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UPDATE: a tipster in the know says that although the spaceport is in the works, the first Virgin Hotel will, as planned, still open "in a major US city". They tell us to expect an official announcement "within 45 days".
We've spent the past few months racking our brains trying to guess which city will get the first Virgin Hotel treatment, and while we suspected San Francisco, we never thought that it'd be in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. But, according to The Independent, Richard Branson is looking to begin with a property overlooking the still-under-construction Virgin Galactic Spaceport headquarters.
We just waded through a tough-to-chew article on the forecast for the hotel industry in the New York Times to find the answer to something we've been dying to know--how much longer until we sleep inside a Virgin Hotel?
The answer: 12 to 18 months.
That timeline is not quite what we were hoping for but at least we can start counting the days. And we suspect that in a short while we'll at least know where this very first Virgin Hotel will open. (Hint, Hint.)
Right now, Virgin has only stated that they will open about 25 Virgin Hotels in major cities across the world but the U.S. will probably get first dibs. (We think San Fran might be the very first Virgin Hotel.)
But there's something else we're concerned about.
The hotels will be inspired by the cool Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses aka airport lounges and according to Sir Richard Branson, they will be "the hippest most comfortable new hotel in any city. Anyone's who anybody will know to go there."
Even better for us Yanks, Virgin Hotels has their eyes set on Virginizing North America first instead of the UK. The list of cities put forth are the following:
In chatting mid-flight with Sir Richard Branson back in June, we only had thing on our mind--When will Virgin Hotels open? And the answer he gave us had us tingling for a few days after we landed even if it was rather vague. He said then that Virgin was "not many months away from making an announcement" regarding their first hotel.
There's a cheeky Do Not Disturb sign anchoring the page ("Opportunity knocking", "Shall we go back to your place?", etc) but most of the information is aimed at developers who want to partner with Virgin for a hotel brand. Still, we do learn a little bit about Virgin Hotels' philosophy and more importantly, their locations.
Richard Branson / Necker Island / British Virgin Island Hotels / Most Expensive Hotels in the World / Insane Hotel Packages / → All Tags
Necker Island has been reserved as Richard Branson's hideaway and the backdrop for the occasional Victoria's Secret catalog photo shoot, but now you have a chance to hang in the beautiful locale in the British Virgin Islands. And no, we aren't suggesting you become a scantily clad VS model to do it.
Normally the entire private island is rented out, but during Celebration Weeks—which take place select times throughout the year—couples, singles or families can book one of 14 rooms individually and share the island.
Sir Richard Branson. Can anyone guess the DeGrassi High alum sleeping behind him?
Yesterday we were fortunate to grab some time with Sir Richard Branson at his first class seat on the launch party flight for Virgin America's new Toronto route.
And while we could have asked Branson what a typical day is like for him at his Necker Island retreat or if he fancies Dita Von Teese, we had our mind on other sexier things--like Virgin Hotels and when we might expect them to open.
Branson told us they are "not many months away from making an announcement" regarding Virgin Hotels (an opening announcement that is.) He says they have the resources and the concept which is somewhat under wraps but he did confirm it would be very much a translation of the airline experience. And remember, Virgin Hotels is very much an urban brand that will only open in cities.
You know that Virgin Group main man Richard Branson owns a British Virgin Island, right? That would be Necker Island, the diamond in the tiara of Branson's Virgin Limited Edition label, which includes several super private, super luxe properties. Now did you also know that Branson owns a ski lodge in Switzerland?
He does! It's called The Lodge and it's nestled in the snowy valleys of the Swiss Alps at Verbier. Usually you'd have to get your rich, ski-happy friends together to get in here, since The Lodge is only available for full rentalno individual rooms are sold hotel-style. That is, until now.
