Private investment firm Starwood Capital Group announced today that industry veteran Raul Leal has been named chief executive officer of SH Hotels & Resorts, the hotel company that oversees the 1 Hotels, Treehouse Hotels, and Baccarat Hotels brands. Upon beginning his new role on Thursday, August 19th, Leal will succeed former CEO Arash Azarbarzin, who is leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity.

The news comes seven months after Leal stepped down as CEO of Virgin Hotels, where he oversaw the launch of five Virgin-branded hotels and the development of another 10 in its pipeline during his 10-year tenure. Prior to that, Leal was president and partner at Tecton Hospitality, a now-defunct independent management company that owned and operated a portfolio of 35 branded hotels and boutique hotels.

“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,” says Barry Sternlicht, chairman of SH Hotels & Resorts. “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 adds: “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.”

SH Hotel & Resorts plans to establish its headquarters office in Miami and maintain a presence in New York and Los Angeles.

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