Tuesday, September 22, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Virgin Las Vegas, the former Hard Rock casino hotel, is revealing some of the specifics as to what guests can expect on the off-Strip property when it opens later this year.
Billionaire Richard Branson acquired the Hard Rock in March of 2018 for an undisclosed sum, teaming with Bosworth Hospitality Partners and real estate investment firm Juniper Capital Partners. There’s seemingly no worse time to be opening a hotel than amid a pandemic.
But Virgin says its first foray into casino gambling and Las Vegas remains on schedule.
In a press release issued this week, Virgin hypes its upgraded app “Lucy” that allows guests to have a touch-free experience while staying at the resort. Through the app, users can lock and unlock their guestroom doors, control lighting, temperature, and televisions, and order room service.
Virgin Las Vegas will feature 1,505 “chambers” and suites. The property is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton.
COVID-19 has disrupted domestic and international travel, as well as supply chains. But with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) deeming construction an essential business, work has continued on the off-Strip makeover throughout the pandemic.
As a result, Virgin Las Vegas is on pace to welcome its first guests this year. The company says an official opening date will be announced this month.
“Construction of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas remains on schedule and the operations team is expected to receive the keys to the property in early November,” stated part-owner Richard ‘Boz’ Bosworth. “However, due to current COVID-19 regulations, market conditions, and recent event and convention cancellations, the ownership group is carefully evaluating the previously announced Fall 2020 opening date.”
The ownership group expects to have a date identified by mid-September, at which time we will provide full details,” Bosworth added.
Branson is one of those people involved in the opening timeline discussion. His Virgin Atlantic airline filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, as the pandemic has grounded many scheduled flights.
Forbes estimates Branson’s worth at $4.4 billion, ranking him the world’s No. 565 wealthiest person.
Along with the poor timing of getting into the casino resort business in Nevada, Branson is also in the midst of investing in the cruise industry. Virgin Voyages is set to begin sailing next year. Cruise companies have been devastated by the coronavirus. Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line stocks have sunk from $50-60 a share in January to the mid-teens this week.
There are many hands involved in Virgin Las Vegas, and that includes Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), the casino entity owned by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut.
MGE will operate the Virgin Las Vegas casino floor. The gaming floor measures 60,000 square feet and will be the first casino in Sin City to be operated by a Native American tribe.
Mohegan Gaming owns and/or operates casinos in its home state of Connecticut, as well as in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington, New Jersey, and Canada. The company is also in the process of building a multibillion-dollar integrated resort in Incheon, South Korea.
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