Virgin Galactic partners with New Mexico hotel to house its elite passengers

Virgin Galactic appears to be getting closer to reaching its long-delayed goal of launching tourists into space.

The company said Monday it has selected Hotel Encantado de Las Cruces as the preferred hotel for its elite roster of passengers, who will pay $200,000 a person to make the flights from Spaceport America.

The hotel says it will add some high-end suites and services to accommodate the space travelers. It also is working on upgrades that should boost it from a three to a Four Diamond property under the AAA rating system. New Mexico has no Five Diamond hotels, the top ranking.

Spaceport is 60 miles north of Las Cruces, and the lack of luxury lodging has been an issue. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson at one point said he might build his own hotel at spaceport, but that never came to fruition.