Recently, I came across the news that IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) has announced plans to launch a new midscale hotel brand. The brand has not been named yet, but it is dubbed as Project Horizon.
Let me be the first to say that I generally like IHG hotels. While I have ventured and stayed at other hotel brands in recent years, I still hold a soft spot for IHG (or more specifically, Holiday Inns). Growing up, my family always stayed at reasonably priced hotels like Holiday Inn Express or Holiday Inn. The rooms weren’t fancy, but they did their jobs: comfortable and affordable.
- Candlewood Suites
- Crowne Plaza
- Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- Hotel Indigo
- Staybridge Suites
- Even Hotels
- Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations
Of the 10 brands under IHG portfolio, I’ve stayed in all except for Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites, Even Hotels, and Hotel Indigo. I’ll be trying out a Staybridge Suites soon.
Here’s How I View the IHG Branded Hotels
On the luxury arm of IHG are the InterContinental hotels. These hotels are superbly managed and the service is consistently excellent.
On that same vein, I’d group Kimpton hotels in the luxury hotel category as well. Kimpton is a boutique hotel chain, and the brand was acquired by IHG back in 2014. I’ve only stayed at a Kimpton hotel once, long before IHG’s acquisition. If all the hotels were similar, I’d consider Kimpton to be a classic luxury boutique brand.
As a aside, Hotel Indigo is marketed as a luxury boutique hotel. I’ve not yet stayed in one. I don’t know if it really fits into this category.
Resort hotels tend to be in its own category, so I’ll put Holiday Inn Club Vacations in this standalone category.
Mid End Budget Hotels
I tend to group Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in this category. I tend to add Crowne Plaza in this category.
Family Friendly Hotels
I’ve not stayed at a Candlewood Suites or Staybridge Suites, but if they are like Marriott’s TownPlace Suites, I expect them to be comfortable. They are usually a little bit more spacious and perfect for families.
Even Hotels are marketed as hotels that focus on wellness. I don’t have much to add since I’ve not stayed at an Even hotel, however, the price point seemed to be on target with mainstream budget hotel prices.
What Are Some of the New Features in the New IHG Brand?
Looking through the feature list of the new brand:
- “Rates will be $10 to $15 cheaper than they are at Holiday Inn Express hotels.”
- Competitive pricing is a good thing for consumers.
- “Rooms will have “high-quality” mattresses and linens, noise-reducing features, and in-room climate control.”
- Will the average guest notice?
- “The properties will have a mix of 220 square foot King bed rooms (65 percent) and 275 square-foot Queen bed rooms (35 percent). They will feature a built-in work space, open closet storage with luggage shelf, a shower and a smart TV.”
- That’s nice, but it’s not unexpected?
- “Public spaces will be designed to let travelers spend 30 to 45 minutes working or socializing in the lobby.”
- I don’t generally hang out at a hotel lobby, but that could be useful.
- “Some hotels will have pools.”
- This is useful only if guests had plans to swim at the hotel.
- “The hotels will have a state-of-the-art, cloud based reservation system, mobile check-in and check-out and IHG Connect enhanced, high-speed Wi-Fi with auto log-in recognition at all IHG properties.”
- Isn’t this becoming the standard for many hotels, anyway?
- “Rooms will also feature in-room entertainment options that will allow guests to stream content from their smart devices to in-room TVs.”
- Same as above. Isn’t this becoming the standard for many hotels, anyway?
- “Guests will have access to a complimentary breakfast that they can grab and go or eat in the lobby.”
- Complimentary breakfast is always a win. Nice job.
- “All hotels will be new builds and, on average, cover 1.5 acres. They will have 95 to 100 rooms and three stories.”
- It’s “new” but do most guests care about the number of rooms or stories?
Looking Forward to Checking Out the IHG Brand
I have to admit that after going through the list, I’m a little confused. Obviously, the hotels in the brand would be newer and cheaper than Holiday Inn Express. However, I am not quite convinced that the new brand is differentiated enough from the Holiday Inn or the Holiday Inn Express in the mid-range hotel space.
Maybe this brand is meant to appeal to those who thinks the Holiday Inns are dated, and give them a reason to try another mid-level hotel brand within the IHG portfolio? I’m not sure I get the target audience this brand is supposed to be marketed to, but I’d be interested in seeing what comes out of this space.
Do you view the hotel brands in the IHG portfolio in the same way? What do you think about the announcement of a new mid-scale brand?