InterContinental Hotels Group today reported a strong performance in the first quarter of the year.

Global revenue per available room rose by 6%, driven by occupancy up by 2.4% and average daily rate up by 1.9%.

The Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza parent opened 9,000 rooms in the three months and signed for a further 13,000.

The company is to return $750 million to shareholders as a special dividend.

RevPAR in Europe was up 6.1%, 6.6% in the Americas region, 3.8% in Asia, Middle East and Africa and 3.9% in China.

Double digit growth in the UK reflected better macro-economic conditions against relatively soft comparatives in the same period a year ago, the company said.

IHG chief executive Richard Solomons said: “We have made an excellent start to the year with our strongest RevPAR performance in seven quarters and our best first quarter for pipeline signings in six years.

“This reflects the continued growth momentum in the business and the strong preference for our portfolio of brands from both owners and guests.

“We completed two major asset sales in March and are announcing today a $750 million special dividend.”

He revealed plans to review “opportunities for further asset disposals”.

Solomons added: “Current trading trends give us confidence for the rest of the year and our strategy for high quality growth positions us well for continuing outperformance in an industry with compelling long term growth prospects.”