by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | July 16, 2019
Fresh from celebrating its 100th anniversary in April, Hilton shows no sign of putting the brakes on its aggressive global expansion. The chain's emphasis is on growing its luxury footprint, which it outlined in 2018 as part of an expansion strategy.

This week, Chris Nassetta, president and chief executive officer of the Mclean, Va.-based hospitality giant, said Hilton currently is on track to open more luxury properties in 2019 than in any previous year in its history. In addition to four opening earlier this year, another seven hotels are expected to open by year's end across the luxury brands of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts.

"After more than a decade of honing Hilton's distinct luxury offerings and investing in key markets around the globe, we are embarking upon a very exciting phase for the category," said Martin Rinck, Hilton's executive vice president and global head, Luxury & Lifestyle Group, who was tapped to helm the chain's luxury division in May 2018. "Over the next five years, starting with this year's openings, we will start to see the positive impact of our efforts," he continued in a statement, "and we are confident that our amazing portfolio of properties will reinvent luxury travel for Hilton -- and for the entire industry."

Hilton's global luxury portfolio, which currently stands at 65 properties, includes recent openings such as two new-build Conrad hotels that debuted in March of this year -- the 10-story, 360-room Conrad Washington DC, with 32,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 50-story, 324-room Conrad Hangzhou in southeast China, with 16,000 square feet of meeting space. Earlier this month, Waldorf Astoria expanded its portfolio with two new openings -- the 275-room Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, and the 122-villa Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.

Other new luxe entrants debuting later this year include a second Conrad in New York City, the 518-room Conrad New York Midtown, scheduled to open this August in the former London NYC  hotel. The 257-room Biltmore, Mayfair, also scheduled to open in August, will be the first U.K. flag for LXR Hotels & Resorts. Its sister property, the 65-room Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa, scheduled to open on the Caribbean island of Antigua this November, will be the brand's first in the Americas. Also later this year, Waldorf Astoria will make its debut in Mexico with the opening of the 115-room Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, a rebranding of the Resort at Pedregal.

"As the brand's first property to debut in Mexico, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal showcases the brand's commitment to expanding our luxury portfolio to some of the world's most sought-after destinations," said Dino Michael, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. "We look forward to combining the resort's exclusive environment and guest-focused comforts with the brand's unparalleled commitment to personal service, and together, ensuring our guests have the experience of a lifetime."

In addition to this year's multiple openings, Hilton said it has a robust luxury pipeline that includes more than 30 properties, approximately 25 of which are expected to open by year-end 2025. New entrants include several more Conrad hotels, including one each in Nashville, which is expected to open in 2021, and Orlando in 2022. Also planting more flags is the Waldorf Astoria, which is looking to grow its presence in key urban markets such as London in 2021, followed by San Francisco in 2022 and Miami in 2024.

"Hilton was among the first to predict that luxury travel was poised to take off across generations and markets in the years to come, and we wanted to be at the forefront of its reinvention," said Ian Carter, the chain's president, global development, architecture, design and construction, in a statement. "Development in the luxury space requires time and resources to do it properly. Our thoughtful and targeted approach has enabled us to grow Hilton's luxury presence globally,  in many cases from the ground up, from new properties to spectacular conversions."