Las Vegas Sun

April 22, 2018

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Virgin to remodel, rebrand Hard Rock Hotel

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John Locher / AP

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson speaks at a news conference Friday, March 30, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Updated Friday, March 30, 2018 | 1:57 p.m.

Virgin Hotels has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with plans to remodel and rebrand the off-Strip property.

“Somebody once said to me that if there is any company that can take over for Hard Rock, it’s Virgin,” said Virgin founder Richard Branson. “This has been a very much part of Vegas for many years...It was the place to come for many years, and will be the place to come for many years in the future.”

The property will be rebranded over the next several months as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Virgin Hotels purchased the property with a group of partners, including Los Angeles-based investment firm Juniper Capital Partners. The terms of the purchase from Brookfield Asset Management were not disclosed.

“We’re going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars transforming this property,” said Richard Bosworth of Juniper Capital Partners, who will serve as the property’s chief executive officer. “This property is a great asset, and as Virgin enters the Las Vegas marketplace, this will be one of the most exciting casino transformations that Las Vegas has seen in many years.”

The property has about 1,500 rooms and suites. It will remain open during renovations, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Branson said he was confident he could provide something fresh in Las Vegas.

“As an owner of a spaceship company, I’ll just say watch this space”, he said. “We’ll have fun things...We’ll definitely make sure Vegas is even more on the map than it is today.”

Branson said he was not concerned about the property’s off-Strip location on Paradise Road. “When you bring the Virgin brand to something, people will go that little bit further to get to us,” he said.

Bosworth said the new owners plan to keep on more than 2,000 staff members as the initial rebranding campaign begins.

Part of the remodel will include removing the iconic guitar sign above the Hard Rock’s main entrance.

“The guitar may not survive, but we have a V, which is sort of guitar shaped, which may take over,” Branson said.

The only Virgin Hotel opened so far is in Chicago. Others are planned for several cities, including New York, Dallas and Washington D.C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.