Hilton snatches Small Luxury Hotels of the World alliance away from Hyatt

Hyatt suffered another setback in the partnership arena this week, as Hilton emerged as the new exclusive partner with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH). SLH is a platform consisting of 560 independent luxury hotels worldwide. This partnership is a significant boost to Hilton’s luxury network, which currently relies on brands such as Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, and LXR Hotels & Resorts. LXR is a soft brand of independent-style hotels that utilize the Hilton booking and loyalty systems.

SLH has been a partner of Hyatt since 2018 and played a crucial role in expanding Hyatt’s presence in Europe. However, the recent partnership with Hilton is a blow to Hyatt, especially considering the previous departure of MGM Hotels & Resorts, which opted for a partnership with Marriott.

Shaun Leleu, the chairman of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, expressed excitement about the new partnership with Hilton. He stated that Hilton customers, including Hilton Honors members, will gain access to SLH’s exceptional boutique hotels. Similarly, SLH properties will benefit from increased exposure to a loyal and discerning audience. Leleu believes that this partnership will revolutionize independently owned hotels on a global scale.

Hyatt did not provide a comment regarding this matter, but it’s worth noting that Hyatt’s World of Hyatt members still have options when it comes to luxury hotel bookings. The company acquired the Mr & Mrs Smith booking platform, which offers a selection of luxury hotels.

The SLH-Hilton partnership is set to fully roll out in the coming months. As a result, all Hilton Honors members will be able to book stays at participating SLH properties and earn and redeem Hilton Honors points. Participating SLH properties will be visible on Hilton’s booking channels, allowing non-Hilton Honors members to book directly at SLH-partnered hotels.

Although the press release mentions “participating” properties, it implies that not all SLH properties will be part of the Hilton partnership, similar to the arrangement with Hyatt.

Chris Silcock, Hilton’s President of Global Brands and Commercial Services, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, stating that it will provide Hilton customers and Hilton Honors members with access to a community of high-end boutique hotels in exciting new luxury travel destinations. Silcock believes that this partnership will offer customers more opportunities to dream, book, and earn and redeem points with Hilton.

Hilton’s luxury push is gaining momentum with the SLH partnership announcement. The company recently reported a $1.15 billion profit for 2023, including $150 million in the last quarter of the year. Hilton is now focused on expanding further into the luxury and lifestyle space.

Reports have surfaced suggesting that Hilton is considering the acquisition of Graduate Hotels, a smaller chain of lifestyle hotels located in college towns or cities with a significant higher education presence. Additionally, Hilton is reportedly exploring the acquisition of NoMad Hotels, a two-property brand that could help the company establish a foothold in the luxury lifestyle hotel sector.

Given that SLH comprises a mix of traditional luxury hotels, it is likely that Hilton is considering additional brand plays to better compete in the luxury lifestyle sector, which is currently dominated by Marriott’s Edition and Hyatt’s Alila.

In conclusion, Hilton’s exclusive partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World deals a blow to Hyatt’s previous partnership and expands Hilton’s luxury network. This move aligns with Hilton’s ongoing efforts to enter the luxury and lifestyle space. With the SLH partnership and potential acquisitions on the horizon, Hilton aims to compete more effectively in the high-end hotel market.

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