By Walter Nicholls Posted January 26, 2009, 4:38 PM EST
WASHINGTON Hilton Hotels announced late last week that it is moving its corporate headquarters to the D.C. region, bringing with it hundreds of jobs and making Washington, some industry executives say, the center of the world’s hospitality business. The Washington Post reported that the announcement surprised industry executives, coming less than two years after the Blackstone Group bought the Beverly Hills, California-based hotel chain for $26 million and later named Christopher Nassetta chief executive. Hilton has 3,276 hotels and 547,189 rooms in 77 countries.
Following the move, three of the six top hotel companies in the world by number of rooms will be based in the region. The decision directly affects major competitor Marriott International, based in Bethesda, with about 3,000 employees. As of September, Marriott had 3,105 hotels and 550,453 rooms in 67 countries. The Washington area is also home to Choice Hotels International, with its Comfort Inn and Econo Lodges, and Host Hotels & Resorts, which owns dozens of Marriott and Starwood properties.
In the Post interview, Nassetta said that the D.C. region’s wealth of hospitality insiders was the reason for the move. “There’s a significant population of lodging and real estate people in that market,” said Nassetta. “That market is a very sensible place for us to operate. We are obviously trying to attract and retain talent.”