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The story that is sending everyone to the office water cooler--it was announced that entrepreneur/hotelier Andre Balazs will NOT be developing a hotel in the world-famous architectural icon that is the TWA Flight Center at JFK. Previous negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Andre Balazs Properties have fallen through, and we have little more information than that. Design-savvy Balazs was to develop a Standard Hotel beneath the lightweight concrete “wings” of the former TWA building, designed over 50 years ago by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen.
The re-development of the TWA Flight Center was also to incorporate a conference center, retail, and of course, a flying museum. This is an unquestionably daunting task for any developer, especially given that the project involves an international airport. Again, little is being said about the status of this project going forward.
Keep reading to see who we think should operate a hotel inside the historic terminal instead!
While we may have had a brief glimpse the other week at what the social spaces of the upcoming Virgin Hotel in Chicago might look like, (before the illustrations were swiftly pulled from the internet) we still have a while to wait before we can actually stay there.
After pushing back a Fall 2013 opening to a Spring opening before pushing it back again to this summer, it now looks like the Virgin will open in September, according to an interview Virgin CEO Raul Lea gave to Hotels Mag. So what's the hold-up? It looks like the historic building, the former Dearborn Bank, is giving Virgin some issues:
“It has been a slow process with so many historic building considerations, but we have uncovered some great things like 30-foot ceilings on the second floor,” Leal said, adding that he expects the hotel to be Chicago’s rate leader in the lifestyle segment.
The good news is that Virgin is still at work on a hotel for NYC which will break ground in um, 2016. Hopefully, the Virgin Chicago will keep us busy before then. Virgin will also make announcements soon on two new locations. We're guessing Miami and London but then again, the last time we made a guess, it didn't turn out so well for us.
**The illustration has been removed at the request of Rockwell Group**
We're getting pretty impatient with Virgin Hotels. The first-ever Virgin Hotel in Chicago on Wabash Street is just months away from opening (sometime this summer, they say) yet we know very little about what's going to be inside. Heck we hardly know what's on the outside since much of the Virgin has been wrapped in red
sheets tarps and tape.
But we did stumble across this design concept from a Rockwell Group illustrator which was posted last April (Update: It's since been taken down.) While we doubt it's the actual design concept for the hotel (Virgin has put any and all design concepts on lockdown) it has us thinking....Hmmmmm.
There are a few illustrations to peek at, all for the public spaces of the hotel. None of the 250 guest rooms. But if this concept is something to go on, it's clear the Virgin will be all about socializing. We love the headphones that hang from the ceiling of one lounge and the swinging chairs in another. The restaurant and bar will have lots of communal seating along with banquet seating. There are also what appears to be personal workstations and crazy cool lighting.
Again, we highly doubt this is what the Virgin Hotel will actually look like when it opens. But if it did, we wouldn't mind.
[Photo Via Behance.net]
There are many things we want to know about the Virgin Hotel Chicago, set to open this summer as the first-ever Virgin Hotel from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin empire.
For starters, we really want to know what the guest rooms are going to look like. We're also curious about the food and beverage options. Lastly, we want a concrete opening date other than "Summer 2014."
While we are going crazy guessing over the answers to some of these questions, another person is wondering about the spa offerings, specifically if there will be a hair salon. The dear reader writes:
Hello, I am a Chicago based hair.makeupartist.photographer. I am inquiring to know if the new Virgin hotel to open in the summer will have a hair salon/spa within it. I'm sure it will include spa amenities [sic] but will it offer hair salon services as well? Tried to find info online but could not. Here is an international ad I did several years back with Richard himself.* Thank you for any insite [sic] into this.
Well, we asked and got this succinct answer from a Virgin Hotels' rep: No hair salon but yes spa.
Also, not opening at the Virgin Chicago anymore? The Virgin Clubhouse. Fortunately, the rooftop bar and lounge is still on. We're hoping to have more details on this mysterious Virgin in the coming months. But if you've got any inside scoop right now, let us know!
* Keep reading to see the picture!
UPDATE Nov. 5, 2013: The hotel is now opening next Summer, not Spring as initially planned/hoped by everyone eager to sleep with this Virgin.
A while back we were stoked to find out that the Virgin Chicago, due to open next
spring summer, would have not just a rooftop bar but also a Virgin Clubhouse. Granted, we weren't exactly sure what would be in the Clubhouse, but if it was anything similar to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses found at airports around the world, we knew it had to be something cool.
