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10 Iconic Must-See Properties to Experience in Hilton’s 100th Year

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Born out of Cisco, Texas, in 1919, Hilton approaches its 100th anniversary in May of this year. In nearly 100 years of hospitality, its hotels around the world have pioneered innovation, shaped communities, become part of the fabric of popular culture and developed into iconic destinations.

Anniversaries are an opportune time to reflect, to look ahead, to celebrate and, of course, to travel. Hilton now has more than 5,600 properties around the world in 113 countries and territories, but these 10 iconic properties top the list as must-see destinations to fully take in Hilton’s 100th year. From culinary and design innovations to regional and historical significance, these hotels are reimagining the travel experience and have played a role in defining not only Hilton’s unique history over the past century, but history itself.

Americas

Conrad Washington, DC

Conrad Hotels & Resorts’ highly anticipated Conrad Washington, DC will welcome guests starting in April 2019. Introducing a new era of hospitality for travelers seeking modern luxury in the heart of the nation’s capital, Swiss architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron designed the sleek and contemporary property. The signature restaurant, Estuary, led by “Top Chef” alumni Michael Voltaggio and his brother Bryan Voltaggio, will feature a seasonal menu that highlights the flavors of the nearby Chesapeake Bay area. The property’s unique architecture includes a dedicated rooftop bar featuring panoramic views of the U.S. capitol, which will offer discerning travelers an experience unlike any other in the world’s most influential city.

Caribe Hilton

Named a 2019 Place to Stay by Forbes, rediscover Caribe Hilton, making its debut later this year after a multimillion dollar restoration and reinvention following devastation from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Famous as the birthplace of the piña colada, the iconic resort has been wowing guests since 1949, when it opened as the first international Hilton hotel. Sip the hotel’s creamy refreshment, now Puerto Rico’s official drink, or explore the views of San Juan’s shoreline from the exclusive, lushly landscaped 17-acre peninsula.

Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel

Experience a working piece of history, and a beautiful one at that, with a stay at the historic Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel. Indulge in a chocolate brownie at the very place where they were invented in 1893 (that’s right, thank Bertha Palmer). Take a grand tour with the resident historian and peruse the hotel museum. The fabled Empire Dining Room, converted to “café society” supper club in 1933, welcomed legendary entertainers including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Liberace and more.

Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana

Take in extraordinary views of the city, beach and iconic landmarks from Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana. Opened as a Hilton property in 2017, the beachfront resort marked Hilton’s 100th opening in Latin America. The hotel is located in the famous Copacabana neighborhood, one of Brazil’s most visited destinations. Among the tallest and largest hotels in the area, guests can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city’s three main tourist attractions – Copacabana Beach, the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain, from one of the hotel’s two exclusive pools.

EMEA

Transcorp Hilton Abuja

Discover Nigeria from the flagship of its hospitality industry, the Transcorp Hilton Abuja. Built in a remote location in the ‘80s, the hotel pioneered a bustling community and catalyzed Abuja’s evolution into the thriving capital city it is today. Centrally located in the capital’s commercial district, the award-winning hotel is one of the largest in sub-saharan Africa and serves as a national landmark, having hosted countless heads of state and global events. Whether exploring the busy city, learning about traditional village life at the on-site Abuja handicraft village where artisans display their work or visiting the natural rock formations on the edge of the city, Transcorp Hilton Abuja is a perfect base for travel in Nigeria.

Hilton Frankfurt Airport

Upgrade your airport hotel expectations this year with a stay at the highly awarded Hilton Frankfurt Airport. Awarded “Best Airport Hotel” for Germany, Europe and Internationally – several times over – this Frankfurt hotel combines futuristic design and authentic hospitality and is walking distance to Terminal 1 by sky walk. Designed for comfort and convenience, rooms are decorated in rich, warm colors and offer sound-proof windows, creating a sanctuary for the modern traveler to unwind or catch up on work.

Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus

Situated in the heart of the city, Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus has a storied past spanning six decades. The first international five-star hotel in Turkey, Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus symbolized a new beginning in Istanbul’s social scene and was very important for Conrad Hilton, as a key part in his plans to expand throughout Europe. Take a dip in the pool, designed in the very shape of Conrad Hilton’s footstep, or head to the Lobby Lounge of Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus for high tea, a tradition that became a fixture among the social life of Istanbulites shortly after the hotel’s opening, even inspiring movies of the period.

