Briefs: IHG extends agreement in Vietnam; voco debuts in Japan

IHG, Sun Hospitality extend relationship: IHG Hotels & Resorts has announced a strategic alliance framework agreement with its decade-long partner Sun Hospitality Group, the Hanoi, Vietnam-based member of Sun Group, to develop four hotels in two destinations totaling 2,709 rooms. IHG’s Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Resort and voco brands will be coming up in the expansion of Ba Na Hills, while the Holiday Inn Resort brand will debut in the Quang Ninh Province. The companies also plan to explore more projects, including the development of a collection of Vignette Collection onsen-wellness resorts in Vietnam, in collaboration with spa and wellness consultant Raison d’Etre. The 178-villa Sun Onsen Village, Vignette Collection, and the 194-villa Quang Hanh Onsen Village, Vignette Collection will be the first two properties under the collaboration. IHG and Sun will also collaborate on learning and development, quality assurance, jointly creating new lines of products and services, and CSR efforts. IHG has 15 open hotels in Vietnam and plans to double its portfolio by 2027 through a pipeline of 20 properties. Following the debut of the Regent Hotels & Resorts brand in Phu Quoc, IHG will also introduce voco hotels in Danang in 2023.

                                               Rendering of voco Osaka Central

Voco to debut in Japan: IHG Hotels & Resorts announced it will debut its voco brand in Japan, following the signing of a management agreement with NTT Urban Development Corp., which will be represented through its subsidiary UD Hospitality Management Corp. The flagship 191-key voco Osaka Central will open in 2023, marking the 75th signing of a voco property in over three years. The hotel will be IHG’s sixth hotel in Osaka. IHG has 50 open or pipeline hotels across six brands in Japan.

Los Angeles ordinance to mandate daily room cleaning: The Los Angeles City Council has voted to adopt the Hotel Worker Protection Initiative, which calls for daily room cleaning in hotel rooms, boosting wages for hotel staff and providing them with increased protection against sexual assault and other threats. The ordinance will come up for a second vote next week.

Highline Hospitality acquires 2 Hiltons: Highline Hospitality Partners, Birmingham, Alabama, has acquired two hotels in Portland, Maine — the 220-key DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland and the 98-room Tru by Hilton Portland Airport Area — as part of a strategic partnership with ADELON Capital, Hollywood, Florida. The acquisitions bring Highline’s portfolio to eight.

Dream Hotel Group adds in Kansas: Dream Hotel Group, New York City, has announced plans to open a 155-room hotel in the new Ballpark District mixed-use project in downtown Wichita, Kansas. Slated to open in 2024, Unscripted Wichita will consist of 155 rooms and several dining venues, including a signature restaurant at the street level and a rooftop bar and lounge with views of Riverfront Stadium and downtown skyline. Led by Kansas-based developer EPC Real Estate Group with architectural design by DLR Group, the hotel will be the centerpiece of the mixed-use development. Currently, Dream Hotel Group has 15 open hotels and 25 in various stages of development.

AHLA reacts to proposed climate rule: Commenting on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed rule on the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosure for Investors, the American Hotel and Lodging Association said while it welcomed the eagerness of the investors to better understand how businesses have been getting affected by climate change, the proposed rules could have the opposite effect as intended. AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers told the SEC that some of the provisions are likely to discourage some registrants from continuing their forward-looking practices and implementing climate-related initiatives. The association suggested removing requirements that registrants disclose their Scope 3 emissions or at least allow such disclosures to be furnished instead of being filed.

Alternative accommodations sector survey: The alternative accommodations sector has significantly grown its demand base during the pandemic, with corporate travelers, business groups and affluent families now comprising its consumer base, according to the Alternative Accommodations Global Trends & Outlook report by JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group. The sector represents 20% of the estimated US$300 billion global lodging revenue generated in 2021. The sector has a revenue opportunity of over US$60 billion and comparatively high investment yields and an expanding consumer base.

US Travel forecast: Travel spending and volume across all sectors of travel is expected to surge in the near term, despite rising inflation, due to consumer savings and pent-up demand, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest biannual forecast for travel until 2026 based on analysis from Tourism Economics. This increased spending is not likely to last and growth will gradually taper off in the later years of the forecast. A total of US$1.05 trillion is estimated to be spent on travel in the U.S. this year. The figure, however, is still 10% less than 2019 levels and 16% below the projected figure for 2022 if not for COVID-19. In 2022, domestic business travel volume is expected to reach 81% of its pre-pandemic levels and 96% in 2023. Domestic travel spending, however, will not fully recover to pre-COVID levels. Spending on domestic leisure travel is likely to remain US$46 billion less than its projected 2022 levels.

Cost hinders intent to travel: Intent to travel is on the rise, but is getting hindered due to rising costs, revealed the latest Consumers Unmasked: Stage 3 survey by EPAM Continuum. Cost and ease of booking remained the most decisive factors in choice of travel company. Among the respondents not planning to travel within the next six months, cost was the significant factor for 47% of consumers. Travel intent rose to 65% in the latest survey, compared to 54% in the last survey. As per the survey, young adults in the U.S. were most likely to travel, 49% compared to 33% in the U.K. and 40% in Germany.

Michelin Guide launches in Dubai: The inaugural Michelin Guide Dubai and the Dubai selection 2022 has been unveiled with 69 restaurants covering 21 cuisine types. A total of 14 restaurants got a Bib Gourmand, nine received one Michelin Star and two got two Michelin Stars. There were 44 Michelin-selected restaurants and one with a Michelin Green Star. Dubai was the latest addition to the 35 destinations, spread across North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe. The selection was made by inspectors of the Michelin Guide based on five criteria — quality of ingredients, mastery of cooking, harmony of flavors, personality of the chef through the cuisine and the consistency over time and across the entire menu.

Days Inn by Wyndham launches talking pillow: Days Inn by Wyndham has released a new, limited-edition “complimentary” pillow that offers compliments at the push of a button. Voiced by actor Patrick Warburton, five of the Days Inn Complimentary Pillow will be available at select cities and locations in the U.S. from Wednesday till July 30.

Geoff Freeman to lead USTA: U.S. Travel Association (USTA) has named Geoff Freeman as its new president and CEO. Freeman will succeed Roger Dow, who is stepping down after a 17-year stint as the association’s leader. Freeman will rejoin USTA on September 1 after a decade of leadership, first as the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association and as the current president and CEO of the Consumer brands Association. In his previous role at USTA, his work led to the industry’s signature bipartisan legislative victory establishing the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 and the creation of Brand USA.