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Given how little information we could parse together about the two new Montcalm Hotels potentially opening in London, we headed into town to see what we could find in person. Double-checking addresses, we struck one of our list before we even left the house, with the hotel on Finsbury Square no longer featured on the website.
What we found in Shoreditch was a little more encouraging in terms of actual construction going on, with the hotel at or very near its highest point. Just north of Old Street Station, the pointy building is very nearly without horizontal lines, sitting next to a fancy apartment complex (on the left) also in progress.
A tipster whispers in our ear that despite the ongoing construction under the Montcalm banner, a number of other groups, including Virgin Hotels, are interested in acquiring the property. While we can’t verify that bit of delicious hotel gossip, we’re all over it – especially since Montcalm doesn’t seem quite sure of anything when it comes to the hotel.
The Virgin Hotel Chicago announced their new executive chef last week and with that announcement we also learned a little bit more about the very mysterious Virgin we're dying to sleep with.
Chef Rick Gresh comes to Virgin after a 7-year stint as Executive Chef at David Burke's Primehouse restaurant at The James Hotel, which was deemed "Best Steakhouse" by Chicago Magazine in 2013. He's been cooking in Chicago for nearly 20 years and puts innovative concepts and local sourcing at the forefront of his approach to cooking. Here's what he said about joining Team Virgin:
“I am thrilled to join Virgin Hotels and inspired by their dedication to exceptional, locally sourced food,” says Gresh. “With six unique concepts under one property, this project will mark a landmark moment in Chicago’s F&B landscape, and I am very excited to be a part of the team.”
Yup. Read it again. He really did say SIX F&B concepts.
What will those be? We can only guess but it will include at least the hotel's main restaurant, probably the rooftop, possibly a bar menu, hypothetically a small cafe and maybe, room service? But that's only five concepts. Dammit, Virgin. You're killing us here. Guess we will have to wait until September when the hotel opens to find out.
In the meantime, here are 6 things we already know about Virgin Hotels.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
The Virgin Hotel in Nashville, which is set to open at One Music Row in 2016, has not even been built yet but is already suffering from some ED issues--Ex-Developer issues.
The Tennessean reports that developer David Chase, executive vice president of D.F. Chase Inc. and the lead developer behind the Virgin Hotel, was arrested last week for twice assaulting his girlfriend. In one day. Chase faces charges of aggravated assault by strangulation, vandalism and interference with a 911 call.
The investors behind the Virgin project are now trying to figure out how to get Chase to "step aside" but his ownership stake in the lot where the hotel will go up has complicated matters. Still, a Virgin spokesperson gave this statement to the Tennessean: "We are aware of the situation and while we cannot comment on a pending investigation, we have no tolerance for domestic violence."
Meanwhile, construction on the hotel was to start this summer but that could be delayed until a new developer is found.
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
Virgin Hotels are still working away on their first hotel in Chicago, four long years after Sir Richard Branson hinted to us there would be a Virgin Hotels brand, but the new locations are starting to populate.
Most recently, the brand announced plans for Nashville along with NYC and with Dallas, LA, Miami, and London on the horizon. And now possibly. Silicon Valley.
The Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Virgin Hotels are looking to develop a hotel on a parking lot next to a Caltrain station in downtown Mountain View, which is home to Google and other tech companies. In typical Virgin Hotels fashion, details are scant on the project idea. But maybe some new info will come to light when it's discussed at the city council meeting on Tuesday.
Yet as the Virgin Hotel brand stays fully clothed from head to toe, they did give us 6 things we should know about the Virgin Hotel experience and they are all pretty perfect things for Silicon Valley's start-up culture. Except maybe the part about wooing women. Virgin might have teach some of those kids a few things about that.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
Virgin Hotels have been taking
too long their sweet time in opening their first property. They've also been extremely tight-lipped--some may even say closed-off--about the details of their hotel experience. But today, HotelChatter has an inside line on what to expect when the first Virgin Hotel opens in Chicago this fall, to be followed by other eager, young Virgins around the world.
Here are 6 THINGS VIRGIN HOTELS WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEM as told to HotelChatter by Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels.
1. Virgin Hotels Will Woo Women
"We are building a product experience sensitive to how women travel," Leal said. Indeed, 60 percent of the Virgin Hotels team is women and they've been giving their input on the room experience from a female business traveler perspective, highlighting more drawers and closet space and a dedicated space to apply make-up. But Leal said Virgin will still be build something that both sexes like and that "works for both sides."
