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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.
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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?
Virgin has said the area around Spaceport America outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico--where they plan on putting their sky rockets in flight--is in need of a luxury hotel. The smaller ones already present just aren't up to snuff. After all, their passengers are folks who have forked over $200,000 for the ride to space and will need some luxury accommodations before and after their journey to the final frontier.
But instead of building their own Virgin Galactic-branded hotel, Virgin is looking to partner with third parties to build the luxury digs. Dear Richard Branson, et. al., Please don't build a Ritz-Carlton or a Four Seasons near the spaceport. Please.
Not much else has been confirmed about the hotel except that it will be located halfway between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences. But hotels in the area, who are frequented by hot springs lovers, needn't get too worried. Virgin Galactic won't be blasting off until sometime in 2013.
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.