Branson consortium buys Hard Rock in Las Vegas

Virgin Group announced Friday that the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of 2019. Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson held a poolside party news conference at the iconic hotel and casino on March 30 to announce that the deal had been consummated. Brookfield Asset Management of Toronto handled the sale. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The hotel will be headed up by Richard “Boz” Bosworth, founder of Bosworth Hospitality Partners, a partner in the deal. Additional investors include Juniper Capital Partners of Los Angeles and Brookfield.

Branson runs an empire of lifestyle and entertainment brands including Virgin Records, Mobile, Airline, and Galactic – a commercial spaceflight company that plans to offer suborbital tourism as well as scientific space missions. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Branson also invested in a high-speed transit company in Nevada last year which was renamed Virgin Hyperloop One after he joined the start-up’s board.  In New Jersey, where Virgin operates a licensed online casino, Hard Rock will open a land casino this summer in the place formerly occupied by the failed Taj Mahal.

The new Virgin property, which is located off the Las Vegas Strip on Paradise Road, is expected to undergo several phases of renovation while still operating under the current brand. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested to give public spaces, guest rooms, and restaurants a make-over with a grand opening and change of brand expected to occur in the late fall of 2019.

As currently envisioned, a new casino will double the current size to offer 60,000 square feet of gaming space. It will likely be relocated closer to the more than 1,500 refurbished Chambers, Grand Chamber Suites, and Penthouse Suites. According to a press release Friday, the five-acre site will offer multiple pools throughout, world-class restaurants, bars, and lounges including Virgin’s signature Commons Club, and other nightlife venues.

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The Virg 7BALL ins Hotels brand launched in 2010 with a property in Chicago. Future locations planned for the brand include Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Washington D.C., and Edinburgh, Scotland.

According to the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which represents over 50,000 casino and hotel workers in Las Vegas: “Brookfield and Virgin Hotels have agreed to a process that will ensure management remains neutral as employees choose whether to unionize without management interference, harassment, surveillance, bullying, or litigation.”

The union’s secretary-treasurer, Geoconda Argüello-Kline said in a statement: “This is a new era of positive labor-management cooperation at the Hard Rock Las Vegas.”

The property, which first opened in 1995, will remain in operation throughout the renovation and rebranding process. A casino operating partner has not been announced.


The headline of this article has been updated to include “consortium”.