Updated June 10, 2021 - 1:45 pm
Three months after celebrating its March 25 opening with a teaser bash, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is throwing itself another party — this one louder, longer and “unstoppable.”
Resort executives had discussed hosting a second, larger-scale opening bash when they felt it was safe to do so. That time has arrived, according to Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of the resort’s ownership group, JC Hospitality, LLC.
The “Unstoppable Weekend” party will open Thursday evening with an event headlined by Christina Aguilera at The Theater at Virgin Hotels and will continue through Sunday with other events, amenity openings and performances, Bosworth said. A limited number of tickets for the Thursday concert are still available at virginhotelslv.com.
Executives had been waiting for COVID-19 social distancing and capacity restrictions to lift before holding the grand opening, Bosworth said.
“We wanted vibrancy. We wanted a party, and we wanted it to be safe,” he said. “And we felt it would have been irresponsible to have that level of a party when you had to have anywhere from 3- to 6-foot social distancing, or 75 percent capacity, or no dancing, or some of the very natural restrictions that were needed (to keep) our community healthy and safe.”
Good time for a party
The party will coincide with what he called the property’s busiest midweek since reopening and the property’s busiest June since 2017. Bosworth said the hotel is seeing “100 percent market penetration” in its room occupancy and was sold out Memorial Day weekend. Group business really starts picking up this week and is driving midweek occupancy rates, he said.
June occupancy is expected to be higher than the same month occupancy at the property — then the Hard Rock Hotel — in either 2018 or 2019, he said.
As far as 2021 and 2022 business goes, “at this property or any other hotel property or investment I’ve ever been involved in. I’ve never seen such a dramatic and positive booking pace as we’re experiencing,” Bosworth said.
Aguilera, Flo Rida and DJ Mix Master Mike will kick off the weekend party on Thursday. Sir Richard Branson, the entrepreneur behind the Virgin brand, will take part in the festivities, Bosworth said.
Branson is expected to be highly visible during Thursday and Friday festivities. He is known for making an entrance or attempting some form of stunt to promote his companies. In 2007, the flamboyant entrepreneur commemorated the inaugural Virgin America flight by bungee jumping off the Palms. He bounced twice off the building and ripped his pants.
How he plans to arrive Thursday is a mystery.
“That’s his surprise. He doesn’t even share it with me,” Bosworth said.
The property is all but complete, Bosworth said. Italian restaurant and nightlife spot Kassi Beach House opened to the public over Memorial Day Weekend.
During a Friday phone call, Bosworth said he was watching from his new office as people moved furniture into the Élia Beach Club, set to open on Thursday. The Mediterranean dayclub in the resort’s pool complex will feature DJs and a thatched roof stage.
Most amenities to be up and running
All but one of the property’s still-to-come food amenities will be running by the end of the weekend party, he said.
Sports, restaurant, betting and entertainment venue Money, Baby! will open Friday night and host a UFC viewing event on Saturday evening, he said. Afters Ice Cream is set to open Thursday. Todd English’s Olives restaurant is expected to open toward the end of June.
The property’s sportsbook, operated by U.K.-based Betfred, isn’t expected to open until the fall “at the earliest,” a spokeswoman said.
It’s not uncommon for a hotel-casino or resort to have a soft opening followed by a bigger, grand opening, said Josh Swissman, founding partner at The Strategy Organization consulting firm.
A soft opening gives a property time to test run operations or outlets with the public while building up its public profile. Then, typically a few weeks or a month later, the grand opening comes with a bigger cache of notable names, celebrities and socialites, Swissman said.
He said the three-month gap is atypical but comes in an atypical year. Delaying the grand opening party until this week gave Virgin Hotels Las Vegas the chance to wait out COVID-19 restrictions, a travel industry rebound and vaccination proliferation, he said.
“That makes total sense to me,” Swissman said.