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Hilton plans to make the most of the luxury boom in the India market even as it is cautious about being not too far ahead of the curve.

Marking the debut of Hilton’s luxury brand Waldorf Astoria in India, Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, announced on Wednesday that Jaipur would be the first destination for the brand.

Waldorf Astoria Jaipur will join Hilton’s existing portfolio of 24 operating and 13 pipeline hotels and resorts across India bringing the company’s portfolio of brands in India to six.

Responding to why Hilton had not scaled up operations in India, Alan Watts, Asia Pacific president of Hilton, said, “Hilton has been patient in the India market. And now with the development of infrastructure and the scaling up of airlines and the huge domestic market in the country, we intend to replicate our China success in India.”

While Watts said that Hilton may be late compared to some of our competitors in market, it wasn’t intentional. “We missed the last two cycles, but we won’t miss this one. And like we did in China we have every intention of deploying the right brands in India. Objectively speaking, now is the time for Hilton to be fully focused.”

Hari Mohan Dangayach, chairman of Dangayach Group with Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s global CEO, at the signing ceremony. Source: Hilton

At the end of the first quarter this year, Hilton already has four signings in the country — two Double Tree, a Hilton and the Waldorf — and plans to announce 10 deals by the end of this year.

In 2008-2012, Hilton focused on getting China, the second largest lodging market in the world, right. “Around 15 years ago, we had five hotels in China, now we’re just sort of in the race with Marriott to get to 500 and we’re the fastest growing hotel company in China, one in every three hotels carries a Hilton flag,” said Watts to Skift.

Watts said Hilton had been waiting the right partner and the right time to bring its luxury brand to the India market.

Talking about the selection of Jaipur as the city for the launch of Waldorf Astoria in India, Watts said, “If you’re going to do uber luxury in the India market, you need to do it in Rajasthan, so you can attract high end weddings and conferences because that’s where the true dollar value is.”

Watts also said that while the India hospitality market may feel big, it’s tiny by comparison to what it’s going to be as it is set to be the third largest lodging market in the world.

The Hilton brands that are currently present in India include Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton.

Calling India a key market for Hilton, Nassetta said Waldorf Astoria Jaipur will set a new benchmark for luxury in Jaipur.

The Indian luxury market is expected to reach the $200 billion-mark by 2030, according to a Bain and Company report. The number of millionaires in India are projected to grow by 105 percent by 2026, as per a Credit Suisse report.

“This signing reaffirms our commitment to working with strong local partners and extending our signature hospitality to discerning travelers,” he said.

Commenting on the choice of Jaipur as the location for the debut of the brand, Nassetta said, “Jaipur has a rich culture and history and is home to many architectural jewels.”

Hilton has partnered with Jaipur-headquartered Dangayach Group for the management of the hotel. The group has earlier partnered with Marriott, Radisson and Wyndham groups for properties in the region.

With a portfolio of more than 30 properties across the globe, the Waldorf Astoria brand continues its momentum to strategically expand its presence with a pipeline of 27 properties set to open in the coming years.

Last year Hilton expanded its luxury portfolio in Asia Pacific with more than 10 luxury signings, including the entry of Waldorf Astoria into Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam. 


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Tags: asia monthly, Christopher Nassetta, conrad hotels, hilton, india, waldorf astoria

Photo credit: Hilton will launch the Waldorf Astoria in India. Pictured here is the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. Source: Hilton

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