InterConti plans aggressive China move

Intercontinental Hotels Group is to expand aggressively in China on the back of an infrastructure boom similar to President Eisenhower’s road-building programme that opened up America’s Midwest, its chief executive said in a Financial Times interview. Andrew Cosslett told the Financial Times that IHG’s plans to open 75 new hotels in China by 2008 were driven by Beijing’s pledge to build 85,000 km of roads in the next 15 years to link the poorer western and central regions to the rest of the country.

Cosslett said that Beijing’s infrastructure spree could transform the fortunes of the hotel industry in China in the same way as Eisenhower’s plan helped to create the Holiday Inn chain.

“China is a huge strategic opportunity for us,” he said.

“It is almost a replica of what happened in America in the early 1950s and 1960s when President Eisenhower opened the whole of middle America with his freeway system. That’s what spawned Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn went from a chain of four hotels in Memphis to having 1,300 up and running within 8-10 years. It just followed the freeway system,” he was quoted as saying.