DALLAS -- Sir Richard Branson helped turn dirt in Dallas’ design district on Monday to break ground on a 240-room Virgin Hotel, the first in Texas.
“It’s a really fun, hip place to go,” Branson said, describing how this property would be different from other hotels in the city. “But it’s also luxurious, it’s comfortable, and the staff is the best staff working at any hotel in the world.”
Donning a red cowboy hat and carrying Miss Texas behind him, Branson rode in on a white horse named Pepper as investors, dignitaries, and others snapped pictures of the spectacle on their smart phones.
The hotel, with its unique architecture, is expected to open in 2018 at Hi Line Drive and Turtle Creek Boulevard.
“It’s really about changing the game a little bit -- disrupting a different segment of the business,” said Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. “I think the way it differs is getting rid of some of the displeasures that customers hate -- nickel-and-diming charges, a better room product, a better food and beverage experience.”
The Dallas hotel will have luxury suites, restaurants, bars, meeting space, and a rooftop terrace with a pool, spa, and gym, according to the developer, Gatehouse Capital Corp.
The Virgin Hotel brand is relatively new, with the first one opening in Chicago last year.
“I suspect five years from now, we may have 30 sort-of flagship hotels in the state,” Branson told News 8. “Already, we have eight underway in wonderful cities, like Nashville, New York, and San Francisco.”
Construction on the Dallas property begins in March 2017.
There’s discussions about potentially adding a Virgin Hotel in Austin in the future, as well.