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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!
Just as the Great House on Necker Island is open again for business, is Richard Branson expanding his exclusive Virgin Limited Edition collection of billionaire-worthy escapes and toys (Necker Nymph anyone?). The place is called Mahala Mzuri, in the Maasai Mara region of southern Kenya, a name that means ‘beautiful place’ in Swahili.
The traditional Maasai ceremony to celebrate the opening took place at the end of last month, and Branson participated as recognised Maasai Elder, which he became six years ago. Who knew?
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.
Well ladies and gentlemen, the US Tennis Open is in full swing and if you are anything like us, you totally plan on tuning in when it gets down to the nitty gritty. Because let’s be frank unless you are REALLY into tennis, some of what comes before the final days of the competition is a little less engaging than, say, Superbowl.
BUT, if you happen to be someone who does live and breathe the sport, this particular package will knock your socks off. Actually, who are we kidding, you get to hang out with Sir Richard Branson as a part of this deal, so even if you despise the sport, we think you can fake it and just enjoy a killer vacation in the Caribbean. Plus ten percent of the cost goes to charity, so if nothing else just
lie develop a love of the sport for a good cause.
Does anyone else remember when Richard Branson’s private island got struck by lightning and his magnificent mogul-worthy Great House burned to charred cinders? And how Branson told the papers that he “ran naked” to rescue his guests, but then admitted it was actually legendary British stage/screen goddess Kate Winslet who carried Branson’s 90-year-old mum out of the inferno in her arms?
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.
Hotel News / Necker Island / Richard Branson / Virgin Hotels / Luxury Hotels / All-inclusive Resorts / Beach Resorts / Beach Hotels / Caribbean Hotels / Island Hotels / Eco-Hotels / Eco-Friendly Hotels / → All Tags
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.
Celebrity Scoop / Richard Branson / Caribbean Resorts / Necker Island / Dominica Hotels / → All Tags
We all know Sir Richard Branson has a sh*tload of money. Who else sends other billionaires to outer space? That said, he owns some crazy-expensive resorts he calls his second and third home, like Necker Island in the Caribbean and Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco.
Throw in a mansion, homes all over the world, land in Antigua, a super-yacht and, most recently, a private island retreat in Bali, why would he even consider staying (and paying) for a hotel room?
Well last year, he did, and staff at Rosalie Bay Resort in Dominica remember him quite well. One source says, "He was very nice. He came and stayed in two of our riverside suites with his family. He was just really a nice guy."
So what makes Rosalie Bay Resort good enough for Richard?
Virgin Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Hotel Construction / Hotel Hype / Hotel News / Richard Branson / → All Tags
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?)
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?
Hotel Fires / Richard Branson / Necker Island / Hotel News / Private Island Hotels / Kate Winslet / Celebrity Scoop / → All Tags
We used to think Sir Richard Branson was untouchable with his death-defying stunts, jet-setting lifestyle and nonstop partying but last night, Branson and his family narrowly escaped a dramatic fire at the Great House on his 74-acre personal paradise, Necker Island.
While family (including Branson's 90-year-old mum), friends (including Kate Winslet) and staff escaped unharmed, the Great House building suffered substantial damage and is according to Branson's blog still burning:
We had a tropical storm with winds up to 90mph. A big lightning storm came around 4am and hit the house. My son Sam and nephew Jack rushed to the house and helped get everyone out and many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90 year mum out of the main house to safety wondering when a Director was going to shout CUT!
The main house is destroyed and the fire is not yet completely out. My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs and my note books which is very sad. But all family and friends are well - which in the end is all that really matters.
Hotel Parties / Richard Branson / Virgin America / DoubleTree Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Celeb Hotels / → All Tags
Last night in a terrifically rainy Chicago, Virgin top dog Richard Branson filled up theWit Hotel with VIPs and held court on the roofdeck, joined by celebrities just in on one of Virgin America's first flights to Chicago from LAX and SFO. We caught Tim Meadows in the elevator, Adrian Grenier shying away from cameras, and Creed Bratton from The Office chilling...just to name a few. Of course Creed was our absolute favorite spotting of the eve.
It was a motley bunch, but in true Virgin style. The purpose of the whole thing was to announce to the Windy City that Virgin America has finally begun flights here, after three straight years of battling it out with the legacy airlines. It's such a big deal, that the party to celebrate the flights' arrival was also a Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Wines affair. And it's rumored that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Branson in his suite for pow wow.