SH Hotels & Resorts


Raul Leal

Chief Executive Officer
SH Group

Raul Leal is a 35-year veteran of the hospitality industry with extensive experience building luxury and lifestyle brands. He has held top leadership roles at some of the world’s most prestigious firms.

For the past decade, Leal was President and CEO of Virgin Hotels, recruited directly by Richard Branson to launch the brand. During his 10+ years at Virgin, Leal spearheaded the organizational vision, developed and implemented the strategic business plan, and led daily operations, building a world-class team and growing a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Leal oversaw the launch of five Virgin Hotels and the development of an additional ten in its pipeline. He also developed a sustainability foundation, comprising all design, construction, and operations through LEED standards and strict environmental guidelines. The first Virgin Hotel was voted #1 in the US and #6 in the world by Condé Nast Traveler readers.

Prior to launching Virgin, Leal was President and Partner at Tecton Hospitality, a management firm which owned and operated a diverse portfolio of 35 boutique hotels. In 2002, foreseeing the rapid growth of the boutique hotel model, he launched Desires Hotels, a division of Tecton and one of the first management companies to use data and tech to better understand guest preferences.

Leal is currently an official Mentor at Cornell University. He has also served on Cornell’s Boards for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.