IHG to bed down Holiday Inn rollout

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The world’s largest hotelier, InterContinental Hotels Group, has struck a deal with a Dubai-based $150 million investment fund to build, own and operate at least 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels throughout Australia.

Backed by investor Ronald Barrott, international fund known as Pro-invest Group yesterday bought the first site in Sydney for the rollout of Holiday Inn Express Hotels. It is at Macquarie Park in North Ryde, just north of the CBD.

More than 2,200 Holiday Inn Express hotels already operate worldwide, with a further 450 slated to open in the next couple of years. The 3.5-star brand is growing in popularity because it is affordable and targets both business and leisure traveller s who need to stay in suburban as well as city locations.

IHG head of development Phil Kasselis said Pro-invest Group was seeking more sites on the eastern seaboard, with target locations being Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, as well as locations close to airports, universities and hospitals.

Mr Kasselis said Mr Barrott had been a strong partner for the Holiday Inn Express brand, having developed a portfolio of Holiday Inn Express sites in Europe in the 1990’s and with Stannifer Hotels in the early 2000’s.

As founder and chief executive of the company, Mr Barrott led Stannifer to become one of Britain’s largest select service hotel groups.

Mr Barrott said in a statement that the Australian hotel fund comprised offshore investors, who see the potential of investing in both the Holiday Inn Express brand and in 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”, Mr Barrott said.

“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.”

In Australia, Pro-invest Group has created a property development and hotel operating company to build and operate an initial 15 Holiday inn Express hotels, totalling about 2,150 rooms.

But Mr Kasselis said if the product was successful there would be more than 15 hotels developed by the fund here. Most of the Australian Holiday Inn Express hotels would have between 150 and 200 rooms. Rooms would cost between $130,000 and $150,000 to develop, excluding land costs.

He said the time was ripe to develop in Australia because of the higher room rates and the fact that most capital city hotels were trading at occupancies of more than 80 per cent.

Holiday Inn Express hotels are popular because they offer guests free breakfasts and WiFi.

The first Holiday Inn Express hotel, comprising 190 rooms, will open at Macquarie Park next year.

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