• Hilton looks for fresh start

Hilton have unveiled a new logo and name in the past week and, seemingly in a effort to start afresh, it has also announced a replacement for Ross Klein, the former head of its luxury and lifestyle brands who is being sued by Starwood Hotels.

Also drawing a line under the Klein debacle is the departure of Steve Goldman, president of global development and real estate, who was seen as a key supporter of the decision to poach Klein from Starwood.

Goldman was brought to Hilton from REIT Sunstone by new CEO Chris Nassetta in March last year. The departure strengthens the position of Ian Carter, the former chief executive of Hilton International and currently president of global operations. Carter has been made interim head of development.

Prior to Sunstone, Goldman had worked for Hyatt and Starwood Hotels. Goldman moved to Hyatt from Starwood in 2003, the same year that Klein arrived at Starwood.

There has been no news about Starwood Hotels' legal action against Klein, Hilton and Amar Lalvani since the writ was issued back in April. Speculation is rife that a settlement is imminent but there is little evidence either way.

The replacement for Klein is John Vanderslice, a former head of Club Med's Americas division until 2006 and more recently the head of Miraval Spa in Arizona. Vanderslice appears to have a far more corporate CV than Klein who prior to Starwood worked in the fashion industry.

Meanwhile, the new moniker Hilton Worldwide (previously Hilton Hotels Corp) follows the change of HQ from Beverly Hills to McLean, Virginia in August. The new logo is meant to symbolise the world of travel by suggesting the round edges of the globe, the arch of a bridge and posts of a bed.

What the makeover has not done, however, is lift the pain of owner Blackstone who wrote down its $1.45bn investment in Hilton by 49% at the end of 2008.

Despite this trauma, Blackstone is intent on more hospitality acquisitions. It is currently looking to buy theme parks SeaWorld and Busch Gardens from brewer Anheuser Busch in a deal valued at $4.4bn.

Share →