Carlson Hotels on Track for Ambitious Growth Plans

The company, which previously announced a five-year growth plan including a $1.5 billion investment in its Radisson brand, has reached significant milestones during the first year of its strategy.

Carlson announced ambitious growth plans in March 2010, and roughly a year later, the company appears to be on track to meet its goals.

The five-year plan, called “Ambition 2015,” calls for the company to expand its portfolio by 50 percent by 2015 and invest up to $1.5 billion in its Radisson hotels in North America.

Carlson opened 66 hotels in 2010, bumping its total number up to 1,071. The company's loyalty program hit 6.3 million members, up 24 percent from the previous year. And throughout its hotel business, the company reported system-wide sales of $6.5 billion, up 12 percent from the previous year.

“This strong sales performance is one of several key milestones that Carlson Hotels achieved in the first year of its Ambition 2015 strategy,” Hubert Joly, president and CEO, said in a statement. “And, looking ahead, we have exciting plans to continue our momentum towards our Ambition 2015 objectives.”

The company has committed more than $500 million to its Radisson strategy, 80 percent of the existing Radisson hotels in North America have committed to property improvement plans, and the company signed 41 new Radisson hotels in 2010-a 52 percent increase over the hotels added to the portfolio in 2009.

The Park Inn brand opened 20 hotels during the year, boosting that portfolio to more than 110 hotels in operation and 50 hotels in development.

In 2010, Carlson also increased its international presence in India, Russia, and Africa. The company upped its stake in the Rezidor Hotel Group to more than 50 percent, and it acquired RHW Hotel Management Services, Ltd., in India.

Looking ahead, the company intends to implement plans for improving existing Radisson properties and open 44 hotels under the brand, including the upscale Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. News broke in September that the company also plans to open a Radisson Blu at the Mall of America.

The company is also focused on revenue generation, in part through a new loyalty program called Club Carlson. Members can redeem points from Carlson's 1,071 hotels worldwide, including 42 resorts in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and the Mediterranean Sea. The program also includes 20 new retail and restaurant partners that offer low-point redemption options, including, Best Buy, iTunes, and T.G.I. Friday's.

Minnetonka-based Carlson, a privately held company, operates hotels in 77 countries, more than 900 restaurants in 60 countries, and holds a majority stake in Carlson Wagonlit Travel. It is Minnesota's third-largest private company based on revenue, which totals an estimated $3.9 billion.