One Brand's Loss Is Another Hotel Company's Big Gain

In a clear bid to become the leading brand in both luxury and "lifestyle" (or boutique) brands, Hilton Hotels Corp. has swiped a pair of Starwood executives who built the W brand, a chain that pioneered the concept of delivering boutique-like amenities and design within larger hotels. Additionally, Hilton promoted one of its top executives who oversaw franchising to become an overseer of both franchises and new development—suggesting ambitious growth plans for the company.

Hilton last month appointed Ross Klein as global head of luxury and lifestyle brands and Amar Lalvani as global head of luxury and lifestyle brand development. Formerly at Starwood, Klein was president of the luxury brand group; Lalvani was senior vice president of development for luxury brands and global head of development for W. Klein also led the creation of aloft, a successful division of W hotels, while Lalvani expanded the W Hotels brand into several new markets globally.

At Hilton, Klein will oversee the company's global luxury and lifestyle brand portfolio, including the Waldorf=Astoria Collection and Conrad, and spearhead the company's entry into the lifestyle segment. Lalvani will lead the global development of Hilton's luxury and lifestyle segments.

In addition, the company bumped William Fortier, senior vice president of franchise development in the Americas, up to senior vice president of development in the Americas. He is now responsible for developing both managed and franchised properties in the region.

A Hilton spokeswoman declined a request to interview Klein.

But in a written statement, Steven Goldman, president of global development and real estate at Hilton said: "Expanding Hilton's global platform is a major strategic imperative and [these appointments] represents a significant step toward achieving that goal."

Originally published July 7, 2008