Hilton Acquiring Graduate Hotels, Expanding In College Towns

Hilton Acquiring Graduate Hotels, Expanding In College Towns

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The Hilton Honors portfolio will be growing, with the acquisition of a new hotel brand…

Graduate Hotels joining Hilton Honors portfolio

Hilton has announced plans to pay $210 million to acquire the Graduate Hotels brand from Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024, and properties are expected to be bookable through Hilton channels and belong to Hilton Honors as of some point later in 2024.

Hilton is acquiring all rights to the Graduate Hotels brand worldwide, will enter into a franchise agreement for all existing and signed pipeline Graduate Hotels properties, and will become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth. However, Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners will remain the owner of the actual properties (which makes sense, since Hilton has an asset light strategy).

The Graduate Hotels brand will be part of Hilton’s lifestyle portfolio, alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton, and Motto by Hilton.

Here’s how Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta describes this acquisition:

“Adding Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion in the lifestyle space by pairing an existing much-loved brand with the power of Hilton’s strong commercial engine to drive growth. We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisition, and Graduate will be another driver of growth for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400-500 hotels globally.”

The Graduate Cambridge

What is the Graduate Hotels brand?

For those not familiar with the Graduate Hotels brand, it was founded back in 2014, and the company exclusively operates properties in college towns. Each property is designed to reflect the unique character of its local university, whether visiting for a game day, reunion, graduation, campus visit, or any other reason.

Currently the Graduate Hotels brand has around 35 properties either open or in the pipeline, in both the United States and United Kingdom. Current locations include places like Ann Arbor, Knoxville, Palo Alto, State College, Oxford, Cambridge, and more. Hilton is obviously investing here because the company sees big growth potential, and could imagine the brand opening up to 500 properties.

I’ve never stayed at a Graduate Hotels property, as I haven’t had much of a connection to any college town in the past decade. However, I’ve gotta say that these properties look pretty charming and location specific, so I love the concept.

We see so many lifestyle brands that are just painfully cookie cutter and indistinguishable, so I actually very much appreciate that Graduate Hotels tries to be something different, and is focused on a specific niche. I wish we saw more of that creativity from other hotel groups.

I think Hilton’s distribution power will help supercharge this brand. It’s also great that you’ll be able to earn and redeem points for stays at these properties, though hopefully Hilton maintains the quality that this brand is known for.

The Graduate Ann Arbor

Bottom line

Hilton will be acquiring the Graduate Hotels brand in a $210 million deal. These properties will operate under a franchise agreement, and should join the Hilton Honors portfolio later in 2024. Hilton sees big growth potential in this market, and could see the brand eventually having up to 500 properties.

What do you make of Hilton acquiring Graduate Hotels?

Conversations (11)
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  1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    Seems like a big fail for Hyatt, which really needed to expand its domestic USA footprint.

    1. Fordamist LeDearn Guest

      Then you've never paid $1,200 per for a kinda dumpy room in Baton Rouge for an LSU football game, 3 night minimum!

  2. Kyle Guest

    I’ve really enjoyed my stays at Graduate hotels. They are a little cheeky and have a unique feel. I don’t trust Hilton not to ruin it and just make them an other kind of generic hotel chain.

  3. Zach Guest

    Fun fact….Cooper Manning is a part of this investment group…not sure what he does for them, but I love the Mannings.

  4. Portlanjuanero Member

    I don't know what is meant about maintaining quality. I've stayed at close to a dozen Graduate properties over the years bc of some epic promotions they have done. They can be fun stays but remind me of the Kimptons kicked out of the system a few years ago when IHG did a big quality sweep.

  5. Maxell Azaria Guest

    Went to the one in Nashville. Not a fan.

  6. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    The Tucson location is pretty cool. Literally on campus, one of the tallest + largest "mega block" buildings around. With a rooftop lounge/club that has 360 degree open air patio. Had several event there and it's nice. The rooms are very much like "Moxy or Aloft" for Marriott. Lots of colorful IKEA type stuff and "hipster art" everywhere.

    1. Sel_D Member

      Not “literally” or in any other way on campus. Not 360 degree. You must be a professor at UofA.

      Agree that it’s a cool property though. Views from rooftop pool are amazing.

  7. Never In Doubt Guest

    Have stayed many times in the Charlottesville location and once in Eugene. Both are location “quirky” and totally fine for a brief stay.

  8. BC Guest

    These are impeccably themed hotels that often have fun, cool public areas and often neglected rooms. Graduate’s model was to often purchase a dated existing hotel, theme it up and then not invest too heavily. To be fair, they’ve succeeded because of the imbalance between supply and demand in college towns during big events allowing them to charge hyper-premium rates for not-that-great rooms.

    I’m hoping that Hilton can at lease spruce the properties up a bit.

    1. Steve Diamond

      Exactly. Take a prime location around campuses and theme them up nice for people who will pay a premium for the theme. Be smart and dont let people book certain gameday weekends months in advance at the regular price and charge accordingly. I have stayed at 3 hotels and enjoyed each one, great theme, nice comfortable 4 star like rooms but just dont expect any service or amenities.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

BC Guest

These are impeccably themed hotels that often have fun, cool public areas and often neglected rooms. Graduate’s model was to often purchase a dated existing hotel, theme it up and then not invest too heavily. To be fair, they’ve succeeded because of the imbalance between supply and demand in college towns during big events allowing them to charge hyper-premium rates for not-that-great rooms. I’m hoping that Hilton can at lease spruce the properties up a bit.

2
Steve Diamond

Exactly. Take a prime location around campuses and theme them up nice for people who will pay a premium for the theme. Be smart and dont let people book certain gameday weekends months in advance at the regular price and charge accordingly. I have stayed at 3 hotels and enjoyed each one, great theme, nice comfortable 4 star like rooms but just dont expect any service or amenities.

1
Fordamist LeDearn Guest

Then you've never paid $1,200 per for a kinda dumpy room in Baton Rouge for an LSU football game, 3 night minimum!

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