Hilton to acquire Graduate Hotels brand from AJ Capital

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US/UK: Hotel and resort company Hilton has agreed to acquire the Graduate Hotels brand from AJ Capital Partners.

Hilton will pay $210 million to acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed properties in the pipeline, and become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth. 

AJ Capital will remain the owner of more than 35 operating and pipeline Graduate properties.

The transaction is expected to close in Q2 2024. The Graduate Hotels brand will be co-opted into Hilton’s lifestyle portfolio alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton, and Motto by Hilton.

“Adding Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion in the lifestyle space by pairing an existing much-loved brand with the power of Hilton’s strong commercial engine to drive growth,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisition, and Graduate will be another driver of growth for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400-500 hotels globally.”

Since its inception in 2014, Graduate Hotels has grown to span the United States and the United Kingdom. Upcoming locations include Austin and Dallas, Texas; Auburn, Alabama; and Princeton, New Jersey. The collection is expected to be available for booking via Hilton channels later this year.

Ben Weprin, founder of Graduate Hotels and CEO of AJ Capital, said: “We’re proud to embark on this new chapter for Graduate Hotels with Hilton, the ideal partner to steer the brand’s continued growth. Both Hilton and Graduate Hotels are committed to delivering exceptional experiences and making a positive impact on communities. Our shared values and close collaboration will ensure a smooth transition while keeping the Graduate Hotels’ unique brand identity intact. With Hilton’s extensive network behind us, guests can anticipate even more exciting opportunities. We’re certain this partnership will propel Graduate Hotels to even greater heights, while AJ’s ongoing ownership of the real estate assets lays a strong foundation for our future success.”

The acquisition of Graduate Hotels closely follows Hilton’s partnership with AutoCamp, an outdoor lodging brand. 

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