Hilton Worldwide Sees 'Vast' Potential in China

Private Equity Helps Fix Hilton
Private Equity Helps Fix Hilton

Despite a weak global economy, Hilton Worldwide has been aggressively expanding its international presence and sees vast opportunities in China, president of development Ian Carter told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday.

"We've focused an enormous effort on growth," Carter said. "In the last four or five years, where we've had these terrible economic conditions, we've added 1,000 hotels to our portfolio."

Private equity firm Blackstonetook Hilton private in 2007 and since then, the hotel chain's key strategic objective has been to expand its global footprint.

Hilton now operates hotels in 90 countries, up from 77 five years ago.

And more hotels will open in the next few years. About 60 percent of the 1,000 hotels planned by Hilton are outside the United States.

In China, Hilton will have nearly 50 hotels at the end of the year compared with just four only four years ago. "If we did nothing more," Carter said, "within the next two to three years we will have over 100 hotels in China."

Although that may look like too rapid an expansion given the softer Chinese economic growth, Carter said the metrics for China remain "vast" and the long-term picture remains "fabulous."

Hilton is looking not just to cater to domestic travelers but wants to build up Hilton's brand recognition so that as more Chinese travelers go abroad they'll stay at a Hilton hotel.

Macau Growth

Hotel & Gaming Icon's Industry Outlook
Hotel & Gaming Icon's Industry Outlook

Chinese travelers continue to flock to Macau, China's gambling capital.

Las Vegas Sands President Michael Leven told "Squawk on the Street" in a separate interview, that "as incomes grow on the mainland it's going to feed people into Macau."

(Read More: Macau Gambling Revenue Hits Record in December)

He sees little risk that this growth will slow. "After all, you have a $39 billion gaming market now, which is six times Las Vegas," he said. "We think it can grow to $100 billion."