First Images: Virgin Will Open Five New Hotels in 2021/22/23
Above image: Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
In the Post-Millennium hotel world, the old adage “if you build it, they will come,” actually seemed a pretty reasonable business strategy. To wit, the Marriott boutique brand Moxy launched in 2014, and by 2020 there were more than sixty of them worldwide (with another couple dozen in the pipeline) – and business was good.
But with pandemic conditions seeing hotels now running at 30 – 40 – 50% capacity across the globe, one might rationally expect the brakes to be put on most pending projects. Yet some boutique brands are moving intrepidly forward into the coming 24-36 months, coronavirus crisis be, well…damned. First, there was Ian Schrager’s EDITION promising seven new properties by the end of this year. And now comes the announcement that Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels has plans to debut another five over the course of the next couple of years.
The four US locales seemed pretty much inevitable for the distinctly “mediarati” focused brand: NYC, Las Vegas, Miami and New Orleans. But Sir Richard will also be taking it back to his homeland, with Virgin’s first British property set to open in Edinburgh in 2022.
The New York hotel will debut, hardly surprisingly, this autumn in NoMad – which has become Gotham’s definitive hip hotel corridor over the last decade or so, a distinction which had passed from SoHo to the LES as the calendar flipped to a new century. The striking looking new building will be courtesy of the venerable MARKZEFF Design, and will feature retail on the first two floors. Vegas will actually be welcoming guests as early as this spring, in what was formerly the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – once the “bad behavior” capital of a notoriously bad behavior city. It’s now being reimagined as a luxe, contemporary desert landscape, spread over five acres, and with a 60,000 square foot casino.
New Orleans will get a Virgin sometime this summer, not in the French Quarter, but instead the Central Business District, which has become a hub of independent shops and galleries over the last couple of decades – so perfect then for those not looking inclined towards haunted bar tours. With 230 rooms and interiors by local luminaries Logan Killen, the hotel will have a more residential feel, with bold use of color, and lots of cool, postmodern pastiche.
Edinburgh has seen a bit of a boutique boom in recent years, so next year’s Virgin arrival will only solidify its status as Britain’s best city for hotels after London. Located in the landmarked India Buildings on a moody stretch of Old Town known as Cowgate, it will be just a couple of blocks from the buzzy Grassmarket. Overall, there will be 225 rooms, including a category called Grand Chamber Suites, which we will definitely be booking.
Miami won’t throw open its doors until sometime in 2023. But the 40-story new build promises a spa, live music venue and 15,000 square feet of meeting/event space.
All of the new properties will boast the brand’s signature Commons Club restaurant/bar, which has become a cognoscenti schmoozing/seeing/being-seen magnet in each of Virgin’s existing hotels.
For almost a year now, we’ve missed the simple pleasure of making a first entrance into a brand new hotel, taking in the sensory overload of sights, sounds and smells (new hotels, like new cars, do have a smell). So we’re obviously particularly thankful to Virgin Hotels for promising us that experience will again be a part of our near future.
Above Images: 1) Virgin Hotels Miami, 2/3) Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, 3/4) Virgin Hotels New York