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On the heels of our 2013 Hotel WiFi Report, we've got some very good news from the upcoming Virgin Hotels. The hip four-star hotels from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin company will be offering not just free WiFi in their hotels but "secure, reliable and fast" WiFi. Glorious!
Here's what Doug Carrillo, Virgin Hotels VP Sales and Marketing told us:
Virgin attracts travelers who like to mix business with pleasure, whether they are checking their inbox during a getaway or checking out new restaurants and local entertainment inbetween business. Like our sister Virgin companies, we at Virgin Hotels will offer guests a distinct and better experience at a great value and product innovations that aren’t bells and whistles but that will result in a productive and enjoyable stay. We already love our guests so much that we plan to give them all the tech amenities they need -- starting with wifi that is secure, reliable, fast, and free.
The other month we got the jitters when we heard on-the-street rumors that the first-ever Virgin Hotel in Chicago might not happen.
Yet before we dropped to our knees, hands on our face, asking "Why, why?", Virgin assured us that Chicago would happen by early 2014 and that it would in fact be the first Virgin hotel to open (we had also heard Chicago might not be the virgin Virgin hotel.)
Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal evenmentioned in an interview with Hotel News Now that Virgin Hotels had some pretty grand expansion plans, rattling off places like California, Spain and London. Today, we now know exactly where Virgin is looking.
In the bottom line of a recent Virgin Hotels sales and marketing hire release they included this bit:
Virgin Hotels Chicago is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the spring of 2014. Additional locations under consideration for Virgin Hotels properties include Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Washington DC, London, and others.
Not totally surprising locations (especially not Los Angeles which we've written about before) but still exciting to hear and to think about.
However, the next bit of news from Virgin Hotels better be about what the hotel brand will actually look like and what it will include. So far, we know absolutely nothing about it. We're guessing there's gonna be mood lighting of some sort and free WiFi but we're gonna need something more to maintain this, erec, er, excitement.
Downtown LA Hotels / LA Hotels / Hotel Hype / Virgin Hotels / King and Grove Hotels / Ace Hotels / Renaissance Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
It's been a longtime coming but it looks like Downtown Los Angeles is about to get the hotel renaissance it so desperately needs. With the exception of the awful tragedy last month, the chatter about the downtown LA hotel scene has us tremendously excited. Here are updates on the hotels we look forward to seeing:
ACE HOTEL DOWNTOWN LA: So far things are still very much a go for the Ace Hotel and its website promises a 2013 opening. Yay! We can't wait to see what they do with the landmarked United Artists building, a former movie theater built in 1927. We're guessing the vibe will be film noir heavy but don't forget, this Ace will also have a pool.
Among Chicago’s — and possibly the world's — most eagerly anticipated hotel openings is Richard Branson’s first ever Virgin Hotel, originally slated for Chicago. But rumors are swirling that it’s not going to happen. We cringe and die a little inside whenever we hear it, but more than anything, we're just anxious to get to the bottom of things.
In 2011, Branson first announced plans to open the hotel in a 27-story Art Deco gem, the Old Dearborn Bank building located in Chicago’s Loop. Construction was set to begin in May 2012 with a tentative opening date of fall 2013.
Well, that got pushed to a more ambiguous late 2013/early 2014 opening. And then, just yesterday, Virgin CEO Raul Leal confirmed an early 2014 opening with Hotel News Now. So what exactly is the deal with this place?
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Well, now the world is saved! Okay, we’re being facetious, of course: It’s a noble thing to take a stand and do some good for the planet and, after all, we all need to do our part.
But we do have to ask: Just how much bottled water are they consuming over there on Necker Island? There are only six houses (aka rooms) holding a maximum of 28 guests. And at a cool $29,000 (single or double) for a seven-night stay during “Celebration Weeks” (the only time you can book individual rooms; otherwise it’s the whole island or nothing for $42,500 per night.
Is his British Virgin Island's nirvana really fully booked all the time to need to make a big deal of letting us know Sir Richard is trying to get green while collecting that green? Forgive us if we smirk just a tad.
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There's tons of New York 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.
· CitizenM Times Square Is On Track For Summer 2013: European-based budget hotel chain CitizenM have been circling for a while now on a yet-to-open CitizenM Times Square property on 50th and Broadway. At the beginning of 2011, we were told the brand was shooting for a 2012 opening in Times Square (which obviously never happened). Now, CitizenM executive Michael Levie tells USA Today that construction is well underway, and that the 24-story, 240-room tower is set to open by next summer. What else? The company is also planning a second NYC location in Soho, set to open the following year.
