Virgin Hotels to open 20 properties by 2025

24 Feb 2015 by GrahamSmith

Virgin Hotels plans to grow its portfolio to 20 hotels by 2025, including two properties in both New York and London.

The new brand debuted its flagship property in Chicago last month (see news, January 16) and will next open hotels in Nashville in 2016 and in New York the following year (see news, December 15).

CEO Raul Leal told Business Traveller that Virgin Hotels will be announcing a "couple more" US properties this year and that it is actively looking in London for suitable locations and for a second spot in New York.

Other cities likely to feature a Virgin Hotels property include Mexico City, Paris and Barcelona, he said.

Virgin Hotels Chicago

Flagship: Virgin Hotels Chicago opened last month

Leal said: "Virgin Hotels probably won't be a 100 hotel brand. The target for the next ten years is — in some form of phase of opening or development — to have 20 hotels under our belt."

Each guest room in Virgin Hotels Chicago has been divided into two spaces by sliding doors, each with a peephole, while bathrooms include an "extra-large" shower with a bench. Particularly noticeable is the huge dressing area.

Leal said the rooms were designed to appeal to the female business traveller: "We thought that it would be interesting to look at the design process through the eyes of a female business traveller."

He added: "Unfortunately, the knock on lifestyle hotels has been that while they gave you a very good experience or buzz in the public areas, when you go back to your room, they're not necessarily that comfortable.

"So our perspective was, we think we can do both - we think we can provide you a great experience in food and beverage, but when you get back to your room it's very comfortable and appealing to every segment."

Virgin Hotels Chicago room

Dressing area: The rooms were designed with the female business traveller in mind

Earlier this month, it was announced that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members who stay at Virgin Hotels Chicago will be awarded 1,000 miles per stay plus double bonus miles (see news, February 6).

Leal said there are no plans for the brand to have its own loyalty programme, but "we're working on a variety of other alliances with many of the brand companies around the world with Virgin".

Virgin Hotels offers guests the facility to cancel their room without penalty as late as midnight on the day of arrival. Similarly, there are no early check-in fees, late check-out fees, room service delivery charges, nor business centre charges.

Leal said he is confident guests will appreciate being allowed to cancel a booking at the last minute should they want to, and that this will attract them back to Virgin Hotels in the future.

He said: "Part of the proposition for us at the hotels is no nickle and diming... like the other brands do by charging ridiculous fees in addition to the room rate.

"What today's brands are doing, they're actually making it more and more difficult for consumers to cancel in a very short period of time because of the websites that offer last minute room nights.

"We believe that our consumer is an intelligent consumer that will know that they have to advise us and let us know during the day of arrival if or not they're coming in. If not, we'll almost certainly have the opportunity to resell that room.

"At the expense of one or two room rents here and there, it's more important for us to have a loyal following than it is to isolate consumers in the future."

Graham Smith

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