IHG continues its acquisitions streak: while the rest of us were either sleeping or shuttling about, the hotel company snapped up a 51% stake in Regent Hotels and Resorts to the tune of US$39 million, split through three tranches from now until 2024.
The global hospitality firm plans to grow Regent from its current line-up of six hotels and 2,000 rooms, to 40 properties and over 10,000 rooms worldwide. It is so committed to this long-term strategy that it is reverting the InterContinental Hong Kong, perched on the Tsim Sha Tsui side of the Hong Kong harbour, to the Regent Hong Kong it first opened as in 1980 once it is fully refurbished in 2021.
Keith Barr (below), CEO of IHG, explained: “We are already a global leader in luxury with our InterContinental Hotels and Resorts brand, but we see significant potential to further develop our global footprint in the fast-growing luxury segment. As a pioneer in defining luxury hotels both in Asia and around the world, Regent is an excellent addition to our brand portfolio.”
“We see a real opportunity to unlock Regent’s enormous potential and accelerate its growth globally. In addition, our dedicated luxury division will bring together some of the most experienced and respected people in the industry who will help drive our luxury offer, ensuring that our existing luxury brands continue to evolve while allowing us to enhance our portfolio with new brands like Regent.”
Founded in 1970, Regent is currently operated by Taiwan-based Formosa International Hotels Corporation across Asia and Europe. While it lost properties when it was owned by Carlson and Four Seasons, the brand has kept its reputation for bespoke service and ‘understated’ luxury, with recent accolades coming from the 2011 Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers Choice Awards.
Steven Pan, executive chairman of Formosa International Hotels Corporation, shared his thoughts on the purchase: “Regent was founded by legendary hotelier Robert H. Burns, who sought to combine Asian hospitality and Western elegance to create a leading luxury hotel brand. Regent has an unrivalled heritage at the very top of the luxury segment and the flagship Regent Hong Kong was consistently voted the world’s best hotel in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bringing the property back to its original roots as a Regent hotel will go down in history as one of the greatest brand comebacks in the hotel industry. IHG shares our vision for the brand and has the ability to make our ambition a reality.”
IHG has a deep understanding of how to protect what makes the Regent brand so unique and special, whilst at the same time ensuring that the brand can grow and thrive on a global scale – Steven Pan, Formosa International Hotels Corporation
Whether or not the Regent brand will return to its former glory remains unseen at this point. What is sure is that IHG’s newest purchase solidifies its position in the luxury segment, which is pegged at US$60 billion.
A side benefit of this plan is that it allows the firm to buy the remaining 49% interest at a steady pace in 2026 with the help of Hong Kong-based real estate private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners. Goodwin Gaw, its chairman, is one of the many who are keen to see the return of The Regent Hong Kong.
Gaw said: “The Regent Hong Kong originally built in 1980 was rebranded to InterContinental Hong Kong in June 2001. It has been internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s best hotels, in particular for its views of the Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.
The hotel is primed to undergo a spectacular transformation that will position it as one of the most iconic hotels not only in Asia but in the world. We are absolutely delighted that after the refurbishment, we will be opening our doors once again as The Regent Hong Kong, a flagship property for the Regent brand, returning the hotel to its original roots.”