Hilton Launches Curio Brand + Lifestyle One In The Making

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It has not been a trade secret that Hilton has been planning to add a brand or two to its portfolio and on Monday they made an announcement about Curio Collection brand for more independent minded hotels.

Hilton Curio

Curio is Hilton’s answer to Marriott’s Autograph Collection that has grown to 60 hotels in less than three years and to SPG’s Luxury Collection.

You can access Curio Collection’s website here.

The Curio Collection starts with five properties; SLS Las Vegas, The Sam Houston Hotel, Hotel Alex Johnson, The Franklin Hotel and yet to be named development in Portland.

Hilton Curio SLS Las Vegas

Here’s more information about these properties from Hotels Mag:

  • The 1,620-room SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, located on the Las Vegas Strip and owned and operated by SBE. Located on the site of the former Sahara Hotel & Resort, the property is scheduled to open for the September U.S. Labor Day holiday weekend following a three-year, US$415 million renovation, which included the total redevelopment of three existing Sahara towers. “Our mission to redefine excellence in hospitality to our guests at SLS Las Vegas aligns perfectly with the Hilton Worldwide vision for Curio,” said Sam Nazarian, SBE CEO. “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.”

  • The historic 97-room The Sam Houston Hotel, which originally opened in 1924. American Liberty Hospitality will maintain management of the Houston hotel when it joins the brand later this year.

  • The 143-room Hotel Alex Johnson, located in Rapid City, South Dakota, and currently a member of Choice Hotels International’s Ascend Collection.The property is owned by Cortez LLC and operated by Isis Hospitality LLC and will update its guest rooms, public areas and meeting rooms as part of a multi-million dollar renovation prior to joining Curio next year.

  • The 67-room The Franklin Hotel, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which will join Curio in the latter part of this year.

  • A hotel under development by The Widewaters Group in Portland, Oregon that is anticipated to join the collection in 2016.

The problem with the hard brands such as Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt is that the operations of the hotel are very strictly defined by the brand standards manual that is both good and bad at the same time. You know quite well what you can expect when you choose one of these hotels that works well when you travel for business.

The problem comes that many of these hard branded hotels are soulless. Wouldn’t it be better to have some local flavor as well?

I have only stayed at two Autograph Collection hotels: The Stones in Bali and Glasshouse in Edinburgh and, although very different hotels, both delivered well the promise that the Marriott brand had communicated while, at the same time, being unique to their locations.

Here’s more from HotelNewsNow:

Soft brands provide the benefits of large distribution systems and access to millions of loyalty club members without encumbering hotels with the rigid guidelines that accompany a full licensing or franchising arrangement. Soft brands tend to allow hotels to keep their name and use the brand as a secondary name, which is something Curio will promote.

“It’s something we’ve been doing for many years as we took iconic, independent assets and pushed them into some of our other brands, such as DoubleTree, Hilton and Waldorf Astoria,” Palleschi said. “We’ve had success with it; however, with as much activity as there is now in the development community, owners are pushing it more and more. They want this from Hilton, and some owners are even demanding us to get this out. The timing is right because of the fever pitch with development.”

Palleschi said the Curio agreement is a bundled deal with which owners get access to all of Hilton’s resources.

“It’s not à la carte,” he said, adding that owners aligning with Curio will pay a fee of 4% of gross rooms revenue—the same fee in place for the company’s management and franchising agreements.

Conclusion

It is interesting to see what will come out of this Curio. For now Hilton has used the DoubleTree brand for properties that haven’t fitted any of the other brands and it has been very inconsistent. Most of the DoubleTree hotels are very soso but then there are some very unique ones such as the Fess Parker in Santa Barbara.

It is quite clear that they are going after the same market as Marriott with their Autograph collection. Trying to woo owners of the independent properties that are in need of a better distribution and loyalty program platform that these global hotel companies are well equipped to provide.

The SLS hotel in Beverly Hills is part of SPG’s Luxury Collection and the soon to be opened Las Vegas property will be part of Hilton’s Curio. Interesting to see if the Beverly Hills property will switch from SPG to Hilton at some point.

Hilton will try to have a second try with their “lifestyle” brand after the failed launch of Denizen that got derailed by a lawsuit from the Starwood that banned Hilton entering this area for several years. It remains to be seen if it will be more of a W or Andaz or “select” service such as Aloft.

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