Michael Austin 2014-07-26 07:47:53
HIGH FLYER FOR HIS NEXT FEAT, SIR RI CHARD BRANSON PLANS TO LAUNCH DOWNTO WN’S SWANKIEST HOTEL. Sir Richard Branson wants to take you to outer space, but he wants to make sure you’ve had a good night’s sleep before you go. To that end he is building his first city hotel in the Second City. “You’re meant to be very discerning people,” he says of Chicagoans. “If it can work in Chicago, it should be able to work around the rest of the world.” The gray-maned mastermind behind Virgin airlines, a handful of thrill-seeking world record attempts (and successes), several global causes, a wide array of philanthropic causes, a few boutique hotels and future galactic travel, is now entering the competitive field of high-end big-city hotels. The property, an existing building at 203 N. Wabash Ave., will have 250 rooms with all the standard luxury amenities—and then some. The aesthetic is important, as it is in all Virgin endeavors, but practical details will receive just as much attention. “You go into a hotel room and you just want sleep,” Branson says. “I’m not allowed to go into too much detail, but we hope we’ve solved all the mysteries of hotel life and done it with some style and class.” He can tell you what will not be a part of his Chicago hotel’s vibe: keys that don’t work, music that blasts as soon as you walk into your room, lights that have been left on and are close to impossible to figure out how to turn off. OK, he can let this one thing slip. “I think we’re planning to have a happy hour for free at the hotel,” he says. It reminds him of the time two of his hotel guests on Necker Island waited 90 minutes for the half-price happy hour drink special to kick in. He sat down with them, had a few drinks and ended up selling them each a $250,000 ticket to space on Virgin Galactic. “Obviously there’s no such thing as a free happy hour in Chicago,” he says. “If I’m there, people will have to buy space tickets as part of the free service they get.” He’s kidding, we think—but we can’t wait to check in and find out. BRANSON’S Hots Space travel, world records, taking better care of the Earth BRANSON’S Nots Global warming, depleted oceans, CEOs hiding in ivory towers
Published by Modern Luxury. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/Look+Who%E2%80%99s+Talking/1770960/219037/article.html.