Former Virgin Hotels’ CEO joins SH Hotels & Resorts

Former Virgin Hotels' CEO joins SH Hotels & Resorts

Raul Leal

Worldwide: Starwood Capital has appointed Raul Leal as CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts, effective from 19 August 2021.

Leal stepped down from his role as CEO of Virgin Hotels in January this year, succeeded by James Bermingham.

At Virgin, Leal spent 10 years with the company. He oversaw the launch of five Virgin-branded hotels and the development of another 10 in its pipeline.

Prior to Virgin, Leal served as president and partner at Tecton Hospitality, an independent management company which owned and operated a portfolio of 35 branded and boutique hotels.

In his new role, Leal will lead the growth of the 1 Hotels and Homes, Treehouse Hotels and Baccarat Hotels and Resorts brands. There are plans to establish headquarters in Miami while maintaining New York and Los Angeles as satellite venues.

Leal will be replacing Arash Azarbarzin, who is leaving SH Hotels & Resorts to pursue a new opportunity.

Speaking about his appointment, Leal said: “I am honoured and thrilled to be joining one of the great innovators in our industry, Barry Sternlicht and the talented SH team. Barry has created a brand with a purpose which is near and dear to my heart and resonates with today’s consumers, team members and shareholders. The operational foundation has been set by Arash Azarbarzin and his team, and I look forward to working closely with our people and partners on this wonderful journey.”

Sternlicht, chairman of SH Hotels & Resorts, said: “We are excited to announce the appointment of Raul Leal as CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts. Raul will continue to lead the company’s rapid expansion and help polish and continue to redefine the very definition of excellence in guest service as SH moves into the ranks of a major independent management hotel company. 

“Raul has a track record of innovation and understands branding, sophisticated and compelling design and new technologies that can power and enhance the guest experience. I’m thrilled he will lead the next chapter of the company’s growth. I want to thank Arash for his incredible partnership in building SH, and in helping establish the 1 and Treehouse brands as a global reality and market leaders. We will miss Arash and wish him success in all his endeavours.”

1 Hotels has properties operating in South Beach, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Haitang Bay (China), with a property soon to open this month in Toronto. There are projects under development in London, Paris, San Francisco, Nashville, Kauai, Cabo San Lucas, Melbourne and another 15 in the pipeline.

Treehouse debuted in London and there are currently hotels in development in Sunnyvale, Copenhagen, Manchester (UK) and Miami.

Baccarat Hotels and Residences are open in New York City with projects under development in Bordeaux, Miami, Florence and Macau.

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