SH Hotels and Resorts CEO, Raul Leal.

Former Virgin Hotels President and CEO, Raul Leal, has been recruited as the new Chief Executive Officer at SH Hotels and Resorts as the company continues its global expansion objectives.

The company, which operates the 1 Hotels, Treehouse Hotels and Baccarat Hotels brands, welcomed Leal to his new post this week. In his time with Virgin Hotels, Leal oversaw the opening of five new properties and the addition of 10 more into the pipeline. Prior to Virgin, he served as President of Tecton Hospitality, an independent management company specialising in boutique hotels.

The Seafarers complex in Melbourne will be home to Australia’s first 1 Hotels location.

SH Hotels is well underway with development of its first presence in Australia under the 1 Hotels brand, with construction continuing on the Seafarers complex adjacent to the Yarra River in Melbourne. The 1 Hotels brand is also preparing to open new locations in London, Paris, San Francisco, Kauai among others. New developments are also underway in many major European and Asian cities under the Treehouse and Baccarat brands.

In his new role, Leal succeeds Arash Azarbarzin as CEO, who has now departed the organisation to pursue new opportunities. SH Hotels Chairman, Barry Sternlicht, paid tribute to Azarbarzin for his “incredible partnership in building SH and in helping to establish the 1 and Treehouse brands” in various markets around the world.

“We are excited to announce the appointment of Raul Leal as CEO of SH Hotels & Resorts,” Sternlicht added.

An artist impression of the arrival experience at 1 Hotel Melbourne.

“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.”

Leal said he was honoured to be joining “one of the great innovators in our industry” and said he was looking forward to working closely with the company to evolve a brand that resonated with today’s consumers, team members and shareholders.