Briefs: Marriott to add 35 luxury hotels; Hilton’s plans for luxury brands

Marriott to add 35 luxury hotels in 2023: Marriott International, Inc. has said it will add over 35 luxury hotels in 2023. With a portfolio of around 500 luxury properties across 68 countries, Marriott has over 200 additional properties in its development pipeline. The Ritz Carlton plans to open two new hotels in North America, including debuting in America’s Pacific Northwest with The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, and The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie in Scottsdale, Arizona. The brand also has openings in Melbourne, Australia and Fukuoka, Japan. Ritz-Carlton Reserve has openings planned in Jiuzhaigou Valley in China and one in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project. St. Regis will open in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and grow its footprint in North America with an opening in Chicago. The brand will also debut a hotel in Riyadh and a resort in its own private island in the Red Sea project. W Hotels anticipates openings in Prague, Budapest, Edinburgh, Sydney, Macau, and Milan and New York and Hollywood in the U.S. Currently, EDITION portfolio includes 15 properties globally, with the brand growing to 21 by the end of 2023 with openings in Rome, Riviera Maya at Kanai, Tokyo, Ginza, Singapore, Jeddah, and Doha. The Luxury Collection, which has over 120 hotels globally, will open properties in Turkey, Barbados, Japan, Mexico, and Tbilisi, Georgia. JW Marriott expects to open in destinations like Madrid, Jeju Island, Dallas, Xi’an and Berlin. The brand will also enter the luxury safari segment in 2023 with the anticipated opening of JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in Kenya.

Conrad Rabat Arzana in Rabat, Morocco will open later this month 

Hilton’s luxury brand plans: Hilton’s luxury brands will continue their global expansion in 2023, with 10 openings and new signings expected in the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and LXR Hotels and Resorts brands. This follows a year of growth in 2022, which will see 12 openings by the end of the year, including six Conrad properties, three of them in the Americas, increasing their Americas portfolio to a total of 10 properties. The Americas represents Conrad’s second biggest regional brand category growth, following the Asia Pacific with 25 properties. Other new-entry markets in the Hilton Luxury brands portfolio in 2022 include Shanghai, Washington. D.C., Sardinia, Cancun and Kuwait. Growing its existing portfolio of 32 properties, Waldorf Astoria Hotels will add in 16 destinations with a pipeline of 26 more properties slated to open soon. The brand’s openings include its debut in Egypt (spring 2023) and additional properties in 2024. With 44 properties, Conrad has Hilton’s biggest luxury brand portfolio. The brand will enter a number of new markets, including in North Africa, the Americas and Asia Pacific; opening four new hotels next year. Other openings include in Rabat, Morocco (later this month), Shenzhen China (spring 2023), Florida, U.S. (fall 2023), Singapore (fall 2023) and Chongqing, China (fall 2023). Hilton’s newest luxury brand — LXR Hotels & Resorts — will debut its branded resort in Southeast Asia in Bali, Indonesia (summer 2023), with more signings and openings expected in Tel Aviv (2024) and Abu Dhabi and Riyadh (both in 2025).

Aimbridge to California: Plano, Texas-based Aimbridge Hospitality will manage the 233-room Le Méridien Pasadena Arcadia hotel in Arcadia, California, which will be operated within its Full Service division. The hotel will transition to Aimbridge’s management by the end of the year. Opened last year, the hotel is owned by Chateau Group USA and Mingzhu LLC. The hotel includes a restaurant, lounge and more than 14,000 square feet of meeting rooms and event space, including seven event rooms and six breakout rooms. Aimbridge Hospitality’s portfolio includes over 1.500 properties across 50 states and over 20 countries.

