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by Calanit Atia

Richard Branson walked out barefoot with a big smile and announced that that he bought the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas—and that the deal was closed just five minutes before he went on stage. He had been searching for the right opportunity for years, and he finally had found it. It was a long journey negotiating this deal, but he got it done.

When asked why Las Vegas, Branson replied, “Virgin is all about fun entertainment and not taking yourself too seriously. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America have had a lot of fun flying tons of people to Las Vegas from Britain for many years. We would not have come to Las Vegas unless we could have found property very Virgin, and I think that is what we have achieved. I don’t think there was any other property.”

He promises fun things to come. As Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, the famous large guitar will be changed to a giant V symbol. Also, he says, “I did notice that the airplanes are flying over the hotel so if we have a flat roof, we might have a massive sign, so it might be the first thing anyone who flies over Vegas sees.”

The property, located at 4455 Paradise Rd., will continue full-service operations under the Hard Rock flag until it opens as a Virgin Hotels hotel. Guest rooms, restaurants, and public spaces will undergo a facelift, expected to cost in the hundreds of millions, with the final product being a showcase of Virgin’s signature sleek and stylish design with an eclectic mix of social spaces.

The hotel will feature 1,504 chambers, grand chamber suites, and penthouse suites; a 60,000 sq.ft., fully-renovated casino, multiple pools over five acres, world-class restaurants, lounges and bars, including new nightlife venues and the brand’s flagship space, the Commons Club, as well as numerous meeting and convention spaces.

When Virgin Hotels CEO, Raul Leal was asked when he launched the company a few years ago, if he had a chance to launch in one city first, what is the perfect city for Virgin Hotels?  He answered without even thinking, “Vegas Baby.”

His excitement was noticeable and genuine. “We will bring signature Virgin values including our famous tone of voice, playfulness and will add to already amazing experience here in Las Vegas with this iconic property,” Leal added.

Calanit-with-Branson-According to Branson, the Hard Rock memorabilia is part of history, and he has the responsibility to look after it.  “Our root is rock and roll; we had the biggest independent record label in the world. I walk around to see David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Culture Club, and Janet Jackson that were Virgin artists. We will treasure them and maybe display a small portion of them.”

After meeting Branson and Leal, and being swept by their charming and warm personalities, I can tell you this is going to be a top-level hotel with inviting atmosphere, impeccable service with a twist of fun. For online booking, visit www.virginhotels.com.

To see some of the speeches, visit Branson Video Speech –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uAOHWbbHwE&t=61s; Leal Video Speech –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhjp6Evsfjk&t=12s; and Q&A  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlDK0S8Uars&t=26s

Calanit Atia, founder and president of A to Z Events and Trade Show Talent, is an award-winning event planner, Las Vegas destination expert, social media maven, columnist, Air Force veteran and speaker. She can be contacted at Info@AtoZevents.com; for more info, visit www.AtoZevnets.com.  

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 22. For more pictures and original layout, visit http://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust2018_web?e=16962537/62860459

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