But now the clubhouse may not even happen.
The hotel's developer, Lionstone, has pulled the information referencing the Clubhouse from their website. Boo. But fortunately, the rooftop bar and lounge remains. (They also pulled this rendering of the hotel's entrance which a Virgin rep told us was not accurate at all.)
One of our operatives skipped by the hotel the other month but the Virge was pretty well-covered up. Such a modest Virgin! But still, we hope it won't be much longer before we get some real news out of this joint.
Hotel Developments / Lam Group Hotels / Le Meridien Hotels / Virgin Hotels / Aloft Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / → All Tags
When we recently attended the grand opening of Hotel Indigo Brooklyn we nodded our heads when someone made the cheeky comment that Duffield Street (home also to the Sheraton Brooklyn and the Aloft Brooklyn) should be renamed Lam Street. They had a point, but the Lam Group's development vision can not be confined to one Brooklyn street. Oh no, they are all over the city, with two Aloft hotels under construction (in the Financial District and in Long Island City); a Four Points in the Financial District, and a five-block patch of Midtown Manhattan that will soon see a Virgin Hotel , the next door Le Meridien Midtown Manhattan and something only known as the Chelsea Full Service Hotel Project at 112 West 25th Street.
The Virgin Chicago gets photobombed by Trump Chicago
We'd be lying if we said we're not excited about any news that comes out of the Virgin Hotel camp and since our last stroll by the Chicago property, we're even more excited about seeing some hard-core construction going on.
There's already a lot of action going on in this particular Chicago 'hood with a few handfuls of hotels, a city college, and plenty of office space surrounding the Loop building. But with concrete barricades and construction workers cleaning up the Virgin building's vintage detail, this is the action we're most excited about.
We also spied Virgin-red tape securing every window as wells as a red fence and a giant red tarp at the top of the building. Alas, the scaffolding is a boring beige color.
The Virgin Hotel Chicago won't open until next year with NYC to follow in 2016 but we've already known that Richard Branson's hip hotel brand wants to be in all the right places.
Earlier this year, Virgin Hotels announced they want to open in "Dallas, LA, London and beyond". But now it looks like they are getting closer to opening in Miami.
The Miami Herald reports that Virgin Hotels opened an office in Coconut Grove last month with about 10 employees. Currently, five employees work out of the New York office. According to Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal, having an office in Miami gives them access to South Florida but also the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe. And of course, it makes it easier to do the scouting for their Miami hotels. That's right, Leal said Virgin is planning two Miami hotels--one in Miami Beach and one in the hot new downtown area of Brickell. Leal even went so far as mentioning Fort Lauderdale. Caliente!
We will soon be drinking way up there.
When we first heard there would be a Virgin Hotel opening in Chicago, we speculated about it having a rooftop pool. Well, that won't be happening but what will be happening is a rooftop bar and lounge.
We found this exciting bit of info on the website for Lionstone Development, the developers behind the hotel. We also got a look at a rendering for the entrance, although you should know that renderings don't always look like the finished product. Still we're digging those Virgin logos next to the front doors, not to mention what looks like an outside dining spot. (Update: Virgin Hotels said the rendering is not accurate and it will be removed from the Lionstone website.)
But most intriguing are the plans for a Virgin Clubhouse.
Happy Monday! There will soon be a new hotel in Manhattan with free WiFi!
Virgin Hotels have just announced their plans for a New York location and it's going to be in the coolest hotel nabe in town--the NoMad area. More specifically, the new build 300-room Virgin Hotel, developed by The Lam Group, will open on the Northwest corner of 29th and Broadway.
The area is already home to the Ace Hotel, the NoMad Hotel and the upcoming Tommie Hotel, along with several others. And all that hotel hubub is exactly why Virgin picked this spot for their first NYC hotel.
“We are delighted to enter the New York market and specifically to play a part in continuing the NoMad neighborhood’s growth as a dynamic destination,” said Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal. “Virgin’s 60 million global customers can’t get enough of New York City, and we hope to welcome them all with our trademark style, humor, innovation, and friendly customer service. We are equally thrilled to partner with the Lam Group, who has shown success in New York as real estate investors and developers."
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.