Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas has finally closed an era and will soon start another under a new name: Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The iconic property was acquired by the flamboyant billionaire Sir Richard Branson and his conglomerate, the Virgin Group who have a lot of things planned for the new hotel.
Virgin Group Successfully Acquire Hard Rock
Hard Rock Hotel has been looking to sell the property as early as March 2017and have been entertaining several propositions from various companies. In January 2018, Branson’s Virgin Hotels was confirmed to be in negotiations with Hard Rock Hotel to acquire the property. Many industry analysts believed that it was a match made in rock heaven with Branson’s history in the music industry and his charismatic personality was the ideal fit to lead a resort casino built on rock ‘n’ roll.
Virgin Group executives including Sir Richard Branson held an outdoor pool party at the Hard Rock Hotel last week to formalize the announcement. The deal was ironed out with Los Angeles investment firm Juniper Capital Partners, Toronto-based real estate firm Fengate Capital Management, and Bosworth Hospitality Partners founder Richard “Boz” Bosworth, who will become the hotel’s new CEO. The sale was closed and handled by Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management, although terms were not disclosed.
Branson Confident Of Transforming Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson first expressed his desire to acquire a casino back in 1997. He did not get into the industry as he never found the right property until Hard Rock Hotel opened its doors to negotiation. He decided to proceed with the acquisition even though the Hard Rock Hotel property is not located on the Strip. The acquisition worked well for the Virgin Group because Virgin was pleased with the price they were paying for the property which is a lot lower than a Strip property.
The Virgin group operates a property in Chicago, with developments currently underway in Nashville and New York. Branson remains confident that Virgin will be able to attract customers to the new rebranded property which will witness a major makeover. Virgin launched their online casino brand Virgin Games in 2003 and will now be moving into the live casino industry. The casino at the Hard Rock property was responsible for generating 30 percent of overall revenues and Virgin will continue to operate the casino but is yet to announce who they will partner with to run the casino side of the business.
Major Makeover Set To Take Place
Hard Rock Hotel currently houses 1,500 rooms and suites, which will remain open during the renovation period. Virgin Hotels expects to complete the rebranding to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of 2019 and until they’re finished, they are keeping the Hard Rock brand on the property.
Currently, Hard Rock has its iconic guitar hanging above the hotel’s main entrance. According to Branson, the guitar might go in lieu of the rebranding, and might be replaced with a huge V, which he says is “kind of guitar-shaped” anyway.
But even if the guitar is going down, Branson says they’ll be keeping the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia inside the hotel, which have become the signature of Hard Rock in its 23 years of operation. It makes sense for them to keep the memorabilia in the hotel since some of them below to Virgin Records artists like Janet Jackson, Mick Jagger and David Bowie.
Hard Rock currently houses six restaurants from the classic 35 Steak and Martinis to the multinational brand Nobu Japanese restaurant. Bosworth Parnters has yet to specify which ones are staying and which ones are going, Virgin will create at least seven new restaurants.
The former Hard Rock Café building will also scrapped but Bosworth is yet to confirm what will take its place. Bosworth Partners expect to finalize a number of third-party brands that they will bring on board the property.
In a statement, Bosworth said, “When you are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in renovation, there is a lot you can do, even with existing space. You’ll see significant changes. Don’t expect to come walking in and just see that it will be the same Hard Rock, with new carpeting. It will be transformed.”
 

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