Virgin Hotels confirms no plans for Middle East

Brand launched by Richard Branson will open its first hotel early next year

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson

Virgin Hotels, the new brand launched by Richard Branson and set to open the doors to its first property early next year, has confirmed that it currently has no plans to enter the Middle East.

The first hotel under the brand, Virgin Hotels Chicago, is currently taking bookings for stays from January 15, more than four years after the property was originally announced.

With the rapid rate of hotel development in the Middle East, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the region is widely seen a key growth market for major hotel operators.

However, responding to enquiry by Arabian Business (a sister publication of Hotelier Middle East), a spokesperson for the company said: “We are open to evaluating and exploring all cities, but at this time the Middle East is not in our pipeline.”

Virgin Hotels positions itself as a lifestyle brand and already has properties lined up in New York and Nashville in its development pipeline.

Announcing the hotel venture in 2010, former Virgin Hotels executive director Anthony Marino said: "The lifestyle hotel segment is large and growing. Consumers are well attuned to the Virgin brand, which is rated one of the world’s best marketed brands.

"Virgin has a global platform that consumers associate instinctively with lifestyle experiences, so we are in a powerful position to respond to consumers and what they want in a hotel.

"We intend to bring a fresh approach to the industry, one with solid value, functional design, practical technology, and exceptional customer service, which is a hallmark of the Virgin brand."

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