Hilton, the world`s best known hotel brand, is set to establish its health club division LivingWell as the first global health and fitness brand.
This will be achieved by introducing LivingWell Health Clubs to Hilton hotels worldwide and pursuing international growth opportunities for the division`s standalone clubs, LivingWell Premier, through both acquisition and organic growth.
LivingWell currently has a Hilton based health club in Malta and is due to open its second international hotel club in Dresden, Germany in April 2001.
The next focus for development is Australia where the health club division is investing around AUS $30 million. The doors of LivingWell`s first Australian club at Hilton Melbourne Airport will open this March and a Premier club site has been secured in Brisbane, which is on schedule to open in September 2001. LivingWell has also entered a period of exclusivity to purchase three existing health clubs in Australia.
Anthony Harris, chief executive of Hilton International comments, “The rapid growth of the health and fitness sector offers significant commercial opportunity for the Group and forms part of our strategic growth. Introducing LivingWell to our international portfolio of hotels will enhance Hilton`s standing as the preferred choice of hotel users in the four and five star market and will also help maximise the Group`s profitability through improved and additional revenue streams. Bringing in the local community to use the hotel based health clubs gives us an additional opportunity to market Hilton both locally and regionally.
p>“Hilton is the best known hotel brand in the world, and we feel that LivingWell has the same potential through both product and service. ”
LivingWell is also currently identifying hotel health club opportunities in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and the Americas. Current prospects exist in Bangkok, Prague, Paris and Colombo. Acquisition and development opportunities for LivingWell Premier also exist in developed economies currently under-supplied by the four-star health club market, such as Northern Europe, Germany and Australia.
As in the UK, the International hotel clubs will be funded, manned and managed by the parent Hilton hotel and receive support from central LivingWell functions, such as training, marketing and PR. LivingWell will retain an internal franchise agreement fee for developing the club and offering on-going support. LivingWell will centrally manage all Premier sites.
LivingWell managing director Stuart Broster comments: “The UK market is an estimated three years away from saturation, and is becoming increasingly competitive.
“Our research of the international marketplace has identified that it is very under developed in both structure and product terms. Hilton`s international presence and reputation is a fantastic platform for us to develop the first truly global fitness brand.”
Patrick Fitzgibbon will oversee international growth in his new role as vice president for international business development at LivingWell.