The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas will undergo a complete renovation over the next few months following its purchase on Friday by eccentric and innovative British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson.
“Virgin is all about fun, entertainment, not taking ourselves too seriously,” Branson said. “Virgin Atlantic has had a lot of fun flying tons of people to Las Vegas from Britain for many years. Virgin America has done the same, and we wouldn’t have just come to Las Vegas unless we could’ve found the property that was very Virgin, and I think that’s what we’ve achieved.”
In the past Branson has shown off his propensity for quirky business launches by rappelling down a casino hotel and clambering onto a jet ski on the fountains outside Vegas Bellagio casino-resort to promote his businesses. He has promised an “equally fun” event for the Hard Rock’s official re-branding launch.
Branson promises a continuation of the fun and games
“I’m still pinching myself!” said Branson, who arrived in Las Vegas on the first ever Virgin Atlantic flight non-stop London to McCarran International back in 2000 dressed in an Elvis Presley costume.
Branson has intimated that upcoming Hard Rock renovations, due for completion in late 2019, will be “tasteful and fun.” Once the renovations are complete, the resort will be renamed ‘Virgin Hotels Las Vegas’.
The giant guitar out front “may not survive,” Branson said, and may well be replaced with a stylised “giant V.” which may resemble a more modern electric guitar model.
Naturally, other rock ‘n’ roll icons will be curated and saved. “I come from the rock ‘n’ roll business,” Branson commented. He added that the famous Hard Rock memorabilia is “something that fortunately comes with the hotel. It’s incredible for me to suddenly have this collection.”
The Vegas Hard Rock, an icon on the Las Vegas Strip since 1995 “was the place to be for many, many years, and it will be the place to be for many, many years in the future,” said Branson.
Branson’s perfect rock ’n’ roll heritage to take over the Hard Rock
Branson’s rebellious business nature and love of music makes him the perfect entrepreneur to take over an iconic music industry memorabilia museum like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Branson entered the record business almost by accident when Mike Oldfield came to him with his first demo of an instrumental album that would later become known as ‘Tubular Bells’. Branson loved it, backed Oldfield and recorded the album. The album was picked up as the soundtrack to the iconic movie ‘The Exorcist’ and became a monster hit.
‘Tubular Bells’ spent 286 weeks in the British album charts and it was such a huge blockbuster that it made Virgin Records a real player in the music business. Branson said he “named one of our Virgin aircraft ‘Tubular Belle’,” and he didn’t think his success “would have happened without ‘Tubular Bells’.” He said, “I’ve listened to it so much, my wife won’t let me play it anymore.”
The rest is history and with Sex Pistols, Radiohead, Culture Club and countless other great bands and artists behind him, Branson’s love of music and its history is proudly on show for all to see. After all, this is the man who proudly tells the story that the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is the man who taught him how to roll joints.
Details of the Hard Rock sale and renovations – Very Branson-esque
The celebrity British businessman and other executives made the announcement last month at an outdoor pool lounge at the Hard Rock.
The deal gives Branson a foothold in Las Vegas’ lucrative casino industry, something he has long coveted, and ushers in big changes to the Hard Rock.
Branson’s partners in the deal include Bosworth Hospitality Partners founder Richard “Boz” Bosworth, the hotel’s new CEO; Los Angeles investment firm Juniper Capital Partners; and Toronto real estate firm Fengate Capital Management. Terms of the sale, by Toronto’s Brookfield Asset Management, were not disclosed.
The 1500-room Hard Rock, 1.6km east of the Strip at 4455 Paradise Road, will keep its name until the renovation is complete and keep the doors open as the renovation will be completed in phases.
According to Bosworth, the plan is to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars in transforming this property.”
However, the Hard Rock is dwarfed by many of the other monster hotels in Vegas, and Branson said he and the group wanted to develop a different kind of buzz, something “a little bit smaller, a little bit more boutique” in Las Vegas.
“We didn’t want another glass tower on the Strip,” he said.
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