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BEIJING-As China opens itself to the world, the global leader in the hospitality sector wants to be there to shelter the increasing swell of visitors. Hilton Hotels Corp. has signed agreements to manage properties in Beijing and Huaqiao. The two hotels will fly Hilton’s Doubletree flag on a long-term basis upon opening next year.

“We are looking to grow in China’s primary and secondary cities and respond to the demand among corporate and leisure travelers for quality accommodations,” says Koos Klein, president of Hilton Hotels Asia Pacific. Hilton already operates six hotels in the sprawling country and has four more in various stages of development that will open between 2009 and 2010.

The larger of the properties just going under contract is the Doubletree by Hilton Beijing, which will offer 455 hotels rooms, 98 upscale residences and a range of food and beverage offerings, including 24-hour dining. There will also be a health club, ballroom and roof garden, plus audio-visual and communications facilities. The property is located in the southwest quarter of the city on Guanganmenwai Street, about five miles from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

“Given the scale of the Beijing market and its increasing in-bound tourism in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, we see great potential to introduce several more of our Hilton family brands, from luxury through to mid-market and economy,” says Klein. The company currently operates one hotel in Beijing under the Hilton moniker.

Equally optimistic is the owner of the Beijing hotel, the China Overseas Real Estate Development Corp. “We are happy to appoint Hilton to manage our property,” says chairman Wang Yonghe. “We strongly believe that Doubletree by Hilton Beijing will add something new to the city and good financial results to our project as well.”

The other inn is owned by Kunshan Guangting Property Co. and designed by Steve Leung Architects of Hong Kong. There will be no residences as in the case of the Beijing property, but the 397-room hotel will offer similar amenities in terms of food service, a fitness center, ballroom and banquet facilities. Situated near an expressway connecting Shanghai, Kunshan and Suzhou, the hotel is also close to Shanghai’s two major airports.

Besides Hilton’s broad platform, Doubletree is now operating at 180 full-service hotels in gateway cities, suburban markets and leading leisure destinations. Most of those are in North and South America, but David Horton, SVP of brand management for Doubletree, promises penetration of new territory, especially Asia. “This ongoing expansion in the China hotel market is an incredible new chapter for our Doubletree hotel collection,” he says. Doubletree’s parent, Hilton Hotels Corp., has more than 2,800 hotels and 480,000 rooms in 75 countries.

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