Virgin Opening Chicago Hotel in 2013

A year after billionaire Sir Richard Branson announced its formation, Virgin Hotels has acquired a historic office building in downtown Chicago, which will open in fall 2013 as Virgin Hotel Chicago, the company announced yesterday.

A four-star lifestyle hotel brand operating under Branson's Virgin Group umbrella, Virgin Hotels will initially include up to 25 properties opening within the next seven years in "gateway cities." Each property will feature 150 to 400 guest rooms, restaurants and high-tech communal spaces where guests can "get work done, nourish and refresh themselves, meet other interesting people or just take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city."

Located in the Old Dearborn Bank Building — a 27-story Art Deco building in Chicago's "Loop" business district, designed by C.W. and George L. Rapp Architects in 1928 — Virgin Hotel Chicago will have 250 guest rooms and an unspecified amount of meeting space, as well as restaurants, lounges and other public areas "that reflect the Virgin brand's stylish and functional legacy."

"This transaction is a first step towards our goal of building a portfolio of hotels that anticipate and respond to the needs of today's travelers and set a new standard for the industry," said Anthony Marino, managing partner, Leisure and Hospitality, Virgin Group and head of Virgin Hotels. "The Virgin Hotels team is focused on finding the best locations and strongest partners to bring Virgin's product vision to life for our 60 million customers around the world."

In addition to Chicago, Virgin Hotels said it has an active pipeline of properties in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and London.

"As a result of our anticipated development growth, it is highly likely that one or more Virgin Hotels will open before Virgin Hotel Chicago," Marino said. "We are ready to respond to the growing number of unique real estate and repositioning opportunities generated by the current environment."