ATLANTA—InterContinental Hotels Group is stepping into the health and wellness trend with the introduction of its eighth brand, Even Hotels.
The new brand, which is scheduled to see its first opening during the first part of 2013, is focused on the “healthy-minded traveler,” said Christian Hempell, VP of new business development and delivery. The hotels will come equipped with amenities such as guestrooms designed for in-room workouts (complete with coat racks that double as pull up bars); nutritious menus; hypoallergenic linens and anti-bacterial wipes.
There is a lack of hotels in the U.S. market for travelers who want to keep up their healthy lifestyles while on the road, Hempell said.
“This trend of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming a life choice for many, many customers, and this trend is growing,” Hempell said, adding this customer segment numbers 17 million people in the U.S.
He said guests have told IHG,“I fall off the wagon when I travel.”
Branded hotels appeal to guests, IHG CEO Richard Solomons said during the company’s earnings call earlier this month.
“We know that branded hotels appeal to guests,” he said. “This is why big, branded players like IHG have been winning and will continue to win market share.”
The midscale Even brand is focused on the U.S. and will expand into cities where this customer segment lives and travels. Cities on IHG’s development wish list include: San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Diego; Boston; New York; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Minneapolis; and Austin, Texas.
“We want to be customer-led in where we put our hotels,” Hempell said.
IHG will invest its own capital in the development of the brand, kicking in $150 million. The first Even Hotels will be acquired properties converted to the new brand, though IHG also is considering ground-up construction. The typical Even Hotel will have between 100 rooms and 200 rooms, he said.
The company plans to have 100 Even Hotels within the first five years of launch, Hempell said.
Despite the unsettled economic environment and lack of supply growth in the hotel industry, Hempell said this is a perfect time to launch a new brand because of the strong recovery the sector has shown. And the company not relying on new-build hotels also will help insulate against any uneasiness on the supply side of the industry.
“We want to ride the next wave of development,” he said. “This is the time you want to get a brand going.”