Huckestein rides off

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The lodging industry—at least Hilton Hotels—is losing the services of one of its most dynamic leaders. Dieter Huckestein, a key cog in Hilton's success for the past 35 years, says he'll retire from the company early next year.

While Dieter deserves to move on to the next phases of his professional and personal lives, it seems an odd time for him to leave the company. Most recently, Huckestein has been both chairman and CEO of the company's Conrad Hotels brand and president of the Hilton Global Alliance, the liaison group between Hilton in the U.S. and London-based Hilton International.

Both Conrad and the Hilton-Hilton International relationship are at important crossroads. Conrad is a chain thatâ€â„¢s finally poised to move to the top of the luxury hotel segment after many years languishing as an afterthought in the world of Hilton. More critically, a long-anticipated merger between Hilton Hotels and Hilton International seems to finally be in the offing. Some speculate an announcement will be made soon after the first of the year.

It seems that the leadership and international experience Dieter possesses would be invaluable once the merger happens and the tedious, but crucial work of integration begins. Nonetheless, I wish Dieter well in his future pursuits. My guess is the hotel industry hasn't seen the last of the debonair Mr. Huckestein.

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