102 | Putting the Consumer in Control of their Experience with Raul Leal


Raul is CEO of Virgin Hotels and is responsible for the company’s overall expansion, customer experience and culture. In a career that spans 30 years, Raul has held top management positions for Interstate Hotels, Lane Hotels and the Continental companies and is one of the few hospitality industry executives that understands both the lifestyle and branded hotels segments.

In between 1996 and 2010, Raul was President and Partner at Tecton Hospitality which owned and operated over 35 full branded hotels and was named a “Preferred Hotel Management Company” by most of the major brands. In 2002 he launched Desires Hotels, a management company focused on the growing lifestyle hotel segment. Desires Hotels had 20 award winning modern boutique hotels located in urban and resort locations domestically and internationally. Desires Hotels was named “Best Management Company of the Year” by Lodging Hospitality in 2008 and consistency achieved high levels of RevPAR and profitability as well as social media rankings and owner satisfaction. Raul also serves on the boards of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Cornell University.

In This Episode, Raul Reveals

  • What it was like in the early days of Virgin Hotels, the vision behind the brand proposition, and how they approached the many decisions that needed to be made during development before they open doors on their first property in Chicago in 2015.
  • Their plans for opening hotels in San Francisco, New Orleans; Silicon Valley, CA; Nashville, TN; and Palm Springs, CA, Dallas, TX and New York City, and well as an international announcement coming later this year.
  • Some of they ways they leverage some of the other brands in the Virgin Group to maximize profitability.
  • What it has been like to have Sir Richard Branson, and the Virgin Group, behind him on this incredible journey.

Resources & Links

Raul Leal

Virgin Hotels

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