IHG targets Australia, New Zealand with lifestyle hotels

Sydney, Australia business district. Credit: Olga Kashubin

The lifestyle hotel genre is a global phenomenon. At least according to InterContinental Hotels Group, which is making a big play with its lifestyle brands—now in Australia and New Zealand.

IHG is said to be taking its wellness brand Even, boutique brand Indigo and its Kimpton brand, which it acquired at the end of 2014, Down Under and to the Land of the Kiwi.

In a statement, Jan Smits, CEO Asia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA), IHG said: “We identified a key opportunity to accelerate our growth in the lifestyle segment with the introduction of these brands to the region. We know that there is a growing segment of travelers—whether they are on a business or leisure trip—who are looking for an experience beyond bed and board. This is why we are confident of the potential of our lifestyle brands, which can provide that unique experience but at the same time, also a sense of reliability and familiarity, as they are part of one of the world’s largest hotel companies."

With respect to the Even brand, which was launched in 2012 to much fanfare, and is still seeking critical mass, it will be the first time Even is taken outside U.S. borders. IHG signed at this week’s HICAP conference in Hong Kong, involving IHG working with long-term partner Pro-invest Group to establish a portfolio of Even Hotels across Australia and New Zealand "in response to growing demand for wellness travel."

In 2014, IHG made a multimillion-dollar investment in Pro-invest's Australian Hospitality Opportunity Fund. Under the A$150 million fund, Pro-invest Group is currently developing a portfolio of up to 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels across Australia.

Even currently has four hotels open—two in New York and ones in Connecticut and Maryland—with, as of June 2016, a pipeline of eight hotels. (Earlier this year, HOTEL MANAGEMENT, in conjunction with IHG, hosted a wellness-focused roundtable at the Even Hotel in Rockville, Md.)

Indigo, meanwhile, has three hotels in the region: Singapore, Bangkok and Bali, which will open soon. However, IHG's release was vague on Indigo's growth potential in Australia and New Zealand and did not remark on any signed deals.

Same for Kimpton. WHile IHG didn't specify and deals for the brand, Smits commented on its potential: "We recognize that there is strong potential, with like-minded partners, to develop the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the region across city and resort locations.  The AMEA region is a perfect for the brand."

IHG has slowly been expanding Kimpton outside the States. Its first international hotel will be in Amsterdam, in 2017, a conversion of the Crowne Plaza Amsterdam City Centre. In July, IHG announced a Kimpton hotel coming to Paris in 2020. The hotel is being developed in partnership with AXA IM - Real Assets.

IHG says it currently operates over 270 hotels across five brands in Asia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA), including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Hotel Indigo, with a further 140 in the development pipeline due to open within the next three to five years.