After opening its first property in Chicago in 2015 and a second in San Francisco earlier in 2019, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels group revealed to AFAR that it plans to open a property in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood in the heart of the downtown financial district in 2023.
“We’re really excited to be here. I’m a local and I’ve run hotels here and owned hotels in Miami, so I’m just thrilled to be here,” Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal told AFAR. “From the very beginning, we had about 10 target markets in the U.S. and Miami was right there at the very top of that list. It’s taken us a little longer, we just wanted to find the right location. Given the fact that Virgin Voyages and Virgin Trains [are based in Miami] and Virgin Atlantic flies in here—this is just the latest addition.”
This won’t be the only Miami property the hotel group plans on opening either. “We’re actually going to have two hotels,” Leal added, promising a Virgin Hotels South Beach somewhere down the line. “We’ve been looking at South Beach for a while, but haven’t quite found the right building to be able to transition to our product.”
In the meantime, the Brickell property is set to break ground in 2020 at 1040 S. Miami Avenue with Blue Jay Capital as the developer and BLUR Workshop as the architect. When it opens it will provide an end-to-end experience with Virgin’s other Miami-based companies including Virgin Atlantic’s local hub, Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line that launches in April 2020, and Virgin Trains, the high-speed rail company that offers service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and eventually Orlando.
The new-build hotel in Brickell will be 40 stories tall and will feature 250 guest rooms and a spa, as well as 150 residential units. It’s the first time Virgin Hotels will open a mixed-use residential building. There will also be an outlet of the hotel brand’s social club, Commons Club, as well as a beer garden, live music venue, and a location of Funny Library Coffee Shop. The “crown jewel” of the entire building, according to Leal, will be the multi-story rooftop lounge with amazing views and a pool that will be open to the public.
Compared to its other existing hotels, Virgin Hotels Miami will feature similar room layouts and the same “No Nickel and Diming” policy (think street-priced minibars, free Wi-Fi, and no resort fees or other hidden amenity fees). However, the design and decor will be locally inspired.
“We take great pride in trying to select mostly local designers if we can, and certainly local architects to help us ground the design in the community,” Leal says. “Our objective with these hotels is we never want the community to feel like, ‘Oh God, here comes this big brand putting another building next to us.’ So our approach on this is very careful relative to what’s around the hotel, how we blend, the flow of customers in and out of the location, and what it does to the community.”
The two Miami properties will join the brand’s existing hotels in Chicago and San Francisco. Its third property will open in Dallas in December 2019 and will be followed soon after by the Virgin Hotels Nashville in April 2020. Ground has also been broken on hotels in New York City, which is slated to open in 2020, as well as New Orleans and Edinburgh openings in 2021. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will be converted into a Virgin Hotel later in 2020 and additional California properties have been announced for Silicon Valley and Palm Springs.
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