Intercontinental Hotels is planning a £250m investment programme to bring two successful US names to the UK to add to its Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands.
The major push will be for Staybridge, which is designed for contract workers staying in one place for up to six months. Staybridge hotel rooms are more like individual apartments, with storage space and communal kitchens.
The first will open in Liverpool early next year and six other sites have been identified, including at London's Southbank and in Brentford.
Each Staybridge hotel will cost about £10m to build. A total of 20-25 could be established across the UK in the next couple of years, giving an overall investment of some £250m in the project.
The company is also keen to test the format in the Middle East and China.
So far the only Staybridge hotels are in the US, but the clientele it caters for is believed to be the fastest growing in the market.
Intercontinental - which has been the subject of bid speculation for months - has in the past four years moved from being a property owner to pure hotel management company. It has raised about £3bn by selling most of its hotels but retaining the contracts to manage them and market the brands. It has 21 more hotels to sell but is likely to keep trophy assets such as the Intercontinental Hotel in London.
Under its strategy of being "asset-light", the costs of building new hotels such as those under the Staybridge brand will be funded by hotel owners - such as property companies and investment funds - with Intercontinental operating the businesses and taking a percentage of room revenues.
The company is also considering whether to bring its Hotel Indigo brand across the Atlantic. Indigo is pitched as a designer hotel but at mid-market prices.
In total Intercontinental hopes to add 50,000-60,000 rooms next year to its existing 558,000 in nearly 100 countries, which already makes it the world's largest hotel group by that yardstick.
One of the areas with most growth potential is China. The company has been represented there since 1984 and has 67 hotels in the country. It intends to increase that number to 125 by the end of 2008.
"The Chinese think Holiday Inn is one of their own brands, it has been there so long," one analyst said.
Intercontinental is due to report half-year results next week, and the City will be keen to hear of any takeover developments. The Barclay Brothers, owners of the Ritz hotel in London, have built up a 10% stake in the business, but there is understood to have been no contact between the two sides since January.