The Dallas real estate community was out in force to greet Sir Richard Branson Monday evening in the sizzling Dallas Design District, and Sir Richard lived up to his reputation of an innovator who would never consider doing anything ordinary.
Branson rode into the parking lot, future site of the state’s first Virgin Hotel at Hi Line Drive and Turtle Creek Boulevard, on a white stallion with Miss Texas astride, wearing a Virgin red cowboy hat and red cowboy boots.
“He told me he wanted to arrive one of three ways,” said Dunhill Partners founder Bill Hutchinson, owner of the 33 acres where the new hotel will be located. “By hot air balloon, on a Texas steer, or a white horse.”
Hutchinson says he called his insurance broker, who advised the horse as having the least amount of risk.
And so in Sir Branson rode on a hot Texas evening, posing for photos with Mayor Rawlings, City Councilwoman Monica Alonzo, Dirk Nowitzki, and the Dallas-based development team of Gatehouse Capital CEO Marty Collins, The Crossland Group founder Luke Crossland, and Virgin’s brand CEO. Everyone grabbed a gold shovel where the dirt met the asphalt parking lot that will be the sprawling lobby of the first Texas Virgin Hotel come fall of 2018. Dirt was flying everywhere!
Branson’s nod to Texas culture — hat, boots, and a beauty queen — along with his signature red and stagger, impressed. He danced to a little C&W — great dancer, obviously an athletic man at age 66. He spoke briefly, too, saying the last time he was in Texas was to write a love letter to the City of Dallas to get his Virgin Airlines a slot at Love Field, what he called “Love City”. That visit also included body surfing at The Rustic in Uptown.
“If you write a love letter, and your entreaty is accepted, the next thing you need is a hotel,” said Branson.