HLS adds 4: Atlanta, Georgia-based Hospitality Lodging Systems (HLS) has added two Budgetel Inn & Suites-branded properties and two Haven hotel-branded properties. There are now 37 Budgetel hotels totaling 3,814 rooms in 10 states and China and 12 Haven properties with 698 rooms across nine states. Both the new Budgetel hotels are located in Atlanta: a 218-key conversion from Clarion and a 121-key property. The new Haven Hotels are a 50-suite, recently-renovated boutique property in Atlanta’s suburb of Marietta and a 130-key property in Hazelwood, Missouri. HLS now operates 72 properties totaling 5,864 rooms under three brands.

New Firmdale hotel in New York: London-based Firmdale Hotels will open Warren Street Hotel, Tribeca in New York in September 2023. The hotel will offer 57 rooms and 12 exclusive residences over 11 floors, some with a private terrace. The hotel will also include a drawing room, Orangery and a 150-seat bar and restaurant. The site of the hotel earlier housed a car park. The hotel will be built ground up, with Kit Kemp Design Studio working on interiors.

Sirata Beach Resort sells for US$207M: Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex has acquired the 382-key Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida, from Fort Worth, Texas-based Crescent Real Estate for US$207 million. The deal is the highest hotel sale on record in Pinellas County. Crescent purchased the 13-acre resort in 2017 for US$108.2 million. Before being acquired by Crescent, the hotel was one of the last major locally-owned hotels on the Pinellas beaches. St. Petersburg’s Nicklaus of Florida acquired what was then a smaller property in the 1960s, adding buildings and then merging two adjacent hotels — a Best Western and a Quality Inn — into the existing Sirata.

Encore Boston Harbor sells: Realty Income Corp. has acquired the 671-room Encore Boston Harbor in Boston, Massachusetts, from Las Vegas, Nevada-based Wynn Resorts for US$1.7 billion (including debt) or US$2.43 million per key. Wynn will continue to operate the hotel via a triple net lease arrangement with Realty Income.

Wyndham, Hospitality 360 partner: Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has signed a strategic partnership with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Hospitality 360 Sdn Bhd to expand their portfolio of hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in Malaysia. Hospitality 360 has agreed to deliver at least 15 hotels signed as franchises under several Wyndham-owned brands over the next six years. Wyndham and Hospitality 360 signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for Hospitality 360 for four hotels and luxury serviced apartments in Sabah to be managed by Hospitality 360 under the Wyndham Grand, Dolce by Wyndham and Ramada by Wyndham brands. Hospitality 360 plans to achieve a portfolio of 5,000 rooms across Malaysia by 2027. Construction of these properties, totaling over 2,000 rooms, will begin in phases from 2023 and will be completed by 2027. In addition to the current signings, the partnership has other properties in the pipeline — the future flagship property, the Wyndham Grand TRX KL and the recently built Ramada by Wyndham The Straits Johor Bahru; the luxury serviced apartment project Isola KLCC; the 152-room Shahzan Kuantan; the 204-room Trinidad Suites Puteri Harbour. Three more properties (the 88-room Lisbon Melaka, the 158-room Trigo Kuala Lumpur and the 90-room Shahzan Frasers Hill) will join Wyndham’s Trademark Collection brand.

TripStax to buy Hotelzon: Travelport is reportedly selling its Hotelzon unit to TripStax, the corporate travel agency startup. TripStax signed the agreement to acquire Hotelzon as of December 1. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Hotelzon offers 1.5 million properties from several content sources, including Expedia and, and has 370,000 users. Launched in 1972, it has been Travelport’s wholly-owned subsidiary since 2014. This is TripStax’s second acquisition, following the purchase of TapTrip earlier this year.

Hotel at Canada’s Calgary Stampede: Matthews Southwest Hospitality, Dallas, Texas, has entered into a joint partnership with Canada-based Calgary Municipal Land Corp. and the Calgary Stampede to develop a new convention center hotel to complement the expansion of Calgary’s BMO Centre. The partnership will create the first hotel at Stampede Park and will connect directly to Western Canada’s convention center. The CA$80 million (US$58.72 million) development will see a 4-4.5 diamond boutique lifestyle hotel featuring 220 rooms, four dining outlets and 11,000 square feet of meeting space. Matthews Southwest has partnered with hospitality design architectural company Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects to design the hotel on a 31,000 square feet plot. A hotel brand flag will be decided upon later. Construction is expected to begin in 2024. The BMO Convention Centre will front the redeveloped Stampede Trail when completed in 2024.

