InterContinental Hotels Returning to Croatia

By 12 February 2016

IHG coming to Zagreb. 

InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), one of the world's leading hotel operators, plans to open a hotel in Zagreb, confirmed Hylko Veersteg, director of IHG for Southern Europe, who was one of the participants at the Adria Hotel Forum, reports on February 12, 2016.

Veersteg did not reveal where the hotel would be located or how far have the discussions with potential investors progressed, but he said that it would more likely be a greenfield investment, and not a take-over of some existing hotel facility. "IHG wants to invest in Croatia and Slovenia, and since our focus is on urban centres and capital cities, of course that we are mostly interested in Zagreb. We are still considering all the options, you know that such negotiations can last for a while, but we will be glad to return to Zagreb", said Veersteg who thinks there will be no problems with finding a suitable investor.

During the panel on global and local brands, Veersteg pointed out that among global investors there is a lot of optimism for investments in southern Europe, including Croatia. "The situation in Turkey contributed to this, since some investors will turn towards your region as well", said Veersteg. The First InterContinental hotel in the former Yugoslavia was opened in Zagreb at the Esplanade Hotel in 1964. In 1975 the brand moved to a skyscraper in Savska Street, where it operated until the mid-1990s, when Ivica Todorić bought the hotel and renamed it Opera. The hotel was bought by Anđelko Leko in 2002, who made a deal with Starwood and reopened it as Westin.

IHG has recently announced the opening of its fourth hotel in Serbia, the Crowne Plaza in Novi Sad. The Group explained that its strategy was to develop the brand in growing business centres. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand operates in about 400 hotels in 65 countries, the main urban centres, and is the fourth largest luxury hotel brand and one of fastest growing. Croatia still has few branded hotels, with only 16 percent of hotels operating under a global brand, so there is room for market development. A good portion of hotel capacity in Croatia operates under numerous local brands, such as Maistra, Valamar, Plava Laguna, Jadranka...

One of the leading regional brands is MK Resort, a company owned by Serbian entrepreneur Miodrag Kostić, which owns luxury hotels on Kopaonik and in Belgrade, and last year bought Kempinski in Portorož in Slovenia for 25 million euros. "We want to expand in Croatia as well and we are negotiating about certain investments, but we are interested only in existing facilities", confirmed the general manager of MK Resort Nikola Avram.