InterContinental launches new Chinese hotel brand

InterContinental Hotels (IHG), the world's largest hotel chain, has announced the launch of a long-awaited new brand for the Chinese market.

The new chain will be called Hualuxe Hotels and Resorts and is expected to divide its efforts between operating in cities and popular resorts within China -- although in an interesting move, IHG said that the brand will open in other major cities outside of the country.

While Hualuxe is expected to share many of the characteristics of IHG-owned brands such as Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, several modifications have been made to cater for Chinese travelers, of which there are expected to be 3.3 billion by 2015.

Hotels will display strong traditional themes, IHG said, including a 'tea culture' and signature food and beverage offerings including a late night noodle bar.

Speciality 'hosts' will be on hand throughout the hotels to emphasize recognition and respect of Hualuxe customers, while rejuvenation will also play a role, with hotels offering a 'lobby garden' and a resort-inspired bathroom.

The first Hualuxe hotel is expected to open late next year or early 2014, after which the roll-out will be fast, IHG says -- potentially in 100 cities across China within the next 15-20 years.

The staggering statistics of the booming Chinese travel market (outbound trips from China alone are projected to grow from 10 million to more than 100 million in the next 10 to 15 years) are prompting hotel chains from around the world to rapidly reconsider how they are approaching the Chinese market, culturally very different from most others.

Earlier this year, Accor launched its new brand for Chinese travelers, Mei Jue, promising authentic Chinese food and other features such as daily Tai-chi sessions.

Other chains are focusing on the welcome which Chinese guests receive overseas -- both Starwood and Hilton have announced specific measures to make Chinese guests feel more at home which are expected to be rolled out around the world.

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