IHG plans new hotel chain for healthy living

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2012 12:10 PM
IHG plans new hotel chain for healthy living

Holiday Inn's parent company is developing a new hotel brand aimed at travelers who want to work out and eat healthy on the road.

U.K.-based InterContinental Hotels Group PLC said Tuesday that it's planning to open the first Even hotels in early 2013. The hotels will have guest rooms with space to exercise and amenities such as hypoallergenic linens and healthier food options.

The mid-priced chain will have large gyms behind the front desk, as well as a "marketplace" in the lobby that will offer food including smoothies, soups and salads.

Rooms will have traditional features that can also be used to work out, like a weight bench that's replaced a luggage rack at the foot of the bed, or a coat rack that's built strong enough to double as a pull-up bar. Rooms will also have an exercise mat, LED dimmers and anti-bacterial wipes. They're designed to let in more natural light than standard rooms and provide more space to lay out a yoga mat or do aerobics.

IHG will spend $150 million to kick off the brand by buying other hotels and rebranding them. The company, which also operates Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza and Candlewood Suites, expects to sign franchise deals for 100 Even hotels within the next five years. The first hotels are expected to be in big markets _ Los Angeles and San Francisco in the West and New York, Boston and Washington D.C. in the East. IHG plans to announce the location of the first Even hotel this spring.

Rooms will be more expensive than Holiday Inn but will vary widely depending on the location, IHG CEO Richard Solomons said in an interview with The Associated Press. Solomons said the company plans to eventually expand the brand outside the U.S.

The idea for the new hotel brand came from customer feedback. Many lamented that they "fall off the wagon" while traveling and want a way to stay healthy while on business trips or vacations, Solomons said.