As a result of what he said was a skiing accident, Sir Richard Branson hobbled on stage at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in San Diego assisted by flight attendants from Virgin Atlantic Airways. With a captivated audience of some 2,000 members of the lodging industry in attendance, the famous and flamboyant entrepreneur, who is the face behind such successful worldwide endeavors as Virgin Records, Virgin Megastores, and his airline, made his debut in front of what will become his new colleagues in the hotel industry.
In an interview-style keynote address at the conference, Branson offered tidbits about his company’s new hotel brand, which was announced last September. Among the nuggets he offered up for the audience was that he expects one of the first hotels in the brand to be located in New Mexico, near the to-be-completed spaceport of his Virgin Galactic company, which is intended to sell trips to space to willing—and able—travelers. He also indicated that space travel could be built into the hotel brand’s loyalty program.
More down to earth details indicated by Branson include the basic concept of the brand, which will endeavor to build individual hotels and not seek to create a Virgin theme for each hotel. He said that each property, which will most likely fall in the four-star category, would be unique to the others in appearance. However, he said one constant of his company’s hotels is that they would be intended to be entertaining places with a premium on guest service.
One of the more lighthearted moments—of which there were many during the interview, which was conducted by a local San Diego news anchor—included Branson’s take on the recent media coverage of eliminating TV porn in hotels. He told the crowd that guests would be able to order food whenever they want—even breakfast at three o’clock in the morning—and watch adult movies if they choose.