The opening of InterContinental Perth City Centre will usher in a new era for Perth’s hotels sector, with the world’s biggest luxury hotel brands lining up to help sell the city to more affluent tourists, including high-net-worth travellers from China.
Interest in Perth properties from the world’s largest hotel chains has never been higher, with Marriott gearing up to open Westin Perth by midway through next year, as well as a luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel at Elizabeth Quay by 2019.
Hilton Worldwide is also increasingly active in the Western Australian capital, with two DoubleTree by Hilton hotels under construction, and a third in the planning process in Fremantle.
However, it is the 240-room InterContinental, owned by Hong Kong-based UNIR Group, which will have the honour as being the first of the new wave of major international luxury brands to open, with a gala ceremony scheduled for October 15.
UNIR Australia chief executive Michael Xanthis said there was significant interest when the group went to market to replace Rydges as the operator of UNIR’s Hay Street hotel.
“The group has owned the property since the mid-90s, it was an old office which was then converted into a hotel, which was the Rydges,” Mr Xanthis said.
“The Rydges management agreement came to an end, then it was a case of looking at that particular asset, and deciding whether to reposition it to a new segment.
“We went to market and got a pipeline of 10 brands, which all pitched what they would bring to that site, and then that 10 was narrowed to three, and InterContinental Hotel Group through the Intercontinental Brand won out.
“From a business or corporate traveller’s perspective, that particular site is in the best location in the CBD.”
InterContinental Perth City Centre director of sales and marketing Chris Hallett said the hotel was coming online at a time when there was considerable pressure on room rates, not only because of reduced demand from corporate travellers in the resources sector, but also because of the influx of new hotels across the city.
Since 2012, more than 1,600 hotel rooms have been added to the Perth market, while there are more than 1,800 additional rooms expected to be delivered by 2020.
However, Mr Hallett said he was confident the Intercontinental would have no issues in filling rooms, largely because of comprehensive international sales channels and IHG’s 100 million-plus rewards club members.
Mr Hallett said IHG would also leverage off a brand established specifically to cater for Chinese travellers, known as Hualuxe.
“Perth is a reasonably tough market, the market is down about 12 per cent year on year, and you really see the global channels kicking in when you’re in a tough market,” Mr Hallett said.
“We have sales offices across the globe, in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, all around the world, who are talking about Perth Intercontinental Perth City Centre as a new opening.
“There is a greater global machine at play. That’s a great thing for Perth too, and similarly we see the competitors coming in as a benefit.
“You’re talking about global brands that are talking to global travellers about the City of Perth.
“Competition is competition, but those global brands are really important for the city."