Virgin launches hotel brand

Hotel News - 29/05/2008

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Virgin is taking what they have learned about airlines and airport lounges and turning it into a design concept for a new brand of hotels.

Sir Richard Branson, the man behind the company, said: “We are trying to become a global airline, not just to make money from the airline but because airlines are a great flagship for the brand,” he said. “On the back of the airline, we can launch a lot of other businesses.”

These other businesses already include a mobile phone company and credit-card companies. Now guests flying on the airline will be filling Virgin hotels.

The first Virgin hotel will open in New York, as well as in London, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Based on the success of the first four hotels, further ventures in Saudi Arabia, China and India are likely to follow.

The new hotels will be based on the same concept as the Virgin Clubhouse, the premium passenger lounge at Heathrow airport. Creator of the Soho House, Nick Jones, was one of the many restaurateurs and hoteliers who helped create the original concept.

Branson said: “We have loads of hoteliers coming in and stealing our ideas from the Clubhouse, so we thought we had better do hotels ourselves. We are going to take the concept of the W hotel and move it on 10 years by creating urban, townhouse-style properties, halfway between a hotel and a private club.”

The plan is to take over existing hotel sites and gut them, then transform or “Virginise” them. The Virgin hotel in Atlanta will have a casino, however the emphasis will be on entertainment rather than gambling. “We think we can offer a more complete package than most resorts,” Branson said.

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