It's nothing unusual for a hotel chain to concentrate on China as a growth market; InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) was the first international hotelier in the country and has operated there for thirty years. What is novel, however, is IHG's newest Chinese play: Hualuxe, which the company describes in a press release as "the first international brand designed specially for the Chinese traveller."
"Hua" translates into 'majestic China' and "Luxe," of course, stands for 'luxury.' IHG says it already tailors the hotels it operates in China to local tastes, but Hualuxe will take the concept one well-shod step further to attract the high-end traveler.
For example, because the Chinese enjoy tea rather than drinking in bars, guests will have a wide selection of high quality tea throughout the hotel — on arrival, in guest rooms and at authentic Hualuxe Tea Houses. To appeal to the Chinese consumer's sense of nature and balance, every hotel lobby will have an inspiring garden view. Guests will get VIP treatment in a Club Lounge and from specialty food and beverage 'hosts' throughout the hotel. A "rejuvenation centre" will be available in each hotel.
IHG expects Hualuxe to be in more than 100 Chinese cities within 20 years. It plans to roll out the hotels in key Chinese cities and resort locations beginning in 2013 and eventually open units in major cities globally to give Chinese tourists the same experience when they travel abroad.
IHG has about 160 hotels in China and is well aware of the market's growth potential. The Chinese hotel market is expected to overtake the U.S. hotel market by 2025 and close to double it by 2039, according to World Travel Organization data from the United Nations. Julien Richer, an analyst at Raymond James, told the Wall Street Journal, "The strategy of a new Chinese brand makes sense and will benefit the group in capturing Chinese interest."
IHG is no stranger to developing targeted lifestyle brands; in fact, it is a key part of the hotelier's growth strategy. The hotel chain pioneered boutique hotels with its Hotel Indigo brand. Recently, IHG announced the launch of Even, a U.S.-focused hotel brand designed to focus on healthy lifestyles.
Below, Keith Barr, CEO of IHG Greater China, discusses the Hualuxe hotel concept: