Sir Richard Branson announces acquisition of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal with Calanit Atia

By Debbie Hall and Calanit Atia

Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal announced during a press conference held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on March 30 that Sir Richard Branson has purchased the property. Rebranding will be over the next several months as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. However, Virgin will take over operations immediately and begin renovations. The hotel and casino will remain open during the transition.

“We launched Virgin Hotels a few years ago. One of the first questions posed to me was if I had the chance to launch in what city first, what is the perfect city for Virgin Hotels,” said Leal during the press conference. “Without even thinking, I said, ‘Vegas Baby.’ So today we are going to make that announcement and it has taken us a while.”

When Branson came on stage, he told those in attendance that it was an exciting day. He spoke that Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was a part of Vegas for many years and is an iconic hotel. Branson said that it would continue to be an exciting place to visit. While admitting it will be a challenge, it will also be fun.

Calanit Atia with Sir Richard Branson

“Virgin is all about fun and entertainment and not taking ourselves too seriously,” Branson told the press and invited guests. “Virgin Atlantic has had a ton of fun filling people to Las Vegas from Britain for many years. We wouldn’t have come to Las Vegas unless we found something very Virgin and I believe we have accomplished this.”

Branson did not disclose the price or majority owner. As for the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia in the property, Branson responded that Virgin “had the biggest rock ‘n’ roll label. I walk around and see David Bowie and Rolling Stones that are Virgin artists. … This is part of this deal and it is incredible we have this incredible rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. We will treasure it. … It is part of history and we have a responsibility to look after it.”

With entertainment a big part of the property, Branson commented that no decision has been made about rebranding entertainment venues such as The Joint.

In a statement by Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union regarding the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas:

“The Culinary Union is pleased to announce that the current owner of the iconic Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, Brookfield Asset Management, and the property’s new owners, Virgin Hotels, the hotel brand by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, in partnership with a group led by Juniper Capital Partners and Fengate Real Asset Investments along with their partners Dream, Cowie Capital Partners, and other private investors, have all agreed to a fair process that will ensure management remains neutral as the Hard Rock Las Vegas workforce in the unions’ classifications choose whether to unionize without management interference, harassment, surveillance, bullying, or litigation.

This is a new era of positive labor-management cooperation at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. Card-check neutrality agreements provide a fair process that is the standard for the Culinary and Bartender Union’s 83-years of organizing over 800,000 workers. We congratulate the new owners of the Hard Rock Las Vegas and look forward to a partnership that continues raising the standard of living for workers and their families throughout this great city.”

To learn more about Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and other future developments, visit

Calanit Atia is the Founder and President of A to Z Events, an award-winning Las Vegas destination management company for over 17 years. She is columnist, Air Force Veteran, speaker and dog lover with Operation Duffy.
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