South West Pacific Investments Ltd has appointed InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) to assume management of its 155-room hotel currently trading as Le Meridien Port Vila, Vanuatu, signing a 15-year agreement commencing March 1, 2010.

Le Meridien Port Vila is becoming Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu

IHG will manage the property as Palms Resort and Casino Vanuatu while it undergoes a major refurbishment, due for completion in late 2010.

It will then rebrand as Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu, becoming Australasia’s first Holiday Inn resort and joining an expanding international network of leisure destinations represented by the world’s largest and most popular mid-scale hotel brand.

Every aspect of the resort is currently being considered for refurbishment to bring it up to Holiday Inn resort standards and create a more compelling offering for the families, couples and conferencing and incentive groups it typically attracts.

Upon its reinstatement as Vanuatu’s only resort with a major globally-recognised brand, its owners are confident it will be the best leisure and conferencing destination the popular destination has to offer.

Located on the shores of Erakor Lagoon outside the Vanuatu capital Port Vila, the resort will join IHG’s expanding presence in the South Pacific. This includes four InterContinental resorts in French Polynesia, a new InterContinental resort and a long-standing Holiday Inn hotel in Fiji, and Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels in Papua New Guinea.

South West Pacific Investments Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore-listed company Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL), which also owns the recently-opened Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma in the Maldives.

“In selecting IHG to manage this resort and contribute to the direction of its refurbishment, we were attracted to the strength of the Holiday Inn brand and its expanding resort offering; the effectiveness of its international sales and marketing resources; and the quality and experience of its people,” said HPL Hotels director, Tim Stableforth. “Ultimately, IHG has demonstrated an ability to deliver consistently high returns on our assets.

With this deal, the resort has come full circle from its opening in 1975 as an InterContinental hotel.  South West Pacific Investments Ltd purchased the property in 1993, when it operated as the Royal Palms Resort.

“This is an exciting opportunity for IHG, to enter a new market in collaboration with an existing business partner and work on a project of such high potential,” said IHG Chief Operating Officer Australasia, Bruce McKenzie. “We’re especially looking forward to introducing Australasia’s first Holiday Inn resort as this exceptional collection of upper mid-scale leisure and conferencing properties continues to expand worldwide.

“As market sentiment continues to pick up in Vanuatu’s key source markets, the timing of this deal and upgrade project couldn’t be better,” he said.

IHG will contribute to the direction of the redesign and scope of works undertaken in the upgrade of the resort, which draws the majority of its visitors from Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.