Hong Kong’s InterContinental hotel to lay off 500 employees as it embarks on two-year renovation programme

Kanis Leung

The InterContinental hotel on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong will lay off about 500 employees as it embarks on a two-year renovation project, a labour union has said.

Alex Tsui, chairman of the Hong Kong Hotel Employees Union, said the workers would have their last working day on May 1.

A small number of staff will be retained to run a Chinese restaurant, Yan Toh Heen, which will remain open during the renovation.

The 503-room hotel will close its doors on April 20 to make way for the facelift.

“The workers learned about it today,” Tsui said. “They felt helpless.”

He said the union was assisting the workers on their compensation.

The 503-room hotel will close its doors on April 20 to make way for the facelift. Photo: Dickson Lee

The hotel used to have about 700 staff till last year. But the staff strength was trimmed in the face of a tourism downturn brought about by anti-government protests.

The Post has contacted the hotel for comments on the lay-offs.

The lay-offs and renovation came at a time when Hong Kong’s tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Tourist arrivals dropped 96 per cent year on year in February to 199,000 – the daily average in the first half of last year, amid tightened public health measures.

Kowloon to welcome back ‘Regent’ name, as part of InterContinental Hotel revamp

The hotel, operated by Britain-based InterContinental Hotels Group, said on Thursday it would kick off the renovation on April 20. Upon completion, the hotel will restore its name to Regent Hong Kong – its original brand since its debut in 1980 until the group took over its operations in 2001.

The name change has been made possible by the InterContinental group’s acquisition of Regent hotels and resorts in 2018.

The facelift will include right from the hotel’s facade to all guest rooms, suites, public areas, function rooms and restaurants, the group said.

It will raise its competitiveness over the 413-room luxurious hotel, Rosewood, which was open in March last year right next to it.

In a statement, the hotel said it would try to arrange its employees to work in other hotels under the same group and would consider hiring them on priority basis upon completion of the renovation. However, it did not disclose how many employees were laid off.

Gaw Capital Partners, which led the acquisition of the hotel in 2015 on behalf of a consortium of investors, said workers would be supported with opportunities within the hotel group whenever possible after the premises closed.

“They will also be given priority to rejoin the hotel when it reopens,” a spokeswoman said.

She said the company had abided by the law, but could not give details on its staffing plans “due to employee confidentiality policies”.

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