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Built for $115 million Two Years Ago, InterContinental Hotels
 Group Puts The InterContinental Buckhead Up for Sale
By Leon Stafford, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Feb. 21, 2007 - The InterContinental Buckhead, one of the city's premier luxury hotels with its marble baths and ceiling-to-floor windows, is up for sale.

The property's owner -- InterContinental Hotels Group, the British-owned operator of the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites brands -- put the building on the market Tuesday, a little more than two years after it opened to great fanfare in late 2004.

The sale is part of IHG's strategy to manage and develop hotels under its brands but not to own them, said Steve Porter, president of IHG's American operations, which is based in Atlanta. Of the thousands of hotels under IHG flags globally -- including Hotel Indigo, the boutique brand that debuted in Atlanta -- the company owns only 25.

But Mark Woodworth, executive vice president of PKF Consulting Inc., an Atlanta firm that tracks the health of the hotel industry, said there is another reason: The hotel economy is strong right now, and sellers are able to get top dollar.

"What they are doing is consistent with what the other leading hotels out there in the industry today are doing," Woodworth said. "It remains a wonderful time to be a hotel seller."

Constructed at a reported $115 million, the hotel has 22 floors and 422 rooms. Guests pay about $389 per night for regular rooms. The 2,000-square-foot presidential suite -- with its see-through fireplace, living room and kitchen -- goes for about $3,950 a night.

Francie Schulwolf, a spokeswoman for the company, said the hotel will not change its name. "The goal is to maintain the flag and the management," she said. "We love that hotel."

IHG made the announcement on a day when the company released earnings for the Americas.

The company reported a 12.8 percent increase in revenue in 2006 over the year before. Profit for 2006 was up 16.7 percent over 2005.

Woodworth said his company expected profits for the hotel industry to grow at an average of about 14.5 percent.

Porter said selling company-owned hotels is one of several moves the hotelier has made recently to improve revenue and attract customers.

While InterContinental Hotels Group remains the company's legal name, in January it shortened its brand identification to a more consumer-friendly IHG.

IHG continues to grow several brands, adding its eighth Hotel Indigo in Ottawa, Ontario and announcing its 100th Staybridge Suite at the end of the month. It also continues to re-image its Holiday Inn hotels based on a prototype opened in 2004 in Gwinnett County.

Porter said the InterContinental Buckhead, just blocks from Lenox Square and the community's crossroads at Piedmont Avenue, has been doing a very healthy business since it opened.

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To see more of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ajc.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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