March 19 (Bloomberg) -- InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, the world’s largest provider of hotel rooms, will begin opening locations as soon as next year under a new brand designed to appeal to Chinese travelers.
The Hualuxe brand of hotels will have teahouses instead of bars and feature other designs that target Chinese consumers, Chief Executive Officer Richard Solomons said in an interview. They’ll first open in China before expanding overseas targeting Chinese travelers, the company said.
InterContinental in the past was “based on bringing western brands into China,” Solomons said in Beijing. “What we have done is to, first time ever, create a brand that really talks to Chinese hospitality.”
Growing wealth and the construction of highways, rail lines and airports is boosting demand for hotels as more Chinese travel. One in four of the hotels in InterContinental’s pipeline is in China, Solomons said. The company’s operating profit in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau increased 24 percent last year to $67 million, according to its website.
The company has already signed 20 letters of intent to build Hualuxe brand hotels across China. InterContinental will manage the hotels built by the property developers that are its partners, Solomons said. Hualuxe hotels may be opened in 100 cities across China in the next 15-20 years, he said.
InterContinental’s sales in Greater China accounted for about 12 percent of its total revenue last year, Solomons said. This year, Greater China’s share of total revenue will be “a bit higher” than 12 percent, he said.
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