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Richard Branson Reveals His Biggest Travel Pet Peeve

Sir Richard Branson is no stranger to travel.


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He’s ventured to all seven continents, launched hotel and airline businesses, and is determined to visit space by this summer. Plus, he has a private island that he jets to frequently. So, as someone who likely has millions of miles under his belt, it’s no surprise that the billionaire expects certain accommodations when jet setting. While he can be flexible, certain things just drive him crazy.

“I was in a brand-new hotel, and I got in at 3 a.m. from Abu Dhabi, climbed into bed and I went to turn off the light, and there was no bloody light switch,” Branson told Departures at the Virgin Voyages on February 14. “I just thought, ‘This is a new hotel. The least they could have done is put a light switch by the bed.’ So, I had to get out of bed, walk around to the other side of the bed where the light switch was. I turned it off, hit the chaise in the darkroom, and I felt this is not the way to launch a new hotel. It’s not getting little details right [that’s my biggest pet peeve].”

It’s paying attention to detail, after all, that helped propel the entrepreneur into mogul status. “It’s those little things that get me down,” he added. That’s why on his new cruise ship, The Scarlet Lady, Branson made sure he paid attention to those common-sense details to enhance the guest experience.

Related: Richard Branson Has a Second Private Island––and Yes, You Can Stay There

“On our ship, we have six USB ports—two on each side of the bed and two on the desk—switched on both sides of the bed,” Tom McAlpin, President, and CEO of Virgin Voyages told us. “Thank god we got the bedside switches right too!”

And it’s more than just the practical placement of switches that Branson ensured were part of the ship’s design. He also wanted to eliminate the pet peeve of temperature regulation in the cabins. “With the Nest technology, when people leave the cabins the air conditioning automatically switches off,” said Branson. “Then when you go to sleep, it will sense your breathing and turn the AC off. Or, you can control the temperature from your phone, so your room is the perfect temperature when you get back.”

This is all on top of the other amenities like free Wifi, fitness classes, food and the removal of gratuities and service charges aka typical gripes among travelers. “This new luxury is about knowing you are taken care of,” said McAlpin at the launch. “That you’re never being nickel and dimed, and what you want, even some of the things you didn’t know you wanted, are already taken care of for you.”

Related: Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages Will Have the Coolest Suites at Sea—Take a Look Inside

The Scarlet Lady will sail from Miami to the Caribbean in 2020 and voyages departing from April 1 through October 21, 2020, now on sale.


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