Virgin Hotels is to invest $500m in investigating the Washington, US, lodging market over the next three years.

The Virgin Group is to partner with investors Diego Lowenstein and Alberto Beeck to acquire hotel properties with 150-400 rooms, a restaurant and meeting space to transform them into luxury hotels, according to

After launching its hotel subsidiary in September 2010, the Richard Branson-owned Virgin Group is seeking direct buys, will team with owners or act as a third-party manager to expand its hotel portfolio.

Branson said the hotels will be able to take advantage of Virgin’s airline and vacation packages to lure travellers.