Five questions for Mauro Leone, Area General Manager for IHG in Papua New Guinea


IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group) PNG is represented by the Holiday Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express and the Crowne Plaza Residences in Port Moresby. Business Advantage PNG sat down with IHG’s Area General Manager Mauro Leone to see how the group is trading — and what he expects from the year to come.

The Crowne Plaza Residences opened in Port Moresby in 2019. Credit: IHG

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): We’re closing in on the end of the year. How is business?

Mauro Leone (ML): There’s no doubt quarter one provided a rocky start, because we were hoping to continue the great business of providing quarantine facilities. 2021 was a record year for us. All the Port Moresby hotels did very well. As of 1 February, however, all quarantine just about stopped.

Fast forward to quarter three and we did a mid-40% occupancy in Express, which is fantastic given the hotel had been closed for two years. Also, a major driver for the Express is derived through the Kokoda Trail arrivals, which look to return in March 2023.

‘If all of the projects that are on paper come to fruition, it’s going to be another 10 years of growth.’

October was a record month for the group. Our Crowne Plaza Residences did mid-90 per cent occupancy, the Holiday Inn did mid-80 per cent. We think business is going to continue well into November.

BAPNG: There are signs that the planned Papua LNG project is starting to have an effect on the economy …

Mauro Leone

IHG’s Mauro Leone.

ML: The recent project briefings showed the different project development phases, and it looks like it starts to ramp up in quarter four of 2023. And that’s only one project we’re talking about. If all the anticipated projects come onboard, we are not going to have enough rooms or apartments in Port Moresby!

In 2011, during the PNG LNG boom, there was a shortage of accommodation, so everybody built these apartments and then there were too many. But, if all of the projects that are on paper come to fruition, it’s going to be another 10 years of growth.

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BAPNG: The Crowne Plaza Residences is in a great location. What kind of people are you appealing to with that property?

ML: It’s the serviced apartment market: about eighty per cent of our guests there are long-term. We have two and three bedroom apartments. The rates are quite high, especially if you’re facing the ocean. A two-bedroom unit on a lower floor facing the front will go for K25,000 plus GST a month, all the way up to K28,000 plus GST.

We have a fully equipped gym, with state of the art conferencing facilities. And we have the PORT Terrace Restaurant, which undoubtedly has the best sunset view in Port Moresby.

BAPNG: What plans are there to revamp the Holiday Inn precinct?

ML: The business centre on the ground floor of the Holiday Inn & Suites will be replaced with a ‘Grab and Go’ café. The existing Kopi Haus will be refurbished. We’re adding a wood-fired pizza oven from Italy and an Argentinian grill. We are now in talks to open a beer garden too. This should all be done by early 2023.

BAPNG: IHG has a very strong loyalty scheme, IHG One Rewards, which must be a big selling point in this market …

ML: There is no doubt that part of our success was due down to our IHG One Rewards. If you look at most people coming into Port Moresby for work, they have to stay somewhere and you might as well earn points while you’re staying somewhere. Our guests can use their points in over 6000 hotels globally.

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