By Kerry Medina
Nearly five years since its June 2014 launch, Curio Collection by Hilton is still very much on the upswing. The soft brand--an assemblage of independent, full-service hotels in the upper-upscale segment--closed out 2018 with more than 65 hotels open and over 55 more hotels in the global pipeline.
Last year’s additions to the portfolio included a first property in Portugal, a third New York City hotel and entry into Paris with two locations, a second China hotel as well as the new 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel London. Curio Collection also made its debut in Africa with the opening of the Legend Hotel Lagos Airport in Nigeria–which also represents Hilton’s 500th hotel across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This year is packing just as much punch; the announcement was made in late January that Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will join Curio Collection by Hilton in 2020.
The brand’s global head Mark Nogal describes the growth as steady, noting that it comes down to finding the right owners who want to partner with Hilton. “The hotel business is complicated with so many different channels and mixes of business and independent owners may not have all the resources needed to bring more money to the bottom line,” he explains.
Independent property owners turn to Curio in order “to put the power of the Hilton engine behind their property,” Nogal said. In other words, associating their hotels with the Hilton name lends another level of credibility to the property because travelers are already familiar with Hilton.
In addition to leveraging Hilton’s global recognition thanks to the 55,000 hotels worldwide that fly one of its brand flags, Nogal further points out that independent owners who sign on with Curio also do so in order to benefit from Hilton’s purchasing power, whether via Hilton Supply Management or with OTAs, as well as Hilton’s sales organization as a means of further diversifying their property’s mix of business while also tapping into Hilton Honors’ pool of more than 80 million members.
“There’s definitely a growing propensity among travelers to seek out independent experiences and if they’re going to a city, they want a property that gives them the opportunity to connect with the community where the hotel resides,” said Nogal. “They also want the ability to earn or redeem Hilton Honors points when at a Curio property and that’s a very important aspect for these travelers.”
But the continued expansion of the Curio Collection portfolio has also been a matter of identifying the right properties. While this assembly of independent hotels is categorized as full-service and upper-upscale, they’re also known for strong food and beverage offerings that resonate with guests and attract the local community. Nogal also said that they’re located in major cities where travelers go for business or leisure and are looking for real connections with local culture.
“We’re looking to grow on a global basis, but we’re also very strategic in handpicking properties that have a unique story,” he said. “No two hotels are the same.” As an example, he cites the Statler Hotel in Dallas, which was originally built by Conrad Hilton. With just 159 rooms and meeting space that can accommodate up to 1,650, the recently renovated hotel has a mid-century modern feel that harkens back to its style when the hotel opened in the 1950s. Nogal said that has enabled the hotel to connect extremely well with guests and residents in the Dallas market.
Moreover, many of the hotels under the Curio umbrella are located in unique neighborhoods. Case in point, The Logan Hotel in Philadelphia, which is set in the city’s museum district. From the rooftop bar, guests can spy some of the city’s major cultural institutions while also enjoying the hotel’s own rich art collection, including photos of 300 celebrated Philadelphians celebrated on the entrance chandelier.