By Sarah Townsend
Firm wants to bring US-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants to the Middle East
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is in talks with investors about introducing its US-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants brand to the UAE.
Pascal Gauvin, IHG’s India, Middle East and Africa COO, told Arabian Business that Nasdaq-listed IHG began discussions with investors in January and hopes to sign a deal this year.
After that, it intends to launch boutique hotel brand Kimpton in Dubai, first, within the next 3-5 years, he said.
IHG – which owns the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands – acquired Kimpton for $430 million in December 2014 to increase its activity in the fast-growing boutique hotel sector. IHG already operates boutique brands Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels.
Kimpton started in 1981 and manages 65 boutique hotels across 30 cities in the US and another eight in the pipeline, according to its website.
most likely be located in a business district such as Dubai Downtown, Bur Dubai or Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) rather than on the coastline, as Kimpton is best known for city hotels.
The hotel would most likely have around 200 keys, depending on location, demand and the specifics of any deal drawn up.
Interested investors to date include UAE nationals and other existing landowners, and there has been “a lot of excitement”, Gauvin added.
IHG has 79 hotels in total across the Middle East and 26 more in the pipeline for the next 3-5 years.
This week it announced six scheduled new openings in the region for 2017, including a Staybridge Suites in Jeddah, a Crowne Plaza in Riyadh, a Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza in Doha and Dubai, a Crowne Plaza in Muscat and an Intercontinental Resorts in Fujairah.
He said the UAE in particular was a “no brainer” market at present with enormous activity in the leisure, entertainment and business space in the run-up to Expo2020.
He also claimed that the average stay in the country was increasing from its traditional 3-4 days and that a rising trend in tourists visiting for a week or two and dividing their time between the city entertainment of Dubai, the culture of the UAE and the beach and mountain resorts of the other emirates, would gather pace in the coming years.
He declined to reveal IHG’s growth figures for the past 12 months, as the Nasdaq-listed group is due to publish its next quarterly results in May and does not provide a regional breakdown.
However, he said he had recorded a clear improvement in growth between the first quarter of this year and the same period in 2016, suggesting the market was more bouyant.