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Harilela sees 50-year-old Holiday Inn in new light
Raini Hamdi, Singapore

Raini Hamdi, Singapore  
(6th Aug 2002)

DR HARI Harilela, the hotel owner who brought the first Holiday Inn to Asia - the Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong, which opened in 1975 - said he would renew contracts with Holiday Inn, a brand that turns 50 years old this month.

Contracts for the Holiday Inn Singapore and Bangkok, both 100 per cent owned by the Harilelas, are up for renewal within the next two to three years. Dr Hari admitted his family was studying Holiday Inn closely to see if they could continue to work together.

Dr Hari, one of Holiday Inn"s most outspoken critics in the past on issues ranging from management fees to the chain"s commitment, said he was sticking to Holiday Inn due to the "good work" done by Six Continents Hotels Asia-Pacific managing director, Mr Richard Hartman. Dr Hari said Mr Hartman had succeeded in bringing owners and the operator together again. He said he saw in Mr Hartman the US entrepreneur Mr Kemmons Wilson, who opened the first Holiday Inn hotel in 1952 in Memphis, and whose sincerity and humility won Dr Hari over in the 70s when he was looking for an international chain to manage his hotel.

"Richard Hartman is a man with foresight, courage and preparedness to accept criticisms. He is someone who can bring people together and make them work as a team. He has improved the image of Holiday Inn," Dr Hari told TTG Asia at a trade event last Friday in Singapore commemorating the 50th anniversary of Holiday Inn.

There are more than 1,600 Holiday Inns in the world today, 87 of them in Asia-Pacific.

Innovations are slated for the Holiday Inn in Asia-Pacific, following a 50th anniversary consumer research conducted by the chain and Research Pacific Group.

The innovations will centre around providing guests with a good night"s sleep, overall room comfort, bathroom comfort and arrival/departure experience - the key guest preference areas shown in the survey.

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