Virgin Group’s Virgin Hotels brand was announced only slightly more than a year old but it now has the location of its first U.S. hotel all locked up and it’s going to be in downtown Chicago, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Virgin has just bought the 83-year-old, 27-story Art Deco Old Dearborn Bank Building in Chicago, an official landmark, and now will convert it into a 250-room hotel with restaurants, lounges, and meeting space, the site reports.
The plan, according to the Journal, is to open three to five such places in the U.S. in the next five years. This one is expected to open in the fall of 2013, but others that have not yet been announced may open sooner, WSJ notes. Cities that have been scouted by Virgin include New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Washington, D.C.
Of course, with the tough economy, hotels aren’t exactly thriving right now but Virgin isn’t worried. “Virgin takes a long-term view,” said Anthony Marino, chief of Virgin Hotels, to the Journal.
"We’re not necessarily here to time the markets perfectly. What we’ve learned is that if you focus on our customer and get the product right, you’ll have the staying power to endure the cycles. At the end of the day, you’ll come out OK."
As for why it chose to rehab a classic property in the Windy city for its US launch? "Chicago is a top destination for pleasure and business, with all the qualities we look for in Virgin Hotels locations: It's economically vibrant, culturally exciting and a sports and entertainment hub," commented Raul Leal, president and COO of Virgin Hotels, to the Chicago Tribune.