Richard Branson’s lifestyle hospitality brand Virgin Hotels has promoted Blake Smith from executive director of entertainment to vice president of entertainment and brand partnerships. Additionally, the company has added two new members to its team: Owen Deignan as director of food and beverage operations, and Denise Walker as vice president of information technology.
Smith, who is based in Chicago, has overseen entertainment initiatives for the brand since 2014. He has booked more than 400 bands and musical acts to perform at Virgin Hotels Chicago’s two entertainment venues, Upstairs and Cerise. He’s also organized partnerships with Chicago music festivals Pitchfork and Lollapalooza. In his new role, Smith will create brand-wide entertainment initiatives and partnerships to be implemented at new Virgin properties as the brand expands.
Deignan brings 24 years of experience to the brand. He will be in charge of F&B operations of all Virgin properties, including the San Francisco hotel set to open this year.
Walker comes to Virgin after 15 years in corporate operations management. She has successfully developed and led a team of IT leaders and professionals to support, evolve and transform IT infrastructure and business solutions at Brookfield Hospitality.
Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Hotels