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Richard Branson may have started the Virgin Group as a mail order record retailer back in 1970, but it has since extended to include more than 300 branded companies, covering everything from worldwide mobile phone services and Formula 1 racing to space tourism and, most notably, air transportation. The organization recently announced that it will soon make a logical addition to this roster: hotels.

The Virgin Hotels group, which debuted its Web site this week, is in the initial stages of acquiring existing properties in North America. The hotels will be midsize — 150 to 400 rooms, depending on the market — and will include restaurants and communal public spaces, in the hope of attracting local residents as well as hotel guests.

“We polled a group of recent travelers and something like 70 percent said they would stay in a Virgin hotel,” said Anthony Marino, the executive director of Virgin Hotels. “We felt like we could make an impact.”

Though the first hotels aren’t likely to open before six months to a year, Mr. Marino said, possible choices for first-phase locations include what he called “gateway cities”: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C.

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