The FINANCIAL — InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has announced it is set to open four new hotels across Eastern Europe in the next few months, with a further 46 confirmed as being in the pipeline.
The figures are a reflection of the hotel group’s expansion strategy in the region at work, according to IHG.
The emergence of a new breed of traveller looking for diverse experiences has given rise to the region overtaking its Western counterparts. While Western Europe may be home to the most visited countries, Eastern Europe saw the fastest growth in 2015:
Figures from the World Economic Forum show that Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have seen the biggest rise in tourist numbers with a more than 10% increase in visitors since 20142
In turn, the Balkans have benefited from European Union (EU) funding for regional projects. To foster co-operation between different regions. Priority areas of funding include a project for promoting tourism in the Lower Danube Region shared by Romania and Bulgaria
According to the Office for National Statistics3, since 2011, the number of visits made by British travellers to Romania has increased by 150%, with British tourists spending £243 million in Romania last year alone
The top source market for the Balkan regions are mainly neighbouring countries Hungary and Germany but new growth in other source markets include British and Russian tourists seeking a cheap beach alternatives to Egypt and Tunisia
There is a strong appetite for branded properties across the region and hotels are viewed as a viable asset class, attracting external investment and local government support for development.
Robert Shepherd, Chief Development Officer, Europe, IHG, commented: “The success of our strategy in Eastern Europe has been fuelled by growing domestic travel, tourism from visa free countries including China, South Korea, India; as well as sustainable level of demand from our customers in Western Europe who are attracted by new travel experiences and low costs. Our outlook for the region is long-term. We are acting in order to ensure we provide options from across our brand portfolio to meet the demand from a range of consumer needs.”
The growth of IHG’s hotels will be primarily driven by its midscale brands, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, in cities across Eastern Europe, however its fastest growing segment, boutique, will also benefit from continued growth in the region. The first wave of openings sees four new properties arriving this year in key locations that reflect customer demand for hotel options in key cultural and business districts.
The new openings are:
Hotel Indigo Krakow – Old Town, Poland, (September 2016)
A stone’s throw away from Old Kleparz Market, Florianska’s shops and the vibrant nightlife of the Kazimierz district, every element of the hotel draws inspiration from local culture. Artwork is inspired by painters old and new, design takes on a contemporary Polish style and restaurant Filipa 18 serves traditional dishes created from locally sourced ingredients, and stocks and extensive range of Polish vodkas.
Holiday Inn Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland (August 2016)
Conveniently located in the heart of the Silesian Region, the hotel boasts 160 air-conditioned rooms, as well as free WiFi, a mini-gym and meeting facilities, making it ideal for leisure and business travellers. Zaglebie Smaku restaurant serves delicious local and international dishes, and at the 9th-floor Reden Panorama Bar guests will enjoy bespoke cocktails.
Staybridge Suites Baku, Azerbaijan (September 2016)
Centrally located, guests can experience the authentic city of Baku, as well as the many museums, restaurants, shops and music venues. The 119 room property acts as a home away from home, with a bright, welcoming lobby, free Wi-Fi and parking, and a fully-equipped fitness centre. Guests can unwind in the lounge or head to their smart Studio or Suite.
Holiday Inn Plovdiv, Bulgaria (October, 2016)
The property combines comfort with outstanding service. Easily accessible to key parts of the city, the hotel has an Open Lobby design, with all public areas overlapping each other, creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Etéreo restaurant offers all-day dining over a glass of fine Bulgarian wine.
These upcoming hotel openings will join existing properties across the region across the following brands: InterContinental® Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza®, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites.