IHG’s new Americas CEO on bringing ultraluxury manufacturers to the US

IHG Inns & Resorts ended 2023 with lots to brag about — roaringly profitable openings for its Regent model within the south of France and Hong Kong, a deliberate refresh of the storied InterContinental model, and a hefty pipeline of latest motels so as to add to its ultraluxury Six Senses model.

However there was a little bit of wistfulness available, too. Lots of these motels are exterior the U.S., and a few within the journey orbit — current firm included — could not assist however marvel if any of this high-end halo from IHG would ever shine on American shores.

The corporate’s new CEO of the Americas is right here to say it most actually will.

“Progress is our agenda, globally in addition to right here within the Americas,” mentioned Jolyon Bulley, IHG’s CEO of the Americas, in an interview with TPG ultimately month’s Americas Lodging Funding Summit.

Bringing ultraluxury to the US

Bulley notes IHG’s newer “mainstream” manufacturers like Avid, Atwell Suites and the lately launched Garner are prone to see probably the most progress when it comes to new lodge depend. However luxurious manufacturers like Regent, Six Senses and InterContinental — which has an general model “evolution” underway — nonetheless play an important position for IHG.

“[Luxury] creates halo for our portfolio of manufacturers, and it creates experiences the world over, which we imagine will likely be distinctive to these manufacturers as effectively,” Bulley mentioned. “Rising in all segments is absolutely vital. Rising our loyalty prospects is absolutely vital however [so is] being very considerate with reference to the place we distribute our manufacturers: 1— within the markets the place we all know that prospects are and a couple of— within the markets the place we are able to appeal to prospects from their supply.”

For some time, IHG topped out at InterContinental on the luxurious entrance whereas its bread and butter when it comes to model recognition have been extra inexpensive manufacturers like Vacation Inn and Vacation Inn Categorical. However the firm punched by the ultraluxury ceiling in recent times due to acquisitions of Six Senses and Regent, bringing a brand new swath of very high-end vacationers into its orbit.

Former IHG CEO Keith Barr likened the corporate’s model constructing in recent times to filling within the rungs of a ladder: A partnership with Iberostar enabled IHG to supply its loyalty members with choices within the more and more in style all-inclusive area.

Launching the Vignette Assortment tapped into the rising orbit of high-end “mushy manufacturers,” a group of motels that reside in an organization’s reservation and loyalty community however have much more independence when it comes to design and facilities in comparison with a tough model like InterContinental.

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Lots of the high-profile luxurious openings which have taken place following the Six Senses and Regent acquisitions and underneath IHG’s tutelage embrace Regent Hong Kong, Regent Phu Quoc and Carlton Cannes, a Regent Lodge. Six Senses Ibiza, Six Senses Rome and Six Senses Crans-Montana in Switzerland have been among the high-profile openings for the wellness-oriented model within the final couple of years.


U.S. IHG loyalists may really feel a tad omitted since, effectively, none of these are precisely a short-haul flight away. However good issues come to those that wait.

Bulley not solely is aware of the U.S. — he beforehand served as chief working officer for the area — he additionally is aware of luxurious and was beforehand CEO of IHG’s Better China area, which encompasses many cities the place Regent and Six Senses thrive as famend ultraluxury manufacturers.

The primary Six Senses within the Americas is slated to open later this 12 months in Grenada whereas Regent Santa Monica, a extremely anticipated return of the model to the U.S., is anticipated to open its doorways someday this summer time.

Whereas a Six Senses is not within the instant future for New York Metropolis, there’s one within the works to the north within the Hudson River Valley. Six Senses Napa Valley is anticipated to open in 2026 together with Six Senses Xala on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Anticipate extra from every ultraluxury model.

“Regent is a precedence. The opening in Santa Monica will assist reintroduce it [to the U.S.],” Bulley mentioned. “Regent is about moving into the important thing metropolis areas, and a few of these are troublesome as a result of the boundaries of entry are excessive, both in development or conversions. However our precedence with Regent is to have an city play and, the place the chance permits it, in a way more area of interest resort space. Whereas it is contrasted with Six Senses, which is far more in leisure resort, iconic locations after which doubtlessly some chosen city locations.”


InterContinental will get a bit nip and tuck

Regent and Six Senses may be the shiny new ultraluxury darlings of the IHG portfolio, however the firm is underway with a model refresh at InterContinental. Within the Americas, that has meant renovations of InterContinental properties in Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C.

“We referred to as our InterContinental refresh ‘Elevate,’ and that is elevating the bodily product of the model and elevating the visitor expertise, elevating the repute, elevating the advertising and marketing and areas the place we are going to construct that repute,” Bulley mentioned.

New motels in San Diego and Houston in addition to an upcoming opening simply exterior Seattle sign InterContinental nonetheless very a lot performs a job in IHG’s choices for these with hefty journey budgets. The model additionally debuted a brand new resort in Dominica final 12 months whereas an InterContinental in Grenada, close to the upcoming Six Senses La Sagesse, is slated to open subsequent 12 months.

“Homeowners have come out of the pandemic. They’ve dedicated to the model. They perceive what our model technique is, so we’re very lucky to have that,” Bulley mentioned. “Plus, with the brand new InterContinentals opening, that is going to make a giant distinction to the general legacy and repute of the model within the U.S.”

InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. CAMERON SPERANCE/THE POINTS GUY

Future alternatives with IHG One Rewards

IHG revamped its IHG One Rewards loyalty program in 2022 and added perks like free breakfast for top-tier elites and milestone rewards. However do not suppose IHG is finished tinkering round with this system.

Just like their rivals, IHG sees alternative to supply extra to these with the very best standing. However that is going to must imply excess of simply free breakfast on the Crowne Plaza.

“We’re additionally engaged on our luxurious and way of life mindset as a result of the mainstream buyer is about incomes factors and redeeming factors. They’ll go all the best way up by the Six Senses or they will keep on the model they like,” Bulley mentioned. “The posh buyer is extra about expertise and recognition and fewer on the factors. How we skew this system to accommodate that class is among the work we’re doing.”

Cool issue

Whereas there may be a whole lot of consideration on Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt when it comes to luxurious and way of life motels, IHG nonetheless has loads of bragging rights by itself right here. Kimpton is seen because the founding participant within the boutique lodge motion, and the model is clearly evolving as boutique motels are actually higher often called “way of life motels” — those who lean into bespoke design in addition to bars and eating places that locals and company alike need to frequent.

TPG did a little bit of a Kimpton hop forward of ALIS, spending an evening on the Kimpton Everly Lodge in Hollywood and eating at Ladyhawk by Charbel Hayek, a restaurant on the Kimpton La Peer Lodge in West Hollywood. Based mostly on the crowds, it does not seem as if Kimpton has a tough time profitable over the locals of Southern California.


The Kimpton Everly featured a winter chalet expertise with enjoyable cocktails like iced martinis alongside spoonfuls of caviar. Throw in stay music on a Saturday evening, and the celebration appeared to by no means finish (however was additionally soundproofed and contained to downstairs whereas I may get a pleasant little bit of time with my e-book within the soaking tub and slumber whereas attempting to get on West Coast time).


Ladyhawk on the Kimpton La Peer was a feast of Mediterranean fare like grilled octopus — when the waitress mentioned it was the most effective on the town, I scoffed. Upon sampling, I started to see she might need some extent — and a za’atar man’oushe comprised of 48-hour fermented dough and topped with tomatoes, labneh and herbs. As you possibly can inform, this is not simply shoehorning a restaurant with some native beers into the foyer and attempting to move this off as a spot locals may go.


Each properties had vacation spot eating and occasions that present Kimpton is not simply resting on its laurels because the birthplace of cool lodge vibes.

Each motels additionally had stylish rooftop and courtyard bars that I used to be already envisioning as locations the place we’d see a “Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills” scene happen sooner or later. In spite of everything, who does not love a negroni with a facet of Erika Jayne-Sutton Stracke melodrama and an elegant way of life lodge because the backdrop?

Although, I do not know if IHG sees that as fairly the promoting level that I do.

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