Holiday Inn chain upgrades with style

ByABC News
June 23, 2008, 10:37 PM

NEW YORK -- When the Holiday Inn in Chelsea opens Thursday, you won't find the chain's typical old wall-to-wall carpeting, floral bedspreads, a front desk cluttered with hotel brochures or rows of impatiens planted outside.

Instead, you'll see hardwood flooring, columns made from hand-laid river rocks, and slender Japanese planters outside.

This newly built Holiday Inn hotel is one of the first in the USA to bear the modern version of the green-and-white Holiday Inn logo a sign meant to convey radical changes underway. As many as a thousand of the chain's existing 3,200 hotels worldwide are expected to earn the new sign this year, with the entire chain completely revamped by early 2010.

The new design "brings us 20 years forward and projects us 10 years beyond," says Steven Porter, president of The Americas, InterContinental Hotel Group, during a tour of the hotel earlier this month.

Holiday Inn isn't just slapping new signs on old facilities. Instead, it stepped up quality inspections at all its hotels, and it's providing hotel owners with guidance on how to meet new standards.

The standards cover everything, including the entrance lighting, shower rods, lobby soundtrack and customer service training.

Before the makeover process began, Holiday Inn also stopped renewing contracts of hundreds of hotels that didn't meet standards or had exterior corridors that travelers perceive as unsafe. It also devised a stylish new look for newly built Holiday Inns such as the one in Manhattan to reignite development deals.

Some elements of the plan such as illuminating the hotel at night in the brand's signature color will also be carried over to Holiday Inn Express to unify the brands, but the newer Express chain doesn't need as dramatic a makeover.

Not aging gracefully

Created in 1954, the roadside hotel chain flourished by franchising as the USA's interstate highway system grew.