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While coronavirus may have temporarily dampened the world’s appetite for travel, IHG is forging ahead with its planned expansion of the Regent hotel brand.

IHG signed a management agreement with Shanghai 21st Century Hotel Co. for what will become the Regent Shanghai Pudong. The Shanghai hotel will be the first new Regent hotel since IHG acquired a 51 percent stake in the Taiwan-based luxury hotel chain in 2018. The hotel, currently flagged as the Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, will open under its new brand affiliation on May 16. IHG will also manage the residential component of the tower as part of the management agreement.

“Welcoming Regent Shanghai Pudong to the Regent family represents a significant milestone for the brand not only in Greater China but also in the world,” Regent Hotels & Resorts at IHG Managing Director Justin Channe said in a statement. “Since acquisition we have been committed to making the brand a real leader within luxury hospitality and taking it to the world’s best destinations.”

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The Shanghai opening comes as IHG plans to expand the Regent brand as its own ultra-luxury competitor to the likes of the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental flags. At the time of the 2018 acquisition, there were six Regent hotels in the world and IHG said it planned to grow the brand to more than 40 properties.

IHG is also underway with a renovation to the InterContinental Hong Kong and plans to reopen it as a Regent hotel in 2021. New Regent hotels are planned to open in Vietnam later this year as well as in Bali, Indonesia, in 2021 and Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, and Chengdu, China, in 2023.

An IHG spokesperson did not respond in time for publication for additional comment. IHG also owns its eponymous InterContinental Hotels & Resorts flag as well as other brands like Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts, and Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.

The Regent brand expansion arrives as the hotel industry in mainland China is showing initial signs of a recovery following the coronavirus outbreak, according to STR. Mainland China occupancy reached a 7 percent low in early February but got as high as 32 percent on March 28. The highest occupancy rates reported in China last month were in Xi’an and Chengdu, which both had a nearly 36 percent occupancy on March 28. Shanghai reached a 29 percent occupancy rate at the end of March.

Almost 90 percent of the hotels in mainland China are open after many had closed for two months over coronavirus, STR reports.

“We’re seeing green shoots in hotel occupancy figures, but we must stress that these are only early signs of a recovery that is likely to develop slowly,” STR North Asia Regional Manager Christine Liu said in a statement.

Photo Credit: IHG is pushing forward with plans to make Regent its ultra-luxury flag, especially in Asia. Franck Michel / Flickr