The hotelier pulls no punches about its freshest (and stalest) brands, as well as the importance of pushing design boundaries, at NEWH’s first-ever BrandED event.
It’s refreshing when a hotelier offers up food for thought that’s beyond the typical buzz-word laden pap. Of course, it’s easier to do when you’re InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which estimates some 100 million guests stay at its properties every night. During NEWH’s debut BrandED event—which took place at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida, earlier this month in conjunction with our BDNY Drinks by Design Orlando cocktail event—two IHG design executives weren’t shy to dish.
IHG’s Stephano Delorenza (left) and Eric Nicolas (right) with NEWH president and Design Poole Inc. founder and president Trisha Poole (center) at the BDNY Drinks by Design cocktail event in Winter Park, Florida. Photo: Courtesy of Design Poole Inc.
Those execs—IHG director of architecture & design Eric Nicolas and associate manager of architecture & design and program lead for the company’s Design Immersion program Stephano Delorenza—kicked off the discussion with an overview of all of IHG’s nine brands, including the boutique-style Hotel Indigo, the recently acquired Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and the wellness-centric EVEN Hotels.
The company acquired the boutique Kimpton brand, whose 64 hotels draw inspiration from their individual locales, play up a personal approach to service and make most of their dough from a strong F&B program, in Jan. 2015. Delorenza said the merger made sense: IHG wanted the flag because of its extremely loyal customer base and personalized lifestyle approach to design, while Kimpton sought added support to facilitate its global expansion. But there were skeptics, guests whose brand loyalty stemmed from Kimpton’s formerly non-corporate, independent lifestyle offer.
“Kimpton really stands alone—we don’t want to mess up their identity,” Delorenza said, later adding that IHG is “not here to cannibalize the Kimpton brand.”
Of course, the company wasn’t new to the boutique lifestyle scene. It already had Hotel Indigo prior to the acquisition. Nicolas described Hotel Indigo’s properties as “the fabric of the neighborhood.” Delorenza agreed that, “That’s their anchor.”
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