APAC

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Applauded for its pioneering achievements and sustainable approach to travel, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island was the first resort to offer undersea dining at its restaurant Ithaa, and it is home to THE MURAKA, the first-of-its-kind residence both above and below the surface of the Indian Ocean. Two spas, including one over the sea with glass-floored treatment rooms, offer guests relaxation and rejuvenation. The rare and diverse marine wildlife on show cements Conrad Maldives Rangali Island as one of the premier island destinations worldwide.

Hilton Tokyo

Opened in 1963, this Tokyo staple marked the first hotel of a global brand in Japan and has continued to drive Japanese hospitality forward ever since. Relocated to its current spot in Nishi Shinjuku in the mid-‘80s, Hilton Tokyo has hosted numerous prominent guests from politicians to international rock bands and has introduced a bevy of culinary newness to Japan, including the first sommelier service, the first Chinese all-you-can-eat service in Japan and the first dessert buffet.

Hilton Singapore

An institution in Singapore’s hospitality scene and a foodie’s delight, Hilton Singapore was among the first international hotels to bring its trademark level of service excellence and culinary innovation to the garden city. Hilton Singapore was the first hotel in Asia to achieve Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certifications, assuring seafood dishes with the respective ecolabels have been prepared with sustainably caught and farmed seafood sources. Try the hotel’s Opus Bar & Grill’s prime-cuts that are dry aged in-house, or savor Italian gastronomy with unique Japanese flair at the award-winning il Cielo.

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Travel & Leisure

Shivya Nath: A bold solo traveler who is breaking gender stereotypes

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Image source: the-shooting-star.com

In a majorly patriarchal Indian society, Shivya Nath found it in her to be a bold solo traveller. She leads a nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the world with her backpack. Shivya is the author of a best selling book, “The shooting star”, in which she highlights more about her life and experiences travelling. The book is an inspiration to women who are staying at home, craving a free lifestyle, and want to travel the world solo.

In this interview with Modern Diplomacy, Shivya tells us more about her life experiences journeying the world. She tells us what it takes to travel the world as a solo woman and narrates her experiences both bitter and sweet.

You have travelled so much and seen the world so intricately that you might as well be a nomad. The most obvious question – what convinced you to travel the world?

I grew up in a protective Indian family in Dehradun, a valley at the base of the Himalayas, and spent my childhood wondering what lay beyond the mountains I could see from my rooftop. Upon finishing high school, I went to Singapore to study, with big dreams and a big student loan. As luck would have it, I graduated in the middle of the financial recession of 2009, when most companies I wanted to work with had ceased hiring. I landed a job with the Singapore Tourism Board, where my experiments with social media began, and I first began following the journey of travel writers / bloggers around the world. It was impossible to tame my restless cubicle-bound soul, so in 2011, I took a 2 month unpaid sabbatical from work. I went flash-packing across Western Europe with a friend, and volunteer-travelled by myself in the high Himalayas of India. In those two months, I saw, experienced and lived more than I ever had before. Within a week of my return to work, I decided to quit my first and only corporate job with a dream of travelling the world on my own terms.

Your new project, Voices of Rural India is picking up steam and picking accolades for telling the most unlikeliest of stories. How do you envision it forward?

Voices of Rural India is an effort to turn this unprecedented pandemic into an opportunity to create alternate livelihoods by upgrading digital skills in rural India, while also preserving grassroots knowledge that is slowly disappearing. Voices of Rural India is a not-for-profit digital initiative that hopes to revolutionize storytelling, by hosting curated stories by rural storytellers – in written, photo or video format. Unlike most existing online platforms, the stories of rural India are told directly by local storytellers. In the short-term, Voices of Rural India is creating a revenue stream for affected communities through digital journalism. In the long run, it aims to develop digital storytelling skills at the grassroots level, along with becoming a repository of local culture and knowledge, documented in local voices. We are currently working with rural communities in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat, through on-ground community-based tourism organisations like Global Himalayan Expedition, Himalayan Ecotourism, Himalayan Ark, Spiti Ecosphere and Grassroutes Journeys. The initiative is supported by the Digital Empowerment Foundation. We’re eagerly looking forward to a post-Covid world, where we can physically travel to visit the communities we’re virtually working with, conduct digital storytelling workshops, identify local talent and hopefully bridge some of the gaping urban-rural digital divide.

Your favourite place so far? You can give multiple answers of course.

There’s so much to love about so many places! I love my home country India, because despite its challenges, nowhere comes close to the diversity of natural beauty, food and culture it offers. It’s perhaps one of the few places in the world where strangers are the quickest to become friends. Other than that, I feel a deep connection to Guatemala, Bhutan, Georgia and Iran.

