Virgin Hotels’ influential CEO steps down
Raul Leal has played a pivotal role in building the Virgin Hotels brand
Raul Leal is leaving his role as Virgin Hotels’ CEO, with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson hailing a leader who he said “has been instrumental in helping to establish the Virgin Hotels brand and culture”.
Shaping Virgin Hotels’ brand identity
Leal joined Virgin Hotels in 2010, becoming the company’s first employee as it developed its lifestyle hotel offering, all while establishing an initial pipeline of projects. Since then, Leal has been key in moulding the brand’s character and infrastructure. He successfully honed its renowned service ethos, for example, while also building a world-class management team and forging strong relations with partners.
“Raul has been instrumental in helping to establish the Virgin Hotels brand and culture over the last decade,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. “His eye for design, his devotion to his team and focus on our guests has created a unique proposition and we are thankful for his leadership.”
Virgin Hotels looks to the future with confidence
With the brand now firmly established and major hotel openings in the pipeline for Las Vegas, New York and New Orleans, Leal has made the decision to step back from day-to-day management of the company. As well as focusing on new personal projects, he’ll continue to consult for Virgin Group as an advisor on brand- and design-related matters.
“It has been a joy to work with one of the world’s great brands and launch a disruptive business,” said Leal. “I am extremely proud of the unique concept proposition we have built at Virgin Hotels.
“From the distinctive ‘Chamber’ room design to the vibrant food and beverage operations, we have created a product and service focused on our customers and always strived to exceed expectations. With Virgin Hotels poised for sustained success and the current business climate ripe for disruption, now is the right time for me to follow my passion of building new organisations and helping others re-energise existing cultures with purpose.”
“Raul has built a tremendous platform for Virgin Hotels to expand over the last ten years,” added Peter Norris, chairman of Virgin Hotels. “We have won several distinguished hotel awards and have shaken up the lifestyle hotel sector with our distinctive proposition and innovative designs. His passion for service and his commitment to his people mark him out as a hotelier of distinction and leave the brand in excellent shape to thrive in the coming years.”
Virgin Hotels concluded that a new CEO “will be announced in the coming weeks”.
ABOUT THE CHAIN
Virgin Hotels is a lifestyle hospitality brand combining heartfelt service, straightforward value and seamless, personalised hotel experiences with the track record of innovation and smart disruption that Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is known for.