MIAMI, Jan. 18, 2019 — Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel brand by Sir Richard Branson, is pleased to welcome two new members of the team: Owen Deignan as the new Director of Food & Beverage Operations, and Denise Walker as the new Vice President of Information Technology.
Owen Deignan, who was based in Chicago, brings 24 years of experience to the brand, and will be responsible for the food & beverage operations of all Virgin Hotels, including the highly anticipated Virgin Hotels San Francisco, opening in 2019. Deignan will work closely with the senior leadership team to develop and execute Virgin's strategic plan to drive growth and profitability in the culinary space, largely focusing on the evolution of the Commons Club concept and developing individual dining destinations in future Virgin Hotels.
Jay Wetzel, Vice President of Virgin Hotels Food & Beverage, remarked, "Owen was instrumental in the success of Commons Club and crafting the seasonal strategy for Cerise at Virgin Hotels Chicago which has seen unparalleled success this year. In addition, Owen has proved that strong leadership skills, pinpoint focus and comradery are the key ingredients in building a great team."
A graduate of Kendall College with an AAS in Culinary Arts, Deignan has worked with a number of food & beverage visionaries including Jean George Vongerichten, Ian Schrager and Hubert Keller. Prior to joining Virgin Hotels, Owen was Director of Operations of Snap Kitchen, a market-based concept company with Austin roots.
Denise Walker, who is based in Miami, is a seasoned Senior Global IT Leader and Operations Executive, and brings 15 years of experience in corporate operations management from a global company. Walker has successfully developed and led an accomplished, talented team of IT leaders and professionals to support, evolve and transform, IT infrastructure and business solutions one of the most highly-recognized, brands in the hospitality industry, Brookfield Hospitality.
Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels, stated, "Her track record speaks for itself by increasing performance through strategic planning, business process re-engineering, technology innovation and change management. Walker is a passionate, high-energy, result-driven leader, contributor and collaborator that is motivated to deliver organizational and operational excellence by leveraging her strengths and capabilities."
The company's first property, Virgin Hotels Chicago, opened in 2015. In terms of new development, Virgin Hotels San Francisco is slated to open in 2019. The brand has broken ground on four locations: New York, Dallas, Nashville and Edinburgh, UK. Forthcoming hotels have also been announced in Palm Springs, New Orleans, Silicon Valley and Washington DC Union Market, including the newest acquisition, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.