IHG to triple hotels in 5 years

Group currently has 4 hotels across 3 of its brands in Malaysia and is looking to have more than 14 hotels across 6 brands in 5 years

By NUR HANANI AZMAN

Sukumaran says IHG currently has more hotel openings compared to closure with 97% of its hotels in operation globally (source: ihgplc.com)

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group plc (IHG) plans to triple the number of their hotels in Malaysia in the next five years, but did not reveal the amount it is expected to spend for the expansion.

IHG South-East Asia (SEA) and Korea MD Rajit Sukumaran said the group currently has four hotels across three of its brands in Malaysia and is looking to have more than 14 hotels across six brands within the next five years.

“Demand does exist and travel will return. At the moment, it’s going to be domestic — weekend staycation and holiday season travel. On the corporate side, we will see small meetings happening, not large events.

“For international travel, we expect to see leisure-driven tourists coming in as soon as the border reopens. By then, we also expect meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions to return quickly too,” he said in an IHG media roundtable session yesterday.

IHG’s occupancy rate across Malaysia year-to-date is at 30% compared to last year’s 63%. The UK-based hotel group, however, is confident of the hotel industry’s ability to recover from the pandemic as the year comes to an end. Sukumaran said IHG currently has more hotel openings compared to closure with 97% of its hotels in operation globally.

“In Malaysia, we closed the Holiday Inn Resort in Batu Ferringhi, Penang. Apart from that, all of our hotels have reopened and are currently catering to available businesses. We do have one more opening, Holiday Inn Express Kota Kinabalu (KK), Sabah, before the end of 2020,” he added.

Meanwhile, IHG SEA and Korea development VP Serena Lim said the group is seeking to unlock secondary markets such as Ipoh, Alor Setar, Kuching and Miri.

“Our Holiday Inn brand will be integral to our growth in the country. We already have nine properties in our pipeline, all of which reflect the latest Holiday Inn brand hallmarks of cutting-edge, modern and trendy design.

“Mainstream travel is proving to be the most resilient to the crisis around the world, and it’s where we see occupancy levels rebuild the quickest,” she added.

Lim said IHG also plans to introduce new luxury and lifestyle brands into Malaysia, such as California-based The Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC and boutique brand Hotel Indigo, both of which are set to launch in Kuala Lumpur (KL).

“We are thrilled to extend our selection of brands in Malaysia through the signings of Kimpton KL at The TRX Exchange and Hotel Indigo KL on the Park. We are also looking forward to opening our first Regent hotel in Malaysia – also in KL,” she said.

As part of its masterplan for the country, IHG is also planning to bring in one of the world’s largest upscale brands — Crowne Plaza —which will debut in KL and KK.

The new Crowne Plaza KL City Centre will be located opposite Star Boulevard, while Crowne Plaza KK Waterfront will be part of a new premium waterfront lifestyle mixed-use development.

Although a full industry recovery will take time, Sukumaran said IHG is confident in the steps taken to protect and support owners and drive demand back to the hotels when guests feel secure and safe to travel again.

“The IHG Clean Promise, launched in June 2020, is a good example of how we have combined our knowledge and processes with cutting-edge expertise from specialists including Cleveland Clinic, EcoLab and Diversey.

“We remain focused on leveraging the strength of our brands, scale and market positioning to recover strongly and grow this business moving forward,” he said.