After mulling a delayed opening, the owners of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas plan to open for business early next year.
Richard “Boz” Bosworth, the property’s president and chief executive, unveiled the scheduled Jan. 15 debut during a news conference at the off-Strip hotel-casino Thursday.
Still closed for its roughly $200 million overhaul, the former Hard Rock Hotel was slated to reopen as a Virgin-branded resort this fall before the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life and shattered Southern Nevada’s tourism-dependent economy.
Bosworth said that the public health crisis “has been really devastating to the hospitality market” and that it’s unclear when entertainment will come back and events start being rebooked. But, he said, the 1,500-plus-room resort will bring “positive energy” to Las Vegas.
“Jan. 15, 2021, we are back in business,” he said.
‘New shiny property’
Bosworth said in an interview with the Review-Journal that the hotel, at the corner of Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue, lost three “significant” pieces of business for December due to the pandemic. Also, its “No. 1” client for the annual CES tech megaconvention, which was supposed to be held this January but is instead going all-digital, decided not to come in, he said.
The ownership group wanted to give itself “a little more time” to make sure that coronavirus-related restrictions continue to loosen, that the market continues to recover, and that they have the highest level of safety for guests and employees, Bosworth said.
Guests can start booking rooms Oct. 12, and construction will be “significantly completed” in November, he said.
Asked how he can attract guests during the turmoil of the pandemic, which has kept people home and away from crowds for fear of getting infected, Bosworth said he can’t control who decides to fly but noted visitors are still driving here.
He also said that being the “new shiny property” will make the resort “very attractive” to prospective guests.
Farewell party weekend
Bosworth announced last month that construction remained on schedule at the property but that his group was having second thoughts about the scheduled fall opening because of pandemic-related regulations, “market conditions” and recent event and convention cancellations.
At the time, he told the Review-Journal the pandemic had not affected the property’s design. But the owners planned to implement such health and safety measures as thermal temperature readings for people who enter the property, keyless entry to guest rooms, and birdcage-like pods for people during outdoor events to ensure social distancing, he said.
Bosworth and other investors, including flamboyant British billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group conglomerate, acquired the Hard Rock in spring 2018 for about $500 million.
After a farewell party weekend, the new owners closed the Hard Rock in early February this year for its Virgin transformation. The next month, Las Vegas rapidly shut down over fears of the new coronavirus.
Southern Nevada’s badly battered tourism industry faces plenty of unknowns. The still-raging pandemic has sparked enormous job losses around the U.S., and some resorts remain closed in the valley, despite being allowed to reopen in early June after more than two months on state-ordered lockdown.
Overall, more than 1.4 million people visited Las Vegas in July, down 61 percent from the same month last year, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.
There also was zero convention attendance in Las Vegas from April through July, according to the tourism agency.