MIAMI – August 2, 2021 – Starwood Capital Group, a leading global private investment firm focused on real estate and energy infrastructure, today announced the appointment of Raul Leal as Chief Executive Officer of SH Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary company that oversees brands such as 1 Hotels, Treehouse Hotels and Baccarat. Mr. Leal will begin his new role on August 19, 2021.
Mr. Leal joins SH Hotels & Resorts as it is positioned for explosive growth, following the award-winning launches of its three global brands, 1 Hotels and Homes, Treehouse Hotels, and Baccarat Hotels and Resorts. Today, 1 Hotels is founded on the mission of teaching people they can still enjoy a luxury experience while living a more sustainable life, and has hotels operating in South Beach, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Haitang Bay, China, and will open in Toronto this August. 1 Hotels also has projects under development in London, Paris, San Francisco, Nashville, Kauai, Cabo San Lucas, Melbourne and another 15 in its active pipeline. The group’s fun, focused and playfully bohemian Treehouse brand debuted in London and is under development in Sunnyvale, Copenhagen, Manchester, UK and Miami. The group’s ultra-luxury bespoke Baccarat Hotels and Residences are open in New York City with projects under development in Bordeaux, Miami, Florence and Macau.
Mr. Leal is a longtime veteran of the hotel industry with extensive experience building brands, having most recently served as the President and CEO of Virgin Hotels for 10 years, where he oversaw the launch of five Virgin-branded hotels and the development of another 10 in its pipeline. Previously. Mr. Leal was President and Partner at Tecton Hospitality, an independent management company, which owned and operated a diverse portfolio of 35 branded hotels and boutique hotels. In 2002, anticipating the growth of boutique hotels, he launched Desires Hotels, a division of Tecton Hospitality and one of the first management companies focused on the growing lifestyle hotel segment and one of the first to use CRM technology to understand consumer preferences. Under his leadership, Desires Hotels had 20 award-winning boutique hotels located in U.S. and global urban and resort locations and it was named “Best Management Company of the Year” by Lodging Hospitality at that time. Prior to those positions, he held General Management positions for Interstate Hotels, Lane Hotels and The Continental Companies.
SH Brands expects to establish its headquarters office in Miami, while maintaining New York and Los Angeles satellite venues. Mr. Leal will succeed Arash Azarbarzin, who will be leaving SH Hotels & Resorts to pursue a new opportunity.
“We are excited to announce the appointment of Raul Leal as CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts,” said Barry Sternlicht, Chairman 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 endeavors.”
“I am honored and thrilled to be joining one of the great innovators in our industry, Barry Sternlicht and the talented SH team,” said Mr. Leal. “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.”