Starwood Capital Group, a global private investment firm focused on real estate and energy infrastructure, has appointed Raul Leal as CEO, SH Hotels & Resorts, a subsidiary company that oversees brands such as 1 Hotels and Homes, Treehouse Hotels and Baccarat Hotels. He will begin his new role on Aug. 19.
Leal is a longtime veteran of the hotel industry with extensive experience building brands, having most recently served as the president/CEO, 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, he was president/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 boutique hotels located in U.S. and global urban and resort locations. 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. 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, 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 global reality and market leaders,” he said. “We will miss Arash and wish him success in all his endeavors.”
Leal said, “I am honored 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.”
Leal joins SH Hotels & Resorts as it is positioned for explosive growth, according to the company. Today, 1 Hotels has properties operating in South Beach (Miami); Manhattan; Brooklyn; Los Angeles; and Haitang Bay, China, and will open in Toronto this August. The brand also has projects under development in London; Paris; San Francisco; Nashville; Kauai, Hawaii; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Melbourne, Australia; and another 15 in its active pipeline. The Treehouse brand debuted in London and is under development in Sunnyvale, CA; Copenhagen; Manchester, U.K.; and Miami. Baccarat Hotels and Residences has a property open in New York City with projects under development in Bordeaux, France; Miami; Florence, Italy; and Macau, China.