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Richard Branson to launch Virgin branded luxury hotels

  • 28-Sep-10 13:28
  • OLD
  • USA Today Travel

Business tycoon and billionaire, Richard Branson, has decided to expand his Virgin brand by introducing luxury hotels to his collection which will appeal to younger and up-and-coming travellers in major cities in the United States.

Richard Branson to launch Virgin branded luxury hotels

Richard Branson is launching the Virgin brand into the business of luxury hotels with the opening of Virgin Hotels aimed at younger, up-and-coming travellers.

The British business tycoon and billionaire is the owner of the brand which comprises airlines, music, media channels, broadband, telecommunications, and even space travel.

Charles Quinn, from hotel investment advisory firm, CBRE Hotels, said the new hotel group will appeal to "the guys walking around with the shirt untucked and no ties, very similar to Mr. Branson. Virgin is a hip brand, no matter how you slice it."

As the travel industry recovers from the recent global recession, the timing seems to be right for the new venture into the luxury hotels industry in the United States.

Industry tracker, Smith Travel Research, says that the U.S hotel industry's revenue increased by eight per cent in August this year compared to the same time in 2009 and the average hotel rate increased 1.5 percent to $98.69 per night.

With these rising figures, luxury hotels are also benefiting from the economic turnaround. North American Vice President for Starwood Hotels, Carlos Becil, said: "As we have begun to recover from the economic downtown, luxury brands are enjoying the strongest revenue per available room of any segment."

Branson will be developing the new U.S hotels in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago with the aim to buy up to $500million worth of properties with 150 to 400 rooms over the next three years.

Thompson Hotels' co-founder, Stephen Brandman, said: "Branson has all the capabilities of hitting a home run. However, it's not that easy. A recognized name doesn't necessarily ensure success."

Thompson runs hotels in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and has recently opened its 10th hotel in Toronto, Canada. Brandman believes that the success of the new Virgin Hotels will depend on a number of factors including the location of the properties and the response from competitors.

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