Prospects for the hotel sector are the best they have been in years, according to David Michels, chief executive of Hilton Group.
Michels described 2004 as a good year for Hilton's hotel business, with worldwide revenue per available room (revpar) up 7% and occupancy up by 4.3 percentage points.
The hotel division's pre-tax profits increased 17% year-on-year to £171.3m, with Hilton's 77 hotels in the UK and Ireland contributing £95.1m.
Although London saw a steady improvement in revpar throughout 2004, the company's provincial estate had a mixed performance. Its large conference hotels performed best.
It is still looking for a buyer for its 11 provincial hotels, which are valued at more than £100m.
Parent company Hilton Group, which includes the betting business Ladbrokes, increased its pre-tax profit by 41% year-on-year to £383.1m from a turnover of £11.9b.
by Chris Druce
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