CHIANG RAI, Thailand, 20 November 2023: IHG Hotels & Resorts and Thailand’s Asset World Corp Plc are extending their partnership with an agreement to manage two new hotels in Chiang Rai, a far north town bordering Myanmar and Laos.
Opening in 2025, InterContinental Chiang Rai Golden Triangle Resort will offer 68 one and two-bedroom pool and plunge pool villas.
Kimpton Chiang Rai Golden Triangle, which operates as the Imperial Golden Triangle Resort, will undergo an extensive renovation, upgrading it to Kimpton brand standards featuring 68 suites.
These luxury destination resorts will mark IHG’s entry into Thailand’s Golden Triangle. This area was once infamous for opium smuggling between the three countries (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) where borders converge.
“On the back of the recent opening of InterContinental Chiang Mai The Mae Ping, this signing is another milestone in IHG’s and AWC’s more than 10-year relationship,” said IHG Hotels & Resorts managing director, Southeast Asia and Korea Rajit Sukumaran. “We remain on track to grow our luxury and lifestyle portfolio in Thailand by 50%.
“The Kimpton brand debuted in Thailand three years ago and now has six open or pipeline properties in the market.”
Globally, the IHG group continues to grow across six brands in the luxury and lifestyle space, and this segment represents 14% of the group’s system and 22% of its pipeline, he explained.
The two properties will command views of the Mekong River and, on the opposite riverbank in Laos, a colossal casino complex being developed by a Chinese property developer, including the soon-to-be-open airport around 3 km inland from the high-rise condominiums and entertainment complexes.
The Golden Triangle refers to the confluence of the Ruak and the Mekong Rivers in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. It is a one-hour drive (60 km) north of Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International Airport, located on the outskirts of Chiang Rai town.
Chiang Rai struggles to attract international tourists other than retirees and hardy backpackers. It has always played second fiddle to the more popular Chiang Mai, 190 km to the south, served by international flights from major cities across Asia.
However, by 2025, when the two IHG hotels open, Chiang Rai’s fortunes might take a turn for the better if Chinese airlines resume flights that were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic. Until more direct flights are established from cities in Asia to bring international tourists to the far north city, it will continue to rely on domestic travellers, estimated at around 85% of all visitor arrivals.