It looks like we may be making a trip out to New Jersey very soon. That's because billionaire fly guy himself Sir Richard Branson is opening a resort in New Jersey next week that will have a cooking and wine school on the premises. The New York Times reports:
The resort, located in Peapack-Gladstone in Somerset County, is called Natirar Y(the reverse of Raritan, the river that runs at the edge of the property). A restaurant, Ninety Acres, will be open to the public, along with a cooking school run by Viking, the kitchen appliance company, and a wine school. Natirar, which consists of 492 acres in total, was built as a private estate in 1912 and in 1983 it was bought by the king of Morocco to use as a summer residence. The Moroccan royal family sold it to Somerset County in 2003. All except the 90 acres that have been leased to Branson and his partner, Bob Wojtowicz, are used as parkland.
Hah, we love it. They took a dirty sounding word like Raritan and prettied it up to sound more exotic. Natirar. Maybe we should do that with all of New Jersey's town names. For instance, Nekoboh-Hoboken. Elliveryas-Sayreville (Jon Bon Jovi's hometown.) Timmus-Summit (our hometown.) Erohs Yesrej-Jersey Shore. Man, you could create a new epic journey through middle earth using backwards Jersey town names.
Someone over @ Virgin America knew what they were doing when they booked Boston's Liberty Hotel for Richard Branson's BOS route opening soiree last night.
Ok, ok, the old jail building's gorgeous atrium lobby is not exactly conducive to stellar ways of egress for the legendarily large posse Sir Richard tends to bring to a party, however, the historic Charles Street Jail turned Liberty Hotel possesses some of the coolest mixing of new and old that we have seen, and we have been around the hotel block.
Type: 16-story Tower Suite
Square Footage: ~750 square feet
Best Feature: 240 degree Panoramic Views of the Charles River -- all the way to the Citgo sign.
There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· More Bob Marley Hotels?: Bob Marley's eldest daughter, Cedella, says her family is considering franchising the Bob Marley name to include beer, clothes and hotels. There's already a Bob Marley Hotel in Jamaica. [NME]
· Octomom's Hotel Stay: The controversial woman who gave birth to octuplets after getting in-vitro, although she already had six children, has apparently been staying in a hotel for the past week. Let's hope California taxpayers aren't footing the bill. [Radar]
· Hotels.com Lays Off Quality Assurance Workers: We are a little concerned about the recent layoffs at Hotels.com who let go about 150 IT workers and some quality assurance staffers. [Computer World]
· $99 Rooms at Gaylord Opryland: Room rates at this mega-hotel in Nashville have dropped to $99 a night for stays this month and in March.
· Where Richard Branson and Other Celebs Enter the Liberty Hotel: Through this "super secret" entrance. [HotelChatter Twitter]
There's some accommodation opening up in Queensland that most of us won't be able to visit--unless you're one of the 35,000 employees of Richard Branson's Virgin mega-empire.
After buying Makepeace Island about five years back, Branson and his co-owners have been lovingly getting it fixed up as a place for Virgin employees and their families and friends to vacation. They call it an "eco-tourism retreat" and the three villas will apparently house about 20 guests. There's a swimming pool and tennis court and it sounds like no expense was spared to make everything look good.
Makepeace Island, which is in the middle of the Noosa River, is nearly ready for visitors, according to recent reports, and we're wondering who we have to get friendly with at Virgin to score an invite to the big opening party. Suggestions, anyone?
[Photo: Michael Dawes]
Richar Branson billionaire mogul/hotelier has managed to take time away from his busy space-travel planning schedule to outline a plan for an eco-resort on Mosquito Island in the British Virgin Islands (of course.) The AP reports:
The plan calls for 20 villas and a beachfront restaurant. The resort would be powered by wind turbines and solar panels, while captured thermal flows would cool the buildings. Guests would eat food from an organic orchard, and they would have access to beach buggies that run on biofuels.
Branson's eco-friendly plans are being reviewed by the government but the word is they "seem to like" his ideas. More on the eco-resort can be found here.
Branson is in the midst of planning a bunch of "Urban" Virgin Hotels and he already has a few luxury resorts in his portfolio including Necker Island. Although the latter might not be as eco-friendly with its helicopter landing pad.