‘It’s going to be outstanding’: Hilton boss reveals strong First Nations influence for Australia’s first Waldorf Astoria

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Hilton is gearing up to launch new brands into the region including urban micro-hotel brand Motto by Hilton, Hilton Area Vice President and Head of Australasia, Paul Hutton, told a small group of media at a roundtable on Thursday.

The company’s focus on strategic and organic growth has resulted in 32 hotels operating across the region, with more on the way, the Australasia boss confirmed.

Hutton spruiked a number of upcoming openings including Hilton Garden Inn Brisbane, which is set to open next year, and “the greatest of them all” Hilton’s highly anticipated opening of Waldorf Astoria Sydney in 2026.

Hilton Area Vice President and Head of Australasia, Paul Hutton

Hutton described Waldorf Astoria Sydney’s location as a “once-in-a-century site”, saying it will be an “outstanding” property with “stunning views”.

The hotel, owned by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, will have a strong First Nations art influence, Hutton revealed.

“It’s going to be outstanding,” he said.

“One tower [is comprised of] apartments, and 90% of them have sold,” he added.

Hilton Garden Inn is another predicted growth engine for Hilton following recent openings in Darwin and Busselton, Hutton reported.

“These are smaller hotels – 100 to 140 rooms – which enables us to have a greater reach to get into provincial and regional Australia, both franchised and managed, which is also a new venture for us,” he said.

Hilton acquires Graduate Hotels

Hutton’s comments coincided with a major move by Hilton to acquire global lifestyle brand Graduate Hotels under a US$210 million deal with Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (AJ Capital).

The deal, announced on Thursday in the US, will see Hilton acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed pipeline Graduate Hotels, and become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth.

AJ Capital will remain the owner of the more than 35 operating and pipeline Graduate properties, each of which will be operated under long-term Hilton franchise agreements. 

“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 Hilton President and CEO, Chris Nassetta, in a statement.

“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.

“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.”

Each Graduate hotel is thoughtfully designed to reflect the character of its local university, offering the perfect setting for gamedays, reunions, graduations, campus visits and more.

Since its inception in 2014, the brand has grown across the US and UK with new hotels opening soon in Austin and Dallas, Texas; Auburn, Alabama; and Princeton, New Jersey.

The Graduate brand will be incorporated into Hilton’s fast-growing lifestyle portfolio alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton and Motto by Hilton.



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