InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has committed to relaunching its brand across its 215 luxury properties amid "significant changes" taking place in the sector.
Tom Rowntree, vice president of luxury brands at IHG Hotels and Resorts, told The Caterer now is the "perfect time" to realign the InterContinental Hotels to the "evolutions in the luxury space" as the brand looks to expand significantly with 90 hotels in the pipeline.
More than a fifth of IHG's total pipeline is made up of luxury and lifestyle brands, a market Rowntree said was "hugely important" for the business.
Rowntree stressed this is not a rebrand, but rather an "end to end evolution" of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, which, until 2015, was IHG's only brand in the luxury and lifestyle sector.
Over the past eight years, IHG has extended its luxury and lifestyle portfolio to six brands, which includes Kimpton (acquired in 2015), Regent (2018), Six Senses (2019), Vignette (launched in 2021) and Hotel Indigo.
"We launched this to our GMs early in the summer. All 215 hotels are now going through the processes of delivering that to their teams and elements of the brand will start coming alive in Q1 of next year," he said.
The programme aims to offer an upgraded luxury experience at InterContinental properties based on staff expertise, scientifically-backed wellbeing and nutrition packages, and personalised celebrations in private suites.
One of the initiatives involves a partnership with jet lag app Timeshifter, which was originally developed by NASA for astronauts returning to earth. The end goal is to widen access to the app for hotel guests staying at all InterContinental Hotels to ensure they are fully rested from their travels.
Commenting on the purpose of technology in luxury experiences, Rowntree said it is used "when it's going to help a better outcome; what it shouldn't do is replace. It provides those tools that one requires, so it's technology that makes sense".
He added not all luxury travellers are after a health-retreat-style experience and stressed the importance of providing a range of services: "The InterContinental brand is what we call a traditional luxury space and it's about having those [other] offerings based on the needs of travel."
"The driving force of InterContinental is providing that cultural immersion and building that knowledge, the real joy, that travel provides. What our customers want is to be enabled to do that and be the best version of themselves," Rowntree said.
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