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IHG adds exceptional UK hotels with Principal Hotels acquisition

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As was rumoured a few weeks ago, IHG announced today that it is buying Principal Hotels, and two De Vere properties, from Starwood Capital.

(Starwood Capital no longer has any connection to Starwood Hotels or Starwood Preferred Guest, although it did at one point.)

The acquisition is a joint venture with French company Fonciere des Regions which is acquiring the underlying property assets.

This is a great move by IHG.  In fact, I think it is a better deal than buying Regent HotelsPrincipal has spent a substantial amount of money in recent years acquiring historic UK city centre hotels and upgrading them.

By coincidence, I was in St David’s in Cardiff on Wednesday for the Qatar Airways press event.  I was also in the York hotel last year and was impressed by what has been done to it.

IHG acquires Principal Hotels

There are the hotels which are coming into the IHG family following the acquisition:

The Principal London (just reopened, the old Russell Square)
The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square
The Principal Edinburgh George Street (pictured above)
The Principal Met Hotel (Leeds)
The Principal York
De Vere Oxford Thames
The Grand Birmingham (pipeline)
The Principal Manchester (see below, the old Palace)
The Principal Blythswood Square (Glasgow)
The Principal Grand Central (Glasgow)
The Principal St David’s (Cardiff)
The Principal Oxford Spires
De Vere Wotton House

IHG acquires Principal Hotels

The hotels will be mainly rebranded as Kimpton with one or two InterContinentals.  Some have also been earmarked for IHG’s as-yet-unnamed new upscale brand.  This is a major development for IHG, which has struggled to do much with the Kimpton name since it was acquired.  Starwood Capital spent a vast amount of money on the hotels it has refurbished and, whilst potentially not quirky enough for Kimpton, will not require much to be changed.

It is a major kick-start for Kimpton in Europe.  To date there is only one hotel in Amsterdam, which we are reviewing again very soon.  A Paris property is under development but that is a while away.  Adding the best of the Principal properties is a major boost.

That said, the ‘Principal’ brand has started to get traction in the UK as a name associated with high quality city centre hotels and it will be a shame to ditch it, but obviously IHG – as a global company – won’t want to run a UK-only chain.

Keith Barr, chief executive officer of IHG said:

“We are focused on continuing to expand our leadership in luxury and upscale, which are both high-value segments with significant growth potential.

“Bringing Kimpton to such an important market as the UK is a key part of our plans, as is the introduction of our new upscale brand, which will provide an exciting, differentiated offering to both guests and owners.

“Together with the recent addition of Regent Hotels & Resorts to our portfolio, we are building real momentum behind our plans to deliver industry-leading net rooms growth.”

Don’t rush to make bookings.  The acquisition will not be completed until later this year and the hotels will still need to be integrated into the IHG booking system.  There will also be some disruption during the rebranding which will take place over two years.  Overall, though, this is very promising news for UK business travellers with IHG status.

You can find out more on the IHG website here.

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Comments (33)

  • JamesB says:

    Is Indigo Leicester Square open already? Anybody tried it yet?

    • Rob says:

      I think it is open BUT it has no alcohol licence yet.

      • JamesB says:

        LOL, I don’t think that will go down well, wonder how many pointsnwe could get back on that.

    • Matt says:

      I haven’t tried but it does look like a pretty cool property, and a great location if you’re looking to party in soho or see a show. I live in central though so no use to me but I still welcome more aspirational IHG redemptions in the UK.

      • JamesB says:

        £550ish on 10 nights of necessary or pleasure stays across my two accelerates this year will yield over 180k points. I am planning to redeem them for a 3 night weekend here which, based on some published rates, could be over £1300 value. Indigo has become my favoured IHG brand.

  • Doreen says:

    Lovely hotel – but seems brand new rather than rebranded ?

  • Jon says:

    Interesting. I agree with previous comments: Principal has spent money where needed and turned fairly crappy about-to-start-feeling-run-down properties in York and Manchester into very decent offerings.

  • Steve smith says:

    I hope IHG do a better job and don’t beat this hotel chain down to the dull drab dirty state the IHG Bristol which is a disgrace

  • Scott says:

    I believe you may be thinking of somewhere else – it certainly hasn’t been an Intercontinental within the last decade that I’ve been walking past it & Wikipedia suggests it was called The George Hotel for 136 years before being renamed to The Principal at the end of 2016.

    • Rory says:

      The George Hotel was, for many years, The George Intercontinental, Edinburgh. Unusual, I know, for Wikipedia to be wrong.