The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of 2020.
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin and a group of investors announced the purchase the Hard Rock on March 30, 2018. The plan was to be open by the end of this year, but the transformation of the Hard Rock to Virgin is taking its sweet time.
New timeline to create Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
The hotel’s complete makeover has been slow. A series of short delays and revisions to the initial plan have pushed back the opening date of the new casino-resort a few times.
Now, the timeline to open Virgin Hotels Las Vegas appears to be set after identifying all the updates that are needed. The Hard Rock will now remain open until early 2020 with little to no disruption. Design plans are close to completion and the construction timeline has been set.
Minor updates at the casino are already underway. The major construction projects at the casinos will begin shortly after the Super Bowl in 2020. Unlike other recent hotel renovations, the Hard Rock will close for the construction.
The Hard Rock will close from April through June 2020. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is now slated to open shortly after the Election Day 2020.
In a press release, Virgin Hotels President and CEO Richard Bosworth said: “I didn’t want to compete with the distraction of the campaign, with the state of Nevada and Las Vegas playing a pivotal role in the election.” He continued, “This is a grand opening of a new hotel, and we don’t want to get lost in that distraction.”
Transformation of Hard Rock is already underway
The beginning of the reinvention of the Hard Rock is starting with a couple of minor additions. Craft + Community has replaced Culinary Dropout. The new restaurant is also a gastropub with a focus on comfort food and good beer.
The Hard Rock became famous in part to the Rehab dayclub. That has closed and they’ve introduced a new pool experience with Breathe Pool Lounge. The new lounge with two pools has views of the Vegas Strip from its second-floor location.
One of the major renovations the Hard Rock will see next year will take place at the 5-acre pool complex. Specific details on how the pool area will be reimagined haven’t been revealed yet.
When Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opens, it will feature 1,500 renovated hotel rooms. The new owners of the property will also upgrade The Joint. This will be the only music venue at Virgin Hotels as Vinyl will be closed, expanded and turned into a nightclub.
Construction includes a new and expanded casino floor. While specifics haven’t been revealed yet, last year Branson told Conde Nast Traveler “You’re not going to walk into slot machines the moment you walk into a Virgin Hotel like you do the Hard Rock, but we’ll be tasteful, fun, and we’ll get the right balance there.”
The casino at Virgin will be operated by a third party so details on the number of table games and slot machines aren’t available. As of now, Warner Gaming will oversee casino operations. That could change as the contract is set to expire next year. CDC Gaming Report says Virgin was considering potential tenant to invest in the gaming floor and take over the casino.
Virgin hasn’t mentioned whether or not CG Technology will continue to operate the sportsbook when Virgin Hotels opens next year. Last year the sportsbook operator was in hot water with the Nevada Gaming Commission. (Additionally, CG Technology will no longer operate the sportsbook at M Resort beginning May.)
Vegas is on a casino reinvention hot streak
Not all new casinos in Las Vegas are new structures. Some casino operators are deciding to create a new casino from an existing property instead of being built from scratch. As 2018 ended, MGM Resorts put the finishing touches their the transformation of Monte Carlo into Park MGM. This is essentially a new hotel that took two years to reinvent and more than $550 million.
Palms is currently in the middle of a massive renovation and upgrade. The new owner, Station Casinos, is in the middle of a $620 million renovation that will touch most of the property.
By comparison, the budget for the transformation of the Hard Rock into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is minuscule. Construction estimates are a modest $150 million to $200 million for this conversion.