Virgin Group Ltd, founded by U.K. tycoon Richard Branson, plans enter the hotel industry.

Virgin will spend as much as $500 million on high-end hotels aimed at "high income, well-educated, metropolitan 'creative class'" customers, Bloomberg News said. The company is scouting for locations in cities including New York, San Francisco and Miami.

The U.S. hotel industry is recovering from the recession, with revenue per available room climbing and vacancies falling.

"We're very encouraged by the number of hotel transactions we've seen this year," Anthony Marino, an executive director of the new venture, told Bloomberg News. "Compared to last year, it's like night and day."

Virgin plans to have as many as 25 hotels within a decade.

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