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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | December 19, 2017

This past year, continued consolidation, joint ventures, beefed-up loyalty programs and a competitive global hotel-development pipeline dominated the hotel industry. As we turn the calendar page, 2018 is shaping up to be another momentous one for hotels, which are set to roll out a number of initiatives that were announced over the last 12 months. Here are five developments to keep your eyes on in the new year.

• Marriott International, which earlier this year invested in Cambridge, Mass.-based PlacePass, a tour- and activity-booking startup that gave more than 100 million loyalty members across the SPG and Marriott Rewards network access to more than 100,000 unique experiences in 800 destinations worldwide, is looking to roll the service out to its group clients by early 2018. "We think there is tremendous possibility in meeting planners being able to take advantage of this technology to give them options and ideas for their attendees," said Marriott International's Steve Heitzner, chief sales and marketing officer, Americas.

• Dubai-based Jumeirah Group, known for its Middle Eastern portfolio of ultra-luxury hotels, is getting ready to launch a new lifestyle brand geared toward the tech-savvy Millennial mindset. The first property will open in spring 2018, one of five new projects Jumeirah has signed off on for the still unnamed new brand. Stay tuned for further details.

• Hilton Worldwide continues its technology-heavy capital-investment strategy. In the coming months the company plans to roll out its Connected Room, a high-tech guest room that enables guests to personalize and control every aspect of their stay, from thermostat settings and lighting to downloading from streaming media like Netflix, all by using their Hilton Honors app. Hilton, which has been beta testing the new system for the past several months, plans to begin rapid rollout to its hotels across the U.S. in 2018.

"Innovation has been in Hilton's DNA since entrepreneur Conrad Hilton purchased the first Hilton property and pioneered the hospitality industry nearly 100 years ago," said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide. "Many innovations later, we are once again setting a new standard for the industry by giving our guests a travel experience where the room knows them, and they know their room."

• The Edition brand, created through a groundbreaking partnership between boutique-hotel innovator Ian Schrager and Marriott International, will grow exponentially from four to 11 boutique properties by the end of 2018. Hotels are scheduled to open in Bangkok and Shanghai, which will beef up the luxury lifestyle brand's Asian portfolio to three, and the chain will plant its first flag in the Middle East with the opening of the 198-room Abu Dhabi Edition, which will feature two signature restaurants, a gourmet market, and 9,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition, two U.S. properties, one each in New York's Times Square and West Hollywood, as well as one in Barcelona and Bodrum, Turkey, will round out the the brand's 2018 growth.

• Boutique brand Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will showcase several new culinary trends across its portfolio as per its 2018 Culinary & Cocktail Trend Forecast (see below). Nordic flavors, the fusion of Cantonese and Peruvian foods, plant-based proteins and classic throwbacks like French onion soup will be in full swing, according to the report. In a nod to the Instagram culture, Kimpton says, "socially shareable moments" will be on every chef's mind when it comes to plating, and that includes the chain's bars, where vibrant colors and inventive garnishes will rule the cocktail culture in 2018.

"Kimpton offers elevated food and beverage options for meetings and events that challenge preconceived notions of what catering can and should be," Alex Taylor, senior vice president of restaurants and bars, told the Hotel Insider about the brand's trendspotting. "Our culinary and bar teams are immersed in our markets and have a strong pulse on the changing landscape of dining and drinking trends. They're constantly coming up with new concepts that push the envelope and draw fanfare from locals and visitors alike. We're excited to be able to share these trends with our groups in 2018."