Angela Brav, chief executive, Europe, InterContinental Hotels (IHG), said that the company is focused ongrowing last year's F&B concepts and aggressive expansion plans for the boutique sector.
"Last year it was about developing and concepting; this year's about implementing, selling and growing," said Brav at the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin this week.
Last year, the company opened Theo's Simple Italian in the Hotel Indigo in Kensington, London, and the burger and craft beer restaurant concept Stock Burger Co, in the Holiday Inn Brighton, which Kew Green Hotels owns and operates under a franchise agreement with IHG. Brav confirmed the focus for the year ahead will be opening the two concepts in other hotels.
The group will also be further rolling out its open lobby concept across every Holiday Inn following good feedback from guests. Satisfaction scores increased by 7-8% after hotels after introducing an open lobby, with food and beverage revenues up by nearly 20%.
IHG will also focus on expanding its boutique/lifestyle sector in the coming year. With the popularity of European weekend breaks and a huge growth in the boutique hotel segment, it is a space Brav plans to be "more aggressive in".
As well as Hotel Indigo openings set this year for Cardiff, Brighton, London Aldgate and Bath, the brand is also set to open its first European Kimpton in Amsterdam in May, with another set to open in Paris in 2020. Brav said it was likely London's first Kimpton property would be signed soon once they had found the right fit.
"We want it to be with the right partner in the right location, because these hotels will be flagships for us, examples that we'll be using for other investors. We'll definitely sign one in London. The question is not will we be in London but when will we be in London and who will we be partnering with for the first one."
One question that has come up during IHIF is whether owners and investors still see the UK as a country with opportunities post-Brexit. IHG's UK hotels enjoyed a ‘robust' fourth quarter, which helped to boost the hospitality giant's comparable revpar in Europe.
"We're anticipating a good year," said Brav. Rather than seeing a downturn in investor interest in the UK, she said: "Germany and the UK are seen as the most stable, consistent places to invest, and I think they'll also be seen as the most stable, consistent, safe places for guests to travel to."
However, Brav does not believe the UK is set to see an increase in ‘staycationing' that was forecast after the Brexit vote. "The UK will continue travelling internationally," she said. "The Brits need to find sun, so they're going to continue travelling. They may not stay as long, they may not go to the US, but they're definitely going to travel to Europe."
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