It's Official: Virgin to Launch Hotel Brand

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After months of hinting, including by Chairman Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group announced it is launching Virgin Hotels, a new four-star hotel brand.

The first property is expected to open in an unnamed major gateway city in North America within the next 18 months. On its website, Virgin Hotels says it has initially targeted cities including New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington D.C.

The plan is to acquire $500 million of Virgin-branded hotel assets in the next three years, and open 25 hotels in seven years. The initial focus is North America but there are also plans for expansion globally.

Anthony Marino, managing partner and executive director of Virgin Hotels, told Hotel World Network the company has been looking to enter the hotel arena for years and plans to introduce "something different" including "highly localized" touches.

The Virgin Hotels will have 150 to 400 guestrooms, restaurants and communal spaces.

The target guests represent a wide spectrum, "from those in their 50s that prefer Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class service to those in their 20s that are using Virgin Mobile to text their friends," says Raul Leal, a career hotelier who will serve as president and COO of Virgin Hotels.



Photo, Virgin Atlantic
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