Your passion for environmental protection and climate change issues is also noteworthy. What do you think should be the biggest change that can make mankind save itself?

Unlearning.

The more I slow travel around the world, the more I unlearn conventional ways of doing things. And that’s exactly what we need on a massive scale – politically, economically and individually.

We need to unlearn our reliance on fossil fuels, the issues based on which we elect our leaders, the way we treat some animals as friends and others as food (speciesism), the way we measure development and so on.

A deep unlearning will (hopefully) allow us to re-establish a world driven by mindfulness and compassion, rather than money.

Your book ‘A Shooting Star’ is a bestseller. Along with the travelogue, it is also about a spiritual journey one undertakes. Do you thus agree with the phrase that humans can better understand oneself and another with more communication and a better experience of diversity?

The Shooting Star charts my battles and adventures from the cubicle to the road, and from small-town India to remote corners of the globe. I write candidly about my struggles of transitioning from an average Indian girl to a free soul, who wanted to live on her own terms, explore the world meaningfully and smash stereotypes along the way. I write about my relationships, battles, triumphs and life-changing encounters, and how I tried to conquer my deepest fears.

There’s no doubt that travelling is as much an inner journey as a physical one.

Tell us about a time when you were travelling alone and felt challenged?

After traveling safely and adventurously through some of Central America’s more notorious countries (like Honduras, labelled ‘the most violent place on earth’),  I had pretty much let my guard down in Costa Rica. On a hurriedly hailed cab ride to the airport to impulsively catch a flight to the Pacific Coast, the cabbie and I chatted like long lost friends. Closer to the airport, he told me we’d get stuck in traffic so it’s better to drop off a street before and walk; I agreed without thinking twice. When we arrived, I paid him and got off the cab, only to see him grabbing my small bag – the one with my passport, laptop and everything precious – asking for more money or he’d take off with it. I had the equivalent of 50$ in my pocket and gave it to him, shivering at the idea of being left alone without my valuables. In retrospect, there were a lot of hints I didn’t catch; he asked me if I had family in the country, or if I had a local SIM card – pointed questions that should have made me wary. I felt shaken up for days, refused to trust anyone else I met along the way, and found solace in places crowded with other tourists, much unlike my usual travel style. It really wasn’t about the money I lost, but the trust I lost, and it took me months to rebuild it.

What has been your biggest achievement till date? The most satisfying moment in your career?

There have been many satisfying moments on this journey: Publishing my first book and seeing it become a national bestseller in just over a month of release; recognition, awards and international features for my work to promote responsible, immersive travel; launching a clothing collection inspired by The Shooting Star that raises funds to grow forests in my home state Uttarakhand; and most recently, co-founding Voices of Rural India to challenge the way digital storytelling is typically done in India. But I think I feel the deepest satisfaction when a reader reaches out to me to share how my work has played a role in inspiring them to make different life or travel choices.

Travelling, that too alone is still considered a taboo for women in large parts of India. What do you think will change that?

As more of us choose to travel solo and share our stories online or offline, change is bound to happen. While female solo travellers are still considered an anomaly in some parts of India and the world, there’s a lot more chatter, acceptance and encouragement online now.

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Travel & Leisure

Turkish sojourns

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Neatly tucked away on the sparkling Turkish Riviera, the utterly luxurious Dalyan Resort is a dreamy coastal cocoon that one never wishes to leave. Once a sleepy fishing village, the seaside town of Dalyanon Turkey’s glittering coastline has, in recent years, become something of a playground for the jet-setters seeking respite from city life and her pernicious tendencies. The unique medley of beautiful red bricked cottages and ancient ruins run into an alluring elegance.

With its status as a burgeoning tourist hotspot there has been a slew of luxury hotels and resorts, all jostling for the patronage of beautifully bronzed, well-heeled holidaymakers. Establishing itself as one of the area’s most comforting boltholes, Dalyan Hotels run by the utterly charming, Yucel Okutur and his wife, Fulia. The seaside property promises a blend of style, serenity and comfort. Oh and how well it delivers. The magnificence is made clear from the very second one steps into the resort’s cosy lobby. A sweeping look from the sleek marble-panelled arrival deck across the sea and towards the property’s pristine private deck begs no question as to why this corner of the world is a secret so well kept. One cannot help but saunter around corners past slivers of glittering sea interspersed with bursts of pink oleander. A private sun-drenched armchair from which can embrace the nature enjoy the nourishment whilst flipping through the fables of Marco Polo, an apt companion an inspiration for and of travels.

