IHG to drive Holiday Inn expansion

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InterContinental Hotels Group will open a new Holiday Inn Express hotel in Brisbane as part of its franchise agreement with Ron Barrott’s Pro-invest Group.

Construction of the new 226-room room, economy hotel at 168 Wharf Street, close to Cathedral Square in Spring Hill, will begin later this year. It is due to open in the first half of 2016.

It’s the second hotel Pro-invest will develop and manage after a franchise agreement struck with IHG last year to develop 15 new Holiday Inn Express hotels. They will be funded from $150 million of offshore investor capital.

Pro-invest will open its first Holiday Inn Express at Macquarie Park in North Ryde, Sydney, next year.

IHG chief operating officer for Australasia and Japan Alan Watts told The Australian Financial Review Pro-invest was looking for a third hotel site with the CBD locations, business parks, sites close to airports and regional locations with “natural demand and existing infrastructure” as the preferred locations for new hotels. “We’re also having conversations with existing hotel operators seeking to come in under the Holiday Inn Brand,” he said.

Last year IHG signed a franchise agreement with Oscars Hotels for a 146-room Holiday Inn hotel at Warwick Farm in Sydney’s south-west. After a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, it opened under the Holiday Inn brand in September last year.

Mr Watts said IHG’s key projects were the conversion of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay into the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay, due to open at the end of the year, and the building of a new convention centre at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, which is owned by the Schwartz Family. He said IHG was also looking at bringing the boutique Hotel Indigo brand to Australia.

Bullish on hotel market

Mr Watts remains extremely bullish about the Australian hotel market, quoting analyst expectations of between 5.5 per cent and 7.5 per cent revenue per available room growth a year between now and 2020.

“Melbourne and Sydney are achieving record occupancies and there is continued offshore investor interest in Australia hotels. It’s an attractive market to invest in because it’s less cyclical.

“We will see more property transactions this year both from onshore and offshore investors and more and more new hotel announcements, which is a testament to the strength of the industry”, he said.

The announcement of the Brisbane Holiday Inn Express pushes the pipeline of new Brisbane hotels across all developers, to 15, adding nearly 2000 rooms between now and 2016, based on recent JLL Hotel figures.

Commenting on the Brisbane announcement, Mr Barrott said he saw a lot of potential for the Holiday Inn Express brand in Australia. “With the construction of our Macquarie Park property commencing in the coming weeks and this second property now signed, we are on track to developing the 15 hotels under our partnership as we actively scour the country for strategic locations to expand the presence of Holiday Inn Express,” Mr Barrott said.

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