Leal appointed CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts

Starwood Capital Group has hired hospitality industry heavyweight Raul Leal to lead the company behind the 1 Hotels, Treehouse and Baccarat brands, succeeding Arash Azarbarzin.

Leal appointed CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts

by | 17 Aug 2021 | Portfolio

Starwood Capital Group has hired hospitality industry heavyweight Raul Leal to lead the company behind the 1 Hotels, Treehouse and Baccarat brands, succeeding Arash Azarbarzin.

A new CEO will guide SH Hotels & Resorts through the next stage of its growth trajectory.

An impressive brand portfolio

Private investment firm Starwood Capital Group has announced that Raul Leal will take over as CEO of its subsidiary SH Hotels & Resorts from 19 August 2021. The ambitious hotel brand management company operates three global flags: 1 Hotels, which aims to share the philosophy of enjoying a luxury experience while also embracing sustainability; Treehouse, notable for its fun and playfully bohemian spirit; and Baccarat Hotels and Residences, focusing on the ultra-luxury bespoke market.

The 1 Hotels brand currently has properties in South Beach, Manhattan, Brooklyn, LA and Haitang Bay with another opening lined up for Toronto this month, and schemes under development in London, Paris, San Francisco, Nashville, Kauai, Cabo San Lucas and Melbourne, with another 15 in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Treehouse debuted in London and is set to enter Sunnyvale, Copenhagen, Manchester and Miami, while Baccarat Hotels and Residences is currently operating in New York, with other hotels under development in Bordeaux, Miami, Florence and Macau.

SH Brands is set to establish its headquarters in Miami, while retaining locations in New York and LA.

Taking over from Azarbarzin

Leal will succeed Arash Azarbarzin, who is set to leave SH Hotels & Resorts to pursue a new opportunity.

“We are excited to announce the appointment of Raul Leal as CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts,” said Barry Sternlicht, chairman of SH Hotels & Resorts. “Raul will continue to lead the company’s rapid expansion and help polish and continue to redefine the very definition of excellence in guest service as SH moves into the ranks of a major independent management hotel company.

“Raul has a track record of innovation and understands branding, sophisticated and compelling design and new technologies that can power and enhance the guest experience. I’m thrilled he will lead the next chapter of the company’s growth.”

Leal added: “I am honoured and thrilled to be joining one of the great innovators in our industry, Barry Sternlicht and the talented SH team. Barry has created a brand with a purpose which is near and dear to my heart and resonates with today’s consumers, team members and shareholders.”

A wealth of experience

In this new role, Leal will draw on his extensive hospitality experience. He most recently served as president and CEO of Virgin Hotels for a decade, overseeing the launch of five branded hotels and the development of another ten, before leaving earlier this year with a glowing tribute from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.

Prior to Virgin Hotels, Leal served as president and partner at independent management company Tecton Hospitality, which owned and operated 35 branded and boutique hotels. He also launched Desires Hotels, a division of Tecton Hospitality, in 2002, making it one of the first management companies to focus on the boutique lifestyle hotel segment, as well as one of the first to use customer relationship management technology.

In addition, Leal has held general management positions with Interstate Hotels, Lane Hotels and The Continental Companies.

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