Following the acquisition of a majority stake in Regent Hotels & Resorts in March and appointment of Justin Channe as managing director in May, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has relaunched the iconic luxury brand alongside the signing of Regent Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking at HICAP in Hong Kong last week, Channe said: “Our current growth is predominantly observed in Asia but there is interest from Europe. My priority is to bring the existing Regent portfolio and all our embedded hallmarks, service behaviour and brand promise into these hotels. Then, we’ll look how to work with owners on bringing these hotels up to the design standard of Regent, while at the same time prepare to close the Hong Kong property for full renovation and reopen it as a flagship hotel in 2020.”
The company last week announced its signing with Multibay Development to build a Regent hotel in Malaysia. Slated to open in 2022, the 250-key Regent Kuala Lumpur will be located next to Tun Razak Exchange, a 28ha mixed-use development.
“In addition to Kuala Lumpur, you will see Regent in Phu Quoc and Jakarta to be rolled out 1Q2020. Both properties are new buildings,” Channe revealed.
Positioned in the top end of IHG’s brand portfolio, alongside Kimpton, Regent is expected to grow from the existing six properties to 40 in gateway cities with strong luxury demand, he added.
“As a heritage brand, it’d be branded out in a management contract model so our partners need to understand luxury. It’s vital for us to capitalise on the brand by bringing in new design and a bit of innovation. We work closely with owners so they are aligned with our concepts when bringing the brand alive.”
Tom Rowntree, IHG’s vice president global luxury brands, pointed out three key factors driving the segment’s growth. He said: “Firstly, it is the continuous growth in traditional luxury markets like Europe and North America where we see consistent drivers of luxury travel such as the multi-generation family. Then, it is the incredible growth of Chinese travellers both domestically, intra-regionally and internationally. Thirdly, the rise in millennial customers today accounts for just over 45 per cent of all luxury consumption.
“Over the last few months since the deal closed, we did a lot of consumer research throughout the world as well as specific key markets working with taste makers and looking for interesting insights. For example, we spoke with design directors to see how technology come together. We dug deeply into the heritage and history of the Regent brand which was founded in 1971. At that time it created a new style of luxury and focused on very best Asian service and hospitality together with western design and innovation,” Rowntree shared.
IHG CEO for Greater China, Jolyon Bulley expects Regent’s strong heritage to attract interest from partners with an Asian base. “Certainly there is interest from South-east Asia, Chinese owners as well as a lot of outbound capital flow to Europe and the US. We even have interest coming from the Middle East where Regent doesn’t have a history,” he commented.
“We are being very selective on how we grow, in micro-locations or key gateways. We also have interest from InterContinental hotel owners who would like to go for Regent but that would involve selective conversations in respect to micro-location and capacity of the hotel to manage it. There would be a selected few, probably in the range of three to four, but no plan at this time for further conversions.”