Areas of Expertise:
- Launching new companies or changing the culture of existing ones
- Branding and Design
In a career that spans over 35 years, he has held top management and ownership positions in the hotel business for some the industry’s most prestigious firms and is one of the few hospitality industry executives that understands the complexities of the lifestyle and branded hotel segments. In 2010, he was recruited directly by Richard Branson to launch Virgin Hotels, the award-winning lifestyle hotel brand of Virgin Group. In this capacity, he developed the brand from the ground up and guided the company to planned expansion and development, while maximizing net income and positioning the organization as a business leader in the highly competitive lifestyle segment. He cultivated a culture of diversity, inclusion, and equity, building a world-class leadership team encompassing hotel industry experts and veterans from industry-leading competitors. He successfully raised $500M+ in debt and equity championing existing and future projects while directing $1B+ in multiple hotel renovations and executing 13 long term management agreements. The first Virgin Hotel was voted #1 in the US and #6 in the world by Conde Nast consumer polls. In between 1996 and 2010, Raul was President and Partner at Tecton Hospitality; an independently owned management company, which owned and operated a diverse portfolio of 35 branded hotels and boutique hotels. Tecton Hospitality was a “Preferred Hotel Management Company” by most of the major legacy brands. In 2001, anticipating the growth of the boutique hotel segment, he launched Desires Hotels; a division of Tecton Hospitality and one of the first management companies focused on the growing lifestyle hotel segment and using technology to understand consumer preferences. Desires Hotels had 20 award winning modern boutique hotels located in urban and resort locations domestically and internationally. Desires Hotels was named “Best Management Company of the Year” by Lodging Hospitality in 2008. Prior to this he served in General Management capacities for Interstate Hotels, Lane Hotels and The Continental Companies. Raul has also served on the Boards for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Cornell University. Currently, Raul serves as an Advisor to Virgin Group and a Mentor at Cornell University.