World’s First Commercial Spaceline Partners with New Mexico Based Accommodation and Catering Specialists to Enhance Experience for Future Astronauts and Guests

(Story provided by Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, announced today that it has awarded hospitality contracts to two local New Mexico businesses as part of its commitment to invest in the local community. Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and World Class Gourmet were carefully selected by Virgin Galactic to be its first official hotel and catering partners, serving the needs of its Future Astronauts who will travel to space from Spaceport America. The New Mexico community and its businesses will be integral to the on-the-ground experience and Virgin Galactic is now starting to select and work with local partners to ensure an authentic, high quality experience.

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, a property managed by New Mexico’s Heritage Hotels & Resorts, will be the exclusive Dona Ana County Future Astronaut hotel, offering a uniquely tailored, premium experience. The hotel plans to hire dedicated Guest Concierges to help manage the Virgin Galactic guest experience, as well as add new rooms, facilities and multi-lingual staff for Virgin Galactic’s international travelers. Inside Spaceport America’s ‘Gateway to Space’ terminal, Chef Tatsu Miyazaki, known for his exceptional top restaurants, Savoy de Mesilla and Aqua Reef Euro-Asian Cuisine, and his Las Cruces-based team from World Class Gourmet will serve as the exclusive caterer.

In addition to relocating a number of existing staff to New Mexico, Virgin Galactic plans to hire staff from the nearby community in the coming months. Combined, this will provide an opportunity to support local businesses in the area and create a more complete on-the-ground and localized experience for Future Astronauts. Virgin Galactic is also currently exploring several additional partnerships in Sierra County and hopes to announce their completion shortly.

“By partnering with Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and World Class Gourmet, we further our vision of investing in the local New Mexico community while we define the Virgin Galactic astronaut experience,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “Future astronauts will come from around the world to New Mexico, so it’s important that they experience the outstanding local offerings and character as part of their experience.”

Hotel Encanto is uniquely designed to reflect its community through its art, food, music, landscape and architecture, helping to preserve the rich cultural traditions of New Mexico. In the last year, the hotel has started upgrading work designed specifically for the Virgin Galactic experience, including newly remodeled guest rooms to accommodate Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts. Other enhancements include a redesign by award-winning architects of the outdoor pool and terraced gardens along with an expanded 25,000 square foot outdoor seating area of Azul Nightclub & Lounge.

“Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces has thoughtfully designed custom, premium accommodations with outstanding service for Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts who will visit us from every corner of the Earth,” said Jim Long, Founder and CEO, Heritage Hotels & Resorts. “We are excited to welcome the astronauts and their friends and family to the premier property in Southern New Mexico and are honored to be selected as the preferred Virgin Galactic resort in Dona Ana County.”

Chef Tatsu and his team are working with Virgin Galactic staff to develop a custom, innovative menu tailored to the special dietary needs of Future Astronauts during their three day training session, and for all flight day activities. The imaginative food and catering service will bring Chef Tatsu’s renowned skills to the plates of guest at Spaceport America.

“It is truly an honor and privilege to be a part of this unique opportunity and partnership with Virgin Galactic.

Here at World Class Gourmet, we are all excited and grateful for what the future holds and look forward to the outstanding relationships developed as we serve the world’s Future Astronauts and Virgin Galactic,” said Chef Tatsu Miyazaki, Founder, World Class Gourmet LLC.

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted more than $80 million in deposits from approximately 700 individuals, which is 20% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new reusable vehicles, which will be manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload to space. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test exhaustive test flight program is in its final stages leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.


Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has been providing commercial vertical launch services since 2006. Spaceport America has hosted 20 vertical launches thus far. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority continues to work closely with tenants Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, along with other flight customers in support of the commercial space industry. For more information, please visit: Images and HD video of Spaceport America can be found by visiting: Tours of Spaceport America are available: Find Spaceport America on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: @Spaceport_NM


Founded by Jim Long in 2005, Heritage Hotels & Resorts is a collection of culturally distinct hotels in New Mexico and is the largest independent hotel chain in New Mexico. Through their architecture, interior design, landscaping, cuisine, art, entertainment and music, Heritage Hotels & Resorts provides guests with a very rich, authentic, cultural experience. Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town and Nativo Lodge are located in Albuquerque, NM; Hotel St. Francis, The Lodge at Santa Fe, Eldorado Hotel & Spa and Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe are located in Santa Fe, NM; Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces is located in Las Cruces, NM; and Palacio de Marquesa is located in Taos, NM. Each Heritage Hotel donates a percentage of its revenue to cultural causes. The company and its affiliate companies provide over 1,500 jobs in NM. You can find Heritage on Twitter at @HeritageHtls or on Facebook at or at