LONDON? When the Hilton London Metropole opens for business this fall, it will mark the latest step in Hilton International?s on-going plans to build on its position of convention market leadership in London, throughout the U.K., and across much of Europe. By Oct. 1, it is expected the property will have completed the more than $150-million extension of its business, guest and meetings facilities, an enhancement designed to make the facility Britain?s largest, most versatile, most flexible and most modern convention hotel. Hilton sources further bill the site as London?s first purpose-built convention facility. Among the physical attributes of the “new” Hilton London Metropole are: o 1,073 air conditioned bedrooms, with 290 of them being “double-double” units; o 37 meeting rooms (two featuring 1,900-attendee capacities, and a third able to accommodate more than 1,000); o 44,000 square feet of flexible, pillar-free meeting space; o the availability of individual room-blocks in excess of 600 per event; o Business and Executive floors with dedicated Hilton Clubroom; and o rapid access to Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow Express rail link from Paddington Station. “The Hilton London Metropole is going to be the second largest convention hotel in Europe and will therefore boost the versatility of London as a meetings city,” noted Mady Keup, head of the London Convention Bureau. With this property, Hilton sites in the Greater London area will include two five-star and 15 four-star hotels, with that overall figure slated to climb to 19 by next spring. All told, more than 80 properties reportedly bear the Hilton brand throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. There seems to be little doubt Hilton International UK is moving rapidly to solidify its leadership role as it pertains to four- and five-star properties throughout Britain, as evidenced by a $300-million outlay for new product, the majority of it invested in London. “We have set our sights on being the premier choice of visitors, with a balanced portfolio of properties the length and breadth of Britain… and multiple choice in London alone,” said Rudi Jagersbacher, vp/London for Hilton International UK. To this end, he noted the hotel company is currently casting a competitive eye on other London locations, including Kensington, Chelsea and The Docklands. In addition to the expansion of the Hilton London Metropole, other major developments in central London include: a $50-million facelift for the flagship London Hilton on Park Lane; a $24-million makeover for The Langham Hilton, London?s original premier hotel property; the new 355-room Hilton London Paddington due to open in January of 2001; a $24-million investment for physical improvements to the Hilton London St. Ermin?s; and the new Hilton London Trafalgar Square, now under construction and due to open in 2001. Immediately outside of London, Hilton is building a new $72-million, 345-room hotel in Manchester, slated for completion by 2002. Finally, another $16 million has been invested in Scotland on several major projects, with work currently in progress to make the Hilton Dunblane (in Perthshire) the largest conference facility in central Scotland.