Executives at Hilton Worldwide are negotiating a deal with developers of CityCenterDC to build a 370-room Conrad hotel downtown, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations have not been finalized and are subject to confidentiality agreements.
Hilton and the development team, led by Hines, declined comment. The first phase of CityCenter is currently under construction and includes offices, condominiums and apartments.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts is Hilton’s contemporary luxury brand, named after its founder, Conrad N. Hilton. The brand has been focused mostly on international markets, with only four open so far in North America, in New York, Chicago, Miami and Indianapolis.
Hilton is quickly expanding the brand and is planning or building other Conrads in Beijing, Dubai and Mecca, as well as in Guanogzhou and Suzhou, China.
Opening a Conrad hotel on New York Avenue as part of the second phase of the $950 million CityCenterDC project, would give Arlington native Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton Worldwide’s president and chief executive, a luxury hotel in downtown Washington after he failed to win a bid with the federal government to develop the Old Post Office into a Waldorf Astoria, Hilton’s top luxury brand. Nassetta’s development partner for the project protested when the federal government chose the Trump Organization for the project.
Nassetta relocated Hilton Worldwide’s headquarters to McLean from Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2009. Hilton’s properties include 3,800 hotels and timeshare properties, with 630,000 rooms in 88 countries under flags including the Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree and Embassy Suites.
Tom Baker, a consultant to hotels and managing director at Savills, said opening a presence in an international city like Washington made sense for the Conrad flag.
“Conrad is very well known outside of the U.S. as a very high quality brand, but was virtually unknown within the U.S.,” Baker said. “And this is I think a fantastic opportunity for Conrad to gain exposure in a major U.S. market.”
Baker said that opening a Conrad as part of CityCenterDC could put Nassetta in close competition with Marriott, which will operate the District’s 1,175-room convention center hotel under its Marriott Marquis flag and likely ask similar room rates to Conrad.
That hotel is under construction and had fallen behind but is now on schedule to open in 2014, according to Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC.
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