Hilton has announced plans to purchase the Graduate Hotels brand, in a move which will add around 35 US and UK properties to its portfolio.

The group said it would pay $210 million “to acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed pipeline Graduate Hotels, and become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth”.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, with AJ Capital remaining the owner of the properties, which will operate under long-term Hilton franchise agreements.

The Graduate Hotels brand launched in 2014, and focuses on “dynamic university-anchored towns”. It currently has properties in US cities including Athens, Bloomington, Cincinnati, Eugene, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York and Seattle, with forthcoming locations including Austin and Dallas.

The brand also added two UK hotels in Cambridge and Oxford in 2021 – in fact the Graduate Cambridge formerly traded as the DoubleTree by Hilton Cambridge, and was Hilton’s first UK property under the brand as I reported way back in 2008.

Commenting on the news Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton, said:

“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 move follows Hilton’s deal with Small Luxury Hotels of the World earlier this year, which will see “hundreds” of properties become available to book through Hilton’s channels.

Hilton to add earning and redemption benefits for “hundreds” of SLH properties

hilton.com, graduatehotels.com