Richard Branson Enters Las Vegas Hotel-Casino Market with Hard Rock Purchase

Richard Branson Enters Las Vegas Hotel-Casino Market with Hard Rock Purchase

Virgin Hotels, the hotel brand of British business magnate Richard Branson, has acquired Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for an undisclosed price. The property will be remodeled and rebranded as Virgin Hotel Las Vegas over the next year and a half.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened doors in 1995 on the corner of Paradise Road and Harmon. The off-Strip property features more than 1,500 hotel rooms, a 30,000-square-foot casino, The Joint music venue, and different food and beverage, retail, and entertainment facilities.

Mr. Branson said Friday that some of the rock-related memorabilia at the property will be removed as part of the planned remodeling. The businessman further revealed that the iconic guitar sign above the resort’s main entrance “may not survive” and that it will be replaced by a giant V, which “is sort of guitar-shaped” and “may take over”.

Some of the facilities at the property may also be closed. Mr. Branson confirmed that the casino will be kept and will be operated by a gaming partner.

The British businessman has initiated different business ventures under the Virgin brand over the past several decades. Virgin Hotels was launched in 2010. The hotel brand opened its first hotel property in Chicago in 2015. It also has plans to open properties in New York, Nashville, San Francisco, Dallas, and now in Las Vegas.

During a Friday press conference, Mr. Branson said that the Virgin brand is “all about fun, entertainment, not taking ourselves too seriously” and that they will pursue that with Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The businessman also elaborated on the property’s off-Strip location by saying that he was not concerned about that as when the Virgin brand is brought somewhere, people seem to be ready to “go that little bit further to get to [them]”.

Remodeling and Rebranding

Renovation work at Hard Rock will begin soon and will be carried out in multiple phases. Mr. Branson said that they plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to transform the hotel and casino resort and make it attractive to both tourists and locals. It is yet to be seen which of its existing facilities will be kept.

The property’s remodeling is expected to be completed late next year when it will be relaunched as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The resort will remain open during renovation and will operate under the Hard Rock brand.

Virgin Hotels bought the property in partnership with a group of investors, including Los Angeles-based Juniper Capital Partners. Brookfield Asset Management brokered the acquisition deal.

True to his nature, Mr. Branson has made some very memorable and eccentric previous appearances in Las Vegas to promote his other businesses, including that one time when he rode a jet ski with a cabin attendant in the Bellagio fountains pool to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Virgin Atlantic Airways. He promised an equally exciting Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opening ceremony.