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Virgin to begin Las Vegas Hard Rock remodel after next Super Bowl

Updated April 2, 2019 - 2:18 pm

The big lift in Hard Rock Hotel’s overhaul to Virgin Hotel Las Vegas will begin just as the confetti is being swept off the field after the next Super Bowl in February.

And, the Virgin grand opening celebration will take place after the confetti is swept up after the next presidential election in November 2020.

Those are the tent posts in Hard Rock’s property-wide project to re-brand as Virgin Hotel. Major renovations are to begin after Feb. 2, or Super Bowl Sunday. The property is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020 (April 1-June 30), and re-open as Virgin Hotel Las Vegas in mid-November, following the election.

The strategy is to steer clear of the political season to focus on the major re-branding event, during which Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is to return to Vegas.

“I didn’t want to compete with the distraction of the campaign, with the state of Nevada and Las Vegas playing a pivotal role in the election,” Hard Rock Hotel partner and property CEO Richard “Boz” Bosworth says. “This is a grand opening of a new hotel, and we don’t want to get lost in that distraction.”

Originally, the Hard Rock renovation project was set to begin in earnest in the late summer/early fall of this year, with the eight-month project finished by next spring. But hotel officials are stressing that the renovation’s scale has promoted a move of that calendar.

“The property’s project deadlines were fluid and the scope of the project continued to expand,” Bosworth says. “Based on the additional improvements that we have identified, the deadline to begin work has shifted to early 2020. Significant construction activities remain 10 months away and the property will remain open for business without any disruptions to our guests and team members through Super Bowl of 2020.”

The total cost of the operation is now in excess of $200 million. Previously it had been announced as $150 million. The hotel also announced in January its partnership in the worldwide Curio Collection by Hilton customer-service program.

As Bosworth noted in his e-mail to the hotel staff, several modifications have been made to the renovation since that announcement of the Hard Rock/Virgin ownership changeover was made a year ago Saturday.

“Since then, we’ve been able to walk the property, look at the flow of traffic, flow of customers, and had the luxury of learning how the property really works,” Bosworth says. “W can now go forward with that on-the-ground knowledge.”

Updates across the resort will include a massive overhaul and expansion to its 5-acre pool deck. All of its 1,500 guest rooms will be renovated. The hotel’s major entertainment venue, The Joint, marks its 10th anniversary in its second iteration this month. Expect a redesign of VIP suites in that venue, and also a major booking partner to be brought on board as the hotel keeps pace with superstar residencies across Las Vegas.

In its release today and in an e-mail to staff, the hotel reminds of its headliners this year, which will go on uninterrupted, including English pop rock band The 1975 (April 16); comedian Jeff Dunham (April 26); rapper Juice WRLD (May 3); Hollywood Vampires featuring Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry (May 10); Grammy-nominated Snow Patrol (May 18); RBRM Bobby Brown + Bell Biv Devoe (June 15); American rockers Coheed and Cambria (June 28); Judas Priest (June 29) and the sixth annual Big Blues Bender Sept. 5-8.

Vinyl, home of Raiding the Rock Vault through December, will become a nightclub with a 3,000-square-foot expansion where DJs will replace live stage shows. “Magic Mike Live,” the popular male revue, is going on its third year at its own renovated Club Dominia venue; Bosworth says there is every reason to expect it to stay on through the entire renovation.

Vinyl is not the only familiar space to be overhauled. Say goodbye to the second iteration of the Center Bar, which will be moved off its current location — Bosworth jokes that its unofficial name is “The Off-Center Bar” — to allow for additional casino space. The new bar will have a formal title.

The hotel is yet to announce its new restaurant partners, though it is planning to keep such popular restaurants as MB Steak and Nobu through the changeover. Expect such large-scale conventions that have populated at the Hard Rock, including the Adult Entertainment Expo/Adult Video News awards, and Harman JBL during CES, to remain.

The hotel emphasizes its efforts to keep its more than 2,000 employees on board through the construction and dark period, with its “Stick Around And Come Back” program. That initiative offers to compensate all employees, allowing them to return to work in their current positions without having to reapply for their jobs.

Bosworth named the construction, architect and design partners saying the executive team is “thrilled” to have Taylor International Corp., McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., Klai Juba Wald Architects, Rockwell Group and Studio Collective working on the “evolution” of the property.

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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