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Hard Rock Hotel going dark for most of 2020, CEO says

Updated August 17, 2019 - 7:24 pm

Let it be said that Hard Rock Hotel is not a halfway house. Thus, the resort has scrubbed plans to remain partially open during its renovation to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in 2020.

The hotel will shut down entirely in the first week of February, just after Super Bowl weekend, re-launching in late 2020.

Hard Rock/Virgin Hotels ownership partner and Chief Executive Officer Richard “Boz” Bosworth confirmed social media posts Friday noting the new construction plans.

“We determined that a phased closing of four months, followed by a total closure of four months was not efficient from a construction process nor could we provide a hospitality service experience our guests deserve,” Bosworth said Saturday morning. “Therefore an approximate eight-month closure would be most efficient and ensure a timely opening prior to January 2021.”

Hotel officials’ most recent plan was to phase in the resort renovations for four months, beginning Super Bowl Sunday, then closing for another four months, relaunching after the 2020 presidential campaign.

Construction might be completed as early as October, but the safe play is to plan for a November relaunch and lavish reopening party. No bookings are yet being taken for guest rooms or group/event business.

The hotel’s approximately 1,650 employees are being enticed to stay with the company in what is dubbed the “Stick Around And Come Back” program.

Those employees still with the company when it closes to the public will be paid a retention bonus in a lump sum, up to 10 weeks of payment. Bosworth said that while many employees are sure to find work elsewhere, those who want to work in the new Virgin Hotels property will not be required to interview again for their previously held jobs.

“Those employees will all be recalled,” Bosworth said. “The ownership group is paying for them to return, and we want them to return.”

Bosworth says the total cost of the resort’s overhaul will exceed $200 million. Virgin Hotels’ partners in food-and-beverage, nightlife-day-life, and gaming will be announced in November.

Resort ownership group J.C. Hospitality announced in July it will partner with AEG Presents as its operations partner for The Joint, which also will be refreshed in the hotel’s overhaul.

Programming at the long-running entertainment venue will continue through the end of the year. The schedule includes Mary J. Blige capping her two-show run Saturday night, Brian Wilson and the Zombies (Aug. 31), Cake and Ben Folds (Sept. 10), Greta Van Fleet (Sept. 27), Daughtry with special guest Augustana (Oct. 4), Stone Temple Pilots (Oct. 6), Old Dominion (Dec. 4-5), Gary Allan (Dec. 6-7), and Cody Johnson (Dec. 12). The Big Blues Bender music festival runs at the hotel Sept. 5-8.

Extensive conventions that have previously booked the Hard Rock Hotel, including the Adult Entertainment Expo/Adult Video News awards, and Harman JBL during CES, will remain under contract during the changeover. The hotel also announced in January its partnership in the worldwide Curio Collection by Hilton customer-service program.

Bosworth emphasized that the hotel’s reopening is a moving target.

“We might be ready in October,” he said, “but construction is an imperfect process.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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