All Eyes on Vegas: Why the Destination Will Be Home to Hilton’s Largest Multi-Brand Deal in History
Hilton has a storied history in Las Vegas and was incredibly impactful in how the destination developed in those early years. In 1970, Hilton was the first New York Stock Exchange-listed company to enter the domestic gaming business. Its purchase of the International Leisure Company, owner of the International Hotel and the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, helped to legitimize Las Vegas as a prime destination for leisure and business travel. The Las Vegas Hilton quickly became known for featuring superstar performers, including Elvis Presley, who did over 600 shows there. Fast forward to 2021, and it’s hard to remember a time when Las Vegas was not the center of entertainment, performance and all things fun and exciting—a time when it wasn’t one of the most visited cities, drawing tourism and guests from the world over.
But a year ago, it was not the Vegas—or the travel industry—we knew. However, the excitement for a massive project, the first new build in years—Resorts World Las Vegas—didn’t wane. Perhaps because of the resilience of the industry and the buzz and strength that Las Vegas has always been known for, we knew it had to carry forward.
Resorts World marks Hilton’s largest multi-brand deal in company history, as it brings three luxury brands to one destination, accompanied by several other Hilton brands. Hilton and Hilton Luxury Brands, in particular, have been exceptionally positioned to anchor the Resorts World complex, with other prominent openings in recent years and extensive experience in the destination. The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas Hotel & Residences brought a new spirit to The Strip when it opened with newly styled rooms and redesigned public spaces in 2019 (transforming the former Mandarin Oriental). Earlier this year, Hilton announced the opening of the re-conceptualized Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton, with over 1,500 chambers and suites, spa, food and beverage outlets featuring celebrity chefs Todd English and Nobu Matsuhisa, vibrant live entertainment venues, a state-of-the-art casino and more. Rounding out the depth of the Hilton portfolio, and particularly luxury and lifestyle portfolio, in Las Vegas is Resorts World Las Vegas, which opened on June 24 and features three premium Hilton brands—Hilton Hotels & Resorts (Hilton Las Vegas), Conrad Hotels & Resorts (Conrad Las Vegas at Resorts World), and LXR Hotels & Resorts (Crockfords)—integrated into the campus.
Why was Vegas chosen to be the spot for Hilton’s largest multi-brand hotel deal in history? The cards fell in the right place. The opportunity to return to the root of the business and reintroduce Hilton to Las Vegas in a showstopping way is reminiscent of the launch there over 50 years ago. Being the hotel brand of choice for the biggest opening in Las Vegas in years is a monumental ask and having the chance to redefine what luxury in Las Vegas means was not to be passed up. The opening of Crockfords and Conrad will be key in attracting a luxury consumer to The Strip and will showcase the accessibility and approachability that Hilton prides its luxury brands on having.
Las Vegas is a highly competitive market; the business of opening there requires thoughtfulness and distinction. We’re seeing the travel boom that experts predicted, as bookings increase exponentially from this time last year, and Las Vegas is seeing a surge in bookings and room rates, more than other cities nationwide. Hilton Luxury Brands maintains differentiation with every new opening in the market in recent years. Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, for example, is one of few properties without gaming, offering a much-needed luxury retreat for discerning travelers who may want a break from the “scene.” With Resorts World, Hilton is bringing the unexpected to Las Vegas, with hidden charms and experiences in each hotel. Crockfords will feature an in-house poet and exclusive in-room poetry for guests, while Conrad’s art collection is locally sourced and curated.
After such an epic opening and such a historical moment in Vegas, what will be next for Hilton Luxury Brands? There are nearly 80 hotels globally across Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and LXR brands, with another 30 signed and in development for opening in the next five or less years. Waldorf Astoria’s international footprint will bring resorts to Kuwait, London, Seychelles and Sydney, and the openings in the residential portfolio in New York and Miami will mean new ways of experiencing the brand. Conrad, prominently featured in Asia, will have its North America trajectory soar with properties in Orlando, Fla., Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn., joining the Las Vegas flagship in coming years. And LXR, the collection of independent boutique hotels, has two additional openings this year alongside Crockfords, with ROKU Kyoto and Mango House Seychelles opening in the second half of 2021. There’s a dedicated effort in expanding these brands to destinations that are increasingly appealing to global travelers, that offer much in the way of cultural immersion and opportunity for a local connection.
Moving forward, the guest experience at any of our premium brands across the board, in any location, will aspire to be second to none. Whether a traveler is getting that true Waldorf service, is admiring a world of style at Conrad or is getting an authentic and remarkable experience with an LXR stay in Las Vegas, New York, Shanghai or beyond, the hope is that what they experience is interesting and memorable for years to come.
Dino Michael, global category head of Hilton Luxury Brands, oversees the strategic growth and positioning for Hilton’s flagship iconic luxury portfolio including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and LXR Hotels & Resorts. With over 20 years of experience in hospitality, he spearheads brand innovation, strategic development and leadership initiatives, building on the continued growth and momentum of the luxury brand.