Hilton Hotels & Resorts (formerly known as Hilton Hotels) is an international chain of full service hotels and resorts, it is the flagship brand of Hilton Worldwide. The original company was founded by Conrad Hilton and is now owned by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton hotels are either owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton Hotels became the first coast-to-coast hotel chain of the United States in 1943. As of 2010[update], there are now over 530 Hilton branded hotels across the world in 78 countries across six continents.
The Hilton Hotels brand remains one of the company's flagship brands and one of the largest hotel brands in the world. The company places marketing emphasis on both business travel and leisure travel with locations in major city centers, near airports, convention centers, and a number of vacation resorts and leisure-oriented hotels in popular vacation destinations around the world.
The company's Hilton HHonors guest loyalty program is one of the largest of its kind and has numerous partnerships with airlines and car rental companies. Some Hilton Hotels feature an Executive Level lounge for HHonors Gold and Diamond members and those willing to pay for Executive Rooms. The lounge is normally located on the highest floor of the hotel building. In addition to Hilton Hotels, the Hilton HHonors membership can also be used at all other Hilton Worldwidebrands.
The U.S. branch of Hilton hotels was reunited with the international properties after more than 40 years in February 2006, when United States-based Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased the hotels division of United Kingdom-based Hilton Group plc, which had acquired Hilton's International operations in 1987 (the companies had been separated originally in 1964).
In 1954, Hilton hotels bought the Statler Hotel chain, making it the largest hospitality company in the world.
The Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago figured prominently in the 1968 Democratic Convention riots that occurred across the street in Grant Park. The hotel's doors were locked for the first time in its history. The hotel still suffered minor damage as a result of the violence outside as the street level windows gave way under the weight of hundreds of protesters on the street during the ensuing riot.
The Beirut Hilton finished construction and was supposed to open on April 14, 1975. However, the Lebanese Civil War erupted exactly one day before the Grand Opening date on April 13. The hotel was never opened and was severely damaged during the war. The building was demolished in the late 1990s. In the 2000s, work on a completely separate Hilton Beirut Hotel was begun nearby, but it was never completed.
The Amsterdam Hilton hotel has had two more notable incidents. On June 27, 1991, Dutch drug kingpin Klaas Bruinsma, once a major drug dealer of Europe, was assassinated in front of the building. On July 11, 2001, Dutch artist Herman Brood committed suicide by jumping from the roof.