Hilton Bets on Happy Valley


By Sarah Taylor

Image Credits: From Official Website: Hotel Photo Gallery | Graduate State College | Near Campus (graduatehotels.com)

Hilton is acquiring the Graduate Hotels brand in a $210 million deal that bets on the economic prosperity of college towns. Graduate Hotels owns and operates dozens of hotels in some of the country’s biggest college towns, including State College.

College campuses and the surrounding areas like Happy Valley have become lucrative markets for hotel operators in the most recent years, according to C. Patrick Scholes, a Truist investment bank analyst.

State College is a hotspot for the hotel sector. With a growing interest in big alumni events, such as reunions and homecomings, there is an essential attraction to hotels near campus.

In fact, Travel + Leisure CEO Michael Brown told investors in October, a month after the Sports Illustrated deal, that “There’s probably not a more passionate lifestyle in America than college sports.” And, what college is more passionate about football than Penn State?

With people arriving in droves for college sports, like football, basketball and wrestling, concerts, reunions, parents’ weekends, alum gatherings, and networking events, it’s clear why the lodging sector is investing in college towns.

Hilton President and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Nassetta, said that typical university business will drive demand at the hotels. Mr. Nassetta added that by acquiring the Graduate Hotels brand – a brand that has already built connections within college town communities – it will help to establish an early relationship with college students and build loyalty with parents.

Nassetta plans to make Graduate Hotels a “megabrand”. He believes that the college town locations will help supercharge Hilton’s growth.

And, Hilton isn’t the only hotel company with its eyes set on the untapped gold mine of college towns. In 2023, Travel + Leisure – a timeshare operator – struck a deal to help open Sports Illustrated-branded resorts in college towns, starting at Tuscaloosa’s University of Alabama.

So, what does this mean for Happy Valley? Well, one is for sure: Happy Valley continues to be a hot spot for business and economic success.

Here is the link for more: https://www.wsj.com/real-estate/commercial/hilton-hotels-college-towns-expansion-74ca6e60?st=77znfdri0ybl9pj&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

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