Pascal Gauvin has overseen a period of significant growth for IHG since he took on his role as regional head at the beginning of 2012.
IHG already dominates the international chains when it comes to the number of operating hotels in the Middle East, but it continues to sign new properties at a pace.
As of June 2013, IHG has 79 hotels (21,435 rooms) operating in the Middle East across five brands: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites — 70% of which are in the GCC. There are an additional 22 properties in the pipeline for the GCC and 26 in total across the Middle East.
Over the past 12 months, IHG has made brand debuts in several markets, with the first Crowne Plaza in Jordan and the first Holiday Inn Express in Bahrain. Six new hotels opened, including Crowne Plaza Madinah, the first under this flag in the holy city.
Five hotels have also been signed, including InterContinental Dubai Marina, Crowne Plaza Resort Ras Al Khaimah (the first Crowne Plaza resort in the UAE), the second Crowne Plaza in Muscat, the first Staybridge Suites in Saudi Arabia and the first Holiday Inn in Doha. There are nine hotels due to open by the end of 2014, four this year in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon and five the following year, in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
Commenting on the growth, Gauvin says: “IHG has a rich and longstanding history in the Middle East, with brands such as InterContinental Hotels which has been in the region for over 50 years.
We will continue to build on our well established legacy of quality and excellence as well as meeting the needs of the Middle East’s diversifying tourism market with exciting new brands such as the boutique Hotel Indigo, which will open its first Middle Eastern property in Riyadh.”
At the same time, he says leadership, guest experience and brand standards are vital areas of priority for the next year.
“I’m a strong believer in the principles of ‘leadership by example’ as well as ‘empowerment’, I spend at least 50% of my time in the field making sure that day-to-day operations are in line with IHG’s standards,” he says.