MCLEAN, VA—As the annual NYU Hospitality Conference got under way Monday, Hilton Worldwide, headquartered here, and New York City-based Marriott International separately announced new directions for the next few years. Hilton said it had signed letters of intent for the first five properties in what will be a new brand, while Marriott intends to double down on its luxury and lifestyle portfolio.
Hilton says its new Curio brand will encompass a carefully selected group of distinctive four- to five-star hotels. Eventually the brand will be propagated globally; however, the first five locations are in the US: SLS Las Vegas Hotel Casino; the Sam Houston Hotel in Houston; Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, SD; the Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill, NC; and a soon-to-be-named property in Portland, OR now under development by the Widewaters Group Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Our customers and owners have expressed strong interest in a brand from us that includes hotels that can retain their unique identity but also deliver the many benefits of our system, including our Hilton HHonors guest loyalty program,” says Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide. “That desire, combined with the current size of the independent hotel market and demand for differentiated hotel stays around the world, made for the right timing for this launch.” Hilton plans to announce another concept later this year.
Sam Nazarian‘s SBE is in the midst of a $415-million redevelopment of the former Sahara casino resort at the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s scheduled to open by Labor Day weekend.
“Partnering with Hilton and Curio allows us to maintain the SLS brand identity while offering the benefits of Hilton Worldwide’s commercial engines and the strength of the Hilton HHonors loyalty program,” says Nazarian, CEO of SBE. The collection’s three existing properties—the Sam Houston, the Alex Johnson and the Franklin—are owned by American Liberty Hospitality, Cortez LLC and Wintergreen Hospitality, respectively.
Marriott’s plans calls for more than 200 luxury and lifestyle hotel projects over the next several years, representing north of $15 billion of investment by the company’s owners and franchisees. “The luxury and lifestyle category is stronger than ever and we see demand continuing to rise worldwide,” says president and CEO Arne Sorenson.
Next-generation travelers, Sorenson adds, “are poised to comprise more than 60% of our business over the next four years, and already represent a broad spectrum of diverse cultures and lifestyles that view travel as an important way to enrich their lives. Our approach to the luxury and lifestyle segment embraces this trend and is shaping our development strategy,” representing 25% of its current pipeline.
At present, the luxury/lifestyle segment of Marriott’s portfolio encompasses 449 hotels across eight brands, “each offering its own unique personality and distinctive guest experience,” Sorenson says. Along with growing household names such as Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, “the company continues to introduce new brands such as Moxy Hotels,” which could grow to as many as 150 properties, “and continues to evolve its Renaissance Hotels brand globally. We are delighted with the success of these tremendous brands, part of our aggressive strategy to lead in the luxury and lifestyle category.”