IHG launches HUALLUXE Hotels and Resorts, their first hotel brand designed for the Chinese consumer

hualuxe hotel lobby renderingIHG has tapped into the rapidly growing Chinese market with the launch of HUALUXE Hotels and Resorts, a new upscale international hotel brand that demonstrates pride in Chinese customs and reflects local tradition. The name comes from a combination of “Hua,” meaning “Majestic China,” and “luxury.”

Numbers back up the plan: the China hotel market is projected to grow by 5-8% annually by 2030*. Outbound trips from China are projected to grow from 10 million to more than 100 million in the next 10 to 15 years.

IHG is already the largest international hotel operator in China, with more than 160 hotels across 60 cities, and sees the opportunity for this brand to be in over 100 cities in China in the next 15-20 years. IHG has already signed over 20 letters of intent, which are now being converted into contracts and we expect the first hotel to be open in late 2013 or early 2014.

The brand is based on four identified priorities, including:

  • Tradition: Long-celebrated traditions are reflected in the design, amenities and outlets, including a “deep-rooted tea culture” and restaurants like late-night noodle bars.
  • Rejuvenation: Hotels will be rich in natural surroundings, offering a lobby garden and resort-inspired bathrooms.
  • Status: Recognition and respect are fundamental in Chinese society. A seamless VIP arrival, a unique Club Lounge experience, specialty food and beverages throughout the hotel serve to underpin the importance of the guests.
  • Familiar Spaces: Each hotel will feature a range of public and private spaces to be used for various social interactions and meetings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that IHG isn’t the only group with its sights set on China — Hilton Worldwide Inc. operates 28 Chinese hotels under its brands with plans to add at least 75 hotels within five years.

HUALUXE is initially launching in China with plans to expand worldwide.

This comes only a month after announcing plans for Even hotels, a fitness-based chain.

InterContinental Hotels Group launches EVEN, a wellness-focused hotel brand

even hotelsInterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) today announced the US launch of EVEN™ Hotels, its new, wellness-focused hotel brand.

What is a “wellness hotel”?
Over a span of 18 months, IHG closely analyzed emerging trends, conducted studies and talked to over 4,000 customers. The research showed a demand shift to a holistic wellness travel experience, and confirmed an unmet need among customers – staying healthy while they travel.

Keep in mind, these won’t be destination spas or luxury resorts. The operating model for EVEN Hotels will be similar to limited service hotels.


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What will guests find?
Guest rooms will be designed for in-room workouts with multi-functional room amenities (e.g. coat rack that doubles as pull-up bars); a best-in-class gym with equipment and group exercise activities; a “Wellness Wall” resource for fitness tips, walking distances, and equipment rentals; and personalized guest services offering advice on fitness options.

Rooms will feature tech amenities such as high speed Wi-Fi, multimedia ports, easy access to outlets, and ample desk space. Additionally, there will be social areas in the bar and lobby. Rooms will also feature green and allergy-friendly amenities, including: hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers, and antibacterial wipes.
Nutritionally designed menus will offer a particular focus on natural, fresh, fit, and energizing meals. In an open-air café and bar, guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, mini-smoothies, and flavored, filtered water with glass bottles available to fill up and take back to their rooms.

The company is so confident in the brand that they have planned an aggressive $150 million growth plan over the next three years and expects to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels within the next five years.

Look for the first locations to be announced soon and the first hotel to open in early 2013.

InterContinental Hotel Group prepares for 2011 openings in Russia, Portugal, Qatar, more

A new year brings new hotels. While travelers are prepping their calendars in anticipation of 2011 trips, hotel groups are working hard to open new properties around the world for guests. International expansion in Asia and Europe are top priorities for hotel groups including Marriott, Starwood and Hilton. Next up: InterContinental Hotel Groups plans their 2011 expansion including hotels in Russia, Portugal and a second property in London.

I caught up with my contacts at InterContinental to get a sneak peak at what’s to come:

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InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (February 2011)

The InterContinental Kuala Lumpur is a 473-room hotel located at Jalan Ampang, a prestigious upscale address in the heart of the capital’s business, shopping and entertainment district. The hotel is a short distance to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. There will be five restaurants, offering Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and international cuisine.

InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya, Russia (July 2011)

Situated on the site of the former Minsk Hotel at Number 22 Tverskaya, InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya will be part of a brand new 64,000 square-meter development with luxury retail outlets and state-of-the-art offices. Within a short walking distance are the Kremlin, City Hall and Pushkin Square. Guest rooms with have hardwood parquet flooring, built-in TV in both the bedroom and bathroom, and bespoke furniture, including one-of-a-kind credenzas featuring etchings of Seven Sisters skyscrapers that were planned but never built. InterContinental Porto Palacios das Cardosas, Portugal (July 2011)

The hotel will occupy what was once the Palace of the Cardosas, located on the main square of Porto, Portugal‘s second largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There will be 105 guestrooms, with Penthouse suites located on the 7th floor. A main feature of the hotel will be the Cafe Astoria, once part of a bank that occupied the palace, which will have its original Belle Époque elements restored. The hotel will also have an urban spa with pool and sauna.

InterContinental Doha West Bay, Qatar (late 2011)

InterContinental Doha West Bay will be part of a 60-storey tower located in the Doha city center, close to the main shopping and business districts. The 540-room hotel will have suites and serviced residences, as well as a Club InterContinental. There will be extensive dining options, including a steak house, sushi bar and dim sum restaurant. Some of the restaurants will be located on the 55th and 56th levels, with views of the city. Another standout feature: an outdoor sky pool located on the 46th floor.

InterContinental London Westminster, England (early 2012)

InterContinental London Westminster will occupy the former Queen Anne’s Chambers, originally built in the 19th century. The 254-room hotel is InterContental’s second London property and only a short walking distance to major landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Royal Parks and the London Eye.

InterContinental Hotels tests tiered WiFi options

It’s not free, but it’s something…

The InterContinental Hotels & Resorts chain are experimenting with a system of tiered WiFi in a few of its hotels.

Guests at InterContinental Times Square in New York City, InterContinental Chicago and InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco are being offered the choice of WiFi options: low-bandwidth WiFi for $10 or high-bandwidth service for $15.

InterContinental is not the first hotel company to test the tiered option – other hotel groups including some Hilton brands and Golden Tulip Hospitality Group have offered varying levels of WiFi access for a price, allowing guests to choose how much they want to spend. Still, we’re standing firm on the notion that hotel WiFi should be free.

Readers: What are your thoughts? Does a tiered WiFi plan seem logical?

Five signs that the hotel meeting business is recovering

Business meetings are back in style. Group customer is on the rise for the hotel business, signaling that the corporate crowd Is getting back out on the road. Joining the party are other groups, such as associations, sports teams, religious groups, social organizations and the military, according to USA Today.

The U.S. Travel Association is predicting a 7 percent increase in meeting and convention spending this year, with a forecast of $90.7 billion. Last year, this measure fell 15 percent, as the effects of the financial crisis and subsequent recession led to cancelations.

To get the big bucks back in the door, hotels and convention bureaus have been rolling out favorable pricing and sweetheart deals, and it’s starting to work.

So, how do we know this sector’s coming back? Here are five hints:

1. The meeting planners say so: A June survey by Meeting Professionals International showed 61 percent of respondents saying “that they’re seeing more favorable business conditions, including attendance, budgets and number of meetings,” according to a USA Today report. Only 15 percent responded this way in August 2009.

2. Hotel groups say so: InterContinental Hotels Group has announced that its group and corporate revenue climbed 10 percent in the first half of 2010 relative to the same period in 2009. Denihan Hospitality Group’s eight New York City hotels are showing an increase in group revenue of 26 percent year-over-year.
3. Even Grand Rapids has good news: The JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan has sold more than 1,500 group room-nights so far this year, up 20 percent from last year.

4. So does Fort Lauderdale:
In this Florida town, group revenue is up 30 percent at the Harbor Beach Marriott. Corporate deals are still down from last year, but other groups are more than making up the difference.

5. Hotels understand what’s going on: Even though the market is coming back, hotels realize that they still need to price aggressively. Notes George Aquino, general manager of the Grand Rapids JW Marriott Everyone’s felt the turmoil of 2009. We don’t want that to happen again.”

[photo by msprague via Flickr]