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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 16, 2012

Hotel MetropoleLast week, at Historic Hotels of America's annual trade show, held this year at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, it was reported that a number of new additions have grown this eclectic portfolio of landmark properties to close to 250 members across the country, up from a mere handful in less than a dozen years. Even more exciting, though, was news of a new entity, Historic Hotels Worldwide, which currently is in the midst of a soft launch. The Hotel Insider got a chance to learn about some of the spectacular hotels in HHW's portfolio and its strategic growth plans.

HHW was launched by the New York City-based Preferred Hotel Group, which has worked since early 2007 in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to grow and enhance Historic Hotels of America. "We have started with 50 hotels in gateway cities, with another 250 hotels in the pipeline," says Jack Geddes, executive director, corporate development, for HHW and a former long-time Carlson executive. "Our plan is to have 700 hotels in three to four years."

Thai-Chi Restaurant in the Sarova Stanley hotelThe first entrants in this unique and truly historic global collection include Kenya's first luxury hotel, the 217-room Sarova Stanley in Nairobi. Built in 1902 during Queen Victoria's reign, the property features several restaurants and meeting space for 350. HHW's first member in Asia is the 249-room Hotel Grand in Yokohama, Japan, which has played host to a number of high-profile Western visitors over the years, including Babe Ruth and Charlie Chaplin. Meanwhile, in downtown Brussels, Belgium, the 263-room Hotel Metropole, which in 2007 opened its Metropole Executive Centre, has joined the nascent group. This vintage 1894 property is outfitted with 21st-century Wi-Fi and Internet capabilities and is capable of hosting groups of up to 500.

"Our top priority right now is working with each property to get them in line with our marketing efforts," says Geddes. "What's essential is that they understand the importance of having a great, navigable website with current information and images. A meeting planner looking through our collection should be able to go to the hotel's site, garner all the  information they need on rooms and space, and submit an RFP online. That's the goal." While Historic Hotels Worldwide is a separate entity from Historic Hotels of America, meeting planners can expect to see some crossover, Geddes notes: "So far, about 40 of HHA's properties have agreed to be listed with us, and hopefully, more will join."

For more information on Historic Hotels Worldwide, visit www.historichotelsworldwide.com.