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Top-Ranked Conrad N. Hilton College Celebrates 40th Anniversary with $12.5 Million Renovation to Training Hotel
$2.5 Million Renovation to Library/Archives
October 28, 2009
HOUSTON, Texas - On the 40th anniversary of Conrad N. Hilton's initial $1.5 million gift to create the first hotel school in Texas, the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management has commenced construction on a $12.5 million renovation project to transform its teaching hotel. This will be the first major renovation to the 86-room Hilton University of Houston Hotel and Conference Center since it opened in 1975.
With an anticipated April 2010 completion date, the hotel transformation will provide all-new accommodations for business and leisure travelers to Houston and create a first-rate conference center that will serve both the University and the Houston-area communities. It will also provide hospitality students studying at the top-ranked Hilton College with a new training laboratory, a new Student Leadership Program and enhanced experiential learning second to none.
Funding for this eagerly awaited project comes from contributions from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the University of Houston and hotel capital reserves.
From the driveway, porte-cochère and courtyard to the lobby, guestrooms, public spaces, meeting rooms and ballrooms, every detail of the 34-year-old hotel is being redesigned and remade. The extent of the renovations will establish the Hilton University of Houston Hotel as a new distinctive hotel and, as such, will be marketed as a new Hilton property.
What now looks like a typical classroom building will soon be transformed into a boutique hotel experience, an upscale and unique hotel that happens to be part of a university setting. A dramatic onyx entry wall will greet guests upon arrival and the reconfigured lobby will provide an intimate gathering space for visitors.
The design is a contemporary take on the fusing of Houston with the international communities that define the city. Houston-based and nationally recognized Portfolio Associates was selected, in part, because of their long association with Hilton Hotels, having completed over 40 Hilton-branded hotels. The design team has created an experience that not only expresses the vitality, graciousness and hospitality of the Hilton brand, but also demonstrates the passion of the College and Hilton Hotels to create an outstanding learning environment for students.
The hotel's guestrooms are being revitalized, first by expanding each room's square footage and reorienting the unique bathroom configuration. The design plays off Houston's international standing and hints at elements from world culture while remaining based in the iconic language of Texas. In a stylized urban treatment, caramel-toned natural wood, colors of orange and vibrant green along with classic hide accents reflect the warmth of this world-class city while creating the comfort known throughout all Hilton Hotels. Through the etched glass sliding door, the all-shower bathrooms feature a lighted circular mirror on a full-mirrored wall, fronted by a chrome and granite vanity. Luxurious, comfortable and edgy.
Hilton Hotels Corp. executives who have reviewed the plans and visited the model guest room agree that this new hotel will be a showcase for Hilton Hotels. Ideally situated three miles from downtown Houston and 10 minutes from William P. Hobby Airport, the hotel's location at the main entrance to the University of Houston campus is sure to be the crown jewel in the University's 20-year master plan. These dramatic improvements to the property will also make the hotel's image consistent with that of a Tier One research university.
"This renovation to our teaching hotel will elevate the Hilton College within academic circles and throughout the hospitality industry," said says John Bowen, dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College. "More importantly, it will result in better-trained graduates for all sectors of the hospitality business and keep with Conrad N. Hilton's wish to create American hotel managers and top executives who can compete globally."
$2.5 Million Library and Archives Renovation
In the South Wing of the Hilton College, another transformation is underway. Nick and Vicki Massad of Houston-based American Liberty Hospitality have given $1.5 million to significantly enhance the College's Library and Hospitality Industry Archives, which was originally built in 1989 through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. A $350,000 match from the University and $650,000 in matching grants from the Hilton Foundation will fund the $800,000 renovation and create new endowments to support scholarship and faculty excellence.
Extensive remodeling of the Library will provide students and faculty alike with a more contemporary and inviting environment in which to study and conduct research. The new space, designed by Fernando Bravé of Houston-based Bravé Architecture, will have group project and private study rooms and also provide direct visibility and access to the College's world-class collection of industry-related archival documents and memorabilia. This collection includes the personal and corporate papers from the hospitality industry's most influential leaders and their companies, the largest of which is a collection of papers, photos and other items from Conrad N. Hilton dating from 1887s through the 1970s. A major investment in new technology will expand research capabilities and make the resources of the Hospitality Industry Archives available on the world-wide web.
Dr. Mark E. Young, who received his PhD in History from The University of Texas at Austin and joined the faculty in May 2008 as the College's archivist and historian, will lead the Hospitality Industry Archives to the next level of excellence and work to expand this impressive collection.
Upon anticipated completion in November 2009, the 4,000-square-foot facility will be named the Massad Family Library Research Center and Hospitality Industry Archives. All five members of the Massad family are alumni of the Hilton College. This is the largest gift ever presented to the College from a source other than the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Because the College "has changed my life," Nick Massad, whose love of history sparked his interest in supporting the Library and Hospitality Industry Archives, wanted to match the $1.5 million donation from Conrad N. Hilton that opened the school in 1969.
"No other facility in the world will house such quality archival resources dedicated exclusively to the hospitality industry," said Bowen. "It will be a gold mine of information for students and scholars of the industry, as well as an important student and faculty recruiting tool. This is truly a fabulous enhancement to the College, and it will parallel the upgrade to the Hilton University of Houston Hotel."
Upon completion of the construction, open houses for both the hotel and the Library and Hospitality Industry Archives will be held as part of the College's 40th anniversary year-long celebration.
"Since Conrad Hilton wrote the College's $1.5 million founding check on October 28, 1969, his Foundation and the affiliated Conrad N. Hilton Fund have contributed over $60 million to the College that bears his name," added Bowen. "This unwavering support has allowed us to reach the level of international preeminence we enjoy today."
About the Conrad N. Hilton College
The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, which offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hotel and restaurant management and hospitality management, has become a world leader in hospitality education and is consistently ranked one of the top-ranked hospitality programs in the world. Currently, students from 33 countries study here. For more information on the Conrad N. Hilton College visit www.hrm.uh.edu.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 37,000 students. For more information about UH visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom
About Hilton Hotels & Resorts
For nearly a century, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has been proudly welcoming the world's travelers. With more than 570 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts provides the foundation for memorable travel experiences and values every guest who walks through its doors. As the flagship brand of Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts continues to set the standard for hospitality, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests' evolving needs. Hilton Hotels & Resorts is a part of the award-winning Hilton Honors program. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, free standard Wi-Fi and digital amenities like digital check-in with room selection and Digital Key (select locations), available exclusively through the industry-leading Hilton Honors app. Begin your journey at www.hilton.com and learn more about the brand by visiting news.hilton.com or following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.