IHG celebrates 60 years with big surprises + Tim Tam cake

IHG celebrates 60 years with big surprises + Tim Tam cake

IHG Hotels & Resorts celebrating its Diamond anniversary in Australia, marking a massive 60 years since a legendary InterContinental property became the first international hotel in the country.

To celebrate the milestone, IHG will be holding a series of events and celebrations this month and continuing through to the end of the year – including a special edition 60th Anniversary IHG Tim Tam Slice created by the InterContinental Hayman Island team as a nod to another Aussie icon that was born around the same time.

There will also be a social media series with video messages from colleagues and people who have worked for the group across the past 60 years – including Keith Barr, IHG’s global CEO who led the Australasia, NZ and Pacific region from 2006-2009, and Tony South, who led Bass Hotels in Australia following the acquisition of SPHC.

The Diamond celebration theme is particularly apt in 2022 as IHG launched its new global loyalty program in April – IHG One Rewards – which features a new Diamond Tier with exceptional benefits for its members.

The group will also celebrate its biggest era of growth, delivering on its True Hospitality for Good program, with teams out in force, for Giving for Good month in September, fundraising and volunteering for its partner, OzHarvest, as well as other important causes.

The brand was launched in Australia by US airline Pan Am, founder of the InterContinental brand, with the opening of the InterContinental Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne on 14 August 1962, which was lauded as one of the most luxurious hotels of its time.

As the first American-style hotel in town, it attracted celebrity guests, royalty and rockstars, including Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Princes Charles and Princes Dianna, Rock Hudson and Marlene Dietrich. However, the most memorable was a visit from the Beatles in 1964 when the street outside was inundated with screaming fans.

The Beatles on the Southern Cross Hotel balcony (source: Museum of Lost Things)

Next to come were the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands which continued to attract the jet-setting era of well-heeled travellers and grew steadily across the country in destinations such as Cairns, Cable Beach, Hamilton Island, Newcastle, Melbourne and Sydney.

Bass Hotels & Resorts (which has its own impressive heritage dating back to 1777) acquired the Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands in the 1980s and ‘90s respectively, and dramatically increased the presence of the brands in Australia after it acquired Southern Pacific Hotels Corporation (SPHC) in 2000 and transitioned its Parkroyal and Centra brands.

In the same year, Bass spun off its hotels business, which became known as Six Continents, before rebranding to InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in 2003 and finally becoming IHG Hotels & Resorts – as we know it today – in 2021.

This journey over the 60 years has paved the way for what IHG is calling its ‘Diamond Age’, celebrating its biggest ever period of organic growth.

Today it has 68 opened and signed hotels in Australia alone, and 95 across the broader Australasia & Pacific region, spanning eight brands and three Collections: InterContinental, Kimpton, Vignette Collection and Hotel Indigo in the Luxury & Lifestyle portfolio; voco and Crowne Plaza in the Premium portfolio; and Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in the Essentials portfolio.

Leanne Harwood, SVP managing director for IHG Hotels & Resorts – Japan, Australasia & Pacific, said she is proud to celebrate an incredible milestone for a brand she loves.

“This really is a wonderful time of celebration, reflection and excitement about the future as we come into our ‘Diamond Era’ for IHG,” she continued.

“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to lead IHG here in this market today, but there are so many who have been a part of our deep heritage and continued our pioneering spirit to pave the way before me. This anniversary is a chance for us to give back and say thank you.

“Thank you to our colleagues, thank you to owners, thank you to our past leaders and thank you to our loyal guests, who have been with us on this exciting journey.

“We couldn’t wish for a more iconic property to have marked the launch of our long and impressive history in Australia and, while the Southern Cross Hotel may no longer with us, its legacy lives on in the iconic properties we continue to open with our owners today and we’re so very honoured to be celebrating this 60-year milestone with our colleagues, owners and guests.”

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