The Sunday Times (London) outlines Richard Branson’s plans for expansion into hotels:
Branson already uses Virgin Atlantic to drive customers to his mobile and credit-card companies. Now he wants to use the airline to fill a new range of Virgin hotels. The first will be in New York, London, Los Angeles and Atlanta. If they prove a success, India, China and Saudi Arabia will follow.
Virgin Hotels will be based on the Clubhouse, Virgin’s premium passenger lounge at Heathrow airport, which was developed with restaurateurs and hoteliers, notably Nick Jones, creator of Soho House.
“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.”
Virgin has been approached by leading hotel chains. It will take over their existing sites, gut them, and “Virginise” them. Some of the new Virgin hotels, starting with Atlanta, will have casinos but the emphasis will be on overall entertainment, rather than simply roulette and black-jack. “We think we can offer a more complete package than most resorts.” Branson also has his eye on a plot in Macau for a £1.5 billion casino resort.