The clever integration of spaces indoor and outdoor extends throughout the property inspiring a sense of oneness with nature. The classic yet contemporary interiors are best illustrated in the spa. Gazing at the marbled paintings, one reminds one of the four seasons, much like Vivaldi. The use of light, domes, marble tiling, high ceilings and open plan spaces generates a refreshing airiness and palatial spaciousness- a very special Turkish delight. Locally crafted fabrics, furniture and art are tastefully displayed alongside modern décor. No stuffiness or over-the-top excessiveness provides a veritable feeling of ease and comfort abounds, giving the sense that these are spaces designed to be lived in and moved through.

Moreover, travel brings out the best in men like myself who get dressed every evening feeling a bit like Napoleon: ready to conquer the world. There is a spring in our step and a smile on our faces. When we reach to our pre-booked table near the Riviera, we tend to soak in the ambience. There is a romance to every evening. We tend to find ourselves in the laps of fine company and an eclectic state of mind. Just like most things, travel for men like myself is not a liberator, rather, is the elixir of our being. After feasting well into the night with Kebabs and what not, one may feel inclined to forgo breakfast, but the extensive buffet is too enticing to refuse. One sets up for the day with freshly-baked bread and Turkish pastries, organic juices, a huge array of cooked dishes and plenty of fresh fruits and cereals. There is an overwhelming sense of calm in the entire hotel, which is more like home. Unbridled bliss is the name of the game it becomes impossible not to leave feeling utterly rejuvenated. The bespoke service of its staff, who are friendly and attentive without being bother some.I am inclined to believe, this’ true luxury.

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Travel & Leisure

Gift Giving Traditions Around the World

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Giving gifts is a tradition as old as mankind itself. It has always been a part of our society. When you give a gift to someone, it tells them that they are special in some way to you. We give and receive gifts for many occasions, like birthdays, mothers days, Christmases, on our anniversary, etc. In fact, gift-giving is so integral to our world that many nations developed interesting traditions around it. Here are some of the most interesting ones.

Japan

When giving a gift in Japan you should be very careful. The Japanese people attach great importance to gifts and consider them something that is mandatory, not just a kind gesture. It is not desirable to surprise them, as they will be embarrassed if they cannot immediately return something to the gift giver. Therefore, it is a good idea to discreetly advise them that you will give them a small memento of your meeting. The gift is given exclusively in private, and it is not common to open it immediately.

South Korea

In Korea, it is extremely rude to give or receive a gift using only one hand, especially if it is the left hand. You must always use both hands at once if doing so. Korean New Years greeting cards or gifts are never with a predominantly red color, as it is used for announcing funerals. Also, avoid gifts that come in sets of four as they symbolize death in Korea.

India

When giving a gift in India, you should always use your right hand. Using the left hand can cause offense as that hand is considered unclean. If giving money in India, try to give a sum that ends with 1. Odd numbers are considered very lucky in India. The number 1 is especially lucky as it signifies a new beginning. Because of this, giving a sum that ends with 1 is believed to grant prosperity to the gift recipient.

Arabs

Gifts are not as important to the Arabs as to other people. They represent something that “gives hospitality a wider dimension”. When someone comes to dinner, small gifts such as flowers and candy are common, and as a sign of special affection, silver, crystals, porcelain, and famous brand items are very appreciated. Handkerchiefs of any kind associate them with parting and tears and should be avoided.

Europe

As far as Europeans are concerned, every nation is a story for itself. The French are quite reserved with gift-giving, the Germans are especially rigid and formal, and the Dutch are a little bit more relaxed. For Italians or Spaniards, the exchange of appropriate gifts is quite acceptable. Russians and people from Eastern European countries appreciate something from your own culture, for example, a CD with your national music or some other kind of token from your country.  Also, in Russia, you should never give someone yellow tulips as they are the symbol of ending a relationship or betrayal.

Ireland

Don’t be surprised if your gift is refused a couple of times in Ireland. This tradition comes from a time when they had the potato famine, and because of this, the recipients are making sure that you can really part from the item that you are offering. It will also show great humility if you refuse the gift they are offering you a couple of times. The standard reply in Ireland when someone receives a gift is “you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble.”

Kenya

In Kenya, the Maasai people spit on a gift before giving it to someone. This is considered a sign of blessing and with this, they wish the recipient great fortune. Spiting is a very important tradition in Kenya. It is customary to spit on the head of a newborn child and on a hand before shaking it with someone.

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