012.

The property is located next to New Scotland Yard and the Ministry of Justice, and is expected to create around 180 new jobs to the area.

The hotel will be offering dining venues including The Chambers Bar and Dining Rooms, as well as The Lobby Lounge, a Club InterContinental Executive Lounge, and a 24-hour fitness centre. The meeting facilities include a Business Centre, and various meeting rooms.

Andrew Coney, the hotel general manager, said, ‘I’m very proud that in this year of London celebration we are bringing to the city the first new InterContinental in 36 years. Westminster is a tremendous location calling out for what our brand can offer.

Our hotel will be at the heart of an area renowned for its iconic sights and heritage but also going through an exciting period of regeneration. We will contribute to this by creating 180 jobs for local people and representing a major investment in this part of town.’

Splendid Hotel Group owns the hotel, and InterContinental Hotels Group will be operating it under a management agreement.

Summer Savings from IHG for Travel to Caribbean and Latin America

This summer, for those travellers planning a trip to the Caribbean but have yet to make firm reservations, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is offering summer savings on vacations.

The UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group, the promoter of hotel brands that include InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and others, is offering a new Latin America and Caribbean promotion for travellers.

The company is offering a Discover Latin America and Caribbean, for travellers booking a stay at a hotel in around 75 select destinations between June 1 and September 1, 2012, and completing the stay by September 15, 2012. The promotion is offering travellers complimentary breakfast and a discount of 20 percent on regular room rates at key destinations in Latin America and Caribbean.

Some of the properties participating in the promotion include the InterContinental Buenos Aires, in Argentina; Holiday Inn Aruba-Beach Resort & Casino, in Aruba; Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros, in Columbia; Crowne Plaza Lima, in Peru; Holiday Inn Sunspree Montego Bay in Jamaica; Holiday Inn Bridgetown Barbados Resort in Barbados; Holiday Inn Express Santiago, in Chile; and many others.

The hotel properties are situated in various locations, ranging from tropical forests and islands with beaches, to contemporary skyscraper buildings in cities, and claim to offer something for every kind of travel requirement.

Members of the company’s Priority Club Rewards loyalty programme will also be able to earn rewards points for stays during the promotional period.

InterContinental Hotels Looking To Olympics for Growth Boost

UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group has reported strong results for the first quarter of 2012 and is upbeat for the rest of the year, as it expects a boost in growth from its sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics.

Richard Solomons, the chief executive officer of IHG, said in a statement, ‘Originally, two-thirds of rooms in 35 of our London hotels went to LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) as part of our support for the Games. LOCOG has just given us 20 per cent of those rooms back and they are back on general sale. Demand is high.’

The company has announced a 5 percent increase in profits in the 2012 first quarter, due to a robust travel economy in the US and Greater China. The overall growth has also been helped by its hotel properties in France, Germany and Britain, in spite of the economic turmoil in Europe. Earnings from the 2012 first quarter totalled £73 million, on revenues of £253 million.

Commenting on the brand’s results, Solomons said, ‘We have delivered strong performance in the quarter with global revenue per available room (RevPAR) up 7 percent and continued out-performance in the US and Greater China. The strength of our brands and systems, together with our scale and the close working relationships we have with our hotel owners, continue to underpin our success.’

The company currently operates around 4,500 hotels globally, offering more than 660,000 guest rooms. In the UK, the company has six hotels in the pipeline, including the InterContinental London Westminster, five Hotel Indigo hotels, and Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites hotels.

Holiday Inn Gears Up To Play Host for 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games

The Holiday Inn brand, a part of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, is currently in the process of preparing to play host for the London 2012 Games. The brand is the official hotel provider for the mega sporting event, and the flurry of activity at its Burton UK headquarters has reached fever pitch.

Employees from Holiday Inn are currently setting up the Olympic village, to host around 16,000 athletes and officials during the 2012 Games; in addition to 6,200 sporting personalities, and officials for the Paralympic Games. The staff will be offering housekeeping and hospitality services to the Olympic village. Accommodation will be provided in eleven residential blocks, each one housing around 1,100 residents.

Chris Hale, the Holiday Inn head of London 2012, said in an interview, ‘These will be the most important few weeks in an athlete’s life. As the official hotel provider to London 2012, we are determined to ensure that all athletes receive world class service during their stay in the Olympic and Paralympic Village, so they can focus fully on their preparation for the Games.’

The hotel group will also be sponsoring the 70-day UK wide tour of the Olympic Torch, and providing accommodation to the athletes covering the country as part of the Torch Relay Team. In addition, Holiday Inn is supporting around 50 British athletes by offering 1,500 complimentary room nights during their training until the end of 2012.

New Hotel Indigo Opens in Edinburgh

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, a UK-based owner, manager and franchiser of hotels and resorts, has opened a new Hotel Indigo in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The new 60-room hotel is located in an 18th century building on York Place in Edinburgh, and combines five residential properties. The building has distinctive features, including decorative stairwells and cupolas.

The hotel rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi and stocked refrigerators with complementary snacks and beverages, and the other hotel amenities include a business centre, a 24-hour fitness centre, housekeeping and laundry services, a concierge service, and a bar and restaurant named the Turquoise Thistle, which is claimed to serve classic and modern Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist.

On advance bookings, guests can currently benefit from an introductory room rate of GBP114.00 per night, but most of the standard hotel package rates will commence at GBP126.00, which is inclusive of accommodation, full Scottish breakfast, VAT and a 24-hour parking at Craig James Walk.

Intercontinental Hotels Group said that the hotel’s interior design reflects the Georgian terraces of the local area.

The new property is the company’s second in Scotland, with Hotel Indigo Glasgow having opened in Glasgow last year. The brand also owns other properties in the UK, including those in Birmingham, Liverpool, London Paddington; London Tower Hill; and Newcastle.