Ennismore’s team for interior, graphic designers: London-based Ennismore has announced the launch of AIME Studios, a specialist team comprising 30 interior and graphic designers to create global brands and spaces like Gleneagles, The Hoxton, SO/, TRIBE and Working From_. Earlier known as Ennismore Design Studio, the company has worked across 12 brands and 22 properties and has designed 2,865 hotel rooms, 30 restaurants and bars and 17 meeting and event spaces. The team is led by Charlie North, VP of interior design, and Alex Prior, design director, graphics. AIME Studios is one of Ennimore’s four specialized in-house studios, including Carte Blanched, Staymore and Partnership Studio. Ennismore currently has 103 open hotels under 14 brands, with 144 more properties in the pipeline and more than 190 restaurants and bars.

IHG elevates app: IHG Hotels & Resorts has partnered with Accenture Song to work on a new app designed to boost customer loyalty. IHG says the app will unlock the full potential of the IHG One Rewards loyalty program and its primary digital interface to interact with, and take care of, guests. Designed in partnership with members, the app can be used to search for the best rates, quickly book a room using a new feature, sort results based on personal preferences, manage stays in a single place and access exclusive benefits for IHG One Rewards members. A digital “factory” — a streamlined framework to create and deliver digital products — helped IHG to introduce features and experiences faster. After the rollout of the new app, till September, revenue, usage and downloads were up more than 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Travel industry study: As media ad spend, site traffic and search volume begins to increase after the pandemic, web traffic for airlines and digital ad spend has been skyrocketing in the travel industry, signaling a healthy recovery, the  latest study on U.S. travel trends by Semrush says. A recent study by Bain & Co. predicted the airline industry hitting 84% of its 2019 revenue this year. Searches for “best airports” surged 240% from 2020. In 2022, the biggest spenders in the travel industry were accommodation marketplaces and travel metasearch engines, collectively pouring in more than US$30 million monthly into digital marketing placements. Consumers are prioritizing savings in their trip planning amid inflation and a looming recession. Websites like Tripadvisor and Expedia saw traffic rise 30% and 160% respectively from 2020, becoming the top two most-visited travel sites in the U.S. Kayak, Priceline and also saw triple-digit traffic growth. When it comes to choosing destinations, international travel reigns supreme. Search volume soared over 200% since 2020 for Ibiza, Bangkok and Auckland. U.S. cities that appeared most frequently in searches for “flights to” were Miami, Las Vegas and New York. Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore were the top spots for U.S. search volume for landmarks, while searches for Death Valley and the Brooklyn Bridge more than doubled.

Adaptive reuse report: Apartment conversions surged 25% compared to 2020, with the popular real estate niche bringing in 28,000 new rentals in 2020-2021, according to a latest report by RentCafe. With 3,573 apartments converted in 2020-21, hotels saw a 66% growth compared to 2018-19. It was one of the primary sources for adaptive reuse. A total of 77,000 future apartments are projected to be converted in the next few years, with hotels accounting for the second-biggest share or 222% of future projects. Built in 1878, the oldest hotel to be converted was Kenmore in Albany, New York. The largest hotel converted in 2020-21 was Holiday Inn Hotel, now known as Cityplace, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The transformation created 282 rental apartments.

Luxury travel demand survey: Luxury travelers are going on more trips and spending more money as the demand for luxury travel and experiences continues to grow, revealed a study conducted in the fourth quarter by The Olinger Group. The study revealed similarities between luxury travelers with household incomes of US$100,000 to US$249,000 and those with incomes above US$250,000. Over 80% of luxury travelers involve their children in important decision-making processes. Households with incomes between US$100,000 to US$249,000 are more likely to look for travel guidance through social media, tour guides and tour operators.