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Exclusive: IHG’s Leanne Harwood on the ‘Year of Crowne Plaza’ in Australia

IHG’s Managing Director Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood.

InterContinental Hotels Group says that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the company remains on track to deliver its biggest year of openings, defying market forecasts of a significant and sustained downturn on the horizon.

Speaking exclusively to HM, IHG Managing Director Australasia & Japan, Leanne Harwood said the company was excited and highly relieved at how it has weathered the economic storm, having opened the doors this week to Crowne Plaza Hobart. The new 253-room hotel overlooking Hobart’s harbour to one side and Mount Wellington to the other was opened this week, experiencing only a minimal delay due to late adjustments to ensure it was ready to adhere to new societal distancing and health guidelines.

“This will still be IHG’s biggest year of hotel openings ever in Australasia, which shows that there is faith in the market,” Harwood said.

The opening of Crowne Plaza Hobart will be followed by the brand opening in Sydney and Adelaide.

“What’s also reassuring is that owners are still signing hotels with us, such as voco South Melbourne [which] we announced a couple of weeks back. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of Tasmania, so I am already planning my trip down to visit this spectacular hotel and celebrate with the GM, Linda Collis, and her team as soon as I’m able to go.

Harwood added that despite all its global challenges, 2020 was still the “Year of Crowne Plaza”.

“We will open amazing properties in Hobart, Adelaide and Sydney Darling Harbour, and have refurbished the rest of the Crowne Plaza estate, so we really can put our hand on our heart and say we’re showing off the best of the brand.

“We are already seeing pent up demand resulting in strong intrastate occupancy on weekends in the regions, and we know that Aussies will love to get back to Tassie as soon as the borders open up,” she added.

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