Written by Staff Writer
Editor’s Note — This article originally appeared in the January/February issue of CNN’s Travel magazine. To read more and buy the print version, click here .
In 1960, the first InterContinental Hotel was built in Hong Kong’s idyllic Wan Chai district.
The design — modeled on luxe Western hotels from the 1940s — promised to offer travelers both pristine design and relaxing indoor surroundings.
Today, InterContinental Hotels, with its chain of more than 380 brands, is one of the world’s largest hotel groups with properties in over 150 countries.
The first InterContinental opened in 1985 in Leuven, Belgium, and has since evolved from a collection of charming Belgian bars and simple a la carte restaurants into a major brand with a rapidly growing presence in the global hospitality industry.
“It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that as a company, we’re 60 years old,” says Danny Buaya, managing director of InterContinental Hotels Group Asia Pacific and chairman of its lobby and wellness sub-brand, Onyx.
“It’s the smaller companies that really reflect the community that operates in the business. The name ‘InterContinental’ is very precise, both in business sense and cultural sense. It doesn’t have a lot of members, it’s a family.”
By “family” Buaya means the thousands of employees and partners that work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring the company’s ideals and values to life.
InterContinental is known for its commitment to philanthropy and causes like social equity, sustainability and environmentalism.
In fact, the company has leveraged these values to promote a global conversation around inclusion and diversity through initiatives such as #LoveHasNoCounted and #InclusionIs.
“Our company is very deliberate about how we convey our culture,” Buaya says. “We want people to see the vision of InterContinental.
“When we spoke to the staff about it, the people we invited around, they went on the floor and looked at other boxes and said: ‘I can’t work for this hotel. I can’t work for this brand. There’s no way I could work here.’
“Then they said, ‘Let’s go right away and change it.’ It’s the idea of creating a wonderful company.”