AS Hilton’s flagship brand, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has garnered a rich history and played an important role in the evolution of hotel chains and the hospitality industry at large. Among other accolades, Hilton is recognized as the first coast-to-coast hotel chain in the U.S. (1943), the first hotel company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (1946) and the first hotel company to introduce a multi-hotel reservations system (1948).
The Hilton brand first entered Canada in 1953, with a hotel in Montreal. The brand went on to introduce properties in key Canadian markets, including Toronto, Windsor, Ont. and Edmonton. The Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand now boasts 14 properties in Canada, representing more than 5,400 rooms.
“As one of the most iconic names in hospitality, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has set the industry standard and served as a leader of hotel innovation and guest experiences,” shares Leonard Gooz, global brand head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “Going back over a century, the brand was the first to install televisions in guestrooms, opened the first airport hotel and inspired new food-and- beverage concepts, like the piña colada and the brownie.”
Continuing its legacy as Hilton’s flagship brand, Gooz says the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand is defined by “provid[ing] exceptional travel experiences [and] offering new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs.”
Highlighting some of the more recent innovations, Gooz points to offerings such as Digital Key Share, Confirmed Connecting Rooms and early confirmation of upgraded rooms for Hilton Honors members as key differentiators that continue to set the brand apart. “Hilton has found new ways to evolve and offer guests more convenience, flexibility and choices to make the stay matter and differentiate our hotels from the competition,” he explains.
In fact, these guest-facing differentiators have been placed front and centre in Hilton’s new global brand platform, ‘Hilton. For the Stay’ and the associated ‘It Matters Where You Stay’ ad campaign.
“As others tout the generic virtues of travel, minimize the role of the hotel and the hotel-team members, and romanticize the destination, through our platform and the campaign it inspires, we’re reminding travellers that ‘It Matters Where You Stay› and boldly affirming ‘Hilton. For the Stay,’” Mark Weinstein, chief Marketing officer, Hilton, says of the company’s first brand platform. “As we enter this next era of travel, it has never been more important to consider where you stay —and Hilton is uniquely committed to making sure your stay is everything you need it to be.”
Although the pandemic heralded hardship and slowdown across the industry, Hilton’s expansion never slowed. In fact, the parent company opened 414 properties in 2021 and celebrated the opening of its 7,000th hotel in July. The Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand also recently achieved the milestone of its 600th property with the openings of Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah and Hilton Hiroshima.
“While the pandemic no doubt posed many challenges to the hospitality industry, our approach to development never slowed and we remained committed to expanding our portfolio of brands in key markets around the world, including Canada,” says Gooz. He notes that due to the industry conditions that have taken shape in the last couple of years, “conversions have been particularly relevant.”
“Hilton Vancouver Downtown is a prime example of a conversion property, which opened in 2021 and marked the brand’s first hotel in downtown Vancouver — a prime destination for both business and leisure travellers.” Gooz adds. “We expect to see continued interest and growth in conversion opportunities. Globally, roughly 24 per cent of Hilton’s total openings in Q2 2022 were conversions.”
This period also saw the completion of renovations at Hilton Québec, which re-opened on January 2021 following a year-long, $70-million transformation that re-imagined both interior and exterior elements.
Internationally, recent growth included significant expansion of Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ all-inclusive offerings, with openings in the Caribbean and Latin America, including the May 2022 opening of Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort.
The Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand has also starred in a number of large-scale projects opened during this period. It’s featured in the Resorts World Las Vegas — the largest multi-brand resort in Hilton’s history — alongside the Conrad Hotels & Resorts and LXR Hotels & Resorts brands; and this February saw the debut of the 1,080-room Hilton Singapore Orchard, which boast the title of Hilton’s largest hotel in Asia Pacific.
Looking ahead, Gooz points to upcoming Canadian projects under the flagship brand. “We have a few exciting opportunities in the works,” he shares. “Hilton Niagara Falls and Hilton Lac Leamy have both recently been re-licensed and are expected to start renovations next year. Additionally, Hilton Toronto will undergo a major renovation of its lobby, [guestrooms] and restaurant in January 2023, with plans to introduce a new restaurant concept.”
And, finally, the brand has a new-build addition in the works for Toronto, in North York. Work on this project had been “pushed out,” Gooz notes, but is now set to begin construction “towards the end of next year.”
And, broadly speaking, Gooz adds, “As we continue to develop in the region, we are optimistic about our future trajectory in the Canadian market and look forward to delivering exceptional experiences to our guests.”
By Danielle Schalk