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Tourism

Hotel giant IHG launches wellness brand to woo China’s middle-class

The brand’s debut comes as Chinese middle-class places greater importance on health and wellness

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 7:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 10:58am

Hotel giant InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched a new hotel brand in China that aims to help travellers “keep healthy” while they are on the road.

The debut of the EVEN hotel brand comes at a time when young, middle-class Chinese consumers are increasingly placing an importance on health and willing to spend more on healthy low-calorie food and staying fit. The brand had its start in the US.

“More Chinese desire for a healthier lifestyle, and the Chinese government now focuses on health, wellness and tourism,” said Keith Barr, IHG’s chief executive.

The first four EVEN Hotels will open in Shanghai, Sanya in China’s southernmost Hainan province, Jinan in the northern Shandong province, and Chongqing in western China.

According to Barr, the hotels will provide healthy food including a lot of greens, juice and fruits, different fitness facilities such as yoga and stretching spaces, as well as a peaceful and relaxing environment.

“We just want to create a complete experience to help people keep [their] balance when they travel, rather than having so much stress,” Barr said, adding that their team was working hard to understand the meaning of wellness in China.

IHG, which manages brands from Crowne Plaza to Holiday Inn IHG, which manages brands from Crowne Plaza to Holiday Inn was one of the first international hotel groups to enter the mainland market in 1984.

Barr said China was one of the fastest changing consumer markets in the world.

Twenty years ago, the group’s customers in China were mainly foreigners, and the products were luxury hotels, which later shifted to budget hotels becoming the mainstay. Now, 70 per cent of the customers in China are Chinese domestic travellers.

“They want something different, not necessarily to be traditional luxury, but needs to be much more experiential and design-led,” he said.

They want something different, not necessarily to be traditional luxury, but needs to be much more experiential and design-led
Keith Barr, IHG

The UK-based hotel group is keen on accelerating its expansion in the country – its second biggest market globally.

Barr said they were confident because there is a rising demand of Chinese travel overseas and within China. Shanghai and Beijing are among the cities with the highest occupancy rates in the IHG global portfolio.

The group expects to open more than 200 hotels in China in the next three years, bringing the total to more than 500.

It is also aiming to operate an accumulated 1,000 hotels across Asia by 2020.

In addition to the EVEN brand, the group on Wednesday introduced a new boutique luxury brand Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in Asia to round out the needs of increasingly wealthy customers and their more sophisticated expectation.

The first three locations for the brand will be in Bali, Indonesia, Shanghai and Sanya in China.

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