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All this talk about IKEA getting ready to sweep Europe with a new chain of budget hotels got us thinking about some of the other cool brands out there. And it's a good thing there's so many of them—because while certain brands have managed to deliver on their promises, others have yet to open a single property. And yet we still remain hopelessly glued to the screen...
Take a look at these six other hotel brands we're most excited about, and see which openings are coming to a theater near you.
The world finally exhaled when Virgin made the announcement that the location of its first-ever hotel would be in Chicago. It's going to have a modest 250 rooms, and it will open in the city's historic Dearborn Bank Building, which will hopefully make good on Richard Branson's promise that all Virgin properties will become "the hippest most comfortable in any city." Well, sir, we'll hold off on judgment until we see one actually open. Construction began in May, with a projected opening date of Fall 2013.
Believe it or not, it's been nearly nine months since we last checked in on what will be the world's first Virgin Hotel. That's long enough to have a baby and yet the Virgin Hotel in Chicago's Loop hasn't even started showing. Or has it?
We strolled on by just yesterday and noticed some movements here and there, most notably the first sign. It simply announces the construction office, but it does say "Virgin Hotel"yay!
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It seemed so far off and almost unreal, until now; we just learned from Crain’s Chicago Business that construction on Richard Branson’s first ever Virgin Hotel set to open in Chicago will begin this May. No change to the opening date, so we’re still planning to kick back in pop Branson-esque rooms there by Fall of 2013. (How do you do neon right in a luxury hotel?)
In a surprise brilliant move last fall, Virgin threw the ultimate nod to Chicago by announcing the purchase of the Old Dearborn Bank, a landmarked Art Deco building originally built in 1928. Starting in May, Virgin will redevlop the 27-story, 136,000-square-foot office space into 250 hotel rooms. According to Crain’s, the rehab will come complete with pools and saunas. (Will there be both a rooftop doozy and one that takes advantage of Millennium Park views?)
HotelChatter 2011 Awards / Chicago Hotels / Public Hotels / Radisson Blu Hotels / Virgin Hotels / JDV Hotels / Waldorf-Astoria Collection / Hotel Openings / Hotel Art / → All Tags
It's what you've been waiting all year for--The 2011 HotelChatter Awards! We'll be bringing you the best and worst of the year all day today and part of tomorrow. Agree or disagree with our picks? Air your thoughts in the comments below.
This year marked the introduction of not one but three major hotel brands to the good ol' US of A. And the midwestern city they all chose as a launching pad? Why, Chicago! Where else?
After Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago and Public Chicago opened literally within a month of each other, we then got sideblinded by the news that, when it debuts in 2013, Virgin Hotels' first location will be Chicago (specifically, in the North Loop, next to The Wit and Trump Chicago). We wondered for a minute whether this had been Virgin's plan all along, or if they simply got wind of the burgeoning hotel scene going on in Chicago right now, and decided to forgo the coastal cities like New York and LA.
Either way, we see this as the city to watch in 2012, and we can hardly wait for 2013 to come so we can get inside the world's first Virgin Hotel. Until then, however, there will be plenty going on in this city—we're looking at you, Waldorf-Astoria and JDV!—to keep us distracted.
Photo Gallery / Virgin Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Hotel Construction / Hotel Architecture / → All Tags
More than one year ago, Virgin Hotels launched a website. It was real, it was happening, it was the first step toward Virgin Hotels becoming a solid thing. At the time, there was a list of potential US cities for the first locationNew York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Boston. Notice what's missing? CHICAGO, the newly announced winning location for first Virgin Hotel in the world.
The site at 203 North Wabash sits on the very northeast border of the Loop; in fact it's catercorner to a bend in the El tracks (here's hoping for good soundproofing) and just one block south of the Chicago River. Enough about the ideal location. Let's look at it:
Well, here's the news we've been waiting for for over a year now. The location of the first-ever Virgin Hotel has been announced, and it's not quite what we were anticipating: Chicago—specifically the Dearborn Bank Building in the north Loop—will welcome the brand's 250-room debut in Fall 2013. And boy have they put a lot of thought into this decision!
Virgin announced this morning at 11am that Chicago was chosen because it's "economically vibrant, culturally exciting, and a sports and entertainment hub." They neglected to mention that this yet-to-be renovated building also finds itself smack in the middle of an area populated by tons of other hotels.
Whether this is just a way to show their own superiority over lesser hotel beings, or tap into a well-visited section of the city (or both), we can't say. But to forgo the expected cities like NYC, SF or Miami is obviously Virgin's way of saying they want to establish their presence as a major player in the up-and-coming hotel world from the get-go. And really, who's about to stop them?