Virgin Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Hype / Sir Richard Branson / Raul Leal / Nashville Hotels / → All Tags
You can probably thank Taylor Swift for the latest announcement from Virgin Hotels. The burgeoning hotel brand has just revealed they will open a new hotel in Nashville in 2016 in a pretty prime location--One Music Row.
Virgin Hotels Nashville will have 240 guest rooms, multiple "concept" suites, along with food and beverage outlets and perhaps most necessary of all, a cutting edge recording studio.
“Based on its nonstop cultural and live events, food and beverage scene, and its ability to inspire both talented artists and TV viewers, Nashville’s time is now – and we’d like to be part of that excitement,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Virgin Hotels will be our first venture in Nashville, and we’ll look at other opportunities for our US and international customers to enjoy the southern hospitality that Nashville is known for.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Hotels Chicago is apparently just "months away from opening" according to Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. After that, Virgin has its eyes set on NYC, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, San Fran, DC and London.
We don't think we need to say it again but it bears repeating, "Hurry up because we can't hardly wait."
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
Millennial Hotels / Tommie Hotels / Virgin Hotels / Radisson Red / Moxy Hotels / AC Hotels by Marriott / Hotel News / → All Tags
Millennials at work. And probably a little bit of play. Or at least some tweeting.
How do you solve a problem like Millennials? Well, if you're a hotel company, the answer is "easy"--simply create an entirely new hotel brand for this up and coming, creative class of tech-toting, over-sharing, individuals. Here's a list of new hotel brands that have opened or will open in the coming years aimed at Millennials. These hotels will put a ton of emphasis on social spaces and technology (all have free WiFi) as well as design (carefully curated yet extremely functional.)
But servicing Millennials isn't limited to the hotels that are on this list. Several older brands have been rejiggering their brand standards to cater to Millennials like Courtyard By Marriott with their new Next Gen Rooms. So expect most hotels in the future to be copying some of these new offerings.
Except the old-ass, old-school luxury hotels, that is. It doesn't matter what year you were born, there comes a time in your life when you'd rather just sit in a quiet lounge sipping on some fine wine while LiteFM plays overhead.
The spin-off brand from Thompson Hotels (and parent company, Commune Hotels) should open sometime next year in 2015. Tommies guestrooms will be space-efficient “crash pads” rather than tricked-out hotel rooms with emphasis being given to the communal spaces like the Reading Rooms which will have curated programming and the casual dining experiences, like the gourmet “grab and go” marketplace. Check-in will be done via tablets but given Tommie’s “help yourself” attitude we wouldn’t be surprised if Tommie employed a self check-in process.
Last week, we nearly lost our minds when we heard of a new underwater hotel that was hoping to open in Australia. Aside from our general dislike of underwater hotels (do we really need them?), we had major issues with this hotel looking to set up shop, literally, at the Great Barrier Reef. NO.
Fortunately, like all other underwater hotels we've heard about in our decade here at HotelChatter, this hotel will probably never see the light of day, or the darkness of the ocean floor. But now today, we've got to put up with yet another stupid hotel idea. And the only thing we hate more than underwater hotels are Space Hotels.
“If we can get enough people wanting to fly [to space] we can start building Virgin hotels in space, we can start doing trips to Mars, we can colonise Mars, we can start pulling asteroids back to Earth to see what minerals they have got in them."
Oh brother. We like how Branson dreams big, like intergalactic big but c'mon. Please open Virgin Hotels here on earth first and then we can start talking about your space hotels and colonizing other planets.
Now, this is a great sign for the upcoming Virgin Hotel Chicago, opening in September--the hotel just named their general manager.
Anna Anderson brings more than 25 years of hotel management experience to Virgin, having worked most recently at the Mosaic Hotel and the Maison 140 Hotel in Beverly Hills. She's also worked in the midwest before, at the motorcycle-themed Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee. So should Sir Richard Branson want to arrive in Chicago on his hog, she'll know what to do.
Virgin Hotels CEO, Raul Leal, had this to say about Anderson:
"Anna's innate ability to motivate her team to consistently deliver high levels of customer service made her the ideal candidate to lead the opening of our first property."
We love that she's wearing Virgin red in her photo too.
According to the Chicago Biz Journal, The Virgin Hotel Chicago will have 250 guest rooms, 40 one bedroom suites and 2 "rock star suites." Say what? This Virgin sure knows how to keep us hanging on.
[Photos: HotelChatter and Chicago Business Journal]
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]