weather icon Clear

Virgin Hotels taking steps to retain Hard Rock Hotel workers

The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas name may be new, but the property is hoping to keep some familiar faces around after it undergoes renovation.

The property, now known as the Hard Rock Hotel, is set to shut its doors for approximately eight months as it goes through its transformation to become the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in 2020. To keep its 1,850 team members around, the company is offering a “Stick Around and Come Back” program, giving a retention bonus if employees stick around through early February 2020.

“It may go beyond the dollars and cents,” said UNLV associate vice provost for faculty affairs David Schwartz. “This may help build goodwill for the new property and ensure that they have an experienced staff when they reopen.”

Keeping staff on hand

Richard “Boz” Bosworth, the property’s ownership partner and CEO, said the program offers employees a retention bonus in a lump sum for up to 10 weeks of payment. Those who want to continue work in the new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas after it shuts down in February would not be required to interview again for their previous job. The option is open to all hourly gaming, nongaming, union and non-union employees.

While some employees will find work elsewhere, Bosworth said he’s confident there are others who are excited about returning to the property.

“We have so many Team Members who have been with us since 1995 and who are just as excited about the future of the property as they were on day one,” he said via email. “We appreciate their passion, loyalty and want them to be part of the team that opens the highly anticipated, vibrant and renovated Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.”

Union Gaming analyst John DeCree said that the program “made sense” for the property, especially with low unemployment rates and increased competition from other companies looking to hire in Las Vegas, such as Colorado-based Monarch Casino Resort Spa and Resorts World, which is set to open next year.

“There’s a lot of hiring that has to happen for new casinos,” DeCree said. Without a retention program, “you could find yourself in a position where it’s difficult to hire and fully staff your casinos.”

Impact on business

The original renovation plans would have phased in renovations for four months and then closed down the property completely for another four months. But Bosworth told the Review-Journal that shutting down entirely during the eight-month time span is the “most efficient” method to have a timely opening by the end of 2020.

Schwartz said both plans have their downsides.

“If you stay open, you keep your employees working and some money coming in, but your guests may be inconvenienced,” Schwartz said. “But if you close to renovate, you don’t have that revenue stream.”

Bethany Khan, spokeswoman for Culinary Workers Local 226, said the union helped negotiate these protections for Hard Rock union employees. She said programs like these are not common in the industry, but are standard in all of the union’s contracts.

“With a union contract, workers have many protections on-the-job, they are treated with respect,” she said. “When workers know they are valued, they can provide the highest quality of service and hospitality.”

The Hard Rock property isn’t the first to completely shut down for renovations. The Sahara was closed between 2011 and 2014 to become the SLS Las Vegas, and the Plaza closed down nearly a year for renovations in 2010.

DeCree said it’s an uncommon strategy for casinos. Other properties such as the Palms and Park MGM remained open during major renovations, but DeCree said it made sense for the Hard Rock to shut its doors completely — he said customers exploring the property amid the renovation process could be confused about its branding.

“It can be disruptive during renovation, which can lead to less-than-stellar Trip Advisor reviews,” he said. “When you open your doors again, you want them to experience Virgin Hotels and avoid confusion. … It makes sense to preserve the brand and reopen with a new image.”

The property’s official reopening date after the approximately $200 million overhaul has not yet been set.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
There's a new place to play board games in Las Vegas
Matt Smiciklas, co-owner of Boarding School Games, talks about the new Las Vegas business that he co-owns with Emily Labejof. Dedicated tabletop gamers can choose from more than 500 games to play for free in-store. The doors open to the public Saturday, July 20, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Renovations at the STRAT
Analysts say the $140 million renovation project at The STRAT, formerly the known as the Stratosphere, could help the hotel-casino compete with the evolving north side of the Las Vegas Strip. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SLS Las Vegas will become Sahara Las Vegas
Owner Alex Meruelo announced during a special event at the SLS Las Vegas that the hotel-casino will become Sahara Las Vegas in its next iteration. Meruelo said $150 million dollars will be spent to renovate the current property. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aircraft hinge maker moves to "business friendly" Nevada
Doug Silva, president of Aircraft Hinge, Inc. in Las Vegas, makes every type of hinge for every type of airplane. Silva talks about his company and why he moved it to Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Daytime fireworks mark the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
The opening of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. included a three-minute fireworks show launched by Fireworks by Grucci Sunday, June 23, 2019. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @RickVelotta
Elaine Wynn talks about the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
Elaine Wynn, co-founder and largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts, talked during opening festivities of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
People line hours ahead of opening for Encore Boston Harbor
Guests arrive as much as 17 hours early for the 10 a.m. opening of the $2.6 billion, 671-room resort in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal.com
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms - Video
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms.
Crews working 24/7 to complete Circa downtown - VIDEO
Owner Derek Stevens goal is to open the doors to the 1.25 million-square-foot project by December 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Jersey casinos woo bettors with new sportsbooks

Now in its second year of allowing sports betting, the state has seen sports wagering surpass expectations, and Atlantic City casinos are upping their game with new sportsbooks.