Launching Virgin Hotels New Orleans

Richard Branson cutting the ribbon to open Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Virgin Hotels
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 8 October 2021

A few years ago I stood in an empty car park, wearing a hardhat and holding a shovel, trying to imagine what wonders could spring to life from the concrete. Fast forward to today, and I’m waking up in the absolutely beautiful Virgin Hotels New Orleans.

Richard Branson sitting on a sofa in a chamber at Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Virgin Hotels

Walking around the hotel, I could immediately see the little details that make all the difference, from the artwork to the menus to the music – all created with brilliant local people. Like any Virgin experience, what makes it special is the people, who bring such passion to the place. I loved joining the teammates for an afternoon rally that really brought home the spirit of the team and the city.

Joan and I enjoyed some delicious meals in the Commons Club, a New Orleans spin on our hotels’ signature restaurant, bar and lounge. I then enjoyed a game of chess against a rather unusual opponent. It took him an age to take his turns – something bunny was going on…

Richard Branson playing chess with a bunny at Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Virgin Hotels

We also got chance to meet with the delightful Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell, who was alongside us for the groundbreaking too, and many community leaders who are working hard to keep the city thriving. 

Now, I’ve had quite a few exciting experiences in my time, but I’ve never got chance to lead a marching band before – let alone the best marching band in the world. What an honour to join the legendary St. Augustine High School band for a performance through the streets of New Orleans.

Richard Branson outside Virgin Hotels New Orleans with a marching band
Virgin Hotels

I loved strapping on the iconic outfit, complete with whistle and baton, and joining the Marching 100 as they welcomed Virgin Hotels New Orleans to the neighbourhood in inimitable style. There’s nothing like music in the streets, horns blaring and people dancing. I had no idea how hard it was though – what a workout keeping up with the kids! 

Like all of New Orleans, St Augustine has shown great resilience in the wake of the hurricane earlier this year, and we were humbled to offer our support to the school in its recovery. Then we cut the big red ribbon to officially launch Virgin Hotels New Orleans.

Richard Bransoncuts the opening ribbon of Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Virgin Hotels

The evening saw Dreamboat sail into view, our stunning cocktail lounge on the 13th floor, beside the pool with glorious views of New Orleans. We’re excited to reflect and grow the city’s welcoming spirit and exciting entertainment scene through our hotel and become a gathering place for the entire community and a destination for both locals and visitors alike. Judging by the party, we’re off to a strong start.

Virgin Hotels New Orleans opening party
Virgin Hotels

What an exciting time for the Virgin Hotels team, as we go fresh from launching Virgin Hotels Las Vegas to opening Virgin Hotels New Orleans – with Edinburgh, Glasgow and more on the way. Thanks to the wonderful Virgin Hotels team and our partners for bringing this idea to life in such spectacular style. I’m looking forward to my next visit already.