Red, White and Quirky: Inside Virgin Voyages' South Florida HQ

It's clear nothing about the new Virgin Voyages will be “cruising as normal,” if the quirky, bold look of its new headquarters' offices in Plantation, FL, just west of Fort Lauderdale, FLis any indication.

Getting off the elevator on the sixth floor, visitors encounter a bright red elevator lobby with lighting that gives an energetic vibe.  

Entering the offices, visitors will see a modern, spacious reception area. In fact, it seems "pretty normal," except for the purple, backless cushions (no stuffy reception seating found here) in front of the counter area.

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But across from (and totally open to) reception is a massive, elongated space bathed entirely in red from top to bottom. It has two large video screens, a long modern white table and cushioned seats on landings of various heights.  

Walking farther into the offices, visitors see such fanciful design elements as a red British phone booth, game tables and a large wall artistic piece comprised of "cut off" men's ties (Virgin's owner Sir Richard Branson has a "no ties" policy in the workplace).

Perhaps the most fun design element, from our perspective, was the glistening white bathtub in one corner, complete with small pink flamingo “tosses” and red-and-white plastic beach balls.

Cool Space, Disruptive Brand

"We have the coolest office space in South Florida,” said Tom McAlpin, the line’s president and CEO, in welcoming invited guests -- including government officials, travel partners and media -- to the company's official ribbon cutting and office opening on Thursday. 

The office decor clearly incorporates Virgin's brand path of red-and-purple colors, a fun, fanciful approach, trying new things, being disruptive and not taking the path well-traveled.

Put another way, “we’re always looking for a celebration,” McAlpin quipped. “We’re always looking for a party.” But he also said the new offices are proof that beautiful and thoughtful design is a core element of the brand, which promises a “Sea Change” for agents and consumers, although he did not get into any new details of what that would entail.

He did show a video the line released last December that showcased its new shipboard design. The aft portion of the ship showed accommodations in a tower-like design, resembling a hotel/condo.  

Spaces for "The Crew"

The new office space -- the entire sixth floor of a Plantation office tower --  couples creativity in style with elements of practicality necessary for getting creative work completed.

Many stress-relieving spots are provided for employees to gather for coffee, lunch or a game. One room with a copy machine also had a billiard table, for example. 

Along another wall, white countertops and red seating faced a nearby pond, giving employees the ability to eat or work, while soaking in a water view at the same time. 

Gracing the wall adjacent to a dining area was a huge mural with an octopus whose tentacles were extended. Alluding to the value of employees, it said in bold lettering: “We’re suckers for you.”

Work spaces for employees, such as open-concept computer stations and nearby seating areas, are softer in coloring with white décor and natural light streaming from nearby windows. Sheer grey curtains that one can see through also allow natural light to filter through to public spaces but still give employees some sense of their own personal space.

Individual conference rooms range from one with a Virgin logo that seemed relatively traditional to another all in purple with a white table for contrast, which clearly isn't.  

Expanding Staff

McAlpin said the Virgin corporate employees have been working “as a crew without a ship,” but now have a cool base from which to develop the new brand.

Virgin Voyages had three employees at its start, and now has 80 who will work in the new offices. McAlpin said that headquarters group will grow to 125 employees through year's end. 

Ultimately, he said, 400 employees will work in the new offices, plus the brand will have 1,100 crew members on each of its three ships, the first launching in 2020.

McAlpin told the crowd that reservations are expected to open later this year, or, at the latest, in early 2019.  But he didn’t reveal any new details about the ships or the brand.

In opening the offices, McAlpin said the line is seeking employees who have three important attributes. The first is a “spirit of discovery.” The second is that they aren’t adverse to challenging the status quo. And third, they must be committed to delivering an incredible product for guests.

The new headquarters is at 1000 South Pine Island Road, Plantation, FL 33324.

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